2022 Sesi Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference & Skandalaris Business Plan Competition

At this year's March 11th 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.  This year the conference is organized as a webinar.

2022 Sesi Program Download

March 17, 2023 Schedule

  • 9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Welcome and Introductions
  • 9:30 – 10:00 a.m. Speaker 1 - TBA
  • 10:00 10:05 a.m. Intermission/Transition
  • 10:05 - 10:35 a.m. Speaker 2 - TBA
  • 10:35 10:45 a.m. Intermission/Transition
  • 10:45 - 11:30 a.m. Keynote - TBA
  • 11:30 – 11:35 a.m. Intermission/Transition
  • 12:00 1:00 p.m. Business Plan Presentations and Awards

2022 Speakers

Jeeva Nadarajah | 9:30–10:00 a.m.

Jeeva Nadarajah is a 2002 Master of Science graduate of Eastern Michigan University. She is the Founder and CEO of Serendip and mother of 2 boys. Jeeva began her career in advertising and pivoted to software development and agile programming in the early 2000's.

Working in domains such as digital advertising, logistics, automotive, healthcare and e-commerce she realized accessebility to fast and reliable software development was preventing innovation in local communities. In 2019 she launched her company Serendip  that aims to make software development available to communities in Michigan. Serendip has to date served 13 clients across the United States and helped them bring their digital products to life with design and software development.

Jeeva is also passionate about expanding opportunities to minorities and underserved communities. She is  a board member and sponsor for Automotive Women's Alliance Foundation and Grace Girls Home in Sri Lanka.

Linda Smith | 10:05–10:35 a.m.

A 1991 EMU accounting grad, Linda Smith has 35 plus years of personal entrepreneurial experience in farming, real estate and life science ventures.  
Linda co-founded Michigan Innovation Headquarters with her husband in 2015. Serial entrepreneurs, they launched MI-HQ, a collaborative business incubator accelerator campus which has grown to 170,000 sq. ft. of flex office, wet lab and manufacturing space as a start up venture. 
At 80 companies and growing, MI-HQ fosters Life sciences, Alternative Energy, Medical Device, Waste to Energy, Corporate Development and Micro Electronics together in a community environment.   MI-HQ was awarded Ann Arbor Spark Project of the Year in 2020. Over 25 years working with early stage companies has provided Linda with a unique insight into what makes a successful start up. She enjoys helping other entrepreneurs succeed. 

Raffaele Mautone | 10:45 – 11:30 a.m.

Raffaele Mautone is Founder and CEO of Detroit-based AaDya Security. Raffaele's strategic thinking and effective leadership have been instrumental and paramount in his career as an IT, sales and operations professional. His extensive experience in the IT and security industry serves as the platform of AaDya. Raffaele's consistent record of leading teams through successful acquisitions; strategic planning and implementation and deploying large, multi-tiered complex programs has served companies such as Duo, FireEye, McAfee and Dell. He also has experience in implementing marketing and sales strategies, positioning companies for future growth, and deploying applications and business process improvements to assist with bookings, leads and new go-to-market programs. Raffaele holds a BS from Eastern Michigan University.

2022 Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year | 11:35 - 11:50 a.m.

On Friday, March 11, 2022 EMU Center for Entrepreneurship awarded Chris Kaufman (BFA ’07) its inaugural Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year award. Chris is a strategic serial entrepreneur and started multiple venture backed companies.  He is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of StockX, an innovative company currently valued at $3.8 billion.  Read more


2022 Skandalaris Business Plan Competition

Finalist Presentations and Awards 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 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.

For more information on this competition and to submit your business plan, please visit the site below:


The submission deadline is February 11, 2022.

College Category

  • Finalists from college category will present their business plans

High School Category

  • Finalists from high school category will present their business plans


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.

Please Click here to see this years additional Sponsors: Ann Arbor SPARK and SkySpecs


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