Northern Michigan University alumna Britta Carlson was one of eight finalists selected to pitch her visionary business concept in the Michigan Women Forward virtual WomenUP pitch competition held Feb. 4. Carlson is an Innovate Marquette SmartZone client. Her concept is Med Pros Share, an online marketplace for occupational, physical and speech therapists, as well as other licensed medical professionals.
The 2012 health and fitness management graduate also competed as a weightlifter through NMU's National Training Site. After moving on to complete a master's degree in occupational therapy, Carlson served as an Intermediate School District (ISD) occupational practitioner before opening her own practice.
Carlson's Med Pros Share idea originated from her career experience, but also her drive to assist practitioners with student debt while capturing retiring professionals' knowledge. She also wants to help new mothers stay engaged and earn passive income from their knowledge and expertise.
Members of the platform can search and download, as well as buy and sell their resources, which include treatment plan frameworks, education, precaution checklists, workbooks, patient handouts and products.
Carlson has been working closely with local economic development organization Innovate Marquette (IMQT) SmartZone's innovation process and its CEO, Joe Thiel, to identify areas of improvement within her vision and prepare for the pitch competition. While she did not place in the competition, Carlson said she has benefited from the partnership in multiple ways.
"First and foremost, Joe and his team introduced me to the notion of partnership and protection within the innovation ecosystem. This allowed me to identify the vulnerabilities and unique aspects within my business idea by comparing it to competitors, then problem-solving to improve the overall concept before presenting it to industry leaders for licensing.
"One of the most important things to note about my partnership with SmartZone in this phase is the assistance in applying for and receiving BAF [Business Accelerator Fund] funding. This has provided me with marketing dollars that enabled me to push my concept out into the world. This win will help secure expenses for patenting, which will allow Med Pros Share to move further from a concept to reality.”
Thiel said Innovate Marquette SmartZone's goal is to "guide, support and connect our local entrepreneurs with the hopes of proving that the resilence of U.P. residents plays a key role in Michigan's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Britta has spent her nights and weekends bringing this concept to fruition, on top of a full-time career and being a mom. She is the epitome of the endurance of an entrepreneur.”
Michigan Women Forward is a statewide organization focused on creating an inclusive economy for the state of Michigan so that all women and girls can reach their full potential. Its WomanUp & Pitch event is made possible by a generous sponsorship from the Consumers Energy Foundation. The Foundation has contributed $850,000 toward MWF entrepreneur programs since 2015, including $115,000 for this year's competitions.
For more information on Innovate Marquette SmartZone, visit www.innovatemarquette.org.
This story was prepared by Innovate Marquette SmartZone. The media contact is Nicole Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org or 906-450-1258.