Street Talk

Street Talk: Pitch perfect for startups

Dark and dusky.

July 19, 2019
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A pitch competition that offers entrepreneurs the chance to win up to $1 million in prizes has opened its application period.

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition (AMIC), a program of Invest Detroit’s ID Ventures, on July 15 said it is accepting applications for its 10th annual pitch competition Nov. 13 at Detroit’s recently renovated State Savings Bank.

The competition is open to any Michigan startup or entrepreneur.

During “carefully curated” individual meetings, participants will meet with experts in their sector and receive acceleration resources.

Pre-selected semifinalists will pitch their ideas to judges for an opportunity to win up to $1 million in prizes.

According to the 2019 MVCA Research Report, only 10% of capital invested in Michigan-based startups last year was in the seed stage, highlighting the need for more capital and support for companies at their earliest stages of growth.

For 10 years, AMIC said it has fueled the growth of early-stage startups in Michigan — offering mentorship, visibility, capital and access to investors.

In addition to capital attraction, the event helps to build a network of support, resources and expertise for participating entrepreneurs to further their growth and success, while also ensuring representation from female and minority entrepreneurs.

“We are thrilled to reach such a critical milestone and celebrate the astounding growth of entrepreneurship in Michigan over the last 10 years,” said Martin Dober, senior vice president and managing director of ID Ventures.

“Our state is home to many innovative startups, and we’re proud to offer a one-of-a-kind event that provides not only funding but relationship-building opportunities and connections to business-acceleration resources that will help entrepreneurs succeed and usher in another decade of startup support.”

Since its launch in 2010, AMIC semifinalists have created over 1,300 jobs and attracted more than $900 million in additional investment.

“AMIC was a critical launching pad for Celsee Inc.,” said Kalyan Handique, chief technology officer of Celsee and former AMIC grand prize recipient. “The pitch competition provided a great opportunity to connect with investors and business acceleration services that brought a diverse set of expertise and resources to help grow the company in addition to the capital needed to hit the ground running. Now, nearly a decade later, Celsee is continuing to develop and commercialize groundbreaking technologies for single-cell analysis and expanding its global sales.”

All companies must complete the registration form by Aug. 16 to apply for AMIC. After registering, companies must submit their application by Aug. 31. The 24 selected semifinalists will be announced Oct. 14.

Registration is open online at acceleratemichigan.org.

Book smart

The first novel by Caitlin Horrocks, associate professor of writing at Grand Valley State University, has been recommended by O, The Oprah Magazine.

The novel, "The Vexations," was second on the list of books recommended by the magazine in the article, "10 July Books You Won't Be Able To Put Down." The article calls the book, which is a historical fiction piece centered on eccentric French composer Erik Satie, a "melodic tale."

"It's a fragmented media landscape, and a lot of books go out to other writers," Horrocks said. "To have my book featured in a space where you are potentially reaching a whole other population is really thrilling."

As a child, Horrocks became fascinated with Satie after playing one of his early pieces on the piano. Her research led her to write a novel that aims not only to bring the notoriously difficult Satie to life but also to imagine several other characters in his circle, notably his siblings and some close associates. The setting is the avant-garde art scene of Paris.

The book is published by Little, Brown and Company, and is scheduled for a July 30 release date.

Walk to remember

The Michigan Career and Technical Institute — a school in Plainwell that promotes the integration of adults with disabilities into the workplace and society by providing vocational training — has graduated 172 students from across the state.

The graduation speaker was state Rep. Tommy Brann, R-Kent County, who has been a member of the Business Advisory Council for MCTI’s culinary arts program and is owner of Brann’s Steakhouse & Sports Grille, which has hired several MCTI students.

MCTI is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Operated by Michigan Rehabilitation Services within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, MCTI provides vocational training in 13 careers.

“MCTI puts Michiganders with disabilities on the road to opportunity by helping them maximize their talents,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “Investing in skills training is vitally important to the state’s economy and its residents.”

Students can be enrolled in technical training programs in automotive technology, cabinet making/millwork, certified nurse assistant, culinary arts, custodial, electronics, graphic communications, grounds maintenance/landscaping, machine technology, office automation, pharmacy services, retail marketing and construction.

MCTI also offers health, psychological and social work services, sports and activities, housing, student government and more.

Till we meet again

One of the more secretive meeting spots in Grand Rapids is on the market.

Tillman’s Restaurant at 1247 Monroe Ave. NW, which closed its doors in late February, is now up for sale on the Commercial Alliance of Realtors website through Liberty Realty Corp. MI.

The announcement was made by Fred Otterbein, associate broker at Liberty Realty Corp. MI

For years, former Business Journal Editor Carole Valade met with former chair Jim Saalfeld and other members of the Kent County Board of Commissioners, as well as attorneys, politicians, real estate developers and just about anyone else who happened by, in the dusky, muffled confines of the north end eatery. Their off-the-record chats often resulted in Business Journal reporters scurrying about town chasing the next big scoop.

Those types of discussions required low lighting, subdued but constant conversation among the patrons, booths with some privacy, and a clientele that pretty much ascribed to the see-nothing/hear-nothing philosophy of life.

Tillman’s checked all those boxes for the Grand Rapids and Kent County movers and shakers. Plus, the food was pretty darn good!

The Tillman family has owned and operated the restaurant and cocktail lounge for nearly four decades and decided to close both because they are nearing retirement age and have received interest from potential buyers.

Otterbein said the land parcel, which is almost an acre in size, would be an attractive prospect, given its reasonable proximity to downtown and the path of new residential, retail and office developments in the Monroe North corridor. The property also sits adjacent to the Grand River.

Liberty Realty Corp. MI has been involved in many sales in the Monroe Avenue corridor north of Michigan Street, like the former Ammerman Building at 600 Monroe Ave. NW and an Ed DeVries development with the city of Grand Rapids as a tenant at 1120 Monroe Ave. NW.

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