On February 16, NEF awards forum set a new record in attendance. Many business cards were exchanged as new connections were made.

Dykema has been a NEF Stakeholder for several years. Tom Vaughn informed the audience that they help startups with all kinds of legal services. Of note is their Emerging Business Tech program which provides a suite of services to help entrepreneurs secure financing.

Good news was shared about two companies NEF influenced through the coaching process. Araianna Carley of AOE Medical sold the business in May. AOE was a medical device company that solved the problem of patient transfer within care facilities. She will be finishing up her Mechanical Engineering degree at the U of M this year.

HireNiche wrote a testimonial about their experiences with the NEF coaching process. While they did not present at a forum, they are growing the business of recruiting job boards. They thanked NEF for their coaching expertise that helped them expand their business and acquire similar companies with in their core focus area.

AkkeNeel Talsma of Melius Outcomes was the showcase presenter. They provide software-enabled clinical intelligence solution for point-of-care quality improvement to address gaps in current performance. It was interesting in that hospital errors are the third leading cause of death and usually due to poor reporting of information. Their software analyzes trends, causes, and actions to get the correct information to the correct people at the right time which saves lives and the cost of care for hospitals.

Out of nine teams, four were presented with awards for their outstanding 2016 presentations in three categories:

The Best Business Model went to Bert Tiger Whitehead IV, CEO of PlanetXLaw. They provide software that enables lawyers to profitably provide more affordable legal services to more clients at lower costs.


The Best Technology went to Mehrzad Samadi, CEO of Parabricks. They provide whole genome sequencing data to insight in one hour.


The Best Presentation went to Nestor Lopez-Duran, CEO of Ripple Science. They accelerate life science research by helping research teams become more efficient and effective in the recruitment and management of research participants.


Stew Nelson, our own New Enterprise Forum President will be the breakfast keynote speaker at the 2017 SESI Entrepreneurship Conference on February 10.  The breakfast will start at 8:30 am, and the breakfast keynote will start at 9:15.  Lunch will be served at 12:00 pm with Michelle Crumm, EMU Regent and entrepreneur, as the lunch keynote speaker.

This is a free event sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship at the Eastern Michigan University College of Business.  Please visit the following url for registration:

There will also be four more speakers for breakout sessions. Skandalaris Business Plan Competition presentations (high school and college) will start at 1:15 pm. The event will be over at 2:15 pm.

Sometimes start-ups going through NEF coaching get recognition before even completing the coaching process.  That is the case for MySwimPro ( and its founder, Fares Ksebati.  Close to the turn of the new year, Fares saw mention on Facebook that MySwimPro had been named the Apple Watch App of the Year.  Then he saw the Apple press release online.  MySwimPro offers custom workouts for swimming enthusiasts and has gained lots of attention, having gone through the University of Michigan’s Desai Accelerator, DTX Launch, and Techstars’ Startup Next program.  Fares says that the attention from Apple likely comes from MySwimPro’s co-founder, Adam Oxner, leveraging Apple’s HealthKit technology to develop the app.  That, plus MySwimPro has exceeded 100,000 users a few months ago.  Congratulations to Fares, Adam, and MySwimPro for this deserved recognition.

More information can be found through News Break at:

The 45 people who attended the October 20 NEF Forum meeting were treated to both an investor presentation by Parabricks and the bi-monthly NEF Pitch Pit.

Mehrzad Samadi, founder of Parabricks, presented his ‘big idea’ – a software solution to accelerate the processing of DNA data from days to hours, allowing faster and more accurate diagnoses and treatment.  The audience was impressed not only with the lives that can be saved with Parabricks’ solution, but also the huge investment potential for the business.

Three intrepid entrepreneurs competed in the Pitch Pit:

It was fun to see such a diverse set of start-ups pitching!

And the three judges:

  • Robb Lippit of VC firm Secret Sauce Capital,
  • Paul Nucci, Assistant Director for Internal Community Partnerships at EMU’s College of Business
  • Vic Havele of technology consulting firm CAE Tech

The judges’ comments were well received, and the winner of $400 (including a generous $200 match from Secret Sauce Capital) was Sean Carrol, founder of Enbiologics.  Congratulations, Sean!

The fact that each presentation received immediate, specific, and actionable feedback from the panel of judges exemplifies precisely the value of New Enterprise Forum meetings to aspiring entrepreneurs and echoes the themes emphasized repeatedly in our coaching process:  Whatever the product or service an entrepreneurial company may be developing, there are fundamental business elements that must be thoroughly planned and clearly presented to create a credible “pitch” -- and a sound business plan.

Our thanks and best wishes to Parabricks and all the pitch contenders!  We look forward to following your on-going growth and progress.

Civionics, an Ann Arbor startup and leader in sensor-driven predictive analytics, has been recognized by TiEcon Midwest as an ‘Elite Entrepreneur’ on the TiE list of Top-20 Early Stage Startups.  NEF is proud of Civionic’s ( recognition, given NEF’s role in having coached Civionics on its investor presentations.  Beyond this, we are especially pleased that the recognition extends to Gerry Roston, Civionic’s CEO and past President of the New Enterprise Forum.  

Congratulations to Gerry and Civionics!!

Workit Health, and founder Lisa McLaughlin, were the People’s Choice winner at this year’s Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition (  Workit ( has been gaining traction and attracting investors, and the AMIC $25,000 prize is further confirmation of the quality of the Workit Health proposition and Lisa and her team. 

The New Enterprise Forum is pleased to have had the opportunity to coach Lisa as she refined Workit Health’s initial presentation to investors, and we are proud to see her continue to successfully update her presentation and successfully attract investor attention. 

Congratulations, Lisa!!

This year’s Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition ( again highlighted the success of start-ups who have taken advantage of the free coaching provided by the New Enterprise Forum.  AMIC attracts investors from across the nation and awards $1 Million in prizes.  Since start-ups are pre-screened based upon both their submitted business ideas and their presentations, those who have honed their presentations have a greater chance of success. 

We are proud that companies that have gone through New Enterprise Forum coaching continue to be selected to present at AMIC.  This year’s NEF-coached presenters were:

  • ContentOro
  • makerOS
  • Parabricks
  • Workit Health

A Grand Rapids-based company that provides high schools with their own sports websites and its co-founder were recently selected as an Endeavor entrepreneur, a designation that gives the company access to professional services and resources as a way to further its growth.

Ryan Vaughn and his Varsity News Network were chosen at the 66th Endeavor International Selection Panel in Boston. He is one of 34 entrepreneurs representing 18 companies and 12 countries that were selected at the ISP.

VNN was chosen for its high-growth potential to change the consumer experience with high school athletics. It gives high school athletic departments a centralized online presence to connect and communicate with their local school communities. The platform is also an opportunity for the athletic department to sell advertising, which can generate revenue for the school. Universities and colleges already have a similar service.

NEF coached Varsity News Network team in 2011. The team was the showcase presenter in Jan 2012.

You can learn more about Varsity News Network at Read the full article on Crain’s Detroit Business.

Congratulations to Varsity News Network!!

We all know the New Enterprise Forum helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses, but that’s not all we do – as evidenced at the September meeting, a panel discussion by an eclectic group of investors about the current investment scene in Michigan -- and ultimately, beyond. The audience was 40-plus entrepreneurs (nearly a dozen of whom indicated they planned to try to raise money for their businesses at some point), investors of every stripe (friends, family, solo angel, group angel, and corporate VC), and service providers offering the full buffet of services for every growth stage.

Yet audience questions and feedback submitted after the meeting indicated that even the “experts” continue to learn. Coaches who are themselves experienced entrepreneurs or service providers asked for clarification or additional info on subtle differences across investment markets, as well as best practices among investor types. Others expressed surprise about angel or VC requirements that may have changed over time or are different from practices in other areas of the US with which they may be more familiar.

Because Ann Arbor is a “transient” town due to its ties to the University of Michigan, our audience and its needs change rapidly as well. With the acceleration of that change due to the University Research Corridor, the deeper engagement of Tech Transfer, Detroit redevelopment including Tech Town, and an improved economy that allowed investment throughout southeast lower Michigan, change will continue to be a primary characteristic of the area and its entrepreneurial community.

The September meeting discussion and its audience response was a perfect example of NEF’s value as the “go-to” place in such a community. Join us to take advantage of the coaching, connecting, and perfecting opportunities for those at every level of the game. All are welcome!

Fusion Coolant Systems Inc., a University of Michigan spinout based in Canton, has finished raising a funding round of $1.25 million, the first close of what is projected to be a larger Series B round. 

The funding contributions were by the direct venture program of UM's investment office called MINTS, for Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups, and Ann Arbor-based Amherst Fund LLC. Additional investors are expected to join the B round over the next six months. The funds will be used for Fusion's laboratory expansion in Canton and to grow its engineering and sales teams. 

After it was founded, the company got a loan of $50,000 from Ann Arbor Spark and an investment of $50,000 from the First Step Fund in Detroit. In 2011, it was awarded $150,000 as the runner-up at the second annual Accelerate Michigan Innovation event. 

Fusion Coolant has patented a process for using cooled carbon dioxide to lubricate and cool cutting tools used in manufacturing, promising to reduce costs and pollution and increase tool life.

NEF coached Fusion Coolant team in 2011. The team was the showcase presenter in May 2011.

You can learn more about Fusion Coolant at Read the full articles on Crain’s Detroit Business and U-Mich News.

Congratulations to Fusion Coolant Systems!!