18 April 2019


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

NEF Past Presenter Update and Panel Discussion

Past Presenter Update

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 i 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 Mandy and Pandy will present their story and give us an update since they initially presented in January 2018 as NEF Showcase Presenter.

Mandy and Pandy

Christopher Lin, CEO of Mandy and Pandy
The strength of Mandy and Pandy lies in its magic power to arouse curiosity among young kids, who will then be engaged to learn the language with interest and fun. Everything in the book (texts pictures, activities, etc.) was meticulously developed for this purpose. Mandy and Pandy Co. was formed in 2007 with success in the book market - teaching American kids Chinese.  With Chinese becoming more important in the global economic and cultural landscape, the company was re-invigorated in 2016 with a more ambitious B2B model selling to schools.  The proven content is being digitized to scale and penetrate the school market.  

Read Mandy and Pandy's full Showcase Presenter profile


PANEL DISCUSSION: Financial Modeling and Key Metrics in a Startup Environment

In addition, we have a panel of experts who will guide you through understanding importance of financials in presenting your venture to investors.

Although you can start a business with just an idea and very little money, you usually can’t progress too far without thinking about finances.  Will this business make money?  How?  What are some of the key assumptions you need to consider?  How do you show potential investors that a good return is feasible?

There are certain things investors are looking for in the financials presented by entrepreneurs in their executive summary or initial investor pitch when they are seeking funding. Although no forecast can be counted on with certainty, investors look for a reasonable business model, expectations of sales growth and cash flow, P&L forecasts, and valid assumptions behind any plan. They also look for red flags: sure signs that the numbers are not to be trusted and that the founding team might need too much help. In this month's forum, we want to focus on what founders can do to use Financials to emphasize their story.  We are including some founders on our panel to tell us what worked and didn't work from the founder perspective. 

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


Lee Gorman.  Lee Gorman is the founder of Barton Consulting Services, LLC, Mentor in Residence at Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University, and works with SPARK’s Entrepreneurial Services to connect startups with the resources they need.  She has participated in SPARK’s Entrepreneur Boot Camp for years and now serves as Director.

Lee’s first career was in the automotive industry, with over 20 years in all aspects of product development, culminating with positions as vehicle Chief Engineer and Director of Product Planning.

In her consulting practice, Lee combines practical planning and effective execution to achieve sustainable success for businesses and nonprofit organizations.  She has particular expertise in assisting start-up and early stage companies develop their businesses, and in coaching their founders and leaders in the business aspects of bringing their ideas to market.  She has done extensive work for local startups and early-stage companies, including serving as Director of the Automotive Business for Coherix, Inc., and COO for WriteSteps, LLC.   In addition to being a frequent judge for business plan competitions, Lee enjoys mentoring and coaching entrepreneurs.  She has served on the Boards of two start-ups, as well as many non-profits.

Lee holds both an MBA and a BBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and a BSME from Lawrence Technological University.


Mark Ritz is a member of the Screening Committee of the Michigan Angel Fund. In this capacity he is directly involved in the entire process of reviewing business plans, financial pro forma’s and investor pitches, conducting due diligence investigation and constructing investment term sheets. He also assists Spark’s Entrepreneurial Services team by working with companies to prepare the business plan and financial statements required to apply for a Business Accelerator grant. He has been a member of the Boot Camp teaching team for 5 years. He originally attended Boot Camp in Spring 2010 while serving as Director of Business Development for Shepherd Intelligence Systems, a transportation tech start-up.

Mark serves on the Board of Directors of Attune Medical, an early stage medical device company and is a Board Observer for Groundspeed Analytics, an early stage insurtech company and former Boot Camp graduate.

Prior to becoming involved in Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, Mark spent 35 years in the automotive industry with Ford, Allied Signal, Siemens, United Technologies and Lear, focusing on commercialization of new products and technologies. This work led to his establishing joint development partnerships with outside companies. Ultimately, as Vice President, Corporate Development, he was responsible for evaluating and implementing corporate transactions. In this role he led teams to execute over two dozen business deals including acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures. Mark participated on the Board of Directors of several of these new joint ventures, guiding them through their start-up phase.

Mark received a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Gerry Roston is currently working with Spectrum Health Innovations as an EIR focused on assessing the market potential of new medical devices. He has served as the CEO of Civionics, a University of Michigan startup that delivers intelligent sensor-based systems to manufacturers to help them minimize unplanned downtime; and he was an Executive-in-Residence at TechTown Detroit, where he helps entrepreneurs transition their ideas into sustainable businesses.



Kevin Wittrup.  As an early stage entrepreneur and venture partner, Kevin has been a founder and key operator in several early stage companies and technology commercialization ventures, most recently BIOVIGIL Hygiene Technologies LLC, CardioSounds, LLC and Orasis Systems, LLC. 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.


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.