2021 Sesi Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference & Skandalaris Business Plan Competition

At this year's March 12th conference, high school and college students teachers from the Midwest region will join notable business leaders/entrepreneurs to celebrate entrepreneurship. Students, instructors and community members from our region are invited to attend this free, flagship, half-day agenda presented by the EMU's Center for Entrepreneurship

2021 Sesi Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference Program is available to download [PDF] now.

2021 Schedule

  • 9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Welcome and Introductions
  • 9:30 9:55 a.m. Speaker 1 - Josh Holowicki
  • 9:55 10:00 a.m. Intermission/Transition
  • 10:00 a.m. - 10:25 a.m. Speaker 2 - Courtney Smith
  • 10:2510:30 a.m. Intermission/Transition
  • 10:30 a.m.11:10 a.m. Keynote - Jerome Harvey
  • 11:1011:20 a.m. Gifts giveaways for attendees
  • 11:20 a.m.12:10 p.m. Business Plan Presentations and Awards
  • 12:1012:30 p.m. Q&A with Entrepreneurs


Jerome Harvey | 10:30–11:10 a.m. 

Jerome Harvey, this year's keynote speaker, is serving as the President and CEO of four companies over the past three decades. With his technical knowledge, hands-on engineering skills, strategic vision, and financial acumen, he was able to turnaround an underperforming company into an industry leader and launch a startup that grew into a $10 Million international sales giant. At present Jerome serves as President and CEO of Harvey Enterprises, providing leadership to an organization dedicated to identifying and purchasing medium-sized, high-tech niche companies. Jerome’s innovative thinking helped Harvey Industries emerge as a powerhouse in the aluminum casting world, taking that company to over $100 Million during his tenure. Raised in the small town of Albion, Michigan, Jerome’s parents instilled in their son a deep appreciation of formal education and the importance of self-reliance. By age 11, young Jerome had founded his own company, and had sold this company to a new owner, before moving on to college at 18. Jerome holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Eastern Michigan University, and completed the prestigious Dartmouth College/Tuck School of Business Executive Leadership Program. Mr. Harvey serves on the EMU College of Business Dean’s Executive Advisory Board, and is a Member of the Economic Development Board for Albion, Michigan.

Josh Holowicki | 9:30–9:55 a.m.

Josh Holowicki, this year's distinguished speaker, is a passionate entrepreneur who started his first company in high school and hasn’t stopped since! In 2009, armed with a B.B.A. from Eastern Michigan University, he began consulting with small businesses in the Metro Detroit area. In 2011, combining his consulting experience with a passion for entertainment technology, he founded E2i Design, an organization focused on the deployment of audio, video, lighting, and scenic design systems for permanent installations in live performance and hospitality environments. Since its founding and under his leadership, E2i Design has grown to service clients throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Mexico and Asia while seeing consistent revenue and profit growth. Josh lives in Brighton with his wife Michelle (also an EMU Alumni), their daughter Ellery, and their morkie Rosie. Josh is excited to be joining the Sesi Entrepreneur Conference this year and looks forward to sharing concepts on how to stay unique, fresh and exciting in a competitive business environment.

Courtney Smith | 10–10:25 a.m.

Courtney Smith, this year's distinguished speaker, recently dubbed a “modern day history maker” by Essence Magazine is an award-winning, social entrepreneur with over a decade of experience in the non- profit sector. She currently serves as the founder & CEO of the Detroit Phoenix Center, a high impact nonprofit organization that provides critical resources, support, and a safe, nurturing environment to youth transitioning out of poverty & homelessness. Throughout her career, she has served in numerous capacities, with a special emphasis on social justice, youth, and community development. Courtney graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the honors college at Eastern Michigan University. She is currently pursuing graduate coursework in nonprofit management at Harvard University. Outside of being a dynamic civil servant, Courtney enjoys spending time with loved ones, traveling, and live theatre.

2021 Skandalaris Business Plan Presentations by Finalists

Presentations and Awards 11:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

Three finalists from the High school category and three from the College category will each offer a four minute presentation of their business plans. Community business leaders will judge these presentations to select the best presentation for cash prizes.

College Category

  • Austin Chrzanowski - Aus-E Bikes

    Aus E-Bikes is a cargo electric-bike retailer seeking to improve engagement and collaboration among the cycling community while creating an enjoyable shopping experience for families that serves their full cycling needs.

  • Heather Utsler-Smith - Great Escape Theatre

    The Great Escape Theatre is a not-for-profit, professional theatre company that inspires our community through high-quality, innovative, powerful theatre, both new and familiar.

  • Kyle Way - Perfect-T

    Perfect-T is a small golf tool designed to stop the golf tee at your desired height, every time. A consistent tee height helps a golfer’s drive and ball flight, which improves the overall score. This tool is unique since it can fit on any golf tee. 

  • Click here to see one of the presentations from 2020

High School Category

  • Dylan Chaudhry and Shreyas Athreya (Troy High school) - 3D Create

    3D Create offers access to a series of specialized 3D production services and an easy-to-use app. We are enabling teachers to make the classroom a fun learning environment once again, and allowing businesses to become more efficient.

  • Zachary Pryor (AA Pioneer High School) - Shopeez

    Shopeez is a home grocery delivery company servicing cost-conscious consumers, vacationers, and vulnerable residents in rural communities facing food insecurity not currently served by national providers.

  • Clare Salata (Skyline High School) - The Shoe Bin

    The Shoe Bin is providing a great way for students and school staff to donate a pair of shoes to those in need, while also saving money for themselves. People are much more likely to donate if it is convenient for them.

  • Click here to see one of the presentations from 2020


A Very Special Thanks to Our Donors

 Joseph M. Sesi & Catherine R. Sesi

 In 2009, EMU received a generous gift from the estate of Catherine Sesi, family owners of the Sesi Lincoln Mercury Mazda Volvo dealership and longtime friends of Ypsilanti and EMU, to endow the annual entrepreneurship conference. Her family, including son Joseph (EMU alumnus) and nephew Naz maintain the auto dealership in the area while keeping strong ties to the Eastern Michigan University.

 Robert J. Skandalaris

Mr. Skandalaris began his career as a Certified Public Accountant after graduating with a masters in accounting from Eastern Michigan University. In 2001, Mr. Skandalaris co-founded Quantum Ventures of Michigan, LLC, a privately held company specializing in the acquisition and development of middle market firms. Mr. Skandalaris is the author of Rebuilding the American Dream. In 2009 EMU received a generous gift from him to start the Business Plan Competition. His contributions were recognized at the 49th EMU Annual Alumni Awards Dinner in 2010. He lives in Bloomfield Hills with his wife Julie.

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