The Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is delighted to announce Mutunga Mukeku as the first recipient of the prestigious Bradbury Scholarship for Entrepreneurial Excellence. Mukeku, a junior within Michigan State University’s College of Arts & Letters majoring in Experience Architecture with minors in Business and Entrepreneurship and Innovation, is a shining example of Spartan entrepreneurship.
The Bradbury Scholarship, a symbol of outstanding commitment to innovation and excellence, is awarded to individuals who have shown exceptional dedication to their entrepreneurial journey.
The Bradbury Endowed Scholarship for Student Entrepreneurship, established in December 2022, was created to honor the memory of Greg Bradbury and his commitment to Michigan State University and its education mission. The endowment is established through a gift of his friends and colleagues on the Board of Directors of Drawbridge, Inc., a company Bradbury was instrumental in helping to found alongside Dr. Jeff Grabill and Dr. Bill Hart-Davidson.
Grabill, Hart-Davidson, and their colleague Mike McLeod have invested and disclosed technologies that would become a software service called Eli Review. Eli Review, in turn, became the basis of a successful business venture — Drawbridge, Inc. — shepherded by Bradbury, who served as its CEO for over 10 years throughout its startup and growth periods. Today, Eli Review is used worldwide by tens of thousands of students and teachers every day.
Bradbury was an enthusiastic supporter of entrepreneurship education and encouraged two professors from the College of Arts & Letters to take their fledgling ideas for educational technology to market. Bradbury saw in Eli Review the chance for the transformative power of learning that he recognized as a hallmark of MSU to be shared with people worldwide.
“Mutunga Mukeku is an excellent inaugural recipient of this scholarship. His passion, talent, abilities, and entrepreneurial drive are the qualities we imagined supporting with this endowed scholarship.”Dr. Bill Hart-Davidson
With this scholarship, the Board of Directors at Drawbridge, Inc. wish to support ambitious and exemplary students from various academic colleges and areas of study across the institution engaged in entrepreneurship education at MSU. Specifically, this scholarship helps students in the early stages of creating a venture, including student founders in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.
“Mutunga Mukeku is an excellent inaugural recipient of this scholarship,” said Hart-Davidson, a Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in the College of Arts & Letters. “His passion, talent, abilities, and entrepreneurial drive are the qualities we imagined supporting with this endowed scholarship.”
Journey of a Spartan Entrepreneur: Blending Creativity and Innovation
Mukeku’s story of determination and creativity sets him apart as a remarkable entrepreneur.
Growing up, he had a diverse upbringing, born in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Troy, Michigan. His values were deeply influenced by a family that embraces hard work and the pursuit of excellence. His father, Duncan, played a pivotal role in shaping his solid work ethic, emphasizing the importance of dedication and perseverance.
“My dad, who came to the U.S. around 30 years ago with virtually nothing, became an established business owner,” Mukeku said. “He showed me firsthand the pros and cons of running a business and, more importantly, what it takes to grow a successful business. From an early age, I knew an overwhelming majority of the work is not as glamorous as it’s made out to be, but the ability to have something of your own and watch it grow can be one of the most rewarding feelings.”
At the same time, Mukeku’s mother encouraged him to think beyond one’s expectations and explore boundless possibilities in life.
“I can thank my mom for pushing me to think differently, beyond my own expectations, and showing me what is truly possible,” he said.
Despite their differences, Mukeku’s parents shared the goal of striving to be the best versions of themselves, influencing his pursuit of excellence.
Being an entrepreneur, to Mutunga, means solving problems and positively impacting the environment. He engaged in entrepreneurship in high school by buying and reselling highly sought-after clothing and shoes. Currently, Mukeku is working on Motion Athletic, an athleisurewear brand set to launch next year, promoting a positive mindset.
“I am an advocate for the mentality and mindset the Burgess Institute instills, and it has influenced me to strive to become a better person, student, and entrepreneur. The community does a great job in fostering these qualities.”Mutunga Mukeku
As a creative individual, Mukeku finds that the entrepreneurial mindset complements his skill set — a goal of the Bradbury Scholarship. Creativity allows him to approach problems from different angles, explore innovative solutions, think outside the box, and identify new opportunities. This creative edge is a valuable tool in becoming a more effective entrepreneur.
Mukeku’s journey with the Burgess Institute began through a close friend and fellow designer, Christian Nderu, 2023’s Ian Gray Scholar, who introduced him to the culture and opportunities within the Burgess community. Mukeku’s experience as an intern and participant in the program has been transformative. He’s developing skills in design, honing his ability to pitch at competitions, and fostering a solid work ethic. The Burgess Institute has provided a supportive and welcoming community that encourages personal and entrepreneurial growth.
“The community at the Burgess Institute has always been very welcoming and supportive, from when I arrived to now,” Mukeku said. “I am an advocate for the mentality and mindset the Burgess Institute instills, and it has influenced me to strive to become a better person, student, and entrepreneur. The community does a great job in fostering these qualities.”
Receiving the Bradbury Scholarship is a source of immense pride. Mukeku is the first recipient of the Bradbury Scholarship and hopes to inspire future scholars. This award reinforces his commitment to pursuing his passions and positively impacting the design field.
Looking ahead, Mukeku’s passion for design remains unwavering. He aspires to become a creative director and establish his own design firm. His journey as a Spartan entrepreneur has taught him that the sky is the limit with creativity, innovation, and the right environment and support.
Written by Clare Hampel and originally published by the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation website
Media Contact: Aaryn Richard