NEF had almost a full house with 97 people in attendance. In case you missed it, there were two showcase presenters and three Pitch Pit presenters. All of them did a great job in presenting their ideas.

Michael Anataran, Founder & CEO of Carrot involved the audience with his mobile health and wellness program that gamifies walking your way to better health and lower company health care costs. The program encourages the most sedimentary employees to challenge themselves and each other to achieve points that can be used to buy products at participating merchants. You can even participate in Carrot Oscars or Carrot Survivor challenges. Mike’s product puts the fun back in fitness.

Christina York, Founder & CEO of Spellbound engaged the audience with her product that uses augmented reality technology to calm children before medical procedures. She showed how special cards become a 3D animation that distracts children to focus on the animation rather than the scary and often painful medical procedures necessary to treat their conditions. Her product was also used to help a child accomplish mobility tasks faster to improve his recovery. Christina is on track to have her product available in hospitals across the country.

As usual, the Pitch Pit presenters did not disappoint.

Bryan Richardson of Bryan’s Backyard, told us how he intends to help Detroit’s youth constructively use their free time in sports activities through his vision of a sports center tailored to their needs. He captured our attention when he said, “Have you done anything you later regretted because you were bored?” The audience and the judges connected with his dream in awarding him as the Pitch Pit winner and a $306 prize.

Cody Middleton presented Jacket 360 which is an innovative way of using vibrating smart phone technology to alert cyclists that cars are approaching from their rear. This reduces bicycle and car collisions when the cyclist cannot hear or see eminent danger. Their prototype is currently a wearable that they intend to transfer to a smart phone to reduce manufacturing costs. His tag line is, ”Get back on your ride and let Jacket 360 watch your back.”

Mike Westcott explained what Wellwith was all about. He is on a mission to reduce the carbon footprint of wasted disposable coffee cups. Mike’s product rewards people, who frequent coffee shops, with a reward of donating to They get the reward every time they bring and use their own cup rather than the disposables the coffee shops use. It empowers people to save the earth from needless waste.

After the presentations, Barbara Boldt of Dynamic Global Communications gave us some tips on better presentation skills. Body language is the non-verbal key component of delivering your message. Using hand motions appropriately, holding eye contact, standing up straight are all good habits. Remember to not talk too fast, slow, soft, or loud and enunciate so people can more clearly hear your words. Use ‘um’ as little as possible, it is distracting. Also, thank people for their questions to acknowledge them in engaging with your presentation. These seem like common sense presentation tips, but are lost when presenters are nervous. That is why it is so important to practice to avoid them.

Before we knew it, the evening was over leaving us looking forward to the next NEF Forum on June 22nd which is a week later than usual. See you there!

This year's Michigan Growth Capital Symposium and Coulter Investment Forum ( will be held at Marriott Resort at EagleCrest, Ypsilanti, MI on May 16th and 17th..  The event will bring together investors and venture capitalists from across the United States. Planned for 2017 are over 30 speakers, 60 presentations and 600 attendees representing 100+ firms.

One of the most important parts of the MGCS is the presentations by start-ups to investors and other symposium attendees.  Since start-ups are pre-screened based upon both their business ideas and their presentations, those who have honed their presentations have a greater chance of success. 

The New Enterprise Forum plays a dual role in the success of these start-ups:

  1. NEF coaches volunteer their time to the University of Michigan Zell Lurie Institute to give input to start-ups who have been selected to pitch at the Symposium; and
  2. The New Enterprise Forum has a tremendous track record of start-ups that have been through the NEF coaching program being accepted as MGCS presenters.

This year’s NEF-coached presenters are:

CARROT Wellness

Healthcare IT
Melius Outcomes

Medical Device

We are proud that the companies that have gone through New Enterprise Forum coaching continue to be selected to present at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium.

May 16-17  Michigan Growth Capital Symposium ( at the Marriot Resort in Ypsilanti.  The MGCS and Coulter forum will connect startup founders with angel investors and venture capital firms from across the U.S. as well as with technology transfer professionals from several dozen top-ranked Universities. More than 60 presenting companies will be showcased and more than 600 attendees are expected with nearly 100 investment firms represented.

May 18  New Enterprise Forum Monthly Meeting ( at SPARK Central, 330 E. Liberty in Ann Arbor.  Our monthly forum provides an evening of learning, sharing experiences, and making essential business contacts.  This free meeting opens at 5:00 pm with networking and appetizers.   Around 5:45 pm, the program portion of the meeting begins.  For May:

  • Showcase Presenters:
    • Carrot Wellness – Michael Antaran (   Carrot is a mobile health and wellness program that motivates participants to meet personal goals using a proprietary algorithm that provides instant gratification that increases success.
    • SpellBound – Christina York (  SpellBound is a therapeutic tool that uses 3D augmented reality to calm children before medical procedures and increase their cooperation with treatment.
  • Pitch Pit:  Several early start-ups give a brief pitch for exposure and feedback in front of judges in a ‘shark tank’-type environment.  It is winner-take-all for contributions from the audience.

June 16  Ann Arbor SPARK’s A2 Tech Trek (  Ann Arbor Tech Trek is a free community event and a terrific opportunity to see the real gems located inside the doors of many area tech companies.  Leading technology companies will open their doors to the public and showcase their latest innovations.   Whether you’re a job seeker, student, professional, or someone curious about the Ann Arbor tech community, anyone is welcome to attend.

June 22  New Enterprise Forum Monthly Meeting ( at SPARK Central, 330 E. Liberty in Ann Arbor.  Our monthly forum provides an evening of learning, sharing experiences, and making essential business contacts.  This free meeting opens at 5:00 pm with networking and appetizers.   Around 5:45 pm, the program portion of the meeting begins.  For June:

  • Showcase Presenter:
    • Foodstand – Rachna Govani (  Foodstand is a mobile app to reverse the 'dia-besity' epidemic by offering guided, community-powered good eating challenges to help people build healthier eating habits.
  • Panel“Finding Critical Hires”

November  Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition (   Accelerate Michigan is the premier event in the Great Lakes region for high-growth companies & venture investors, awarding $1,000,000 in cash & in-kind prizes

The evening began with our President Stefan Sysko thanking our Stakeholders and Program Partners for their support.  Mike Flanagan from the Michigan Angel Fund, our featured stakeholder for April, told us that Michigan Angel Fund lll recently closed and is making investments.  

Stefan then introduced the Showcase Presenter, Tasneen Bowe, the CEO and Founder of Clingfish Products.  Tasneen made an outstanding presentation describing Clingfish, a patented vacuum accessory mount that allows use on aluminum-bodied vehicles without damaging the roof or any interior or external elements. NEF coached Clingfish Products recently won first  place in the category of “Advanced Materials, Sensors, Actuators, Manufacturing Process” at the 9th Global Automotive & Mobility Innovation Challenge (GAMIC).

Following that our panel gave the audience insights from the entrepreneurs perspective about start-up company  financial projections.  This month's forum, included outstanding  founders and CEOs who have had very successful exits:

Jen Baird, CEO of Accio Energy
Christine Gibbons, Co-Founder/Chief Operating Officer of HistoSonics, Inc.
Dan Rhodes, PhD, CEO, Strata Oncology and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology, University of Michigan

The Moderator, leading the discussion, was Stew Nelson, our past President, entrepreneur and investor.

The panel reiterated the facts that 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 sound business model, expectations of sales growth and cash flow, reasonable 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.

The discussion was very enlightening and engaging with the focus on what founders can do to use Financials to emphasize their story (Plans behind the Financials) - what they want investors to know to reinforce the Investment Thesis, i.e., the reasons why an investor would make an investment in the company. The founders on our panel told us what worked and didn't work from the founder perspective.  

They emphasized the importance of an entrepreneur fully understanding the projections and all assumptions behind the numbers. They all used the projections and plans as a tool to run their companies and update their plans and projections on a frequent basis so as to avoid cash flow surprises. They also said that although an entrepreneur may have help in putting the plan and projection together, he or she must be aware of the assumptions made in putting it together and must understand how changes in these assumptions will change the projections. Everyone felt that this was a very informative and thought provoking discussion providing value to both entrepreneurs and investors. 

This month 71 people joined us at  the monthly Forum. The food was great and the networking even better. If you are an entrepreneur or interested in entrepreneurship, New Enterprise Forum is the place to get connected.

NEF coached Clingfish Products won the first place in the category of “Advanced Materials, Sensors, Actuators, Manufacturing Process” at the 9th Global Automotive & Mobility Innovation Challenge (GAMIC) held at the SAE World Congress (WCX’17) at the Cobo Center, Detroit, MI. Tasneen Bowe, CEO and Co-Founder accepted the award. There were four winners selected in four different categories and these winners will share over $300,000 of cash and in-kind commercialization assistance.

 “The Global Automotive & Mobility Innovation Challenge or GAMIC designed to identify innovative companies, cultivate new technologies and solutions, and hasten their adoption into the automotive industry” said David Stout, SAE International board of directors and GAMIC co-chair. “Founded as a collaboration between SAE and the MI Innovation Alliance, GAMIC has been exceedingly beneficial to our entrant companies in both funding and commercialization.”

The 9th Annual Global Automotive & Mobility Innovation Challenge (GAMIC) just completed the finals round during the SAE Conference at Cobo Hall on April 4, 2017.  NextEnergy and NEF played a significant role in the event.  Several teams competing in the finals were mentored by NEF Board Members. GAMIC is a joint effort between the MI Innovation Alliance, Society of Automotive Engineers, and NextEnergy.

More information about GAMIC including the names and descriptions of the finalists can be found at

Recent New Enterprise Forum Showcase Presenters, MySwimPro and Parabricks are amongst the winners in the 2017 GreenLight Business Model Competition hosted at Michigan State University on March 29, 2017. MySwimPro, a fitness application aiming to help swimmers improve performance won the $40,000 grand prize (sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corp.) and Parabricks Inc., which uses proprietary technology to speed up DNA analysis, received $2500 prize.

Several startup companies from Ann Arbor community are amongst the winners of this year's competition. 

The GreenLight Michigan Business Model Competition is an early-stage pitch competition that brings together entrepreneurs and small business supporters from all over Michigan. Competition finalists will pitch ideas to a panel of seasoned judges, while also networking with angel and venture capital investors from across the state.

Read the full article on Crain’s Detroit Business.

Congratulations to MySwimPro and Parabricks!

The evening began with Fares Ksebati who introduced MySwimPro and was the showcase presenter. Even if you are not a swimmer, Fares convinced the audience about the need for his app which helps swimmers achieve their goals and lead healthier lives through personalized workouts, instructional video content, and analytics. The company’s free mobile apps and website help members track their progress, and measure improvement toward their goals. MySwimPro connects swimmers from over 150 different countries and leads the category of mobile fitness training for swimmers. The company has received international accolades by Apple, being named the Best App of 2016 for the Apple Watch and has been featured in Sports Illustrated. Fares gave a very professional and polished presentation

This forum was a Pitch Pit showcase. They are a lot of fun because, the presenters have not been coached on how to give a business pitch. They make all kinds of mistakes which the judges gingerly point out to help them do better the next time. We were treated to four presenters when there are usually three. Here is who they were and who won.

1.    Felicia Maxwell, from Fit4Life Health and fitness, LLC, told us about her efforts in creating a business around getting Detroit healthy again by combining health, nutrition, and physical fitness classes, services, and solutions for all age groups and backgrounds. Her holistic approach goes far beyond your typical gym.
2.    Charles Richison, from Creative Technology, demonstrated his LeafEasy tool which is an innovative way to collect leaves that does not require backbreaking bending. He made a leafy mess on the floor but was quick to show how easy his tool worked. The audience was impress and so were the judges. He won the prize of $231.
3.    Mark Couling, from Deeptalk, talk to us us about his product that develops voice & text bots that provide a reliable, pleasant, and sustained automatic conversational experience surpassing human assistance, centered on consumer facing businesses. Deeptalk is an artificial intelligence company that is revolutionizing how people interact with machines using deep conversational understanding.
4.    Norman Kutemperor, from Scientel IT Corporation, explained how Gensonix NoSQL Database is a new data base system to solve today’s big data problems.

As always, there were many people there. The food was great and the networking even better. If you are an entrepreneur or interested in entrepreneurship, New Enterprise Forum is the place to get connected.

Click March 16, 2017 NEF Forum Photos on Facebook to see the photo album.

On February 23, the 9th Annual Global Automotive & Mobility Innovation Challenge (GAMIC) completed the semi-final round at NextEnergy and NEF played a significant role in the event.  Our Stew Nelson was one of the judges, and several teams moving on to the finals were mentored by NEF Board Members.  GAMIC is a joint effort between the MI Innovation Alliance, Society of Automotive Engineers, and NextEnergy.

The GAMIC quarter-finals started in October with over fifty participants from across the world and the thirteen finalists will be competing on April 4 from 1:00 to 5:00 at the SAE World Congress (WCX’17) at the Cobo Center for over $300,000 of cash and in-kind commercialization assistance.  

More information about GAMIC including the names and descriptions of the finalists can be found at
For free general admission to the WCX’17 exhibition floor and GAMIC Finals competition, register here.

As part of the inaugural MedHealth Summit, an event organized the the MedHealth Regional Innovation Cluster (, this past February 14 at TechTown Detroit, a group of about 250 MedHealth entrepreneurs and professionals gathered for a day of information sharing and networking.

At this exciting event (see, 5 startups finalists were competing for 3 cash prizes of $10,000, 5,000 and 2,500 respectively. NEF was happy to provide a team of coaches to help prepare the finalists for their 5-minute investor-style pitch.

And the winners were:

  1. Steri-Dev, and its CleanCase™ disposable smart-phone case for use in sterile medical environment.
  2. Melius Outcomes, A SAAS platform for clinical quality improvement in hospitals
  3. Find your Ditto, a mobile platform that connects individuals living with the same chronic illness locally for on-demand, in-person peer support.  

Melius Outcomes was also the NEF Showcase presenter at its February 16 meeting.

On February 16, NEF awards forum set a new record in attendance. Many business cards were exchanged as new connections were made.

Dykema has been a NEF Stakeholder for several years. Tom Vaughn informed the audience that they help startups with all kinds of legal services. Of note is their Emerging Business Tech program which provides a suite of services to help entrepreneurs secure financing.

Good news was shared about two companies NEF influenced through the coaching process. Araianna Carley of AOE Medical sold the business in May. AOE was a medical device company that solved the problem of patient transfer within care facilities. She will be finishing up her Mechanical Engineering degree at the U of M this year.

HireNiche wrote a testimonial about their experiences with the NEF coaching process. While they did not present at a forum, they are growing the business of recruiting job boards. They thanked NEF for their coaching expertise that helped them expand their business and acquire similar companies with in their core focus area.

AkkeNeel Talsma of Melius Outcomes was the showcase presenter. They provide software-enabled clinical intelligence solution for point-of-care quality improvement to address gaps in current performance. It was interesting in that hospital errors are the third leading cause of death and usually due to poor reporting of information. Their software analyzes trends, causes, and actions to get the correct information to the correct people at the right time which saves lives and the cost of care for hospitals.

Out of nine teams, four were presented with awards for their outstanding 2016 presentations in three categories:

The Best Business Model went to Bert Tiger Whitehead IV, CEO of PlanetXLaw. They provide software that enables lawyers to profitably provide more affordable legal services to more clients at lower costs.


The Best Technology went to Mehrzad Samadi, CEO of Parabricks. They provide whole genome sequencing data to insight in one hour.


The Best Presentation went to Nestor Lopez-Duran, CEO of Ripple Science. They accelerate life science research by helping research teams become more efficient and effective in the recruitment and management of research participants.