Founder of Ann Arbor startup wins 25K in Eastern Michigan University pitch competition

Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at EMU Sanjib Chowdhury (left), Culturewell founder Sarah Beatty (center) and Center for Entrepreneurship communication coordinator Chloe Desselles (right). (Eastern Michigan University)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Eastern Michigan University alumna and Culturewell founder Sarah Beatty has won $25,000 after impressing a panel of judges.

As part of EMU’s eight-week Executive Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Venture Challenge program, enrolled entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to local business leaders for the chance to win funding.

Beatty’s Ann Arbor-based startup, Culturewell, is an analytics platform helping administrators prevent infections through data-driven evaluations of healthcare setting cleanliness.

“It was an honor to win the award because the significant effort I’ve put into building Culturewell is beginning to make a difference,” Beatty said in a release.

The Brighton resident added that her winnings will help the startup develop methods for testing for COVID-19 on surfaces, which will boost client confidence when having employees return to the office.

She said that potential entrepreneurs should utilize the free or low-cost resources within their area.

“There is a multitude of free and low-cost resources available from the SBDC and Ann Arbor SPARK, among others,” Beatty said in a release. “For entrepreneurs interested in future angel or venture funding, build and leverage your networks by attending virtual and in-person networking events, such as A2 NewTech, A2 Biosocial, or Shine+Rise.”

Five runners-up in the program will receive a physical address and mailbox and 20 hours of monthly conference room access from Ann Arbor-based co-working space Michigan Innovation Headquarters. Ann Arbor SPARK will provide similar perks to two additional finalists, EMU officials said.

The Entrepreneurship and Venture Challenge certificate program, offered by the Ypsilanti university’s Center for Entrepreneurship, mixes in-person and virtual programming to help participants evaluating startup ideas, acquire customers, tackle legal issues, plan their finances and craft funding pitches.

During the course, participants learn from start-up investors, industry and academic experts, mentors and professional coaches.

Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship Sanjib Chowdhury said that although 60-70 percent of jobs in the past decade have been created within the small business sector, many entrepreneurs still need guidance.

“That’s where this program can help,” he said in a release. “Our mission is to help entrepreneurs start and run their small businesses.”

The eight-week program was first launched this past January.

Learn more about EMU’s Executive Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Venture Challenge program here.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.