News

Sometimes start-ups going through NEF coaching get recognition before even completing the coaching process.  That is the case for MySwimPro (www.myswimpro.com) 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: http://www.newsbreakapp.com/n/05fLqkkz?s=a3

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 (civionics.com) 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 (AccelerateMichigan.org).  Workit (workithealth.com) 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 (http://acceleratemichigan.org/) 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 www.varsitynewsnetwork.com. 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 www.fusioncoolant.com. Read the full articles on Crain’s Detroit Business and U-Mich News.

Congratulations to Fusion Coolant Systems!!

Ann Arbor-based ContentOro LLC, which provides websites with licensed content from books, has received an investment of $50,000 from the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, which is part of the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

This investment is part of a funding round of between $500,000 and $750,000 that is being raised by CEO Bob Chunn, who founded the company in 2014. Last June, ContentOro raised a funding round of $450,000 from the Ann Arbor-based Michigan Angel Fund, Farmington Hills-based Lis Ventures LLC and Detroit-based InvestMichigan.  Prior to that, Chunn got his first investment of $100,000 from Chuck Newman, who founded ReCellular Inc., an Ann Arbor-based company that recycles cell phones

Chun stated, “Over the past year, we’ve added some of the biggest publishers in the business: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, MacMillan, Weldon Owen and over 20 niche publishers representing everything from the latest technologies to medicine, pets, cooking and just about anything else you could think of.  As we had hoped, book publishers are very willing to work with companies and people they trust, to find new markets and opportunities for the best content in the world.”

He further added, “We’ve built a great website with world-class content from books and we’re seeing a significant increase in visitors.  We won the innovation award from the Small Business Development Corporation, Startup of the Year from UM’s Venture Capital Investment Competition, and, of course, Best Business Model from NEF.  We were a semi-finalist at last year’s Accelerate Michigan and plan to do better than that this year! “

According to Chun, Since February of this year, ContentOro has been working with many world class customers, including Sur La Table, Pet Supplies Plus, General RV, Ulta Beauty, Citrix, Menards, Cathay Pacific Airline and many more. 

Bob Chun said “New Enterprise Forum and the people I’ve met through it have been instrumental in our early success with customers and raising capital.  I am thankful for the team who worked directly with me and for the organization who has remained supportive of ContentOro all along.” 

You can learn more about ContentOro at www.ContentOro.com. Read the full article on Crain’s Detroit Business.

Congratulations to Bob Chun and ContentOro!!

NEF plays an important role in our Ann Arbor community for the A2 Tech Trek celebration. Over 1300 people from our community came out for the 2016 A2 Tech Trek, to celebrate the innovation happening in downtown Ann Arbor every day. The 60 participating companies had a chance to show off their technologies, workplaces, and what makes them so unique.

NEF has coached a number of companies on the Trek. Our members joined the Ann Arbor Spark team to make this event a great success.

Congratulations to People's Choice winner Spellbound, whose mobile app that makes books come to life was a highlight for Tech Trek participants. Not far behind them was The Forge by Pillar in second place and Bank of Ann Arbor in third.

Miss the Trek and want to see what all the buzz is about? Check out the Tech Trek Video, produced in collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., and read all about it in the Detroit Free Press.   

Read more about this news here.

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