Past Events

26 January 2016

16th Annual Collaboration for Entrepreneurship (ACE'16)


Southfield Westin Hotel, 1500 Town Center, Southfield, MI 48075

ACE '16 is the place where Great Lakes region entrepreneurs gather to network, learn and connect. Each year at ACE, you engage with an exciting, forward-thinking community of innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders – people – like you who have the vision and drive to build new ventures for a new future. Each year’s ACE event, along with the year-long activities of its supporting organizations, is helping to make the Great Lakes region a better place to start and grow a business. Join the crowd of attendees as they take advantage of learning and networking opportunities with fellow entrepreneurs, funding sources and entrepreneurial resources at  ACE’16. See for more information.

NEF participation at ACE'16

As one of the founding partners of ACE, NEF has a strong interest in the success of this event. At ACE'16, NEF will be sponsoring two workshops:

Live Investment Pitches To Investors

Experience the difference in an entrepreneur's investor pitch before and after the NEF coaching process. Participate in the audience by asking questions of the entrepreneurs and the investor panel about the concept, market size, competition, business model, go to market strategy, revenue model, finances or management team.

Live Investment Participants:

  • Mark Kiel of Genomenon - Providing Genomic sequencing analysis software
  • Bob Chunn of ContentOro - A reputable content provider for websites
  • Lisa McLaughlin of Workit Health - A software platform providing care & support to substance abusers

Live Investment Judges:

Reda Jaber is a Partner at IncWell an early-stage venture capital fund, where he is involved in all startup company submissions across all business sectors, with lead responsibility for medical sector related activities. Previously, He gained investment experience at Stage 2 Innovations, a $100 million private equity fund. He co-founded several startups including MDCases and MI Happy App. Reda is a celebrated author in research publications and has presented his findings at major scientific conferences internationally. In 2015, he was named to Crain's Detroit Business 20 in their 20's, and in 2016 he was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 in Healthcare. Reda holds an MD & MBA from the U-M Medical School and the Ross School of business.


Adrian Ohmer is an Associate at Invest Detroit, a company sourcing and evaluation for Detroit Innovate (VC fund) and First Step Fund (seed-stage), along with the support of other funds in the Invest Detroit portfolio as well as entrepreneurial community engagement. He was a Co-Founder of Wedding Seed, a web and mobile-based service that attempts to solve the fundamental disconnect in the wedding industry between what a couple asks for and what they truly want for their wedding. Adrian was also the Editor in Chief for the Michigan Journal of Private Equity & Venture Capital Law.


Skip Simms is Senior Vice President of Ann Arbor SPARK. He works with technology start-up and early stage companies. He focuses on preparing start-ups for equity fund raising. Skip has been successful in raising over $25 million in grants through the states 21st Century Jobs Fund program for the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund. This program provides very early stage start-ups with small loans, and provides a matching investment of up to $250,000. Skip is the Managing Member of the for-profit Michigan Angel Fund which invests in Michigan based technology companies that need little capital. The Michigan Angel Fund is the state's largest angel network with 73 high net worth individuals looking for an above average return while helping grow and diversity the states economy. Skip participates on both profit and non-profit boards, and was a founding member of the Michigan Venture Capital Association.

Pitch Pit

Four entrepreneurs will each give a four-minute pitch of their business idea to a panel of investor judges in a “Shark Tank” format. Prototypes and visual aids are encouraged but, no PowerPoint. After each pitch, the judges will give detailed feedback and each judge will score the business. At the end, the person with the highest score will receive a special ACE'16 cash prize of over $300.

Pitch Pit Contestants:

  • Norman Kutemperor of Scientel IT Corp.- Is a pioneer in NoSQL Data Base technology. NoSQL, the key to Big Data, is widely utilized on the internet. Scientel specializes in applications based on NoSQL technologies.
  • Kate Thomas of OT&PT Pups - People who own a dog are eight times more likely to survive the first critical year after a heart attack than those who do not. OT&PT Pups has the Rx for healing
  • Chris Bogdan of Get Up & Go - Provider of the first caffeinated baked goods to mass market in the United States.
  • Syed Hussain, of Flexion, LLC -- Developer of an exercise bike to increase range of motion and strength in upper extremities to increase self care, activities of daily living and independence with functional mobility.
  • Timothy Jones of Colorspritz - Developer of electrical generators for wearable illumination including pedestrian safety and fitness.

Pitch Pit Judges:

Derek Edwards, As Vice President of Invest Detroit, a leading source of private sector gap financing, Derek utilizes a variety of funding tools through managed for-profit and non-profit targeted funds to support economic development opportunities in underserved communities primarily in the City of Detroit. His efforts at Invest Detroit are intended to promote job creation expansion of the tax base, and an improved quality of life for the communities the organization serves. He mentors high school students through the 'Winning Futures' program, helping them set goals, explore career options and reinforce how their values impact their personal successes. Derek holds a BSBA in Accounting from Lawrence Technological University and an MS in Corporate finance from Walsh College.  

Lisa Seymour, is the Program Manager for Techstars Mobility, an accelerator program that is operating at the intersection of Detroit's automotive dominance and its entrepreneurial resurgence. Her experience in operations and relationship building allows her to help entrepreneurs move easily through an intense accelerator program as well as support the growth of the Detroit startup community. Lisa has lived in Detroit for over ten years after moving to the city to attend Wayne State University on a softball scholarship. After graduation she served as the Chief of Staff in the Wayne State Athletic Department. She first transitioned into the startup world with a position at Duo Security in Ann Arbor. Lisa holds a B.S. in Management and an MBA from Wayne State University.

Rachele Downs, is the Vice President of Entrepreneurial Strategies for Inforum and the Inforum Center for Leadership (ICL). She is responsible for leading in GAGETM which is Inforum's strategy to position Michigan as the Midwest hub for high-growth women entrepreneurs.The formation of ICL turbocharged Inforum’s mission to help women lead and succeed, giving the organization a real discipline and substance to developing women as leaders – not just supporting them. Inforum is one of the few organizations of its kind in the country that combines professional development, top-notch networking and original research to accelerate careers for women – and make a positive impact on the business environment.


Stefan Sysko

17 December 2015

Holiday Break 2015


Ann Arbor SPARK Central, 330 E. Liberty St, Lower Level, Ann Arbor

To allow everyone to unwind and relax, we will be taking a break from our normal Forum schedule for December. However, that does not mean we are taking a break from NEF coaching or participating in other entrepreneurial events around the area.

The next NEF gathering will be at ACE 2016 when NEF will participate with our famous Pitch Pit. Save the date for ACE 2016 on January 26 at the Southfield Westin Hotel from 12:30 – 6:30 pm. For more details, see

Our next Forum event will be our annual awards meeting AND our 30th Year Anniversary. Mark your calendars for February 18, 2016. We be will be celebrating past NEF Showcase presenters, awarding entrepreneurs, reminiscing, and having fun. Whether you are a past NEF supporter, a current supporter or are interested in entrepreneurialism, come on by and join in the festivities.

19 November 2015

Latest Buzz In Technology Trends


Ann Arbor SPARK Central, 330 E. Liberty St, Lower Level, Ann Arbor

Innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors are always in search of the "next-big-thing." Hear from our November panel about some of the disruptive technologies presently in the pipeline and learn from them what is fundable and what is not.


Dan Radomski, Vice President, Industry & Venture Development for NextEnergy. Dan leads NextEnergy’s commercialization services including the market and technology analytic efforts to support the growth of early stage and mature energy technology firms. He also manages the organization’s venture services supporting the commercialization efforts of approximately 100 new developers of advanced energy technologies helping attract over $274 million in investment/funding for clean tech ventures over 6 years. He is an instructor for I-Corps Energy and Transportation Program. Dan is also responsible for industry outreach, market research, value chain analysis and technology road mapping of several energy market segments. He currently serves as an advisor for the National Governor’s Association’s (NGA) Clean Energy Economic Development Policy Academy program. Previously, Dan was co-founder of an innovative clean energy technology consultancy known as Kinetik Partners, which provided product and business development strategy support for companies looking to enter or expand their business into the growing clean energy markets.

Al Carpinelli, Sr. Business Development Manager for Logic Solutions Inc. Al brings more than 35 years of technology experience to his role as account executive at Logic Solutions. He assists clients in bringing their web and Mobile presence forward while integrating and taking advantage of investments in their legacy systems. As a solutions consultant for over fifteen years at Logic Solutions, he has managed dozens of projects. Before coming to Logic, he worked in Relationship/Direct Marketing Services (CRM), at a Big 5 consulting firm, and as an account executive with a large computer manufacturer. Other career highlights include more than eight years experience in technical sales support and consulting services management, including systems analysis and programming, database design, and technical systems support.

Connie Chang, Managing Director for Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI), U-M. Connie helped form, launch and now leads the FFMI team, a unit of the University of Michigan Medical School Office of Research and part of its Strategic Research Initiative. FFMI serves as an innovation navigator for U-M biomedical faculty researchers, trainees and students, helping them navigate the commercialization process via education, mentoring, funding resources and personalized consultation services. Connie joined the University of Michigan in 2009 after a 15-year career in business in Boston and New York, including nearly 12 years of experience in the pharmaceuticals industry where she worked in the commercial and marketing business functions. Previously she held senior roles at Sepracor and Pfizer. She also served as Director of Regional Marketing for the New England region. She also worked as a consultant at Mercer Management Consulting's New York office. Connie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychobiology from Harvard University and a Master in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.


Paula Sorrell, Principal at Paula LLC. Paula is an independent consultant focused on strategy and marketing, specifically helping organizations who are building an innovation economy. Recently, she served as Vice President of Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Venture Capital for the MEDC overseeing $1B under management to support Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including university research and tech transfer, technology service providers, tech incubators, seed funding programs, portfolio investments and fund of funds. Prior to MEDC, she has held full and interim senior management roles at seven early stage technology companies. All start-ups resulted in successful sale of the company, or are still a going concern. Paula has been a technology business evaluator for investment portfolio companies, business incubator tenants, for the U.S. Department of Energy, and for a membership group of 1300 international investors. She holds a bachelor degree in marketing and an MBA from Central Michigan University.

Showcase Presenter: 

15 October 2015

NEF Pitch Pit -- Fall Fantasies


Ann Arbor SPARK Central, 330 E. Liberty St, Lower Level, Ann Arbor

Three entrepreneurs will each give a four-minute pitch of their business idea to a panel of investor judges in a “Shark Tank” format. After each pitch, the judges will give detailed feedback and score the business. At the end of the evening, the person with the highest score will receive a $100 cash prize plus all additional prize money provided by the audience.

The three entrepreneurs, selected from a large pool of applicants are:

  • Demetrius Hayes of Flicked. Ubiquitous cloud that provides users with reliable traffic details related to accidents, road blocks, closed ramps, etc.
  • Barry McDonald of Try2See,Inc.Provider of an app and service called SmallGyfts that allows users to raise money for charities while shopping with local businesses.
  • Chris Bogdan of Get Up and Go. Get Up and Go is the creator and manufacturer of the first caffeinated baked goods to mass market in the United States.

Pitch Pit Judges:

Jill Ford, Special Advisor to Detroit's Mayor, Mike Duggan. She heads the City of Detroit's innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives. Jill chose to come to Detroit from the San Francisco Bay Area, where as an Angel Investor and Advisor, she transformed emerging businesses using strategies forged in mobile gaming. Jill brings a wealth of global leadership in mobile and games including heading Disney Mobile's worldwide distribution to mobile manufacturers and running Motorola's global games usage. In addition to traveling to more than 15 countries,she ran a company in Ghana that discovered, developed, and funded new entrepreneurs. Jill combines a Wharton MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Harvard University.


David Bloom. David serves as Course Operating Officer and Lecturer at the Ross School of Business, Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance. In this role, he teaches entrepreneurial finance, and runs the Financing Technology Commercialization accelerator practicum at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. For nearly 20 years, David has been the Venture Catalyst at Factotem, providing business acceleration, technology commercialization, business modeling, market positioning, valuation, outsourcing, scalability, and incubation services for Software/Mobile/SaaS, Consumer Electronics, Big Data/Analytics, and Life Science/Medical Devices. David earned his BSE in electrical engineering and his MSE in Industrial and Operations Engineering, both from the University of Michigan.


David Tarver. David is the Founder and President of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative that facilitates business innovation benefiting urban communities. He began his career at AT&T Bell Laboratories and left to start Telecom Analysis Systems out of his basement later selling it for $30 million. He founded the New Jersey community-based nonprofit, Red Bank Education and Development Initiative, catalyzing dramatic improvements in academic performance and opportunities for Red Bank children. He has served on the National Advisory Committee for the U-M College of Engineering, the U-M Alumni Association board of directors, the Red Bank, NJ Board of Education, the National Commission on NAEP 12th Grade Assessment and Reporting, and several other civic and not-for-profit organization boards. David received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan.


Showcase Presenter: 

17 September 2015

Raising Money & Investment


Ann Arbor SPARK Central, 330 E. Liberty St, Lower Level, Ann Arbor

According to the MVCA, the demand for future Michigan venture capital will most likely exceed availability. What is an entrepreneur to do? Find out from our panelists.


Doug Finch,is an active early stage and angel investor based in Ann Arbor. For the past ten years he was co-owner and COO of Summit Health, Inc., a nationwide provider of employee health screenings to Fortune 500 companies, and he recently exited in an acquisition by Quest Diagnostics. Prior to Summit Health, Doug has led startup and R&D companies in the fuel cell, power electronics, automotive component manufacturing and advanced composite materials industries, and has supported M&A and acquisition integration for a leading Japanese trading and investment company. He earned BS and MS degrees in Aeronautical Engineering from MIT and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Doug has served for 18 years on the Board of Trustees of Allegiance Health System in Jackson, Michigan, has been a mentor for the NSF iCorps program, and is currently on the board of Levanto Financial and on the advisory board of Tappan Hill Ventures.

Dave Gregorka is a Venture Partner for Baird Capital. He also works as a Mentor-in-Residence at the University of Michigan Office of Technology Transfer and is an active consultant. He serves on the Invest Michigan Board is an observer on the Molecular Imaging, Inc. Board, and regularly volunteers his services to startups and others in the entrepreneurial community. Previously, Dave was an operations executive who has been part of successful startup teams for two new companies, Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network and HealthMedia, Inc. He helped to grow both to successful exits. Dave has raised over $20 million in venture capital and grants, and has expertise in new venture leadership, fund raising, M&A, corporate administration, technology management, financial leadership, client services, and operations management. He holds a BS in Biology-Geology from the University of Rochester, an MS in Water Resources Management from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

Tim Petersen is Managing Director for Arboretum Ventures. His investments primarily target capital-efficient health IT and services companies that redefine efficient models for care delivery and improving access to care. Tim has led investments and held board seats for Arboretum in more than a dozen companies, including HealthMedia, Accuri Cytometers and Inogen. He currently serves on the boards of Advanced ICU Care, KFx, Inogen, Cervilenz, MyHealthDirect, Tangent, Fidelis, and IntelliCyt. Tim has worked for the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan, serving as Managing Director as well as directing the activities of the Wolverine Venture Fund. He has also served as Chairman of the Michigan Venture Capital Association. Tim holds a BA in Economics from Williams College, an MS in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.


Emily Heintz With a background in economic development, capital markets, and finance, Emily brings technical and practical expertise to her role as Associate Director of the Michigan Venture Capital Association. She develops the MVCA Research Report, planning educational and networking events, manages talent programs, and is an advocate for Michigan's entrepreneurial community. Prior to joining the MVCA in 2013, Emily was a Capital Markets Associate at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. She designed, implemented and managed the MEDC's capital markets programs, including; the 21st Century Investment Fund, Accelerator funds, Venture Development Fund, EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, Urban Investment Program, and direct investments made in venture capital firms around the state. Earlier, She was the Accounting Manager at Ann Arbor SPARK. She also worked as an auditor with Plante Moran, the 13th largest US certified public accounting and business advisory firm. Emily holds a Bachelors of Arts and Masters of Science in Accounting from Michigan State.

Showcase Presenter: 

20 August 2015

Summer Break - 2015


No meeting this month

Our next Forum event will be 17 September 2015 as we will be taking a break from our normal Forum schedule for August. However, that does not mean we are taking a break from NEF coaching or participating in other entrepreneurial events around the area.

We are extending to you, our NEF Supporters, a huge thank you and hope to see you again at the September Forum meeting. Details will be posted after returning from our brief respite.