17 May 2018


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

NEF Showcase Presentations and Pitch Pit

Showcase Presentations

We showcase an outstanding team of entrepreneurs who are looking to raise capital for their venture. They have gone through an extensive coaching from our experienced coaches and these founders are eager to present their venture to the entrepreneurial community at this event.

This event gives the start-up the opportunity to practice presenting to investors and others interested in the Detroit Area entrepreneurial community.  Each presentation will reflect NEF training on what is important to communicate and what not to do. They would greatly appreciate your feedback, insights and encouragement. You will also learn a few tips and techniques in sharpening your own pitch for your venture.

Join us at this meeting to ask questions, keep pace with local entrepreneurs, and connect with people who support the local start-up community. This month we have two presenters.

Ascape Audio

Paul Schrems, CEO & Co-Founder. Ascape Audio is wireless technology design company that believes that mobile music should be - Simple. Our mission is to streamline the way millions listen to music from their smart devices. We do this by providing the most convenient and fluid personal audio solutions possible. With true wireless earbuds we allow our customers to access the thousands of songs in their pocket with simplicity and ease. Our patented smartphone battery case that recharges the earbuds prevents customers from ever having to worry about losing, connecting, or recharging them again. In this rapidly growing marketing we offer the most complete solution.


Note: Arbor Automation has been rescheduled for the Fall.

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:

  • Leann Abad, Vicinity.
    A platform that connects travelers to local tour guides for on-demand tours.
  • Blake Osecki  Modular Home & Garden
    Sustainable Do-It-Yourself project kits to help people save time and money with using patent-pending technology.
  • Gail Brown, Platters Chocolatier.
    A full-service chocolatier that specializes in designing, creating, and manufacturing gourmet chocolate custom molded items for corporate branding initiatives, promotional gifting and specialty items for all occasions.
  • Kiley Judge, Quirk
    Manufacturer of small-batch drinking vinegars from quirky fruits that would otherwise be rejected based solely on their appearance.

Pitch Pit Judges:

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

Toni Brownfield.  Toni works for Michigan's Small Business Development Center as a Business Development and Project Manager.   In this capacity she provides administrative, marketing, communications, and programmatic support to the Tech Team, Business Growth Team, Business Accelerator Fund (BAF), and Emerging Technologies Fund (ETF).  Prior to this Toni held a variety of positions at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) for 15 years.  In her last role as Director of Business Development Services she provided leadership direction for the day-to-day operations of the Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) Services Team.  She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan.

Sheu-Jane Gallagher.  As the principal of the S’Jane Group, Sheu-Jane consults for startups and entrepreneurial service organizations, advising on commercialization strategies and investment due diligence. Previously, she was the Director of Entrepreneurial Services at TechTown where she implemented startup incubator and accelerator programs, with a focus on program design and intake.  In addition to working at Ford and Dacoma International, Sheu-Jane taught mechanical engineering at Wayne State University. From 2012 to 2015, Sheu-Jane served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Michigan Commission on Community Action and Economic Opportunity, a board that advises the governor and legislature on the state of poverty in Michigan and recommends changes to policies and programs that support the poor and low-income.  She holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from Rutgers University with a special expertise in biomedical engineering.

Gregg Hammerman.  Greg is a serial entrepreneur who is currently the CEO of Larky, a company that builds engagement and loyalty programs that help financial institutions, health insurers, universities, and media companies connect with their members and subscribers at the right time and place.  In this role he has raised funding from angels and VCs.  Previous to that was the head of Business Development and Strategy for gloStream, a provider of billing, collections, electronic medical record and practice management services.  In 1997, he co-founded the digital publishing company Techstreet that was subsequently sold to Thomson Scientific.   Gregg has been active with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America for over 15 years.

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

Registration link available on the home page. Registration recommended for planning purposes.

Showcase Presenter: