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Ferris Serves as Sponsor for Second Michigan Lean Startup Conference in Grand Rapids

Michigan Lean Startup ConferenceFerris State University served as a sponsor and its Entrepreneur Institute as an active participant at Michigan Lean Startup Conference 2012, an event designed to empower and inspire future entrepreneurs, on May 17 in Grand Rapids.

This year’s conference was organized and hosted by Start Garden, a new initiative launched by West Michigan social entrepreneur Rick DeVos and Momentum, a Michigan-based seed accelerator interested in new startups.

Ferris’ Entrepreneurship Institute hosted an exhibit table as part of its participation at the conference. The event featured a number of speakers to highlight different entrepreneurial topics that related to the ideas of lean business practices and startup initiatives.

Conference speakers included Dan Martell, co-founder of, a venture-backed startup building social marketing applications for businesses; Ash Maurya, author of “Running Lean” and founder of The Lean Canvas and USERcycle; and Steve Blank, who during the last three decades has been part of or co-founded eight Silicon Valley startups. Martell’s topic was “Five Unconventional Ways to Entrepreneurship,” Maurya’s topic was “An Entrepreneur’s Journey-Finding Problems Worth Solving” while Blank discussed “How to Build a Great Company, Step by Step: An Intro to the Startup Owner’s Manual.” Attendees received a copy of Blank’s new book that he co-authored with Bob Dorf, “The Startup Owner’s Manual,” as well as “The Lean Entrepreneur” by Patrick Vlaskovits and Brant Cooper.

“I found the Michigan Lean Startup Conference 2012 to be a great opportunity for education and networking. The keynote speakers featured in this event were motivational and passionate about their personal business experiences,” said Kristen Dzikowicz, a student worker at Ferris’ Entrepreneurship Institute who attended the conference. “I enjoyed how each speaker brought forth their own perceptions of entrepreneurship and lean business strategies.”

Shirish Grover, an assistant professor in Ferris’ College of Business and a leader of the Entrepreneurship Institute, believes that conferences such as the Lean Startup Conference create fertile ground for local aspiring and existing entrepreneurs to become part of the larger dialogue about start-up models that is taking place in communities nationwide.

“Job creation, innovation and growth are terms we increasingly recognize as keys to future prosperity of our communities,” Grover said. “And, it is the entrepreneur, passionate, committed, industrious and resourceful, that is leading the charge to achieve this. At the Entrepreneur Institute, we are focused on supporting entrepreneurs in the communities we serve statewide.”

The Lean Startup’s mission is to serve as a disciplined approach to help reduce risks associated with introducing new concepts, products and services to a market. This month’s conference, hosted at Grand Valley State University’s Eberhard Center in Grand Rapids, was designed to bring together individuals interested in what it takes to succeed in building a lean startup.