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: https://netcapital.com/companies/contentoro#opportunity.
Date Posted: 20 November 2017
Date Posted: 13 November 2017
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: http://tiecondetroit.org/
Date Posted: 6 November 2017
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.
Date Posted: 1 November 2017
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 https://deelio.co 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!
Date Posted: 30 October 2017
Sam Savant was the NEF Showcase presenter for TwoScoreTwo a blockchain commerce company. Sam described the problem and his unique solution to global commerce: data leaks and tampering, payment security, and impersonation.
“Recent studies have found that nearly a third of companies in the US had their supply chains breached over the last year. Each instance of breach cost the company an average of $2.7 million The Association of Financial Professionals has estimated that US companies lose about $928 billion in annual revenue to fraud.”
TwoScoreTwo’s Minerva solution “brings together all global supply chain participants from different companies into a single digital community” that is unhackable and undetectable while letting in only authorized users. Similar to Google drive, users can store and transfer data to other authorized users. All data is digitally signed and encrypted such that only the sender and recipients can access the information. Our solution eliminates the possibility of modifying invoices, contracts, and other business critical information.”
Blockchain technology is revolutionizing the way organizations share and update data that is impervious to tampering. Conceptually, it is similar to a Google spreadsheet that is shared multiple times, even thousands of time across a network. The blockchain network is used to update the spreadsheet as users update the content. On the network, there is no “original” for a hacker to alter; thus, the genius behind the technology. Visit TwoScoreTwo at http://www.twoscoretwo.com.
Date Posted: 4 October 2017
On Nov 16, Accelerate Michigan will host its annual business competition at the Masonic temple in Detroit. They are the premier event in the Great Lakes region for high-growth companies and venture investors awarding $1,000,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.
New Enterprise Forum (NEF) is proud to have members participate in this event and have the prestige of having coached 10 of the 36 semi-finalists. It is critical that entrepreneurs learn what is important to investors when pitching their business for funding. New Enterprise Forum has been helping entrepreneurs get noticed by investors for over 30 years.
NEF Graduates & AMIC Semi-Finalists:
Alchemie Solutions Inc.
Altality, LLC dba SpellBound
Ash & Erie, Inc.
Circadian Risk, Inc.
Ripple Science Corp.
Registration for the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition can be found at: http://acceleratemichigan.org
Date Posted: 3 October 2017
The Sep. panelists were: Prem Bodagala, Director, Invest Michigan (MI Pre-Seed Fund 2.0); Mike Flanagan, Director of Capital Programs, Ann Arbor SPARK; Stewart Nelson, Angel Investor and CEO, Mayasil, LLC; along with Bill Mayer, Vice President Entrepreneurial Services, Ann Arbor SPARK, serving as moderator.
Term sheets are confusing. Here are several tips from the discussion:
- The top four items to have on a term sheet – valuation, type of instrument, min/max amount of raise, and governance/board structure
- Companies can raise too much money too fast where the financials do not support capital needs. As a result, entrepreneurs can give away more of their business than they have to.
- Have the convertible debt convert time for about 18 months, and negotiate to 24 months if you can.
- Basic two types of instruments are used:
- Convertible debt where a company borrows money from investors which is later converted to equity. It is difficult to value companies with little traction. Investors are favoring priced rounds where the company has enough traction to value it. Being over or under valued can hurt the company. Investors look to double or triple the valuation between investment rounds so the ‘price needs to be just right’ – the Goldie Locks principle.
- Direct investment in the company
- Executive Summary dos & don’ts
- Financials, include number of customers or units sold along with revenue figures
- Be able to justify your sales ramp up figures
- Have an experienced management team
- Do not try to be everything to everyone, be focused
- Thorough market strategies are helpful
- EBIDAs > 50% = red flag that financials have significant errors
- Underestimated marketing expenses are a red flag, count on around 60% - 70% of sales
- Include the cost to acquire a customer and the life time value of a customer to understand customer churn rates
- Solicit investors that can help the company by adding value with operations in addition to money
- Advice to entrepreneurs to increase their funding chances
- Prepare yourself
- Know who & what kinds of investments the investor invests in
- Have rehearsed answers to probable questions
- Have a good presentation
- If you do not have an answer for a particular question, say you are working on it
- You may have to take longer to grow the business if you are ahead of the market
- Continue running the business while raising capital
Many thanks to the panelists for their insightful expertise.
Date Posted: 2 October 2017
Daniel Young, Founder, and CEO of Circadian Risk explained what his business was all about. Circadian provides “risk software to enhance and empower physical security consultants.” Here is a brief summary of the problem and solution Circadian addresses:
“Every company evaluates the risk of a physical undesirable event in hopes to mitigate or prevent that incident. Until now, risk professionals have used paper based assessments and methods to analyze this risk. By using paper based methods, vital data has been lost that would allow experts to understand risk dynamically. As a result, the industry is reactive and usually waits for incidents to happen, then responding, due to the lack of predictive analytics. There is also an absence of overall standards due to fragmented sectors. Companies and buildings need to know their TRUE RISK to prepare correctly, to reduce loss, and save lives.”
“Circadian Risk creates iOS platforms to empower security consultants and professionals with technology and analytics that increases their efficiency and effectiveness within the $2 Billion risk assessment industry. By sharing sector-specific intelligence data with companies, insurances and government, events can be prevented.”
Learn more about Circadian at: http://www.circadianrisk.co
Date Posted: 1 October 2017
Blog, by Mike Flanagan, Michigan Angel Fund
“It’s simple, it’s just not easy.” -unknown
The pitch deck (a slide presentation designed to attract investors) is a necessary tool for tech startups trying to raise money. In addition, developing a good pitch deck can be a powerful exercise in helping you improve your thinking about your business and refine your plan. I stress this second point because many entrepreneurs view the pitch deck as an annoying, but necessary evil. Most entrepreneurs are running 100 mph and have many varied and complex issues to address. But if you slack on your pitch deck, it will show. And it’s often your first appeal to investors (hopefully not your last). The real bonus is that it forces you to slow down briefly and see the forest for the trees, and take a more objective view of your business. In that sense, it’s probably helpful even for entrepreneurs not planning to raise outside money. Read more at: http://blog.annarborusa.org/tips-on-how-to-improve-your-pitch-deck
Date Posted: 9 September 2017
A team of coaches was requested by Crain’s Detroit Business to coach teams participating in the upcoming Detroit Homecoming pitch competition.
The group gathered in a conference room of Crain Communication’s headquarters in Detroit, where the entrepreneurs presented their two-minute pitches to the coaching panel, which consisted of Barbara Boldt, Gary Hazen, Stew Nelson and Stefan Sysko. The entrepreneurs received advice on perfecting their pitch, and on improving their presentation skills. The teams represented a wide variety of industries and stages, from tech startups to established non-profits and retail businesses looking to expand.
The NEF coaches were impressed by the teams’ businesses, and their enthusiasm and commitment to the city of Detroit. “The entrepreneurs were all very open to our observations and suggestions,” said Stefan Sysko. “It was truly a pleasure hearing their plans for starting or growing their Detroit-based businesses. We also enjoyed supporting an event as important as Crain’s Detroit Homecoming.”
Now in its fourth year, Crain’s Detroit Homecoming is an annual gathering of Detroit expats who are invited back home to Detroit to reconnect via a three-day immersive event filled with seminars, networking and tours.
Detroit Homecoming IV takes place from September 13th to 15th. For more information on Detroit Homecoming, visit www.detroithomecoming.com. The event is invitation-only.