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

In a March 14, 2018 Concentrate Ann Arbor article, Sarah Rigg reported that Katy Lind is changing things as the new program manager for the University of Michigan's Desai Accelerator. She brings first-hand entrepreneurial experience to the role and is looking forward to making a difference. Read More 

At the 2018 March Forum, Michael Moore presented MedKairos providing a product that is automating the cancer biopsy assessment process. Why? Because “20% of the cases (500,000 annually), the lab will determine that the sample’s quality is insufficient, and the patient must return so the surgeon can make another attempt.” For the patient, the biopsy procedure is frightening the first time, let alone having to go through it a second time to get a more accurate sample. For the hospital, a repeat biopsy is at the hospital’s expense. “Insurance providers do not reimburse for repeat biopsies. A single patient revisit will cost a health institution $3,000 to $5,000 in direct costs associated with equipment and personnel needed to repeat the procedure.”

MedKairos is “developing a device that allows clinicians to immediately determine if the sample they just collected is of sufficient size and quality, before sending it to the lab, while the patient is still in the room.” What a great idea.

The room was packed to see who would win the bragging rights to the NEF March Pitch Pit. But first, a bit about the companies the judges had to choose from.

Jack Griffin of FoodFinder explained how thousands of families are “food insecure” which means they lack food in either quantity or quality or both. In his research, he discovered that those who need food providers did not know where to go to find food assistance for their families. Jack created a platform with a map to show where local food providers were located. The platform is accessible by computer or cell phone. Over 30,000 people have used his product which is available in a few states thus far and growing.

Robert Vogt IV of IOSiX ELD presented his company which provides intelligent connected-truck hardware to the commercial vehicle industry. Some 90% of truck accidents were caused by sleep deprivation and fatigue. His product is an electronic logging device that obtains more accurate data than the traditional logs and the data cannot be faked by truck drivers. They have made 100,000 devices for sale and have sold 55,000 to date.

Salahadin Mustapha of RAYN Inc. is a philanthropic social media application that allows a donor to follow the progress of the project to see how the cause is being helped. Charities can use the platform to showcase what they are doing and how much more money they need to meet their goal. Their plans are to get major charities on board to attract donors and use the momentum to attract other charities and donors.

Sound the drum roll please. Jack Griffin of FoodFinder won the $220 cash prize along with a winner’s certificate.


At the 2018 GAMIC Competition event on Feb 23, twelve entrepreneurs were named as finalists in preparation for the April 10 finals being held at SAE's WCX World Congress in Detroit's Cobo Center. Read More 

NEF members mentored seven of the finalists, as follows: 

Sheu-Jane Gallaghar – HLX Engines

Barbara Boldt – Suerv  

Vic Havele – TalaSecure

Jay Mahler – GhostWave

Steve Field – ArqBravo

Paul Henchey – Arbor Automation

Scott Taylor/Vic Havele - Scientel