13 August

Detroit Hosts 2012 Accelerate Michigan Competition

Touted as North America’s largest business plan competition, the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition will be held downtown at the Westin Book Cadillac this fall.

This program is part of a joint effort to drive entrepreneurial growth and innovation throughout the state, by offering start-ups and late stage entrepreneurs $1 million in cash prizes and the opportunity to have an immediate and positive impact on Michigan’s economy.

An interesting piece of trivia from the organization: nearly 1,500 jobs were created by ninety-five Michigan based companies, which were funded by local and national venture capital firms last year.

The deadline for the competition is fast approaching: companies have until this Wednesday to apply, and student submissions are due September 27.

Accelerate Michigan focuses on two tracks: international businesses relocating to Michigan, and Michigan collegiate students starting and staying here. However, start-up and early-stage entrepreneurial businesses world-wide whose technology is past the prototype phase are eligible for submission under one the following categories: Information Technology, Alternative Energy, Advanced Materials, Next Generation Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Medical Devices Advanced Transportation, and Consumer Products & Services.

“The state of Michigan is a hotbed of entrepreneurial and start-up activity right now, and the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is one of the most important driving factors for business development and growth,” said Doug Rothwell, President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan.

This year’s judging panel includes experts from Michigan-based investment firms, companies and universities, as well as national and regional investors and venture capitalists.

Photo Credit: www.bayelectric.com
31 July

Ann Arbor toilet paper advertiser and Highland Park Organic Produce company Among Startup SOUP Finalists

Photo Credit: yourdictionary.com

Startup SOUP is a TechTown pitch competition designed to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses through microfunding. Each finalist will make a business pitch, and field questions from the audience. The event is an entrepreneurial twist on the highly popular Detroit SOUP community fundraising dinner.

To be eligible to pitch at Startup SOUP, nominees must have registered their business with the state (LLC, etc.) and be based in Southeast Michigan. Businesses may or may not have formally launched but must be in the pre-revenue phase. All finalists will receive two business development workshop vouchers from TechTown.

Over bowls of soup, the audience will deliberate then vote for their favorite. The Startup SOUP winner will receive $1,500, courtesy of event sponsors Hennessey Capital and Huntington Bank, as well as workshop vouchers from TechTown.

To attend the event, the cost is $5 at the door for soup, salad, bread and a vote.

Let’s take a look a the presenting finalists:

  • Marlo Rencher, Good Sweat, Detroit: Good Sweat is an online platform that enables people to raise money and awareness for causes they believe in. The company supports the creation of personal fundraising events, and the solicitation of support and participation from Facebook friends and Twitter followers. It also provides a mechanism by which a user’s friends and family can donate money to the nonprofit organization of their choice. Through Good Sweat, people can inspire others to act and be active in philanthropy.
  • Thiago Olson, Protean, Detroit: Protean is a start-up mobile app company. Its product, Echo, is a reprogrammable smart card that mimics cards typically found in a consumer’s wallet. Echo syncs wirelessly with a mobile app that stores an unlimited number of cards and creates a channel for communication between merchants and consumers. By consolidating a consumer’s plastic collection into one card/mobile app, Echo frees consumers from wallet clutter and improves the payment experience. Since Echo holders are more likely to have store cards readily available, merchants pay lower fees on these transactions and capture more customer data. Merchants also benefit from an unprecedented opportunity to communicate directly with consumers while they are shopping via a location-sensitive payment app.
  • Jordan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper, Ann Arbor: Star Toilet Paper prints advertisements and coupons on its patented toilet paper, and supplies the product to public venues at no charge by virtue of advertising revenue. Star Toilet Paper’s unique product allows companies to advertise to captive audiences in a cost-efficient manner. The toilet paper gives users readily available reading material and coupons during a time when they would otherwise be indisposed and unproductive.
  • Brandon Knight, Rhiza Food Co., Highland Park: Rhiza Food Co. is a four-season, for-profit urban production and teaching farm that emphasizes organic and ecologically-sound production. It currently grows vegetables, fruits and herbs in a 24-by-60-foot passive solar hoop house, a 60-by-80-foot outdoor field, and an eight-tray indoor microgreens production space. Plans for value-added products using “estate-grown” produce are underway with an expected production start date of fall 2012. Products will be sold at Highland Park Farmers Market beginning Aug. 6, and to metro Detroit chefs, caterers and local residents. Short-term plans are to train and hire additional staff and expand production capacity.
25 June

DVP Lecture Series

Tonight marks the inaugural DVP Lecture Series (at 6:30pm).

On the 4th Monday of every month, Detroit Venture Partners will be hosting groups of local professionals who will delve into their area of expertise, with a central topic every time. Each expert will present for 30 minutes, which will include opportunities for Q&A. For this evening, the theme is MEDIA.

As such, presentations will be given by Public Relations gurus, covering all aspects of the PR world and how this affects your business.

Prior to the formal presentations in the auditorium there will be an opportunity to mingle with fellow entrepreneurs in the broader Detroit community. The event is free, and you can RSVP by emailing them.

Tonight’s program features:

Jason Brown (joined by a journalist) will cover the mechanics of an interview and how the press will tackle your company’s story

Nikki Little will help with social media, blogger relationships and community outreach for your business

Christina McKenna will provide guidance on high-level strategy and a game plan for your media coverage