21 June 2018


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

Building Your Team - Filling the Void

New Enterprise Forum invites anyone interested in entrepreneurship to join us at our monthly Forum to connect with entrepreneurs, investors, service providers and businesses.

Showcase Presentation

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. 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.

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.

HLX Engines

Evan Collins, Founder and CEO. Military equipment, both tactical and non-tactical, is increasingly electrified and computerized, and there is a significant need for compact, efficient, and high-quality power generation. HLX (www.hlxengines.com) has built an innovative, hybrid, multi-fuel, combustion engine, designed to improve fuel efficiency by 50%, while decreasing weight and complexity.

PANEL DISCUSSION: Building Your Team - Filling the Void

In addition, in this month's forum we have a panel of experts who will guide you through understanding importance of building a great team for your startup. Building a solid team for a startup is extremely important. Generally, founders begin with sharing roles as CEO, CTO and CMO in early stages. However, once you raise funds and gain investments from either angels or VCs, the team building exercise needs to be done with professional and thoughtful insights. As the roles evolve, the executive team and the staff you bring on-board need to be adept in “executing” business strategies, achieving the “promised” milestones and building an organization for growth and scalability. To build the business, you need a business savvy team. The panel will discuss:

  • Building high performance startup teams with limited funding
  • Managing teams for achieving milestones and growth 
  • Implementing strategies for hiring and retaining talent
  • Startup challenges like; making offers for employees and contractors, equity compensation, options, and vesting schedules etc.

This enlightening panel discussion, from entrepreneurs and investors who have gone through this journey and are eager to share their experiences, will be ideal for you and will assist you with making your company venture-ready. Come and learn about the challenges, the opportunities and the strategies in building an effective team for your venture.

We hope that this will be of greater interest and value to founders and it will be a dynamic discussion between founders, investors and the audience.


Dave Jansen
Dave is a technology operations executive with deep background in process improvement, team building and technical infrastructure. Dave has worked and been a stakeholder in numerous startup software product companies. He has a passion for developing teams and managing process for organizations as they grow from small, dynamic groups to larger, scalable enterprises. Dave is currently the VP of Operations for Give and Take, Inc., a startup operating out of Spark in Ann Arbor. 

Melvin Muskovitz 
Mel is a member of Dykema’s Labor and Employment Practice Group, represents employers from startups to large multi-state companies, with respect to the full range of employment issues from pre-hire to post-termination.  Mel devotes a significant portion of his time counseling and assisting employers with respect to issues arising under state and federal employment laws, addressing poor performing employees, assisting in drafting employment policies, preparing and enforcing confidentiality, non-solicitation and non-competition provisions, and negotiating employment and severance agreements, including with highly placed corporate executives. Mel is also a frequent speaker and author on labor and employment-related matters.  Mel has been named in The Best Lawyers in America 2009 to present in the practice area of Labor and Employment Law and  named a "Lawyer of the Year" in Ann Arbor for Litigation - Labor and Employment by Best Lawyers for 2015 and 2017.  

Mel will address best practices in the hiring process, including such topics as: how to obtain meaningful information about candidates; employee vs. independent contractor; exempt/non-exempt status; critical provisions to include in offer letters and in employment, bonus and commission agreements; issues related to equity compensation agreements, including options vs. grants and vesting schedules; work-for-hire protections; and post-employment restrictions.

Kristin Welch
Kristin is an innovation enthusiast and experienced leader. Currently she is an advisor to two mobility companies SPLT and Bedestrian.  Most recently, Kristin was the Head of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SPLT. She came to SPLT after completing an Executive MBA at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and when looking for a more mission-driven role in business. For SPLT, Kristin managed successful teams in the U.S., Mexico and Europe, leading up to (and through) an acquisition by Bosch. Kristin continues to align SPLT with strategic partners and is very focused on the future of mobility around the globe. Since then, she has devoted her full attention to the emerging field of social and environmental sustainability and promoting the tech industry in Detroit. Her previous experience was in global client engagement with Deloitte, the multi-national consulting and accounting firm. She resided in Boston, Zurich, London and New York City, focusing on key accounts and innovative projects. Kristin holds a B.A. in Accounting from Michigan State University and serves on a number of Detroit-area boards. She supports non-profits in her spare time and was the project lead on a non-profit incubator in Saint Clair Shores, pulling together 10+ non-profits into a former elementary school.

Kevin Wittrup
As an early stage entrepreneur and venture partner at RSVP Capital, Kevin has been a key operator in several early stage and technology commercialization ventures, most recently BIOVIGIL Hygiene Technologies. As the co-founder and CEO of BIOVIGIL from 2011-2017, Kevin led the effort to commercialize a sophisticated healthcare technology product and build a team that operationalized the diverse aspects of the business including product development, cloud data applications, installation and maintenance services, clinical implementation and support services, and manufacturing. Kevin is also an active member of the managing board at Advanced Battery Concepts. ABC is a battery technology company based in Claire, MI. that has developed a disruptive bipolar battery technology. Kevin holds an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a MS in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University.

Adam V. Chiasson, Moderator

Mr. Chiasson brings more than 15 years of experience, primarily focused in Operations and Supply Chain.  He currently serves as CEO of DMAX Consulting, a strategy consultancy focused primarily on scaling operations for growth stage companies. He also currently works as an Adjunct Lecturer of Supply Chain at Eastern Michigan University, specializing in Operations Planning and Supply Chain. Previously, Mr. Chiasson served in various leadership roles at ZIVO Bioscience and Accuri Cytometers ($205M acquisition in 2011 by BD).  Prior to ascending to leadership, he was employed by Stirling Energy Systems, Visteon Corporation, and PepsiCo. He earned a BS from Michigan State University and MBA from Eastern Michigan University.  In his free time, he enjoys reading, coffee dates with his wife, Kristin and coaching his two sons, Dominic and Maxwell, in hockey and baseball.


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.


The event is FREE. Registration is not required but recommended for planning purposes.

Showcase Presenter: