Industrial engineering senior wins $10,000 at Detroit Homecoming entrepreneur showcase

omnishope1Four local startups received $10,000 awards at a Detroit Homecoming pitch competition on Sept. 15, including It Comes Naturally LLC, a natural skin care company founded by Iyinoluwa Omishope, an industrial and systems engineering senior at Wayne State University.

Omishope’s company was one of a dozen businesses invited to the Urban Entrepreneur Showcase for a series of two-minute presentations to Detroit expats and potential investors looking for innovative ways to positively impact the city and its residents. The startups represented a broad range of industries including urban agriculture, health care, restaurant and retail.

Omishope developed a product called Skin Shield, a natural and organic mosquito repellent. Skin Shield is a DEET-free, essential oil-based product that also serves as a skin moisturizer and sunscreen.

The goal of the Urban Entrepreneur Showcase was to connect successful business people from Detroit with local entrepreneurs. It was inspired by Urban Science CEO and Homecoming Host Committee member Jim Anderson, BSCE ’67, MSCE ’70, who in 2014 donated $25 million to the College of Engineering to launch the James and Patricia Anderson Engineering Ventures Institute. Anderson matched a $20,000 cash award sponsored by Detroit-based Ally Financial Inc.

“We are very excited to see Iyinoluwa’s success at the Homecoming event” said Sorin Draghici, associate dean for entrepreneurship and innovation and director of the Anderson Institute. “The fact that successful business people, such as the expats in attendance, appreciated her startup company is very encouraging and meaningful to us.”

Draghici described Omishope’s approach as a triple-bottom-line business model — addressing a global health problem (mosquito-born diseases) with an environmental focus (using only natural products) and a social mission (products can be made in underdeveloped countries).

Omishope is one of many entrepreneurs trained and supported by the Anderson Institute, which was established in 2014 to help faculty and students in their innovation and entrepreneurship activities, as well as advance Wayne State’s role as a premier research university. Omishope also excelled in TechTown’s DTX Launch Detroit accelerator program, where she received $5,000 last December in the Innovation Warriors/Blackstone LaunchPad Warrior Pitch competition.

omnishope2“The Anderson Institute will continue to help both enthusiastic students such as Iyinoluwa, as well as more experienced faculty, in all aspects related to bringing new ideas into the real world, including starting new companies and participating in the revitalization of Detroit,” said Draghici.

Detroit Homecoming is an event produced by Crain’s Detroit Business that reconnects former Detroit residents with the city and spurs investment opportunities.

Learn more about the Anderson Institute at engineering.wayne.edu/entrepreneurship.