16 March 2017


Ann Arbor SPARK Central, 330 E. Liberty St, Lower Level, Ann Arbor

NEF Pitch Pit

Four entrepreneurs will each give a four-minute pitch of their business idea to a panel of investor judges in a “Shark Tank” format. Prototypes and visual aids are encouraged but no Power Point presentations. After each pitch, the judges will give detailed feedback and score the business. At the end of the evening, the person with the highest score will receive a $100 cash prize plus all additional prize money provided by the audience.

The four entrepreneurs, selected from a large pool of applicants are:

  • Mark Couling, Head, Business Development, Deeptalk. Deeptalk develops voice & text bots that provide a reliable, pleasant, and sustained automatic conversational experience surpassing human assistance, centered around consumer facing businesses. Deeptalk is an AI company that is revolutionizing how people interact with machines using deep conversational understanding.
  • Norman Kutemperor, Scientel IT Corporation. Gensonix NoSQL Database - New Data Base Systems to solve Todays Big Data Problems.
  • Felicia Maxwell, Fit4Life Health and Fitness LLC. Health, nutrition, and physical fitness classes, services, and solutions for all age groups and backgrounds.
  • Charles Richison, Creative Technology. LeafEasy - an innovative tool for collecting leaves easily.

Pitch Pit Judges:

A panel of three esteemed judges will provide feedback and score the teams.

Francis Criqui, President, Annual Collaboration for Entrepreneurship (ACE) and Managing Partner, Technology Highway, L3C. 

Francis “Tex” Criqui, former Director of the LTU Collaboratory at Lawrence Tech, is now President of the Annual Collaboration for Entrepreneurship (ACE) and Managing Partner in Technology Highway, L3C.  Technology Highway designs unique, comprehensive, process driven solutions to entrepreneurial challenges. Mr Criqui has served as a mentor, judge, and advisor for numerous competition in SE Michigan over the past 5 years.  He is also an instructor for a customer discovery program based upon the NSF I-Corps.

Sheu-Jane Gallagher, S'Jane Group

As the principal of the S’Jane Group, Sheu-Jane Gallagher consults for startups and entrepreneurial service organizations, advising on commercialization strategies, portfolio management, and investment due diligence. She has held various positions in the automotive industry with Ford Motor Co. and Decoma International, and taught mechanical engineering at Wayne State University. Sheu-Jane holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from Rutgers University with a special expertise in biomedical engineering.


Gary Hessenaur, President and owner of Hessenaur & Associate, C.P.A., P.C..
The firm provides a full range of accounting, tax, consulting and part time CFO services. The firm focuses on small to mid-size businesses with a specialty in start ups and technology businesses. Start up business clients have been funded through owner funds, grants, angel and VC investors. He is very well networked in the startup and financing community. Gary is a coaches several startup programs including SPARK and NEF. He has been on the NEF board since 1993, past president and program committee chair.


Mark your calendar. The meeting opens at 5:00 pm with networking and appetizers. Around 5:45 pm, the program portion of the meeting begins with an introduction from our President including upcoming entrepreneurial events and past NEF Showcase Presenter news. The program continues with our featured Showcase Presenter(s) who are graduates of the NEF coaching process. Depending on the month or otherwise noted, the program includes the engaging NEF Pitch Pit or intriguing topic and panel. The program typically finishes at 7:15 pm with more networking afterwards. Please feel welcome to join us.

Showcase Presenter: