GLEQ/MiQuest has announced that several NEF-coached start-ups won top honors at the Great Lakes Enterprise Quest-sponsored Business Plan Competition.  The winning NEF-coached companies are:

  • Movellus Circuits:  $25,000 Emerging Company Award (1st Place); Muhammad Faisal – Top 20 Presenter.
  • SurClean:  $15,000 Emerging Company Award (2nd Place); $12,500 Automation Alley Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Award; Susan Sprentall – Top 20 Presenter.
  • Genomenon:  $5,000 New Business Idea (1st Place); Mark Kiel – Top 20 Presenter.

Other ‘Top 20 Presenters’ coached by NEF were:

  • ArborWind:  Dilip Nigam
  • LogiCoul Solutions:  David Stout
  • DataSpeaks Health Solutions:  Dennis Nash
  • PHASIQ:  Sachin Shah

Our congratulations to all the winners!

June 17 and 18 saw the 33rd Michigan Growth Capital Symposium take place at the Marriott Eagle Crest Resort in Ypsilanti. The annual event brings together investors, early stage companies and service providers from the local, regional and national entrepreneurial eco-system. Discussion panels touched on a variety of subjects including Venture Capital Trends to Big Data questions facing industry. Additionally, 32 early stage companies present their businesses ideas in a series of forums.

The New Enterprise Forum provides a team of coaches to assist the start-up presenters with their PowerPoints. This year 12 NEF Board members provided extensive feedback to the presenting entrepreneurs.

The New Enterprise Forum is pleased to welcome Gary Hazen to its Board of Directors. Gary has been an active participant in New Enterprise Forum coaching and considers this as an opportunity to help start-ups mature into viable and investable ventures.

As in independent advisor, he counsels start-ups on critical business and go-to-market issues and how to effectively present to investors to obtain financing. Gary taps a strong educational foundation, holding University of Michigan Engineering and Harvard MBA degrees and broad and substantial business experience, in business and systems consulting, IT, Business Development, Planning & Reporting at the CFO level, plus his experience as COO with multiple Start-ups. 

Gary has worked for Andersen Consulting, Highland Superstores where he led IT and Business Development, Gap, Intrepid Systems (a software start-up acquired by PeopleSoft), and PeopleSoft/Oracle where he piloted ecommerce products with dot-coms. Additionally, he had his own start-up, an Amazon-partnered ecommerce website, and has been COO for Oviya Systems, a SaaS-based social compliance software start-up.  Currently, Gary is part-time COO of GAPro Systems, is on the advisory board of InterSlice Studios (a start-up bringing a revolutionary presentation product to market), and is on the Frankel Fund/Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund advisory board. 

Thursday, May 15, saw the latest iteration of the New Enterprise Forum’s “Pitch Pit” competition. Three budding entrepreneurs presented their early-stage ideas to a packed house and a panel of expert judges.

Wesley Steen, of Soup Spoon, demonstrated how his prototype spoons made eating dramatically easier for people with motor skill problems. One spoon had a built in suction capability to capture liquids that was especially impressive. Denis Foo Kune, of Virtalabs, explained how his malware detection device identified security threat through power fluctuations without violating hospital equipment warranties. After listening to his presentation, it was clear how his product fills a critical technology gap in using sophisticated equipment in operating rooms, critical care units and more. Karthik Raman, of Devices for the Elderly, showed how his ergonomic stool was the perfect tool for senior to safely and easily reach items on shelves. Through customer discovery his design gives the elderly what they want in counter intuitive ways to those of s who do not understand their core needs.

The judging panel asked numerous probing questions while also offering invaluable advice on how to move these business ideas forward. After much deliberation, the judges chose Denis Foo Kune of Virtalabs, as the winner of the $213 audience contributed award. The next Pitch Pit competition will take place on July 24 when NEF will host another group of entrepreneurs with compelling ideas. The session will take place at Ann Arbor SPARK, Lower Level, 330 E. Liberty Street, Ann Arbor.


Throughout the month of May, New Enterprise Forum coaches are providing presentation feedback to Michigan Growth Capital Symposium finalist teams. Taking place on June 17 & 18, the MGCS offers high-growth companies the opportunity to get their message out to a large audience of early stage investors and support providers. NEF’s focus on helping entrepreneurs communicate more effectively is designed to increase companies positive outcomes with potential investors attending the annual Michigan Growth Capital Symposium. Hosted by the University of Michigan, the symposium offers start-ups a good opportunity to network and present their message to an audience of investors that otherwise would not be easily accessible to them. The companies span a wide breadth of sectors, including medical devices, software systems, alternative energy, automotive, electronics and industrial processes.

Coaching teams are comprised of members from the Michigan Small Business Development Corporation as well as NEF board members. The teams meet with 30 or more companies over the course of two weeks for one to three hour sessions that may include follow-on sessions. Entrepreneurs refine their speaking points about what they do in a way that investors expect to hear and are offered suggestions for improvement from the coaching team. As a result of this coaching, the quality of the presentations over the past five years has dramatically improved.


The New Enterprise Forum is happy to announce the election of Shue-Jane Gallagher to its Board of Directors. Ms. Gallagher is highly experienced in issues related to start up businesses through her work at TechTown Detroit. Bill McPherson, President of the Forum said “Having Shue-Jane on our board will only work to strengthen and grow the positive relationship between TechTown and the New Enterprise Forum. We welcome her and look forward to her involvement.”

Sheu-Jane Gallagher is the Director of Entrepreneurial Services at TechTown Detroit, the business growth center located in Detroit’s midtown district. As director, she supports entrepreneurs developing tech-based startups. Sheu-Jane also works with local universities, including Wayne State and University of Detroit Mercy, to figure out how to take their research to the marketplace.

Prior to TechTown, Sheu-Jane has held various positions in the automotive industry with Ford Motor Co. and Decoma International, and taught mechanical engineering at Wayne State University. She holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from Rutgers University with a special expertise in biomedical engineering.

Sheu-Jane lives on Detroit’s east riverfront with her husband John and enjoys sailing on the Detroit River and bicycling on Belle Isle.

Project Startup Live is a series of entrepreneurship forums bringing together some of the best and brightest minds in three US cities. It is a new multi-platform brand initiative focused on supporting the new American entrepreneur. Following it’s appearance in Utah, Project Startup will appear in Detroit at TechTown before heading to Boston for the final show.

A live panel discussion will be followed by a pitch competition featuring three local businesses vying for $10,000 in cash prizes, two free years of Comcast Business services (ERV $10,000), and a free consultation with RocketHub CEO, Brian Meece.

This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to learn about what it takes to succeed whether they are currently being coached by a NEF team or not.

To learn more visit

On May 13, 2014 the MIT Enterprise Forum Great Lakes will launch their program: Space, STEM & The Stars, a discussion of the critical role of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education plays in the on-going discoveries of new technologies. Panelists will relate how our exploration of outer space has led to advancements in areas as wide ranging as medical devices and alternative fuel to athletic equipment and communications.

Speakers will include Challenger Shuttle Astronaut Tony England, Cosmologist Katie Freese, CEO John Cole with NPR's Shellie Irwin as moderator. The event takes place from 5:30 PM - 9PM and will be held jointly at UM Dearborn, Borg Warner Auditorium (4901 Evergreen Road, Dearborn) and on the campus of Grand Valley State University, Pere Marquette Room, (1 Campus Way, Allendale, Michigan). Those unable to attend at those locations can connect remotely via the E-Attend portal. Registration is required, please visit for additional information.

The evening promises to be an entertaining look at how technology for space exploration has not only affected our current lives but also promises to drive future entrepreneurial endeavors. 

Brad Edmondson will be speaking about his book, "Ice Cream Social: The Fight For Ben & Jerry's Soul", at Nicola's Book on Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 7PM. Mr Edmondson's book chronicles the challenges of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Company efforts to balance the founders desire to support social causes with the demands of sharing their success with shareholders, employees, distributors, suppliers and even their cows. The book provides a history of the company, from start-up in a renovated Burlington Vermont gas station to present day. The book highlights the challenges of the company staying true to its social mission after being acquired by consumer giant Unilever. Mr. Edmondson interviews numerous Ben & Jerry's figures, including current Chairman of the Board, Jeff Furman.

For more information please visit:

Nicola's Books is located in Westgate Shopping Center, 2513 Jackson Avenue, Ann Arbor Michigan (734-662-0600)

The Martin Prosperity Institute recently produced an interesting study of Venture Capital called  “Start-Up City The Urban Shift in Venture Capital  and  High Technology”.  It concluded that Venture Capital Activity and the businesses being funded are now being concentrated in larger metropolitan areas.  As expected the San Francisco and environs and the Boston to Washington DC Area saw significant investment and a large number of deals.  However, now New York City which previously was a large source of funds but not the location of the actual businesses has now become a home of many of these businesses. San Francisco actually led the country.   That and the fact that more of these businesses are actually locating in large cities is a new trend. 

Another that is of particular interest to us is that several cities with large universities are leaders on a per capita basis in both dollars invested and in numbers of deals.  So while Austin, Texas and the research triangle in North Carolina have always been leaders in investments and deals the study notes that Bolder Colorado, Lawrence, Kansas and Ann Arbor Michigan are significant for their activity. Ann Arbor placed 11th in the dollar amount of investment per 100,000 of population at $24.1M and 5th in the country with 6.4 deals per 100,000 of population.  

The New Enterprise Forum provides free investment presentation consulting services to early stage companies. If you are interested in learning more and taking advantage of our services, please visit and submit your contact information.