Young entrepreneurs are pouring out of tech towns these days. If the towns are lucky, they retain many of them now that the Midwest and other places outside Silicon Valley are reviving and affordable spaces to grow a business. The University of Michigan, ranked #1-rated ecosystem for undergrad student entrepreneurs by Princeton Review, is leading the way in this shift in startup culture across the U.S.. That’s why successful serial entrepreneurs like Jim Price were brought on board, to mentor the next generation of founders. Price is Entrepreneurial Studies Faculty & Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and he’s a big connector and mentor for young entrepreneurs starting out in Ann Arbor, with a background that spans coasts, tech and engineering, and teaching. He’s also a really fun guy we’ve watched help shift the entrepreneurial environment in Ann Arbor through generous mentorship, so we caught up with him in his office at the University of Michigan to ask him what led him to Ann Arbor and what trends he’s seeing these days in business and entrepreneurship.
In the office suites below the Washington Street parking garage near State, student entrepreneurs from the University of Michigan and their mentors have gathered for a meeting, where they present business ideas in a setup similar to an art gallery. The atmosphere is hushed, thoughtful. The ubiquitous Zingerman’s catering elves have come and gone, leaving pound cake and coffee. Attendees mill around examining the structure for each business on the walls. At the end of the meeting, the posters and papers are covered in little stickers and notes of feedback.