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New Enterprise Forum (NEF) has announced the names of the five Michigan entrepreneurs who have won awards in recognition of their achievements during the past year. The awards will be presented to the winners at the NEF Annual Awards Event on February 17, 2022. The online event is open to the public with free registration.
The winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year award is Mike Vichich, Co-founder and CEO of Wisely. His company was acquired by Olo in November 2021 for $187 million. Based in Ann Arbor, Wisely is a leading customer intelligence platform that enables restaurant brands to personalize the guest experience to maximize customer lifetime value. In 2021 Wisely was ranked #300 on the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies in America list. Vichich is now Vice President &
In November 2021, a panel of experts explored ways to fund growth without using outside investors or alternative equity sources. Depending upon the business plan, growth focus and the founder’s wishes, companies of all types can find different ways to fund their growth. Not all businesses require angel or venture capital funding to be successful.
Watch the video to hear our panelists address the question: “DO YOU EVEN NEED TO IMPRESS INVESTORS IN TODAY’S FUNDRAISING WORLD?”
Gerry Roston, NEF member, publishes an article in The Chronicle Tech News pointing Michigan Entrepreneurs to the resources to assist in their start up journey.
Workit Health cofounders and co-CEOs Lisa McLaughlin (L) and Robin McIntosh (R)
The approach and the opportunity to help treat the more than 20 million Americans with alcohol and opioid use disorders (not counting gambling, smoking and other addictions that Workit offers to help) has garnered investment from top tier firms. On Thursday Workit announced a $118 million Series C led by Insight Partners ($90 million in equity and the rest in debt). CVS Health Ventures, FirstMark Capital, BCBS
NEF is proud to congratulate Jason Yaeger, CEO of Tenacity and graduate of NEF’s entrepreneur coaching process on a successful raise. Tenacity, a SaaS platform that empowers businesses to thrive in a secure public cloud, announced that it has raised $3 million. The round was led by Hyde Park Angels, with participation from Sandalphon Capital, Base Investments UK, and others. This funding will enable Tenacity to drive its go-to-market strategy further and enhance product roadmap development.
This exciting news signals the next phase of Tenacity’s journey, following an impressive 30% month-over-month growth rate since January 2021 and the integration of Microsoft Azure into the platform.
At our September Forum, a panel of experts addressed several critical questions - What are the elements of a strong team that will truly stand-out to investors? What are investors looking for in a team?
Jen Laidlaw is the owner of TeamWerks Talent Development and Consulting; President of the Ann Arbor chapter of the Association for Talent Development; a
During the June 2021 Forum, a panel of seasoned entrepreneurs and other experts provided their perspectives on this critical topic for early-stage startups.
During the April 2021 Forum, a panel of seasoned entrepreneurs and other experts provided their perspectives on this critical topic for early-stage startups. (The first couple of minutes are missing from the video due to a technical glitch.)
Jack Miner Chief Investment Officer, TEDCO. At TEDCO, Jack stewards diligence and investment processes, leads the Builder, Seed and Maryland Venture Funds and investment portfolios to maximize the financial return, and ensures a lasting impact for the State of Maryland. He reports to the CEO providing insi
RIZZARR Founder, Ashley Williams gave a heartfelt thanks to her NEF coaches after receiving the award for 2020 Presentation of the Year.
Ashley’s coaching team included April Christian-Davis, Jennifer Laidlaw, David Maas, Bill McPherson and Scott Taylor.
RIZZARR is a tech-enabled content marketplace for brands to work with Millennial and Gen Z content creators worldwide. RIZZARR acts as an intermediary marketing platform for brands to find, connect, and collaborate with over 5,300 content creators from around the world. RIZZARR helps Millennial and Gen Z nano-influencers and mi
SpellBound, an Ann Arbor-based augmented reality company, has received an $1.8 million fast track grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study opioid use in pediatric cancer patients. Details of the award were covered in a recent story published online by WDIV.
As reported, the study will measure the effects of SpellBound’s augmented reality scavenger hunt, ARISE, on the length of hospital stay and opioid use by pediatric cancer patients after surgery. The fast track grant allows SpellBound to accelerate the study by combining phase 1 and phase
The New Enterprise Forum is carrying on its mission to support Michigan entrepreneurs, even as the state is afflicted with the COVID-19 pandemic. Since mid-March, the non-profit organization’s volunteers have been conducting pitch coaching sessions with startup entrepreneurs via videoconference from their homes. The group’s monthly Forum has also shifted to an online venue. The group’s next Forum event, which is open to the public, will be held online on Thursday April 16 and will include a discussion of resources available to small businesses to deal with the financial impacts of the pandemic and Michigan’s ‘stay-at-home’ orders.
Explaining the rapid shift in how the organization conducts its operations, NEF President Vic Havele said &ld
Mercy Education Project team, comprised of high school girls won funding for their pilot project Rock City Mobility Stations.
When the 11th grade girls of Mercy Education Project were asked about mobility in their neighborhood, Southwest Detroit, they identified two key concerns: Getting around safely and feeling isolated from the greater city. Because Detroit is so geographically large and lacks an all-encompassing and dynamic transportation and communication system, these young residents feel disconnected. Rock City Mobility Stations look at mobility through the eyes of youth who are not able to utilize a car, but still need to get around their city, while also contributing to a quality visitor, tourist and worke
Ripple Science announced in January that it has completed a $2.5M equity financing round, attracting more than $2M from a syndicate of out-of-state venture funds. The financing will be used to scale sales and marketing efforts, expanding the company’s commercial reach among private and public clinical research organizations.
Ripple Science Corp.’s funding round was led by Omaha-based Dundee Venture Capital, according to a report in Crain’s Detroit. Other participants include the Rise of the Rest seed fund, from AOL co-founder Steve
Throughout the fall semester of 2019, several New Enterprise Forum members headed to the Ross School of Business every Wednesday evening to volunteer as mentors in an innovative educational experience called “Financing Technology Commercialization: A Venture Capital Practicum”. The course paired up nineteen student teams with nineteen entrepreneurs who are seeking investment in their startup companies. With guidance from their assigned mentors the students developed value propositions, business plans and pitch decks for the startups. The climax of the course came in mid-December when the students took turns making their investment pitches to a panel of judges with deep experience in venture capital investing. In addition to providing an unusual ‘real-life’ educational
U-M Tech Transfer, the unit responsible for commercializing University of Michigan research discoveries and innovations, will create the Accelerate Blue Fund to provide seed capital to nascent U-M startup companies. The nonprofit, philanthropic fund will be initially funded with $250,000 in donations secured for this purpose. A fundraising effort is being launched with a goal of at least $20 million in additional gifts. The fund will begin accepting startup investment applications after it has raised $2 million.
The new fund fills a gap for seed capital for startups whose products have early market validation, a strong value proposition, a feasible commercial path, at least one founder focused on the venture, and a good chance at follow-on funding or exit within two years of sec
Crain’s Detroit Business reported that Venture Investors LLC has closed on its latest fund, the $75 million Venture Investors Health Fund VI LP. Crain’s quotes Jim Adox as saying “In our prior funds, we invested in a mix of health care and technology. For this fund, we made the decision to go 100 percent to health care.” Jim Adox is based in Ann Arbor and will be the executive managing director of the fund. The article goes on to explore the recent history of Southeast Michigan’s strength in health care venture investing.
The New Enterprise Forum h
Valerie Obenchain, founder of Advanced Interactive Response Systems (AIRS), was notified in August by officials in Australia that she had been granted a patent for the company’s main product, an oxygen flow monitor for those using oxygen tanks. News of this latest milestone for the Michigan-based company was covered in an article in Crain’s Detroit Business. The company already has patents in the US and is anticipating FDA approval in the near future. Obenchain has previously raised over one half million from investors and is now pursuing a Series A funding round.
Valerie Obenchain was the Showcase presenter at the New Ente
CEO Kim Gamez and Mi Padrino were the subject of a enthusiastic article published online by Forbes Magazine on September 4, 2019. Entitled “Diverse Cultural Celebrations Are A Huge Market Opportunity”, the article by Geri Stengel relates the origin story of the Ann Arbor-based startup and describes how the company to has grown to serve 500,000 users with the help of $1.5M capital raise.
Kim Gamez was the Showcase presenter at New Enterprise Forum in July 2017. Mi Padrino® is an event planning service to help parents
Ann Arbor-based Genomenon has won a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). Funding from the grant, valued at $152,946, will go toward creating a platform for producing and sharing “micropublications” across the genomics research community, as well as continuing Genomenon’s efforts to automate variant interpretation based on data from published studies. The news was covered in Clinical OMICS .
“This grant allows us to build on the work from our last successful NIH funding to increase the automati
Team posters, banners and other Michigan basketball memorabilia provide a colorful theme for the decor of Anne Perigo’s office at the Ross School of Business. It is perhaps not too surprising that an Ann Arbor native who graduated from Pioneer High and has a BBA from the University would be an enthusiastic fan of the hoops team and of both departing coach Beilein and incoming coach Howard.
As Associate Director of the Zell Lurie Institute, Perigo is responsible for several non-curricular programs at the business school that promote entrepreneurial activity among students, including the Michigan Business Challenge and the Michigan Investment Challenge. “I love my job,” Perigo says, citing her “great satisfact
Four startup founders gave fascinating presentations at the July edition of New Enterprise Forum but is was Raeanna Lewarne of HealthFreelance.com who took home the prize. Judges praised her very thorough and confident presentation of her business plan for a website that connects medical and non-medical healthcare professionals with hospitals and other employers for contract work.
The judging panel included Kim Brown of Duo Security, Ashwin Puri of Invest Detroit Ventures, and Paul Riser Jr. of Techtown Detroit.
The enthusiastic audience gathered at Ann Arbor Spark on Thursday evening opened up their wallets and tossed over $300 into the prize money bucket.
Workit Health announced this month that it has been awarded grant funding through the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Access Points Project, managed by the Center at Sierra Health Foundation. This funding will be used to expand Workit’s digital medication-assisted treatment program in California, and launch pilot partnerships with emergency departments in key California counties.
“Workit Health’s digital opioid use disorder program allows us to go quickly into the communities lacking evidence-based care, and plug-in where needed with emergency departments and health care providers,” Lisa McLaughlin,
University of Michigan startup InheRET Inc. has launched an online program that helps identify patients at risk for hereditary cancers without a visit to the doctor. InheRET’s cancer risk evaluation program was tested in a pilot at Michigan Medicine where more than 500 patients have completed the health history form. The program is now available to the general public and to health care facilities on a subscription basis.
InheRET Founder Dr. David Keren was the Showcase Presenter at the January 2019 New Enterprise Forum. Dr. Keren is enthusiastic about the help he got from the NEF coaching process. “It dramatically improved our focus and our pitch,” he wrote recently.
The company has made great strides since that January presentation. “It’s amazi
Invest Detroit Ventures (ID Ventures) recently announced that it has received significant philanthropic support to begin the effort to turn its First Capital Fund into a sustainable, evergreen fund that will support early-stage Michigan startups for years to come. With $3 million from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, $2.5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), and $11 million in assets funded to date, ID Ventures kicks off a fund-raising effort to pool enough philanthropic support to create a sustainable source of early capital for Michigan’s diverse, under-represented entrepreneurs and technology start-ups committed to bolstering the local economy.
Patti Glaza, an NEF Board Member and senior vice president and managing director at Invest Detroit Venture
After more than thirty years in a very successful career as an ad man and business executive, David Maas is giving back. This Michigan native, car fanatic, and Wolverine fan now makes time to volunteer with the New Enterprise Forum and other organizations to help foster entrepreneurship in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas. After hearing about the business coaching organization from several colleagues, David started attending NEF meetings in 2018 and found himself in easy conversation with a welcoming group of interesting people. Over the past several months he has thrown himself into NEF’s signature coaching process, working with a team of volunteer coaches to help a local entrepreneur refine his investor pitch. “I like the well-defined process,” explains David, “
The 38th annual Midwest Growth Capital Symposium took place over two days in May 2019 and featured a number of companies who had completed the NEF coaching process and had previous experience as Showcase presenters at the New Enterprise Forum. MGCS is the longest running university-based venture fair of its kind. The MGCS company showcase this year featured 33 Midwest companies that are seeking seed, series A, and series B rounds of funding. More than 400 attendees were expected, comprising early-stage companies that span the Life Sciences and Technology sectors, angel investors, venture capitalists and technology transfer professionals from several dozen top-ranked Midwest Universities.
Presenting companies that were gr
Advaita Bioinformatics, provider of the industry-leading gene expression and genomic variation analysis platform, recently announced a new partnership with Millennium Science for distribution of Advaita’s software to research institutions and pharma companies across Australia and New Zealand. Millennium Science is replacing Qiagen’s Ingenuity products with iPathwayGuide and iVariantGuide products for all pathway and variant analysis. The deal is a three-year commitment. Millennium Science is converting its current clients to Advaita products and selling new cloud-based subscriptions to new customers immediately. For more information visit Advaita’s website.
Spellbound Founder and CEO Christina York says, “You are never done working on your pitch.” York was a Showcase Presenter at the May 2017 New Enterprise Forum and has been pitching practically every day since then.
In a video recently distributed by the Michigan Economic Development Council, the NEF alum shares this takeaway and other advice for startup entrepreneurs. York’s other tips address maximizing the use of local and state resources in the early stages of company growth, and avoiding pitfalls related to company culture.
For more tips, read the article on the MEDC website.
Ann Arbor SPARK recently recognized Groundspeed Analytics as its 2019 Entrepreneurial Services Company of the Year Award Winner. This was just the latest of many awards for this fast growing startup. Just a year ago, the New Enterprise Forum presented Groundspeed Founder and Co-CEO Jeff Mason with its 2017 NEF Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Formed in early 2016, this innovative InsurTech company utilizes machine learning to transform unstructured commercial insurance documents into actionable intelligence. By making the process more accurate and efficient, insurance carriers and brokers now have a game-changing tool to advance their information advantage.