The Entrepreneurship Hour speaker series provides a venue for students to engage and network with world-class entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and business leaders from across the globe. This gateway class explores fundamental topics in entrepreneurship such as emerging business models, new venture creation, and technology commercialization while exposing both undergraduate (freshmen – seniors) and graduate students to the ecosystem in a variety of industries. Note: These talks are open to the community as space permits.

You can see past speaker lineups here.


  • Fridays from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Stamps Auditorium, North Campus
  • Credits:  1
  • Grading:  Pass / Fail
  • Prereq:  None
  • Instructors:  Matt Gibson and Christine Gordon
  • NOTE: you may take this course multiple times

Jan. 12: Shorya Awtar, FlexDex

Shorya Awtar is a professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Precision Systems Design Lab at the University of Michigan. He is the lead inventor of the FlexDex technology, for which he has received the ASME Leonardo da Vinci Award. He is an expert in machine design and mechatronics, with multiple research papers, patents, technologies, start-ups, and awards in these areas. He earned his engineering degrees from IIT Kanpur, RPI and MIT.

Jan. 19: Rahm Emanuel, ThinkChicago

Rahm Emanuel is the 55th Mayor of the City of Chicago and has served since 2011. He attracted numerous companies to Chicago and helped to build the next generation of start-ups, while investing in the infrastructure, public transportation, open space and cultural attractions that make Chicago a great place to live, work, and play. Prior to becoming Mayor, Emanuel served as the White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama and served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Chicago’s 5th District. He previously served as a key member of the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1998, rising to serve as Senior Advisor to the President for Policy and Strategy.

Jan. 26: Yoon C. Lee, Samsung

Yoon C. Lee is a U-M alum and currently the Senior Vice President, Head of the Product Innovation Team (PIT) and Head of Content and Services at Samsung Electronics America. He oversees the creation of consumer insight-based innovative concepts for strategic mid-term products across all product categories. He also oversees the Content & Services teams, which create software products for devices including Virtual Reality, Samsung Family Hub refrigerator and other emerging platforms. Yoon has 20+ years of product design & development experience. His industry experience includes automotive, aerospace, consumer electronics, retail, industrial equipment and telecom services. Previously, Yoon was VP of Insight Concept & Portfolio at Samsung Electronics in South Korea, leading Samsung Home Appliance’s midterm products and portfolio development. 

Feb. 2: Kyle Hoff, Floyd Furniture

Kyle pursued architecture and entrepreneurship in his undergrad and has a Master’s degree in architecture from the University of Michigan. Although Kyle worked for architecture firms in San Francisco and Chicago after graduation, he relentlessly pursued launching his own business, working evenings and mornings. While moving between cities, he realized that traditional furniture didn’t work for how he was living — a pain point he sought to solve. While in Chicago, after spending a weekend attempting get to IKEA, Kyle set out to develop a better design & experience. After cold-calling dozens of factories in the Midwest & getting turned down, he finally had a prototype for the first product: a set of table legs that packed up easily & allowed an individual to create a table with any surface. At Floyd, Kyle leads vision, as well as driving supply chain growth, product development, and strengthening Floyd’s manufacturing partnerships.

Feb. 9: Steve Horowitz, Snap Inc.

Steve Horowitz is currently Vice President of Technology for Snap, Inc. in Venice, California. He brings vast technology expertise including the development of world-class products at Google, Microsoft, Motorola, Quotient, and Apple. Steve’s career has spanned decades and he has led teams responsible for industry shaping mobile products, computer operating systems, television, and wearable technology. Steve is a Michigan alum and is proud to have two daughters who are both Wolverines.

Feb. 16: Joe Malcoun, Nutshell

Joe is the CEO of Nutshell and a three-time graduate from the University of Michigan—holding a Master’s degree in Environmental Policy and a Finance and Strategy MBA. Previously, Joe helped to define strategy and corporate development at DTE Energy, a $13B publicly traded utility company. In more recent years, Joe has run an investment capital firm specializing in early-stage software startups. Joe serves as president of the Board of Directors at 826Michigan, a non-profit supporting student literacy. He has strong ties throughout our home state of Michigan and across the technology industry.

Mar. 9: Clarence Wardell III, What Works Cities

Dr. Clarence Wardell III is currently the Director of Repurpose for Results at Results for America, supporting Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities Initiative. In that role he works with mid-size cities across the country to help them use data and evidence to guide their programming and investment decisions. He was most recently a member of the U.S. Digital Service at the Obama White House, where he led strategy and product management across several of the team’s projects, including those focused on criminal justice and human services. In that role he also co-led the White House Police Data Initiative, an effort aimed at using open data as a means to increase trust and engagement between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Prior to joining the U.S. Digital Service, Clarence served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow from 2014-2015. Clarence is a U-M alum and social entrepreneur who is passionate about using technology to increase and enhance civic engagement.

Mar. 16: Mike O’Connell, Grayson Cellars

Mike O’Connell is the founder and President of The Woodmar Group, a California based winery. The Woodmar Group started in 2004 in Napa, California with the focus of using Napa Valley winemaking skills to produce wines that retail in the $10 – $15 price point. The brands include Grayson Cellars, Block Nine, Five Rows, Freelander, Ghostrunner and Hanging Vine and are sold into 50 states and 25 countries. Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate gave Grayson wines Best Buy ratings for eleven consecutive releases. The company is run by Mike and his wife and is one of the larger family owned wineries in the United States. The company is named in tribute to Woodmar Country Club, a now defunct golf course in Mike’s native Indiana where he spent countless hours learning life’s lessons playing golf. Prior to founding The Woodmar Group, Mike ran legendary Indy car driver Mario Andretti’s winery, Andretti Winery, in Napa California where he grew sales 100% in three years. The turn-around plan included renegotiating contracts, reducing the product line, improving product quality, redesigning packaging and building a national sales force.

Mar. 23: Marvin Ammori, Hyperloop One

As General Counsel of Hyperloop One, Marvin leads the legal team and serve on the senior business leadership. The company is working to make ultra-highspeed ground transportation a reality. As a finance, regulatory, business transactions, and patents expert, Marvin spent over a decade representing top technology giants and start-ups in Silicon Valley and New York City including Google, Apple, Dropbox, SoftBank, the National Association of Realtors, and Tumblr. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School, Marvin has been published in the Harvard Law Review, Foreign Affairs, and the Atlantic, has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox, and hosted a Slate podcast series on emerging technology.

Mar. 30: Renée Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Shift

Drawing on the last decade of her new research, Renée will discuss what it takes to shift from cutthroat markets to wide-open new markets–or blue oceans devoid of competition. She will lay out the 5-step proven process to make the shift and will highlight how it has been applied to companies, non-profits and governments to seize new growth and build a compelling future.  You’ll learn what works, what doesn’t and how to avoid the potential pitfalls along the way. This is a must-hear talk for anyone who is serious about dramatically improving their growth and strategic position. It is a once in a career opportunity. To maximize the value of the talk, you should also read the book Blue Ocean Shift.

Apr. 6: Mark Retzloff, Horizon Organic

Mark Retzloff is a pioneer in the organic and natural foods industry with a 48-year career starting and managing successful companies. He is co-founder and chairman of Alfalfa’s Markets, Boulder-based natural foods stores. He also co-founded Aurora Organic Dairy in 2003, and currently acts as a senior advisor to the company. He was the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resource and Environment Practitioner in Residence for 2014/2015 and 2015/2016. He is former senior partner of the Boulder Farm Teamconsulting firm which works with companies in the Natural, Organic, Local and Sustainable food and sector. He is also Chairman of the Board of Natural Habitats Group, a Netherlands based, fully integrated leader in organic palm oil production, processing, and distribution.

Apr. 13: Shelly Sahi, SAHI Cosmetics

Shelly is a cross-disciplinary scientist and innovator with 5+ years of direct experience in prototype and product development, project planning, management, industry and market analysis, laboratory testing, brand creation and management, strategy and execution in new venture activity, supply chain management, marketing and sales. She worked for the University of Michigan Hospital researching H. flu and chronic kidney disease before joining the materials science research group at Ford Motor Company. She was promoted to the business office and completed a Ross Evening MBA in 2.5 years. During the MBA program, she started SAHI Cosmetics through Dare to Dream grants, Kickstarter campaigning, and various Zell Lurie Institute of Entrepreneurship scholarships. She also won first place at the Michigan Business Challenge 2017 and is the Weiser Family Entrepreneur Of The Year.