High-tech startup exec to become first Ehrenberg Director of Entrepreneurship

An entrepreneur with 10 successful high-tech startups to her credit and the current CEO and co-founder of StarryNightMosaics.com, Nancy Benovich Gilby will be the first Ehrenberg Director of Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan School of Information, Dean Jeffrey MacKie-Mason has announced.

Benovich Gilby will help develop the school’s entrepreneurial curriculum for its new Bachelor of Science in Information program. In addition to coordinating entrepreneurial partnerships with other departments and schools at the university, she will be expanding the school’s participation in events such as national competitions, startup treks, networking opportunities and client engagement.

“Nancy has been a mentor to Michigan students interested in entrepreneurship for the past seven years through the Center for Entrepreneurship,” said MacKie- Mason. “She is expert in user-centered design, product development, marketing and strategic development. She is a forward-thinking, hands-on entrepreneur who envisions and executes leading edge solutions to build a better world.”

As well as filling the position of Ehrenberg Director of Entrepreneurship, Benovich Gilby will be an adjunct clinical associate professor in the School of Information and assume an advisory role at TechArb as part of the university’s Campus-wide Entrepreneurship Program, headed by Thomas Zurbuchen, Senior Counselor for Entrepreneurship Education.

“Nancy has a tremendous track record in building startups in the tech area,” Zurbuchen said. “It will be wonderful to have her expertise for startup teams around the entire university. Her appointment makes the School of Information an official partner in TechArb, our campus-wide student start-up incubator.”

TechArb is a collaborative program of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies as well as the Law School’s ZEAL program and the Office of the Vice-president for Research. The Office of the Provost is also participating in funding this activity.

“We are excited to welcome UMSI into this campus-wide partnership,” Zurbuchen said.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to join this leading edge educational institution and to help educate and inspire this next generation of entrepreneurs,” Benovich Gilby said. “I am passionate about inspiring and educating this generation to bring manufacturing and entrepreneurialism back to its American birthplace. My family has worked at Ford since the days of Henry Ford himself, so I know the vital role that Michigan’s auto industry and innovations like the assembly line have played in American history. There is no better place to be part of the exciting re-birth of the American manufacturing ecosystem.” 

Benovich Gilby received both her BSE and MSE in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. In 2007 she received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the department of Computer Science and Engineering. She has been involved in major roles in information technology companies since 1987, including Apollo Computer, Firefly Network, Component Software, Wildfire, ON Technology, Asurion Mobile Applications Division, A2O Mobile, and several others. She has played leadership and co-founder roles in numerous startup ventures. Her ten companies have resulted in eight exits, or outcomes that resulted in a return to the original investors and shareholders.

In her free time, she coaches FIRST Robotics competitors (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) for 5-18 year olds, an organization founded by insulin pump and Segway inventor Dean Kamen.
The director of entrepreneurship position was created through a gift from Roger and Carin Ehrenberg. Roger Ehrenberg is the founder and managing partner of IA Ventures, a venture capital firm, and a member of the UMSI External Advisory Board and UMSI Campaign Council.

“Nancy's appointment reinforces UMSI’s commitment to entrepreneurship,” said Roger Ehrenberg regarding the announcement. “She is a successful entrepreneur and startup executive with experience in engineering, product leadership and general management. She brings a powerful combination of technical skills and empathy to help mentor UMSI's future leaders and problem-solvers. I couldn't be more excited to welcome her as the first Ehrenberg Director of Entrepreneurship at UMSI.”

Click here for more information on UMSI's Entrepreneurship Program.

Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014