Annual Entrepreneurs Quest Starts

September 13, 2004
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ANN ARBOR — Michigan residents interested in starting a high-growth business or those that are leading an emerging high-growth company are encouraged to register now for the fifth annual Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest.

Quest is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational program designed to accelerate formation of high-growth companies across Michigan. Sponsoring it are the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan Business School, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Apjohn Group and Esperion Therapeutics.

According to Dave Brenner, chair of Quest and managing partner of IdeaWorks LLC, more than 100 teams competed in the program last year.

He indicated anyone living, working or attending school in Michigan can compete at no cost. Quest, founded in 2000 and run by volunteers, has awarded $600,000 in prize money during the first four years of its annual business plan competition.

The program’s aim is to encourage and educate Michigan entrepreneurs in creating, starting and managing the early stages of high-growth businesses.

People wanting more information about Quest can call Rishi Moudgil, the program manager, at (734) 615-4423 or check its Web site, www.gleq.org

As in the past, Quest is structured into autumn and spring cycles with separate paths for brand-new or developed businesses.

Competition occurs in three regions and Quest says it expects to award more than $125,000 in cash and services across both cycles.

In the autumn cycle — working with the help of coaches and educational events — both new and emerging business teams develop and submit a five-page executive summary. The top regional new business teams are honored at the fall awards ceremony and graduate to the statewide emerging company path. They and qualifying emerging business teams then compete in the spring cycle.

In the spring cycle, emerging business develop and submit a full 20-page business plan in competition for the Quest grand prize. Those teams, now also in competition for a separate grand prize, submit a new five-page executive summary as in the autumn cycle.

The competition judges are leading venture capital and private investors.

Quest program graduates have gone on to raise capital and launch successful high-growth businesses. The 2004 grand prize winner, SensiGen Corp., was the largest single winner of 2004 Michigan’s Technology Tri-Corridor (MTTC) funding, receiving $2.6 million to develop a diagnostic test for kidney disease.

So they can sharpen their business plans and improve their chances, this year’s Quest participants will have three chances to submit materials for feedback from coaches and judges prior to the final submission deadlines.

For example, after reviewing with a coach, a team may submit a preliminary version of its executive summary by Oct. 15 and will receive feedback by Nov. 1, with advice on completing their plan. Further details on this process are provided on the GLEQ Web site.

“This year’s Quest has something to offer all Michigan entrepreneurs, regardless of their experience level or stage of business development,” Brenner said.

“We encourage anyone that owns an emerging business — or is thinking of starting a high-growth business — to visit the GLEQ Web site and register their team today.”

Among Quest organizers are academics, angel investors, lawyers, CPAs, public servants, venture capitalists, corporate executives, universities, economic development experts, foundations and other entrepreneurs.    

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