News wins $25,000 as "Best of" Ann Arbor SPARK Boot Camp. 

December 07, 2017 03:32 PM Eastern Standard Time 

ANN ARBOR, MICH. - (BUSINESS WIRE) - At the conclusion of its latest Entrepreneur Boot Camp, Ann Arbor SPARK awarded its $25,000 Best of Boot Camp prize and Breath of Life its $10,000 runner up prize. The winners were selected by an esteemed panel of experts, based on the business's investor pitch. Read More

At the NEF November forum meeting, Scott Taylor, Steve Schwartz and Michael Sherman changed things up a bit when discussing Entrepreneurs’ Tech War Stories. Each of them put the audience in the entrepreneur’s driver seat by using real-world examples of company technology dilemmas and then asked the audience to choose what they would do. The room was divided into two groups and then asked to defend their position. In each of the scenarios, more information became available and the audience could change sides based on new facts. For those who changed their positions, they were asked why. Needless to say, they kept us all guessing. It was surprising to learn how similar the points of the audience and the entrepreneur’s management team were. In the end, the audience was told what position the company chose. However, some of the decisions will not play out for years to come which highlighted the point of the exercise in that entrepreneurs make decisions today that can sink the business tomorrow. It all depends on the information available at the time of the decision and the flexibility of the company to adapt to changes in that information to either stay the course or chose a different path. 

At the November NEF Forum, Chris Roebuck, Founder & CEO, described how Clicktivated is transforming the way videos are used by consumer product manufacturers to “create an enhanced interactive user experience.” How does it work? “The Clicktivated experience allows users to interact with individual products featured within a video.” What this means is that while a user is watching an advertisement video, they can click on an item shown in the video and then buy it instantly. This kind of Amplified Video Technology (AVT) is revolutionizing the marketing industry. Visit them at:

In this 'you do not want to miss' event, SPARK will invest in the top two teams from Boot Camp. SPARK would like to cordially invite you to attend. "Since October, our entrepreneurs have worked tirelessly to validate their business concepts. After countless hours spent developing a business model and finding beta customers, the entrepreneurs are ready to present their progress to the community. Come celebrate the evolution of our current Boot Camp entrepreneurs as they share their journey with you and our illustrious panel - Adrian Ohmer, Evan Ufer, & Angela Kujava. Heavy hors d’oeuvres, desserts, wine, beer and soft drinks will be served in honor of everyone’s hard work." See you there! Register 

In an article by Brian Taylor of Ascension and published by Cision PRWeb, Workit Health and Brighton Center have partnered together to fight addiction. This is an important relationship in combining resources with Brighton Center’s in-patient and Workit Health’s out-patient services to those suffering from addictive behaviors. Workit Health was a NEF Showcase Presenter in November of 2015 and has gone on to raise capital to grow their business. Read more 

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition announced its winners last Thursday night at the gala event held at the Masonic Temple in Detroit. Two NEF Showcase Presenters were included in the winner’s circle. They were, Mi Padrino and Spellbound. The $500,000 Grand Prize winner was Orbion Space Technology. The $100,000 First Runner-Up was Mi Padrino. The $50,000 Second Runner-Up was Alerje. The $20,000 Third Runner-Up was Carma Car. The $20,000 Up-And-Coming award went to Novolux Biosciences. The $10,000 People’s Choice award went to Spellbound. Congratulations prize winners.

Also, congratulations to the other five companies who made it into the top ten finalists not mentioned above. They were; ChangeDynamix, IC-Surgical, Foodstand, MTBISense and Switched Source. 

Have you ever wished you could get a piece of a startup, but you couldn't because you're not an accredited investor? Recent changes to the regulatory environment allow limited equity crowdfunding, and a company named Net Capital has set up a mechanism to take advantage of the new rules. Past NEF Showcase Presenter, ContentOro, has launched a campaign through this mechanism. Chick it out here:

There were over 1,000 nominations for twenty finalists to receive the TiE20 Industry Awards representing five segments: IOT/Sensors; Fintech; Transportation/Mobility; Health/Fitness; Manufacturing Devices/Augmented Reality/Artificial Intelligence. On Nov 9, the winners were honored at TiEcon Detroit 2017.

Of the 20 winners, five companies have been or are involved with New Enterprise Forum coaching. They were: Foodstand, CARROT pass, LLC, TwoScoreTwo, Slideless and DiverseNote.

Congratulations to all who received awards and recognition for their accomplishments. The full list of participating companies can be viewed at:


Christina shared her recent experiences with launching a Kickstarter campaign. If you are unfamiliar, here is what they do: “SpellBound is a therapeutic tool that uses augmented reality technology to help children cope and engage with medical treatment. SpellBound is used by pediatric specialists to improve procedural compliance and reduce trauma for their patients.”

Interviewer: I understand that your goal is $18,000. How much have you raised so far?

Christina: We've raised close to $6,000 from 100+ people.

Interviewer: What are some tips about doing a Kickstarter campaign that you would recommend others to follow?

Christina: The biggest tip I have in trying to fund a Kickstarter campaign is to consider the entire ecosystem of the company. This isn't just the city where you work and the people on your team. You have to think about all the different groups you interact with and who has supported you in the past. For us that might mean university departments, game development meetups, or fellow startups.

Interviewer: What is it like watching the results come in? Are you biting your nails?

Christina: Thrilling at first! Each refresh of the page, we'd see the numbers go up. But every Kickstarter campaign has a plateau or lull period, and that's when the nail-biting comes in.

Interviewer: How will the funds be used at Spellbound?

Christina: We'll be using the funds to develop the augmented reality content for an award-winning children's book called Charlotte and the Quiet Place. It's the charming story of a little girl trying to find inner peace in the midst of noisy environments. This is the perfect calming book for the children in the hospitals we work with (or any child feeling overwhelmed), so we're looking forward to bringing it to life through our app.

Interviewer: What are your next steps after the campaign in terms of milestones?

Christina: After the campaign, we will be hard at work developing more tools for therapists, including creating 3D experiences for Charlotte and the Quiet Place. We are also wrapping up our seed round of investment so that we can expand into community clinics and private practices. We will also be looking to expand our sales and customer success team.

Interviewer: What milestones has SpellBound achieved so far?

Christina: SpellBound has been quite the startup journey. In August 2016, we received our first big piece of press in the Detroit News - it was a story of how SpellBound was helping a 7-year-old who had had a brain aneurysm. In January 2017, we signed our first customer: Lucile-Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, and today we now have 15 hospital customers across 9 states.


At the Oct NEF Pitch Pit Competition, three entrepreneurs faced off and presented their business ideas to the panel of judges. Anthony Azzi of Deelio was declared the winner. Here is what he had to say about his experience.

Interviewer: What was the Pitch Pit experience like for you?

Anthony: My favorite part of Pitch Pit was meeting everyone there! There were so many interesting entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, and engineers to meet. I got so caught up in conversation with all of them beforehand, that I almost forgot I was there to pitch! It was a great experience, and a unique opportunity to network with people of diverse professional backgrounds.

Interviewer: How did the Tech Town Detroit DTX Launch prepare you for this presentation? 

Anthony: Our pitch would not be what it is today, without DTX Launch. They taught us how to identify our customer segment, and understand their problems. This all goes into crafting a pitch. You need a deep understanding of your customer, and their problems, so that you can convince a panel of judges, or investors, that your business is viable.

Interviewer: How has customer discovery helped you?

Anthony: Customer discovery has been such an important process for us. You learn so much by getting out of the building, and having a face-to-face conversation with a potential customer, in her own place of business. You gain insights that you cannot find on Google, or anywhere else, other than by actually talking to people. By doing so, you are building a set of proprietary data that no one else in the world has.

Interviewer: What was it like to win the $205 Pitch Pit prize? 

Anthony: We were very happy to win Pitch Pit. Knowing that over half of the prize actually came from small audience donations, makes it even better. We are very thankful to NEF, and to everyone in the audience who contributed. The money will be put towards our server costs, which allows us to host our website and support our mobile app.

Interviewer: What are your next steps in growing Deelio? 

Anthony: Our next step is to launch our beta in 2018. This is where we can put everything we have learned from customer discovery to the test. We have some businesses that we are very excited to work with, to test out Deelio in the real world. We hope that the businesses included in our beta act as the seed to the Deelio Network, and that we can continue to grow and expand to various cities in Michigan and the United States!