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An entrepreneur who has perfected a ten-minute investor pitch with the help of NEF coaches will present their company and take questions from the audience.
Will Winn Games Inc. is a new East Lansing-based game studio established in Q4 of 2020 and launched out of the Michigan State University Game Development Program, Spartan Innovations, and Red Cedar Ventures. WWG was founded by faculty and former faculty of Michigan State University’s number 1 ranked game development program1 and is staffed by MSU GameDev alumni and veterans of the game industry. The initial game that Will Winn Games is launching is a game called Plunder Panic, a swashbuckling multiplayer action arcade game that supports both local and online multiplayer up to 12 players at one time in each game. In May of 2021 WWG obtained an exclusive license of Plunder Panic IP from MSU, establishing an excellent start for WWG’s gaming IP portfolio. The mission of the company is to design, develop, and publish compelling video game experiences that enrich individuals’ lives and help foster enhanced relationships with friends and family.
The company leadership team consists of CEO Matthew Rudd and the two Co-Founders Will Jeffery and Brian Winn. MatthewRudd has over 34 years of Global Business experience, leading companies within the Medical Device and Aerospace markets, managing global organizations with total Commercial, Operational, P&L responsibilities and for the past five years he has worked within the Michigan ecosystem as an (EIR) Entrepreneur in Residence with Spartan Innovations and The Lean Rocket Lab with extensive experience with assisting startup companies with launching their businesses. Will Jeffery is a video game producer and instructor from Detroit, Michigan. He completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Michigan State University, studying game design and development. Brian M. Winn is the Founder and Director of the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab at Michigan State University and a Full Professor in the Department of Media and Information. Read more.
A panel of seasoned entrepreneurs and other experts will provide their perspectives on this critical topic for early stage startups.
Martin Dober is Senior Vice President, Invest Detroit & Managing Director, ID Ventures. With more than 18 years of experience in early-stage technology ventures and in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, Mr. Dober’s primary responsibility is to provide investment capital and support to early-stage and high-growth companies in the region. Previously, Mr. Dober was senior vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. He also held senior positions in several small technology companies, including iRobot Corporation, American Systems Technology, Inc., and EIP, Inc. He holds director and board observer positions for portfolio companies Shoptelligence, Greenmark Biomedical, Akadeum, PicoSpray, and Detroit Materials. He co-founded and leads Hacker Fellows, a talent-retention and attraction program that places diverse computer science talent into Michigan startups. Mr. Dober received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in computer science from Kettering University (formerly GMI) and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Katie Hall is Founder and CEO of Claira, a competency matching platform that connects people to work instantly, based only on what they can do. No job descriptions. No resumes. Katie spent seven years in global workforce development building competency models and helping companies and policy organizations prepare for the future of work. She regularly speaks and writes on a variety of topics including the digital economy, diversity hiring, competency analytics, AI ethics and automation impact on the workforce. Previously, she worked in the White House Office of Global Communications and spent four years with the White-Collar Crime Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She holds an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management, an MPA from the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and a BA in Political Science from Hope College.
Jeffrey Mason is Chief Executive Officer of Groundspeed Analytics, a leading data sciences firm he founded that serves property and casualty insurance companies like Aon, Willis Towers Watson, Travelers, The Hartford, Swiss Re, and Liberty Mutual. Mr. Mason has spent the last 20 years creating and leading high-growth insurance and insurance technology companies. Prior to Groundspeed, he has led teams in sales, marketing, product, and analytics in numerous roles at full-stack insurance and insurance technology companies. From 2002 - 2015, Mr. Mason led alternative risk financing and alternative risk transfer programs at Chelsea Rhone where he formed and managed casualty insurance companies globally for hundreds of clients. Mr. Mason holds a BS, Economics from Michigan State University and an MBA from The University of Michigan.
Dr. Nestor Lopez-Duran is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan and the Founder of Ripple Science. He received his undergraduate degree in Music and Psychology from the University of South Florida and his Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of Michigan. As a professor at Michigan, he conducts research on stress and mental health in adolescents. In 2016, he created a web-based application designed to improve the recruitment and retention of participants in his clinical studies. This software became the foundation of Ripple Science, a University of Michigan spinoff that is now a growing Ann Arbor-based tech startup. The Ripple software is now being used in over 100 Universities and clinical trial sites in the US, Canada, Europe, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
Terrence J.L. Reeves is a member of Irish Angels, a Chicago-based leading angel group that invests in early-stage startups across the U.S. He currently serves as chairman of the group’s board of directors. Recently, Terrence co-founded Commune Angels, a Detroit-based, diversity missioned angel community that invests in U.S.-based scalable software, consumer products, and life science companies. Commune leverages inclusion to drive better outcomes for investors, portfolio companies, and their customers. Terrence serves as Partner-in-Charge of Frost Brown Todd’s Ann Arbor office, where he chairs the firm’s venture capital team. His practice includes representing startups and emerging growth companies at all stages of development, and the investors that fund them. Terrence advises clients across a broad range of industries, including digital health, consumer products, energy, cyber-security, mobility, and other emerging technologies. Terrence’s recent investments include Malamo, Tribu, and AboveBoard.
At the conclusion of the main program, stick around and network with your fellow attendees over ZOOM. We will break out into smaller groups so that you can rub virtual elbows with the movers and shakers of Ann Arbor’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.