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New Venture team gears up for competition in March

Kevin Keeley remembers walking into an interview for a busboy position with a nearly blank resume at 18 years old.

It was a hard sell, the Dearborn senior claimed, because most companies value experience.

However, this experience isn’t easy to obtain. when companies are hiring those with previous work experience over those hired to gain experience. It was with this vicious cycle in mind that Keeley and Mount Pleasant senior Andy Clark joined the New Venture Competition.

The New Venture Competition holds the goal of coaching, educating and inspiring students to create and launch start-up businesses in Michigan. The aspiring entrepreneurs will spend seven months preparing for the competition by attending workshops with faculty, mentors, experienced entrepreneurs and alumni to take their ideas from concepts to business models with the goal of creating a sustainable business.

“The benefits to students are it’s a great networking opportunity, they learn customer discovery and validation and how to start a business,” the Associate Director of the Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship, Robby Roberts, said.

The competition is led by the College of Business Administration and the Institute for Entrepreneurship. Over $75,000 is awarded in start-up capital and in-kind services to the winning teams through a number of categories.

Keeley and Clark entered with the idea of, a web-based service that would place people ages 16 to 25 in jobs that fit with their school schedule to help them develop professional skills while instilling good work ethic and building their resume.

“Most kids come out of college maybe working two jobs and a degree, which makes them less employable because they only worked at McDonald’s and maybe Radio Shack,” Keeley said. “You have a bachelors in science, but you’ve never worked in the real world before and they value experience.”

People can post jobs from yard work to semi-professional jobs. Any job the user’s set skills match with from the job seeker, they’d perform the task and it would be taken through the system.

“For most kids, the problem is that some won’t get a job until 18 or 19 and they’ll walk into an institution with a blank resume,” Clark said. “It’s extremely hard to get a job if they haven’t worked before. We help them build their resume online by them using our service.”

Central Michigan Life will be keeping up with Keeley and Clark's progress until the New Venture competition in March.