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)

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Here’s what the entrepreneurial ecosystem had to say about the event!

“EntryPoint helped make the 2019 Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition the best one yet in its ten-year history.  The team’s thoughtful planning and attention to detail ensured we had a successful event that had a meaningful impact on participating startups, investors and community partners. The feedback we received has been outstanding, thanks to EntryPoint.”
Martin Dober, Invest Detroit, investor and client
“The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition offered a unique chance to connect with high-quality, pre-vetted and well-prepared startups from across Michigan in an intensive afternoon, as well as get to connect with other investors focused on Michigan. The one-on-one format offered a chance to meet the founders, hear the pitch and engage in meaningful conversations in a time-efficient and high-impact way.”
Jonathan Ellis, Sandalphon Capital, investor (Chicago-based) and event judge
“At most pitch competitions, it’s easy to feel lost in the shuffle and show up feeling unprepared, but that wasn’t the case with Accelerate Michigan. What I liked best about working with the EntryPoint team is that they were well-organized, communicated consistently with the startup teams, and provided plenty of resources in advance of the event. Additionally, the panels were excellent – no canned answers – and were one of my favorite parts of the event (besides the awards!). Well done!”
Kylee Guenther, Pivot Materials, finalist and awardee
“Great job to the EntryPoint team! As Michigan’s largest and longest-running business competition, Accelerate Michigan has established our state as a dynamic and welcoming place for diverse startups that will positively impact our region and the world.”
Pam Lewis, New Economy Initiative, event sponsor and panelist
“Accelerate Michigan is an amazing opportunity to meet with all the movers and shakers in Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem over a few highly-curated, top-notch events. We were able to meet potential advisors, customers, investors and even new hires! The event this year was great, and it wouldn’t have happened without you and your team at EntryPoint!”
Moody Mattan, BrandXR, semifinalist and awardee
“The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition was truly a pleasure to attend and participate in as a judge. The event was well-organized and enjoyable, and the structure of the event allowed us the opportunity to connect easily with interesting companies. Accelerate Michigan is a must-hit event for our firm.”
Mike Asem, M25, investor (Chicago-based) and event judge
“Congrats Emily Heintz and the EntryPoint team on another great Accelerate Michigan event! I met with several strong startups that are attractive prospects for our Indy-based fund. The event provided a great opportunity to catch up with many of the leading startup and early-stage investors from the region.”
John McIlwraith, Allos Ventures, investor (Indiana-based) and event judge
“When we started Accelerate Michigan in 2010, we expected it to be one of the major events of the year for the Michigan tech startup community, entrepreneurs and investors. The amount of capital competing companies have raised and returns generated for investors the past ten years gives the program a five-star rating. The tenth anniversary of Accelerate Michigan was more than we originally imagined with great companies – it’s a far cry from ten years ago. Well done to the EntryPoint team.”
Skip Simms, Ann Arbor SPARK, event founder, investor, panelist and event judge
“Emily and the EntryPoint team are a powerhouse of positive energy! EntryPoint was professional and highly meticulous. Throughout the entire event, we experienced well-curated meetings with investors, networking opportunities and panels to help us grow our business.”
Kabir Maiga, PassiveBolt, finalist and awardee

EntryPoint partners with organizations to strategically host events around emerging trends, successes, or gaps in the market related to findings from our research. Interested in partnering with us?
Contact us at info@entrypointmi.com

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