When entrepreneur and philanthropist David Tarver (BSE EE ’75, MSE ’76) moved back to Michigan in 2007, his home state was suffering. Cities like Detroit and Flint had no shortage of problems awaiting creative solutions, but people struggled to rally the resources that would turn their ideas into action. So Tarver founded the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative (UEI) Inc., in 2014. UEI helps aspiring entrepreneurs tackle urban problems with innovative, sustainable and profitable business solutions.
“Solving these problems requires a combination of awareness, motivation and capability,” Tarver said at the 2015 Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium. “And often, those three things don’t exist in the same people, or even on the same team.”
Tarver is no stranger to the impact people can have when they commit to a common goal. In 1983, he and two colleagues from AT&T Bell Laboratories started a tech company in Tarver’s New Jersey basement. Twelve years later they sold the company, Telecom Analysis Systems, for $30 million.
Tarver would go on to establish a nonprofit focused on improving academic performance and opportunities for the children of his Red Bank, New Jersey, community. He has since returned to Michigan, where he has taught undergraduate classes at the U-M Center for Entrepreneurship since 2013. He is the 2016 recipient of Michigan Engineering’s Distinguished Alumni Service Award.