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Making Connections to the Future in the Here and Now

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Making Connections to the Future in the Here and Now

Six out of ten college students are clinically lonely, which can lead to increased anxiety and depression—but what if a smartphone app could help?

In January 2015, an app quietly appeared to do just that.

Through the support of Michigan State’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, professional writing senior Zoe Zappitell co-created, launched and marketed Conecter. The app links students to one another through interest-based events like fitness classes and student organizations.

She admits it’s her dream project.

“Using resources at The Hatch and Spartan Innovations has really helped us nail down our business model, which has ultimately led us to gain capital,” Zappitell said.

In addition to being a scholarship recipient, Zappitell is president of the Women in Entrepreneurship student group. The group, established through a gift to MSU from alumna and businesswoman Kerry Ann Rockquemore (’94, Social Science), meets twice a month to practice pitching skills, learn about marketing, and hear from speakers.

A former professor, Rockquemore started the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity in 2010, which aims to diversify university faculty—and she has been extremely successful at it.

“Michigan State’s approach is unique, and I love that any student, in any college, can get involved with entrepreneurship,” Rockquemore said. “I’ve learned that it takes all backgrounds and skill sets, from engineers to artists, to come up with diverse ideas.”

Rockquemore admits she had strong female business mentors along her journey to success, and with no agenda, met with Zappitell to discover the needs of the larger group.

“When I asked Zoe how she would change things, it became abundantly clear that more resources, specifically for women at MSU, were needed,” Rockquemore said.

The connection and mentorship between the two will no doubt help launch Zappitell’s next dream: taking Conecter to Silicon Valley after graduation.

Students like Zappitell are benefitting from and being inspired by MSU resources. Learn more about the university’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Author: Sarah Wardell