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.

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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.

Ansgar Strother, CEO of A2B Bikshare, an Ann Arbor Michigan based transportation start-up focusing on healthy and green solution to urban commuting, announced a pilot project with the city of Fairbanks Alaska during his New Enterprise Forum Showcase presentation on April 17th. The initial phase of this project will include 250 bicycles and necessary docking stations.

Strother used his Showcase presentation to highlight the significant advantages that A2B has in the marketplace. By moving the technology to the bicycle and away from the station A2B projects 60% reductions in capital outlays for municipalities. It's patent pending, Smart-Bike, Dumb-Rack, system will allow consumers to rent bicycles with the swipe of a credit card and return them to any of A2B's stations.

The A2B Bikeshare management team consists of Ansgar Strother a University of Michigan educated engineer, along with Carl Vitullo (CTO) formerly of Barracuda Networks and MarketSource Inc. The team worked closely with a group of NEF coaches to prepare their investor presentation. 



Lee Gorman, a New Enterprise Forum Director since 2012, has been elected to the Ann Arbor State Bank Board of Directors.   Ann Arbor State Bank is a community bank which serves local small businesses and individuals with personalized customer service.

As an entrepreneurial service provider, Lee likes the symmetry of being involved with A2SB, which was a startup itself in 2008.  “The people at Ann Arbor State Bank are experts in small business, and they are dedicated to serving the local community.  Becoming more familiar with their work will allow me to help my startup clients understand what it takes to be bankable, and find the resources they need when they are ready.”

Lee works with many Entrepreneurial Service Organizations in addition to NEF.  She is an advisor and consultant at Ann Arbor SPARK, mentors at the Center for Entrepreneurship, and was 2011 Coach of the Year for Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest.

Steve Schwartz, a serial entrepreneur, was recently elected to the NEF Board. Steve graduated from Kettering University (formerly General Motors Institute) as a Mechanical and Electrical Engineer. He founded his first company, selling used car parts, as a freshman in college. In 2007, he co-founded RateMyStudentRental, which sold private-label software to colleges and universities to help improve off-campus housing. He is now the managing member at Alfa Jango, which provides technology leadership and development resources for early-stage companies.

NEF Board member Diane Durance and President of MIQuest (formerly GLEQ) indicated that, “Steve is a past GLEQ winner of the New Business Idea award for and he will bring a lot of energy and a new perspective to the NEF Board.”

The board of directors of the New Enterprise Forum is pleased to announce that Sarika Gupta was unanimously elected to its board of directors for a two year term at the March directors' meeting.

Sarika is the Associate Director of the University of Michigan Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies (ZLI). In this role, she leads the development and execution of ZLI's student-oriented programs. She also coaches and mentors U-M student teams. Prior to joining ZLI, Sarika was the President & CEO of Dance Telephone, a group party game; the COO of V-teractive, an online gaming start-up; and a Senior Quantitative Research Associate at Cambridge Associates, an investment management firm. Sarika holds a BSE in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan College of Engineering and an MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

Bill McPherson, President of the Forum said “We look forward to working with Sarika and her participation in our efforts. We value the Zell Lurie Institute's relationship with our organization and are confident that Sarika’s involvement will provide us with additional opportunities to assist new business development in Michigan.”

At its 28th Annual Meeting, Jake Sigal gave an inspiring presentation about the genesis of Livio Connect and what it means to be an entrepreneur in Michigan.

It sounded like a story from a textbook on entrepreneurship: Jake had been working for a Tier 1 automotive supplier just prior to the Great Depression. Sensing the writing on the wall, he left his good-paying, full-time job to start a business in his guest bedroom. Making matters even more interesting was that his first product was targeting a service that was largely unknown, Pandora Radio.

In 2008, Pandora had millions of early subscribers, but they were still relatively unknown. That did not deter Jake. He recognized the potential of Pandora to change the radio landscape and leveraged his experience with automotive electronics to make a $200 (retail) desktop radio for Pandora. With Jake’s background in consumer electronic product development and manufacturing, this was the easy part. The hard part was figuring out all of the necessary business and corporate development tasks starting a new company. Early on, he turned to SCORE, a program offered by the Small Business Administration, and his volunteer advisor helped him address these issues. Success followed – Livio sold several million dollars of products to the likes of Target, Costco and Amazon.

In 2010, with smart phone sales really taking off, Jake and his team realized that the future belongs to apps, so they pivoted and developed an aftermarket car kit that connected people’s apps to their vehicles.

Livio launched their car kit at the Consumer Electronics Show. Their booth was sandwiched between car suppliers and app developers. They learned that car suppliers wanted Livio software to connect Livio apps to their own vehicles. Separately, app developers wanted to connect their own apps to existing Livio hardware. This was ‘the ah-ha’ moment for Livio to create the Livio Connect API to connect 3rd party apps to multiple vehicles. This product and associated IP offered such value that Ford Motor Company acquired them in 2013.

With regard to the process, Jake had some advice to share with other entrepreneurs. First, building relationships with lawyers, bankers, other entrepreneurs and being in the entrepreneurial community brought opportunities to the Livio they could not have gotten on their own. Second, fund-raising takes a huge amount of time and it is time not well spent unless the targeted funds invest in the company’s space. Third, when possible, have your customer pay for your product development as they have a strong interest in seeing you succeed. And fourth, once you have built an initial sales pipeline, investors will become interested.

When asked what he enjoys most, Jake's answer was simply “Tomorrow“. The true enjoyment of having built Livio is that he surrounds himself with people who are similarly motivated, making coming into the office fun.

For more info on Jake check out his blog at or follow him on Twitter @JakeSigal

At its 2014 Annual Meeting, held at Ann Arbor SPARK Central on Thursday, 20 Feb 2014, NEF announced the winners of its 2013 Showcase Presenter awards. The awardees were:

  • Best Presentation was awarded to AdAdapted. Molly McFarland, CMO, announced that since having presented at NEF in March, 2013, AdAdapted has closed half of its seed round and expects the close the remainder by the end of Feb 2014. In addition, the company has landed a $200k contract with a major corporation.
  • Best Business Model was awarded to GAPRO (formerly GWizCon). Herb Gibson, CEO, indicated that since his NEF presentation in June, 2013, they have raised equity and are working with partners to validate their business model.
  • Best Technology was awarded to Avegent. Edward Tang, CEO, announced that since having presented at NEF in April, 2013, Avegant’s Glyph was names Best Mobile Device of the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show and the company has just completed a $1.5M KickStarter campaign.
  • Best Overall was awarded to ENT Biotech Solutions. Andrea Dickson, President, said that since presenting to NEF in May 2013, patents have been filed, a $1.5M round was closed, an FDA application was submitted, and animal testing has started.