The July NEF Pitch Pit was both interesting and entertaining. Three teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges who had to make the difficult decision on which one would collect the $275 prize. Sergio Rodriguez, from ToDoolie, was declared the winner. ToDoolie provides an online platform for high school and college students to find work in their neighborhood. Also participating were: Adrian Lorenzi of TOTAGO providing a transportation-focused web and mobile app for outdoor recreation; and Efay Guo of SeeU providing an on-demand mobile app that allows users to join or create any activities in less than 20 seconds, meet people, and make friends within one hour.
Date Posted: 29 July 2018
Date Posted: 23 July 2018
In a Detroit Crain's article on July 22, 2018, 12:18 AM, Tom Henderson reported that Jennifer Baird has a new venture in Fifth Eye Inc., which is a spinoff from the University of Michigan. Many remember Jennifer from the sale of Accuri Cytometers to Becton, Dickinson & Co. for $205 million back in 2011. In 2005, she presented at a NEF forum meeting. "Fifth Eye is developing software to warn medical professionals that certain patients who seem to be doing well after an operation are actually, based on almost imperceptible changes in their vital signs, at risk for serious deterioration in their conditions." Read More
Date Posted: 16 July 2018
In a Detroit Crain's article on July 16, 2018, at 7:00 AM, Tyler Clifford reported that the Accelerate Michigan competition is changing things up a bit by adding one-on-one meetings between investors and entrepreneurs. Patti Glaza, Invest Detroit Ventures Senior VP and Managing Director, said, "We're trying to drive investors, mentors, accelerator programs, business services and talent that can really develop the companies. It's to create a support infrastructure and relationships that can help them be successful." In their 9th season entrepreneurs will be pitching to win $1 million in cash and prizes. Read More
Date Posted: 13 July 2018
In a Detroit Crain's article on July 8, 2018 12:18 AM, Sherri Welch reported that a "$20 million impact investment fund was launched in March to make early stage investments in high-growth, women-owned businesses. Just a few moths in, Belle Michigan Impact Fund has raised $5 million from 41 women investors and made its first two investments." One of those investments was in Alchemie who presented at NEF in May of 2016. Read More
Date Posted: 25 June 2018
In a Detroit Crain's article on June 23, 2018 8:13 am, Crain's reported that of the 15 finalists in three categories, seven companies were the lucky winners of thousands of dollars to help grow their businesses. There were about 1,500 people in attendance at the Music Hall event which was also part of the Techstars Startup Week Detroit. To see the list of winners and more about the program, Read More.
Date Posted: 24 June 2018
The June panel topic of Building Your Team -- Filling the Void generated a lot of interest with the audience. There were so many tips about what to do and what not to do that only a few of them are written here for you to apply to your business.
How do we acquire, identify, and keep talent? Use your extended network and organizations such as SPARK. Create a team with those you already know and trust like college classmates and friends. Ask a prospect to sign a release where former employers are allowed to share additional past performance information than what the current law permits. If the prospect objects, there may be a significant reason where you want to avoid hiring them. Define the culture for your firm and interview to find those who will be a good fit. Frequently model your company's core principles so employees know them by heart.
We have some money, now what? Decide if an employee or contractor is the best fit. Fill the skill gap by delegating more responsibilities away from the founders to the employees who are most skilled in fulfilling those responsibilities. Have a backup plan of who can fill certain positions if a vacancy occurs. Hire slowly, if given a choice. Treat your employees like partners and they will go the distance for you.
We are running out of money, now what? Have a basis of termination in writing so that expectations are set from the beginning. When a downturn in business requires layoffs, people are not left in the dark and law suits will be minimized. Employees need to be informed how risky startups can be when they hire in. Keep them informed about order backlogs, or times when there are gaps in orders to inform and motivate them. Make sure your employee documentation is up to date with policies and procedures, not to disclose IP clauses, non compete clauses, salary schedules, etc.
Best overall tips: Find something unique about your company or yourself that attracts talented people. Be innovative in places where you hire hire, like organizations and even use grant monies where possible. Be passionate, candid and keep the big picture in mind. Find builders and give them a place to build.
Date Posted: 23 June 2018
HLX Engines provides single-cylinder internal combustion engines. Evan Collins, CEO, explained that, "Piston engines were developed over 120 years ago, and the piston engine design hasn't changed much since the days of Henry Ford. The HLX Engines Arc™ is a completely new type of piston engine technology to transfer reciprocating motion into rotary motion. The engine is significantly more efficient than comparably powered gasoline engines, and it is up to three times smaller and lighter." Their beachhead market is the military where portable generators can weigh up to 300 lbs. A comparable Arc Engine weighs approximately 50 lbs and can deliver the same power output. The Arc Engine also has 60% fewer components and uses far less fuel to operate. Read More
Date Posted: 18 June 2018
In a Detroit Crain's article of June 17, 2018 12:16 AM, Tom Henderson reported that the Great Lakes Angels are partnering with Doron York to raise funds specifically for early-stage Michigan entrepreneurs. Sources for seed money have been declining in recent years while the emphasis has shifted to growing companies with revenue track records. Is is refreshing to see this long over due initiative. Read More
Date Posted: 13 June 2018
In a Detroit Crain's article, June 12, 2018, 3:20 PM, Annalise Frank reported that TechTown will be receiving $1.55 million in grant monies for its initiatives "that help small businesses tackle the tough subject of financial growth." More details will be released during the Detroit Startup Week entrepreneurial conference scheduled for June 18-22. Read More
Date Posted: 10 June 2018
Have you ever thought 'there must be a better way' or 'I wish there was...' in the context of healthcare? This year's non-profit Ann Arbor Health Hacks topic (A2HealthHacks.org) goes beyond just health but blends into equity and we need your help in getting the word out.
Here are the top three misconceptions about participating in a Healthcare Hackathon:
1) I don't know anything about healthcare/ coding/ engineering.
- GREAT! Magic happens at the intersection of team members with different skill sets. Nobody is too old, too young, too educated or not educated or skilled enough. Passion beats skill! (you must be 21+ to participate).
2) I don't have an idea to pitch or work on.
- GREAT! That's why we have excellent keynotes to inspire problems you might want to solve.
3) I can't work through the night.
- GREAT! Many people go home for a few hours. if you live far away, accommodations are available, just ask.
The organizers of Ann Arbor Health Hacks (A2HealtHacks.org) invite you to find out how your skills can make a difference over the weekend of June 22-24 during their third annual healthcare hackathon. This year, the focus is on low-resource settings with a special track on transition into independence for people with disabilities.
The event is an opportunity for design, engineering, IT, healthcare and business professionals, students and entrepreneurs to come together to brainstorm and prototype new healthcare solutions. More info and registration at A2HealthHacks.org.
There is always a reward if you read a long article to the end: please mark your calendar for the annual Summer party Saturday July 28 and remind me if you didn't get an invite by then.
Many thanks for your support!
Diane Bouis, PhD, MBA