Entrepreneurial reality show stepping on stage in Holland

July 27, 2009
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Tomorrow is Demo Day in Holland — it might actually be sort of a do-or-die day — for three start-up companies participating in the Momentum program launched in January by Windquest Group and Lakeshore Advantage.

The three neophyte entrepreneurs received initial funding from Momentum in May and attended "boot camp" for 12 weeks, where they received business training and professional advice to help start their businesses. Now it’s time to unveil their business plans publicly; they will make presentations to potential investors, business leaders and Internet technology experts at the Martha Miller Center at Hope College from 5:30-7:30 p.m. July 28.

The three start-ups are Public Collections, Revetto and Downstream.

Public Collections would help collect debts by posting debt information on the Internet, which would also be a service for people or companies that might have been thinking of doing business with those tardy debtors. Revetto will help "manage your true social network from an integrated and simple application." With Downstream, you can back up your Flickr, Facebook and YouTube content and "share your stories."

Momentum founders and participants expected at Demo Day include Rick DeVos, Bill Holsinger-Robinson, Allan Hoekstra and Amanda Chocko. No word on who the potential investors are.

Fourth and goal

The Business Journal contacted Grand Rapids Rampage GM Scott Woodruff to determine whether arena officials should send the team’s indoor carpet out to be cleaned for the 2010 season, and he was pretty noncommittal as to whether the Arena Football League will be back in business.

All Woodruff could say is that the board was continuing to assemble a deal to put the Rampage and whoever else is left in the league “back on the field as soon as possible.” But there have been reports that the Chicago and Dallas franchises are history and the Philly team is as close to being done as some of the city’s shoddier cheese steaks.

Here’s the rumor: The AFL’s “minor league,” af2, plays its championship game Aug. 22 in Las Vegas, the former site of two AFL Arena Bowls. Sometime that weekend, someone representing the AFL board of directors will announce the league won’t be back next season or any season in the foreseeable future. This is one thing that won’t stay in Vegas.

The Rampage’s owner, DP Fox, has the region’s franchise right to an af2 team, meaning the company could move the team into that league. But Van Andel Arena might have too many seats for an af2 team, and it could make reaching a lease deal with the building almost impossible. So DP Fox could take the team to a smaller venue or even a smaller city, like Lansing. On the other hand, the firm seems especially committed to growing its auto business. And replacing football with indoor soccer or lacrosse seems like a stretch, particularly in this economy.

Michigan's Defining Moment

The open-door event at the Eberhard Center in Grand Rapids last Wednesday evening was billed as "Community Conversation: Entrepreneurship in Michigan," but it really boiled down to what the Michigan government should or shouldn't be doing in regard to business.

"Community conversations" are taking place across the state, part of the Michigan's Defining Moment campaign that began in 2007, spearheaded by the nonprofit Center for Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The turnout included people like Tom Edwards, a member of GLEQ who is retired from a career at Amway and from a small business he and a partner later had called IdeaWorks.

Although some of the comments were in support of things state government can do to help business, others were of the opinion that the government has no business meddling in business. Government — both state and federal — should "deal with the infrastructure that they can create and deal with the tax structure and leave the rest of it alone," Edwards told the Business Journal after the Community Conversation.

"As much as they might want to, they really can't help business. Business has to go help itself," said Edwards. "If a business is looking to the government for their future, they're out of business. They should be out of biz, anyway."

Another Community Conversation will take place tomorrow, July 28, at the Holiday Inn Muskegon Harbor, sponsored by the Muskegon Area Chamber and other organizations and businesses. There are three topics on the agenda: A Talented and Globally Competitive Workforce; A Vibrant Economy and Great Quality of Life; and Effective, Efficient and Accountable Government.

The Community Conversation runs from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and it's free and open to all. Register for a seat online at www.muskegon.org

A foregone conclusion

The Kent County Treasurer’s office held its tax-foreclosure auction last Thursday at DeVos Place, and Deputy Treasurer Steven Orchard said 44 of the 83 foreclosed properties that were up for sale were sold. Orchard told the Business Journal that Kent County Treasurer Kenneth Parrish will decide whether to try to sell the remaining 39 properties or go another route.

“He is in the process of at least exploring setting up a land bank authority. So the question becomes whether or not we have a subsequent sale where there is no minimum bid or putting some, none, or all the properties in a land bank authority, and I don’t know what Ken’s intention is just yet,” he said.

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