ACE ’11 Ignites Entrepreneurs
The future of Michigan took to the stage at Ann Arbor’s gorgeous Skyline High School Monday night for the Annual Collaboration for Entrepreneurship 2011 in a business plan competition that capped six hours of valuable information and networking for current and would-be entrepreneurs.
Hundreds attended the event, which featured breakout sessions on innovation, finding funding, student business formation and more.
The event was capped by an elevator pitch competition among six fledgling businesses. Winning the competition was Erika Block, founder and CEO of Local Orbit, a Web site that promotes the buying and selling of locally grown and produced foods. As Block pointed out, “Oprah’s talking about it, President Obama is talking about it,” and everybody from chefs to state and local government wants to buy local. The site lives on transaction fees from sellers.
Check out http://localorb.it; pilot markets include Benzie County in northwest Lower Michigan and Detroit.
Other finalist pitch presenters were:
* Paul Doyle, CEO of Verify Valid of Ada, who described his company’s payment enablement and fraud prevention service that makes it possible to receive a legally valid payment in an e-mail inbox without going through a financial institution.
* Alexander Craig, CEO of Stratos Aircraft of Farmington Hills, who described his company’s vision of a $2 million five-passenger jet that can fly 1,500 kilometers above the weather at 40,000 feet at nearly 500 mph. Craig said he’s already got a commitment for $100 million if he can raise a first stage of $15 million.
* Duncan Boyce, vice president of business development of Infinite Corridor Technology, which is developing a technology to allow circuit boards to be twisted and folded, allowing new designs in electronics.
*Steve Schwartz, CEO of LeadNuke, software that monitors the Web to develop business-to-business sales leads.
* John Hilfinger, president of Therapeutics Systems Research Laboratories Inc., which is developing new flu vaccine technologies. It’s already raised $15 million in federal health research grants.
The meeting also featured presentations of the fall-winter cycle winners of the Great Lakes Entrepreneurs Quest, which were as follows:
New business ideas:
* Third place, $500 — Fiscal 8 Rescue, Linden developers of a patent-pending infant and child device for firefighters.
* Second place, $1,500 00 — Local Orbit.
* First prize, $2,000 — Stigma Free of Ann Arbor, which is developing faster, easier diagnostic materials for sexually transmitted diseases.
* Third place, $2,000 — MitoStem Inc., which is using various protein delivery methods to make the next generation of induced pluripotential stem cells more efficient.
* Second place, $3,000 — ArborWind LLC, which is developing next-generation vertical axis wind turbines.
* First place, $5,000 — Fusion Coolant Systems of Ypsilanti, which is developing next-generation metalworking fluids for machining and metal forming. Fusion Coolant also won a presenting slot at May’s Michigan Growth Capital Symposium.