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Forum Pairs Investors Entrepreneurs
The investment forum, formerly known as Arch Investment Monthly, provides informal networking between entrepreneurs, investors and others interested in nurturing entrepreneurship in Michigan.
Each month, three to four technology or life sciences companies that are interested in receiving funding present ideas and business plans to the group, which is comprised of investors, Arch Development partners, angel investors, venture capitalists, local and out of state entrepreneurs and even some that are looking for a job.
"Any given month we could have 50 to 60 people attending the Tuesday event," said Melissa Angel, regional director of the Small Business Technology Development Center (SBTDC) at Kalamazoo College. "And it is great to see so many companies want to participate. I wish we could have more present their plans."
The goal of the series, according to Angel, "is to help start-up companies find investors and to get feedback. Hopefully, we accomplish that with these forums."
Angel added that companies go through a screening process before being chosen to present to the group. Any life sciences or technology business is welcome to contact Angel and apply. She will then read over the executive summary and determine if the business is a fit for the Venture Tuesday forum.
If the company is a good fit, Angel will ask to see a PowerPoint presentation. After reviewing that, she noted, she will make suggestions up front.
"When I look at the presentation, if there are places to improve or things I think should be changed, etc., I will let them know before they present," Angel explained.
After a small revision process the company will attend the next available Venture Tuesday forum and give its 10-minute presentation. Upon conclusion, the company will have an opportunity to ask questions and receive constructive criticism and advice.
The idea for Kalamazoo Venture Tuesdays started about a year and a half ago with Arch Development Partners, which decided to invest in the Kalamazoo area and to work with Southwest Michigan First and the MI-SBTDC. The group looked to address the void of venture capital communication and partnerships in the upper Midwest.
The presentations are held from 9-11 a.m. and networking is from 11 a.m.-noon at the Radisson Plaza in downtown Kalamazoo.
One success story that resulted from the forums was VDDI Pharmaceuticals of Brentwood, Tenn. Dr. Stephen Porter, CEO and president, said he was attracted to the forums by support from the local community and the Kalamazoo area's storied history in pharmaceutical development that has left the area with a wealth of drug development.
"Scientific and regulatory talent is hard to come by," said Porter. "They're usually content with their existing environment and do not want to be uprooted."
VDDI will develop and commercialize a recent Pharmacia Corp. drug patent donated to Western Michigan University.
The firm has been awarded exclusive worldwide rights to a portfolio of patents for the drug Xemilofiban through a licensing agreement with WMU. The firm was recruited for the work by Kalamazoo's economic development agency and Southwest Michigan First, which also recruited VDDI to open a research facility later this year in the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center.
For more information visit www.southwestmichiganfirst.com or for information on presenting at a future Venture Tuesday, contact Melissa Angel at (269) 337-7350.