Past Events

18 September 2014

Stories from the Road, why is raising capital so difficult?

ForumLocation: 

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

According to the Michigan Venture Capital Association’s latest Annual report over the last five years we have seen 111% growth in the number of companies receiving Venture Capital and 137% growth in Angel backed companies. So why do companies that have great products and have even raised capital already struggle to raise funds in this growing environment? Join our panel of active company CEO’s as they discuss the real world stories of being on the road and trying to raise the funds to they need to grow to the next level.

Our distinguished panels of experts is:

Justin Adams, CEO of AlertWatch, is a recovering software developer who has been leading high-tech start-up firms since getting his MBA in 2009. AlertWatch, a UM spin-out is developing patient monitoring software. He has a knack at working with strong technical founders on converting their visions into marketable products. He previously spent time at EDF Ventures, providing back-office and due diligence support.

Jesse Vollmar, Co-Founder and CEO of Farm Logs, a cloud-based software company that provides farmers with tools to better manage and plan their farms’ operations from budgeting to data on soils, rain fall, grain pricing, etc., for improving a farm’s productivity and profitability. Prior to founding Farm Logs, Jesse started Aedis IT, LLC, an IT consulting firm which he grew to annual revenue of $350,000 and 5 employees.

Jason Townsend, Managing Director Resonant Venture Partners, has worked in the semiconductor and software industries since 1999, has been an active real estate investor since 2003 and was named to the Crain’s Detroit Business 2010 “40 Under 40” List. Prior to Resonant, Jason served as a managing director of the Wolverine Venture Fund’s student advisory board at the Ross School of Business. While at Ross, Jason founded Ikanos Power, a clean energy startup developing a fuel reformer that converts a wide variety of fossil fuels from a liquid state to a gas sate. Prior to Ross, Jason served as a product engineer at both ITT Automotive and Chrysler; and then moved on to Intel where he rose to the position of business development manage.

The moderator for the discussion is:

Steve Schwartz, Managing Member of Alfa Jango, a company acting as CTO and development team for software startups, is a serial entrepreneur. Steve is also co-founder of CarcodeSMS, a text messaging platform for car dealerships. Prior to Alfa Jango, he founded and built RateMyStudentRental.com and LeadNuke.com. Steve is the maintainer of jQuery UJS and jQuery Rails in Rails core and has built popular open-source software including Dynatable.js. Steve is a member of the Board of Directors of the New Enterprise Forum.

Showcase Presenter: 

21 August 2014

Summer Break - 2014

ForumLocation: 

No meeting

Our next Forum event will be in 18 September 2014 as we will be taking a break from our normal Forum schedule for August. However, that does not mean we are taking a break from NEF coaching or participating in other entrepreneurial events around the area. Please visit our partners in entrepreneurialism for events during August.

We are extending to you, our NEF Supporters, a huge thank you and hope to see you again at the September Forum meetings. Details will be posted after returning from our brief respite.

24 July 2014

NEF Pitch Pit - An Mid Summer's Night Dream

ForumLocation: 

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

Three 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 three entrepreneurs, selected from a large pool of applicants are:

  • Jason Beale of Regaingo - Providing an interactive search engine that allows homeowners to find home contractors. His product is a virtual yard sign.
  • Scott Phillips of The Search Lite - Matching Intellectual Property technology benefits with market needs to assist research universities in assessing commercialization of student products and accelerate time to market.
  • Tony Menyhart of Easy Artisan Bread - Offering several delicious bread mixes that do not require kneading.

Pitch Pit Judges:

Jack Ahrens of TGap Ventures has been a venture capitalist and fund administrator since 1979; first as President of United Capital Corporation of Illinois (an SBIC), since 1983 as a General Partner of Pathfinder Venture Capital Funds I, II and III and since 2002 Founding General Partner of TGap Ventures. Prior to that he had seven years of experience in bank trust investments and operations. He became a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) in 1982 and has advanced training at the American Institute of Banking, NASBIC Management Institute, and Stanford Advance Management College. He is a graduate of Indiana University.

Adrian Ohmer is an Associate at Invest Detroit a company sourcing and evaluation for Detroit Innovate (VC fund) and First Step Fund (seed-stage fund), along with the support of other funds in the Invest Detroit portfolio as well as entrepreneurial community engagement. He was a Co-Founder of Wedding Seed a web and mobile-based service that attempts to solve the fundamental disconnect in the wedding industry between what a couple asks for and what they truly want for their wedding. Adrian was also the Editor in Chief for the Michigan Journal of Private Equity & Venture Capital Law.

Lauren Bigelow is CEO of Growth Capital Network. She has Broad experience in the entrepreneur and venture capital industry with particular experience in Cleantech and IT. She Developed and managed a number of programs to facilitate fundraising by the venture industry from institutional investors and by early-growth companies from the venture industry. Programs were initiated and executed in North America, Europe and China. She has extensive experience as a marketing exec with broad experience in all aspects of print, media and event promotion. Direct experience with market research, focus groups and marketing strategy in addition to running large conferences, expos and trade shows.

Showcase Presenter: 

19 June 2014

Cutting Edge Crowdfunding

ForumLocation: 

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

In June, NEF’s panel of experts explores the latest in the crowdfunding controversy. The JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, which was passed two years ago, continues evolving as it attempts to do the impossible – protect investors and enable companies to raise money from strangers from all over the country. Parts of the JOBS Act have been in place for a year. The final and most exciting part of the law – the part that will let startups use Kickstarter-style campaigns to offer investors not just gifts and pre-sales of products, but actual equity shares in their companies – is still mired in confusion and delays.

The JOBS Act was supposed to make it easier for startups to raise equity capital. New interpretations of the SEC rules, however, have raised concerns about whether crowdfunding campaigns and even public pitch competitions and investor presentations trigger filing requirements for soliciting non-accredited investors. Is there still hope that crowd-sourced funding for equity investments will give startups the opportunity to appeal to the crowd at large? Or will the SEC’s 585 pages of proposed rules combined with the latest interpretations of those rules continue to put up road blocks? How can smart entrepreneurs stay within the guidelines and still get the capital they need?  

NEF’s experts will provide the latest information on crowdfunding rules both in Michigan and on a national basis. Don’t miss this opportunity to get your questions answered and determine whether crowdfunding could work for your venture.

Panelists:

Angela Barbash, Principal and Investment Advisor for Revalue, is a registered investment advisory firm. Revalue specializes in helping investors align their investment decisions with their values and diversify their capital into the local economy. In addition to her role as an innovator in the local investment advising market, Ms. Barbash is also the visionary and founder behind Revalue’s sister company Reconsider, a research and development firm launched in 2012. Reconsider’s core purpose is to nurture the growth of the social impact economy ecosystem. Both firms are located in the Spark East business incubator in Downtown Ypsilanti and the teams work together to take a holistic systemic approach to building the local impact economy. Prior to launching Revalue and Reconsider, Angela spent 10 years as a financial advisor in the Metro Detroit region, managing over $250 million during the last decade. She studied Cultural Anthropology and History at Eastern Michigan University and began her professional career at the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center (MI-SBTDC) before becoming entering the financial services sector.

Ken Kousky is CEO of the MidMichigan Innovation Center, a Midland-based, privately funded, non-profit business incubator assisting entrepreneurs in the creation and expansion of businesses throughout mid-Michigan. He is also President/CEO of IP3, Inc., an information security consulting firm. In 1988, Ken founded an IT services company, Wave Technologies, and within six years, he guided his vision from home through IPO. An active investor in start-ups, Ken is a founding member and Executive Director of the BlueWater Angels Investment Network. In addition, Ken serves on the Public Policy Committee of the Angel Capital Association. He is currently working on a congressional delegation briefing on the status of the JOBS act and will also be a speaker on the subject at the University of Michigan Law School.

Skip Simms, Senior Vice President of Entrepreneurial Business Development, Ann Arbor SPARK, works with early stage start-up technology companies, preparing them for equity fund raising. He successfully raised $8 million for the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund and administered this fund and three others in the 21st Century Jobs Program totaling $25 million. Prior to his work at SPARK, he was with the Ralph Wilson Equity Fund and held management positions at several television stations around the country.

Moderator:

Edwin Lukas, Partner, is a member of Bodman's Business Practice Group. He has represented companies in a host of industries, for whom he assists with corporate commercial law, public and private equity offerings, mergers and acquisitions, and other complex business matters. Prior to joining Bodman, Edwin was a partner in another major Detroit-based law firm. His experience also includes working as an attorney in Ford Motor Company’s Office of the General Counsel and clerking for the Honorable Conrad L. Mallet, Jr. of the Michigan Supreme Court.

Showcase Presenter: 

15 May 2014

NEF Pitch Pit

ForumLocation: 

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

Three 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 three entrepreneurs, selected from a large pool of applicant are:

  • Wesley Steen of Soup Spoon  – Providing utensils for people with motor skill issues.
  • Denis Foo Kune of Virtalabs – Enabling malware and anomaly detection via power cord monitoring.
  • Karthik Raman of Devices for the Elderly – Offering devices to improve the life styles of the elderly.

Pitch Pit Judges:

Melissa Wong Aagesen of Certare Ventures is an experienced angel investor through a family partnership specializing in real estate, start-ups, and established firms. Certare’s current portfolio includes more than 40 firms. Melissa is actively involved in the direct investment process, development of detailed financial models, and monitoring and guidance of portfolio company performance. She has also consulted for Microsoft, Northwest Airlines, Coopers & Lybrand, and Ernst & Young.

Ray Waters is the President of the Detroit Development Fund (formerly Enterprise Detroit) and the Managing Director of the Detroit Community Loan Fund (DCLF), which provide growth capital to minority-owned businesses in the City of Detroit. Ray’s business career includes many years’ experience as CEO and owner of three profitable growth companies, two of which were start-up ventures.  He is also a past president of the New Enterprise Forum.

David Pierle, SVP, PNC Commercial Banking, is a relationship manager for middle market clients in Ann Arbor and throughout SE Michigan.  David's primary responsibilities include business development as well as advising clients on credit and treasury management solutions. David's 19 years in banking have allowed him to work with hundreds of businesses across a wide range of industries. This experience gives David a unique perspective to serve as a trusted advisor to clients along with their CPAs, attorneys and other advisors. Prior to his current position at PNC, David worked as a community banker in Genesee, Oakland and Livingston Counties.  He has a BSBA from Central Michigan University and an MBA from University of Michigan

Showcase Presenter: 

17 April 2014

Navigating Entrepreneurial Resources

ForumLocation: 

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

Our panel of experts will tackle the challenge of clarifying the vast array of resources available to Michigan entrepreneurs during the early stages of their venture development. The panel will help entrepreneurs set a course through resource connections and programs that can support them through startup and into future growth stages. Current programs will be identified and explained so entrepreneurs can locate the best programs for ventures in their industry, stage of business, and location. Programs that provide funding or introduce entrepreneurs to investors will be highlighted.

Panelists:

Wes Huffstutter, Program Manager, University of Michigan Office of Technology Transfer, has been mentoring student entrepreneurs for seven years and connecting U-M startup entrepreneurs to the resources they need to launch and grow their ventures. He leads the Catalyst Resource Network, a group of industry/market experts, mentors, advisors, and consultants that assist projects and startups that are based on technology developed at the university. He manages student entrepreneurship activities through the Tech Transfer office and is active on an Ann Arbor SPARK committee convened last year to document the resources available in Washtenaw County and identify gaps in entrepreneurial support services.

Antonio Luck, Director Business Acceleration, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, oversees the Portfolio Management Team/Business Acceleration at the MEDC. His team manages the MEDC and the Michigan Strategic Fund portfolios of investments in high-tech start-up companies and the entrepreneurial financial programs. Prior to his current position, Antonio was a Portfolio Manager at MEDC. He has a background in engineering and law and holds an MBA in finance and entrepreneurship from Wayne State University.

Phil Tepley, Director of Technology Commercialization Services at MI-SBDC, is currently the Director of Technology Commercialization Services at Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC). SBDC offers commercialization services to technology companies across the state. This MEDC-funded initiative enables entrepreneurs to bridge the gap between technology development and commercialization. An SBDC Tech client is a business in which research and development brings forth an innovative product or process. The innovation typically involves intellectual property that contributes to a strong competitive advantage in the marketplace, and serves as a foundation for a high rate of growth. Prior to his current position at SBDC, Phil was that organization’s Emerging Technologies Fund Program Manager and Tech Team Coordinator.

Moderator:

Michael Cole, President, Technology Industry Group, Bank of Ann Arbor, is the founder of the tech and life sciences banking practice at Bank of Ann Arbor. His Technology Industry Group provides banking products and services to technology focused businesses, primarily in the following sectors: information technology, industrial technology, life sciences, nanotechnology, environmental technology, professional services, and private capital. He has also leveraged the bank’s unique local position and national network to create organizations such as the Ann Arbor Angels, manage CEO roundtables, help clients make strategic connections, and collaborate with state agencies, non-profit organizations and the University of Michigan to expand the region’s position as Mid-America’s center for technology business.

Showcase Presenter: 

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