Even before Michael Somers officially graduates from the College of Business’s Global Social Sustainable Enterprise MBA program, he already has his next goal in mind: eliminating hundreds of metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere.
The Colorado Springs native is wrapping up his degree in the program now known as the Impact MBA. Alongside fellow graduates Erin Cartwright and Alisha Fritts, Somers helped develop Ouro Mobility to help builders of master-planned communities offer shared electric vehicles to residents. The startup, which was developed this summer as part of the team’s practicum, hopes to make electric car-share stations the next neighborhood amenity, like swimming pools and green belts, that draw residents to planned communities.
“We want to provide a transportation alternative in these communities, because they’re pretty car-dependent,” Somers said. “We’re trying to show people that this is a way they can replace their second car.”
Nobody expects suburbanites to completely give up car ownership just yet, but the second-car solution can do a lot more than reduce families’ costs. Ouro Mobility estimates that each of its communal electric vehicles can help drivers avoid emitting approximately 50 metric tons of CO2 each year. That’s an overall reduction of 95% when compared to the emissions produced by the individually owned internal-combustion vehicles they would replace.
While Ouro Mobility started as part of his GSSE coursework, Somers’s road to sustainable enterprises is much longer. Graduating from CSU with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, his first job was as an engineer for a major manufacturing firm. He quickly realized his interest in sustainability wasn’t being met in that position.
“I didn’t feel like they were moving quickly enough to shift their products to be more sustainable,” he explained.
To focus on his interest in environmentally friendly manufacturing, he returned to CSU and completed a master’s in mechanical engineering in 2013. While wrapping up that program, he learned about the GSSE MBA, and realized the combination of entrepreneurship and sustainability would provide the skills he needed to achieve his vision of sustainability.
After they finish celebrating their graduation, Cartwright, Fritts and Somers plan to incorporate and seek funding for Ouro Mobility. From there, they intend to get to work launching the startup and, if all goes as planned, help homeowners and builders play a tiny part in fighting climate change.