The Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest (GLEQ) is an important stepping stone for young companies. The organization hosts a statewide business plan competition twice per year, providing a very inclusive environment for all types of entrepreneurs. “We can accommodate student teams that are in the idea formation stage, and even other entrepreneurs that are maybe just starting to research their idea for a business,” said Executive Director Diane Durance. “Most of the companies that participate in GLEQ are technology ventures of some sort: life sciences, alternative energy, IT. But, we’ve had some very different types of companies that don’t have a lot of other opportunity to get in front of investors because most of them really aren’t what investors are looking for.”
GLEQ helps entrepreneurs who may be a little rough around the edges for presentation, and helps them polish their pitch. “We help them hone their business plan; we match them with a business coach who works with them before they submit their plan, and then we have the plans reviewed by three or four venture investors that are very experienced,” said Durance. “They provide feedback to the entrepreneur. This is kind of a step in the direction of getting ready for something as prestigious as the Symposium, where they truly will have an opportunity to present their venture to investors from all over the country.”
Durance likens the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS) to a “graduation” for successful GLEQ competitors. The MGCS awards top-performing GLEQ participants with a presentation spot at the Symposium. This year, East Lansing-based InPore Technologies and Ypsilanti-based Fusion Coolant Systems were invited to take the MGCS stage after being named top Emerging Companies by the GLEQ.
“I really believe that it helps my participants in GLEQ to know that there’s the opportunity to go through the GLEQ program, and then there’s the next step,” said Durance. “There’s a place that they can hope to be selected to present in front of more investors. For me, it’s really very important. Otherwise, you don’t complete the eco-system, because they don’t get enough exposure to the venture capital and angel investor community without the Symposium. That’s where we put them on stage and give them the opportunity to really shine. We’re all working together, and there’s a lot of interaction to make sure that it’s seamless for the entrepreneur and the best possible opportunities are available to our entrepreneurs in Michigan.”