Venture Quest Winners Revealed Thursday

June 5, 2002
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DETROIT — This “survivor” will win $50,000 rather than $1 million, but the real payoff will likely come in the long term.

This Thursday, contestants from across the state will vie for cash prizes in the third and final phase of the Great Lakes Venture Quest competition, the state’s first high-tech business plan competition organized by a coalition of venture funds, private companies and public institutions.

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, the University of Michigan and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation are major sponsors of the six-month-long competition that has included workshops, seminars, one-on-one coaching and networking opportunities.

Great Lakes Venture Quest (GLVQ) was created last year to promote growth of technology related companies in Michigan as well as to showcase the leading edge know-how of the state’s current tech companies.

The objective is to encourage people with business ideas to strike out as entrepreneurs by giving them access to a support network, sources of capital and management expertise. The hope is to interest entrepreneurs in building businesses here.

Eligible company teams were required to have a technology based idea — such as Internet/IT, life sciences/biotechnology or advanced manufacturing — and have at least one team member who lives, works, or attends school in Michigan.

Since its kickoff in October, the three-phased competition has helped guide participants through the business planning processes of describing their business idea, drafting a business plan, then refining the plan. Contestants could participate in one or all three phases of the competition.

Event sponsors awarded nine cash prizes of $2,500 in phase one of the competition and three cash prizes of $10,000 in the phase two, according to Matthew Jones, a business analyst with McKinsey & Company, a management consulting team that organized the event.

More than 200 teams have been involved at some point over the last six months. The final phase involves 25 teams, three of them from West Michigan, Jones said.

As in the previous two competitions, the “tribal council” selecting the “survivor” will be composed of members of private and corporate venture firms as well as angel investors. The council will award a grand prize of $50,000 and two runner-up prizes of $25,000, to be announced at 7 p.m., Thursday, at the Novi Hilton.

“Making a solid pitch to venture capitalists is crucial if an entrepreneur wants to receive funding,” said David Parsigian, one the contest’s organizers and a principal at Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone law firm. “Investors need to know the entrepreneur can inspire trust and confidence by clearly and concisely presenting their business idea. In this market, only the strong survive.”

Thursday evening, several participants will be selected at random, without prior notice, to make a three-minute pitch of their business plan. Actual presentations will account for about 25 percent of the final score, according to GLVQ.

John Langmore, founder and vice president of business development for Rubicon Genomics Inc. of Ann Arbor, will be keynote speaker at the event.

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