In a June 4, 2018 article, Ann Arbor SPARK announced who the winners were from their 2018 spring Entrepreneur Boot Camp. There were 12 "contenders" with $35,000 in funding. "For the first time, the boot camp panel consisted of all women." Read More 

Detroit Crain's featured Entrepreneurs in an article on May 26, 2018. It takes a lot of faith, effort, and resources to start a business. Entrepreneurs come from all parts of the world. Some start a business out of necessity, some have innovative ideas, and others create a business around trying to make the world a better place. Regardless of the humble beginnings, we owe a great deal to entrepreneurs and cheer when they succeed. Be inspired by the stories.  Read More 

In a Detroit Crain's article on May 15, 2018 5:03 PM, Dustin Walsh reported that "The investment fair, which showcases companies in need of funding to investors across the U.S., will be called the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium." Next year's event will include the presence of many Big 10 research universities. Read More

At the May Forum, Paul Schrems, President of Ascape Audio, described how current wireless earbuds "requires the user to carry three additional devices, remember to charge them every few hours, all the while trying not to lose the $100+ gadgets. Additionally, the tiny devices annoyingly tend to fall out of the user's ears."  Because of these issues and more, people get frustrated and stop using them. "Ascape Audio offers premium wireless earbuds capable of recharging directly from your phone. AmpPack is a line of patented smartphone cases that doubles your battery life while holding and recharging the wireless earbuds. Now your earbuds are always with you charged and ready, where ever you go!" Their solution to easily listening to music is simple, affordable, and quite different from the competition. Read More about them


There were four startup companies who presented at the NEF May Forum. Leann Abad of Vicinity told us about is his idea of a platform that connects travelers to local tour guides for on-demand tours. Similar in concept to Uber, the tours are a creative way to experience destination cities. Blake  Osecki of Modular Home & Garden explained how his DIY garden box product is modular and can be as large or as small as the customer desires. The garden boxes are affordable and easy to install. Gail Brown of Platters Chocolatier, explained how her chocolates create a pleasant customer experience for luxury hotels. She makes gourmet custom molded chocolates for corporate branding and promotions. Kiley Judge of Quirk described the health benefits of her drinking fruit vinegars. The fruit flavoring of the vinegar makes them delicious and refreshing. Each of the four companies had interesting products and gave great presentations. As you know, there can be only one overall winner. The $202 prize went to Blake Osecki of Modular Home & Garden. 


The Global Automotive & Mobility Innovation Challenge (GAMIC) final competition was held on April 10 at the SAE International WCX World Congress Experience. They will share over $360,000 in business acceleration services and cash awards. The four winners are: Ghostwave, Spectalite!, Parkofon and Scientel IT Corp. NEF board members and coaches were actively involved in mentoring, organizing and supporting GAMIC for the past eight months. NEF has been an active participant and Sponsor of GAMIC for many years. Read More 

Civionics was strategically acquired by Grace Engineered Products who has a strong presence in the sensor industry as well as a large network of manufacturers representatives to gain even more customers. Gerry Roston, Civionics CEO, was a past President of New Enterprise Forum. Read More 

Advaita Bioinformatics is a spin-off from Wayne State University. As Dr Draghici, Founder & CEO explained, thousands of drugs fail during Phase III clinical trials. Why is this happening? "The problem is that no two patients are the same. Drugs fail because one cannot currently distinguish between patients who will respond and patients who will not respond or have adverse effects." A technology that could distinguish between people who respond favorably those who will not would allow drugs to be FDA approved much sooner, and save the pharmaceutical industry over $900 million dollars. What is Advaita's solution? Their technology is able to: improve the success of clinical trials by discerning between respondents and non-respondents; design optimal treatments by distinguishing between more and less aggressive types of diseases; re-purpose drugs; and predict side effects. Their product is available as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution and their primary customers are small biotech firms, pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations (CROs). Visit them at Advaita Bio

At the April forum meeting, the panel of experts provided valuable insights into the importance of financials in presenting a venture to investors. So, what should entrepreneurs be aware of when talking with investors?

What is Important? Projections are important to show progress on milestones. Startups estimate the business model; whereas, established businesses execute the business model. For the startup, assumptions become the core drivers of the business model – that is your story. Financials help focus entrepreneurs to think through their assumptions for the numbers to make sense. Do the math to figure out how many customers it will take to cover costs and earn a profit.

What is your red flag test? Market size, how big is it and how are you going to get there? Inconsistencies in market size and price can show errors in thinking. Capital requirements need to be thoroughly thought out and make sense. Gross margins and profit margins that are not realistic.

What do investors look for in financials? Never say, “Our financial numbers are conservative.” Investors want to know what is realistic. Revenue ramping must make sense in terms of timing. The founder is the best one to make these projections and not the CFO. Cash flow statements mean more to startups versus profit & loss because startups have not proven their business model yet. Financials are an outcome of a well thought out plan, not the other way around. Really understand your market.

IndustryStar Solutions is a tenant of Ann Arbor SPARK. Last June, Bill Crane, CEO, was part of a NEF Panel about Tips in Hiring Critical Employees. They were recently featured in an article on April 11 written by Sarah Rigg. IndustryStar Solutions provides supply chain services. Hear what they had to say about their humble beginnings and where they are now. Read More