Breaking the mold at Eastern Michigan: Out of the ordinary thinking for entrepreneurs

2013 Sesi Entrepreneurship Conference to bring outstanding business leaders to EMU campus

by Paul Nucci, Published January 31, 2013

YPSILANTI - Thinking outside the box and making your dream come true will be the topics of discussion as the Eastern Michigan University Center For Entrepreneurship presents the Sesi Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference February 8, 2013 at the EMU Student Center, 900 Oakwood in Ypsilanti.

Networking and refreshments start at 8:30 a.m., followed by opening remarks and breakout sessions. A sit-down lunch will be immediately after the breakout sessions. The conference concludes with the keynote speaker. The event is free but registration is required.


"Breaking the Chains" represents out-of-the-ordinary businesses with out-of-the-box thinking. The conference is designed to inspire future entrepreneurs to not be afraid to do what it needed; be passionately persistent with goals, regardless of obstacles; to block out all negativity from any direction, and simply do what it takes to make dreams come true.

The event is organized by the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO), a student group within the EMU College of Business.

"The Sesi Conference is where the passion for entrepreneurship is instilled in us," said Jessica Smith, CEO president. "Each speaker and session is designed to offer a different take on being an entrepreneur at different stages, including students."

The breakfast keynote speaker will be Debi Scroggins, owner of Bear Claw Coffee, a chain of 14 franchise coffee houses in the Washtenaw county region. Scroggins is an EMU alumnus.

The luncheon keynote speaker will be Kim Schatzel, EMU provost and vice president of academic and student affairs.

Schatzel's corporate experience includes more than 20 years of new venture and start-up experience. This includes serving as founding president and COO, and later CEO of ICM/Krebsoge, North America's largest powdered metal components manufacturer.

Featured breakout session speakers include:

  • Mark Hodesh, creator of Mark's Carts, an eight-cart long food fair that offers the freshest foods at affordable prices in an intimate setting in the Ann Arbor area.
  • Shawn Neal, co-owner of Groove Box Studios (GBS) in Detroit. GBS involves funneling local musicians through the studio with a signature vibe and sound, helping them finance, produce and promote high-quality recording sessions. Neal graduated from EMU in 1994.
  • Adrian Pittman of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3). DC3 is an economic development organization with a targeted purpose: connecting these assets to enhance the collective potential of Detroit's creative community and grow Detroit's creative economy.
  • Jessica French, owner of Sidetrack Bar and Grille in Depot Town in Ypsilanti, a longtime local favorite.
  • Ben Wilcox, of, an organization designed to enable academic and life success for ex-convicts.
  • Angela Barbash, of Reconsider (financial services.) The firm scrutinizes the traditional aspects of investing and money management to uncover better solutions for Americans looking to achieve a more secure economic freedom.
  • Kelly Koester, of Koester's Sealcoating, a Monroe-based asphalt sealing company that is family operated. Koester is an EMU alumnus.

As part of the conference, finalists for the Skandalaris Business Plan Competition will present their plans for cash awards. University and high school students, competing in separate categories, will compete for $5,000 in prize money.  

EMU faculty, staff and students, and other educators with curriculums centered on entrepreneurship or business are invited to attend

Call Jessica Smith at (248) 767-4563 for details. To register online, go to:


Students in CEO gain real world experience by working on club projects involving real products for sale. The club also provides students with the opportunity to run a current chapter business. The EMU chapter was recently recognized as a "Best Chapter for Teaching Entrepreneurship" at the national CEO conference, held this past December in Chicago.

The Center For Entrepreneurship at Eastern Michigan University, within the College of Business, strives to create, encourage and sustain the entrepreneurial spirit through its various activities throughout campus.  It also assists emerging growth companies in the southeastern Michigan region with seminars, business plan reviews and structured mentoring and networking between entrepreneurs along with various resource providers.


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Paul Nucci


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