2019 Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition Connects Entrepreneurs to Funding and Resources to Fuel the Growth of Startups
EntryPoint was thrilled to partner with ID Ventures, one of the most active early-stage investors in Michigan, to host the 2019 Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. Over the last decade, Accelerate Michigan has become one of the largest events in Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to showcase the talent and innovation happening in the state. This year, the event sold out with a record-breaking number of attendees, attracting 400 investors, community builders and members of entrepreneurial support organizations from across the country to watch the six finalists present their rapidly growing companies.
Based on our event analysis and research reports, one of the opportunities for improvement in growing Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is increasing access to capital. According to the 2019 MVCA Research Report, only ten percent of capital invested in Michigan in the last year was in companies at the seed stage, highlighting the need for more capital and support for startups at their earliest stages. Since its launch in 2010, Accelerate Michigan semifinalists have created over 1,300 jobs and attracted more than $900 million in additional investment. By providing access to nearly $1 million in investments and grants in addition to investors and business acceleration resources, entrepreneurs can attain the support they need to fuel the growth of their businesses.
We worked alongside community engagement leader, Molly Theis to execute ID Ventures’ vision and provide strategic recommendations on how to support Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Our shared goal was to ensure that all participants – whether selected as a semifinalist, finalist or awardee – had an exceptional experience and would takeaway resources to help them grow their business. While capital availability is recognized as a primary need for startup success, Michigan has a key strength – its community and access to resources to help grow a business.
EntryPoint reformatted the event to bridge connections between entrepreneurs and industry experts, including investors, subject matter experts and serial entrepreneurs. Through carefully curated meetings, startups had the opportunity to build relationships with experts in their specific industry and sector. EntryPoint organized a total of 241 meetings with more than 100 entrepreneurs, investors and subject matter experts at this year’s event.
There were a variety of informative panels that were featured throughout the day for entrepreneurs. We hosted a “10 Years of Impact” panel with founding members of the pitch competition, including Lauren Bigelow of Growth Capital Network, Dave Egner of The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Mike Finney of The Miami-Dade Beacon Council, and Skip Simms of Ann Arbor SPARK, moderated by Pamela Lewis of New Economy Initiative. Additionally, select sponsors were able to host panels, such as Endeavor Detroit, for its “Startup to Scaleup: The Art of the Error” panel, featuring Danny Ellis of SkySpecs, Javier Evelyn of Alerje and Jason Wenk of Formulafolios and moderated by Gretchen Perkins of Huron Capital.
EntryPoint ensures that events like Accelerate Michigan serve the needs of entrepreneurs who are participating in the competition. We believe that by providing access to resources and fostering a strong network, we can help reduce common obstacles to launching and growing a business in Michigan. By doing so, we can have a more robust high-tech economy in the state.
We are honored to have the opportunity to work alongside all the talented entrepreneurs in Michigan who are creating high-tech solutions that benefit a range of industries. Congratulations to awardees EVOQ Therapeutics, DeepHow, Pivot Materials, BrandXR and PassiveBolt in addition to the 24 semi-finalists who participated in the competition! We look forward to hearing about the milestones and growth of all companies that participated in the competition.
Photos from the Event (photographer: Leisa Thompson Photography)