Southfield, Mich. - Pavan Muzumdar has been appointed as the first engineering entrepreneur in residence at Lawrence Technological University.
The position is funded by a five-year, $1.1 million grant to Lawrence Tech from the Kern Family Foundation for integrating entrepreneurial mindset education into the curriculum for all undergraduate engineering students. The entrepreneurial mindset includes independence, the ability to work collaboratively, and the desire to make things better.
Hiring Muzumdar reinforces Lawrence Tech's vision of producing leaders with an entrepreneurial mindset and global view, according to President Lewis N. Walker. "One of our objectives is to develop an engaged network of entrepreneurs that help Lawrence Tech achieve its goals to improve student education and success," Walker said. "Pavan provides us access to an extensive entrepreneurial network."
Muzumdar will be preaching what he has been practicing since 1997 when he left a consulting job in New York to work at MV Software Company, now based in Clawson. At MV Software he participated in a number of startup initiatives including developing a new software product from the ground up. The company received a patent for the application in 2007. In addition he established a wholly owned subsidiary of the company in Mumbai, India.
A native of India, Muzumdar earned a bachelor's degree in electronics engineering at the University of Bombay, a master's degree in electrical engineering at the University of Lowell in Massachusetts, and a master's degree in computer science at the University of Massachusetts. He has also earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is a member of the CFA Institute.
In 2000, he took on the additional responsibility to work as the chief operating officer of JRE Tires, a wholesale and retail distributor of tires and wheels. He negotiated long-term relationships with vendors, restructured the internal operations to focus on wholesale operations, and then led the negotiations for the sale of the company six years later.
Simultaneously he worked as chief operating officer of Detroit Hitch Co., a distributor of recreational vehicle accessories, where he restructured the staff and operations and led the launch of a B2B e-commerce system.
Last year he founded Pieris Capital, LLC, in Bloomfield Hills where he has worked on identifying opportunities for investors, providing advisory services, and raising capital for high-growth companies.
According to Muzumdar, an entrepreneurial mindset begins with a proactive approach to a job, even at established companies. "You need to think creatively and make sure that what you bring to the table has value," he said. "If everyone starts thinking about how the company can do things better and faster, there will be an environment in which the company can make the leap to a new product or enterprise," he said.
Muzumdar will be working with faculty and students in and out of the classroom using techniques of problem-based learning, critical thinking, and innovative approaches to classroom topics and student projects.
Additionally, Muzumdar has set the ambitious goal of creating a campus environment that will foster the creation of new business enterprises. It's a tall order that starts with approaching the business world on a personal level and includes the establishment of realistic standards by which to measure a business idea.
"I'd like to see a technology transfer process that results in real-world commercial applications," Muzumdar said. "We want to create a fertile ground at Lawrence Tech for entrepreneurial activities, and the best way to demonstrate that is by creating start-ups."
Muzumdar points out that success as an entrepreneur doesn't necessarily mean taking great risks like leaving your job or taking out a second mortgage on your house. It depends more on the ability to develop a basic concept, provide validation through testing, and build a sound business structure through patience, persistence, and a relentless focus on adding value.
"The business proposition has to be compelling enough so that it can actually attract funding," Muzumdar said. "Investors have to be reasonably sure that they will get something in return for their money. A successful entrepreneur has to create a proposition that sufficiently rewards investors for taking on the substantial risk of providing the capital."
Muzumdar serves on the board of the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Great Lakes, a chapter of the MIT Enterprise Forum, which is a global entrepreneur support organization headquartered in Cambridge, Mass. He is also a volunteer coach for the Great Lakes Entrepreneurs Quest, a Michigan-based business plan competition.
Over the next five years the Kern grant will fund a variety of entrepreneurial programs at Lawrence Tech. The centerpiece will be the integration of entrepreneurial components in 30 courses that affect undergraduate engineering students as they progress through their classes in the College of Engineering and College of Arts and Sciences.
Lawrence Technological University, ltu.edu, offers nearly 100 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech's 102-acre campus is in Southfield, and programs are also offered in Detroit, Lansing, Petoskey and Traverse City. Lawrence Tech also offers programs with partner universities in Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.