David Tarver

Founder of Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative

David Tarver was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. After graduating from Flint Central High School, he enrolled in the engineering program at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University). After two years, he transferred to the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, where he received bachelor’s (1975) and master’s (1976) degrees in electrical engineering. Tarver began his professional career at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, NJ. He left Bell Labs in 1983 to start Telecom Analysis Systems (TAS) in his basement with two colleagues. In 1995, he engineered the sale of TAS to Spirent plc (formerly Bowthorpe) for $30 million. From 1996-99, Tarver spearheaded the creation of a $300 million Spirent telecommunications test equipment business. He left Spirent as president of the telecom equipment business unit at the end of 1999.

In 2001, Tarver founded the Red Bank Education and Development Initiative (Red Bank, New Jersey). The community-based not-for-profit catalyzed dramatic improvements in academic performance and opportunities for Red Bank children. He has also served on the National Advisory Committee for the University of Michigan (U-M) College of Engineering, the National Commission on NAEP 12th Grade Assessment and Reporting, the U-M Alumni Association board of directors, the Red Bank Board of Education, and several other civic and not-for-profit organization boards. In 2007, he returned to Michigan, where he resides with wife Kishna Sharif Tarver and daughter Nadiyah. In 2012, he published the book Proving Ground: A Memoir, a compelling account of his quest to create his own technology business.

Tarver is currently lecturing in the U-M College of Engineering Center for Entrepreneurship (U-M CFE), investing in ground-breaking startup companies, advising and supporting entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship programs, and speaking to various groups about entrepreneurship and business innovation. Tarver also serves as president of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative (UEI) Inc., an organization he founded in 2014. UEI empowers entrepreneurs to produce profitable business solutions to urban problems.


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