University of Michigan and KPMG Unveil 2016 QuantumShift Graduates

First annual entrepreneur recognition and leadership program seeks to help highly successful entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm, today announced graduates of QuantumShift, a week-long entrepreneurial development program recognizing successful entrepreneurs and executives of U.S. high-growth private companies.

“No matter how much business experience an individual has – and those selected for this year’s program are among the most knowledgeable in the country – the need and importance of reinvigorating the entrepreneurial spirit is never-ending,” said Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “The business leaders who participated in this year’s program were able to learn from each other by sharing their own unique experiences and walked away with a refreshed ability to take their already successful organizations to the next level.”

QuantumShift is a collaborative project between KPMG LLP and the Ross School of Business. Unlike other recognition-only entrepreneurial development programs, QuantumShift is rooted in sustained learning, networking and collaboration. The program provides an opportunity for participants to learn from a wealth of talented professionals – including distinguished Ross School of Business faculty members – and offers graduates access to the Fellows Network, an exclusive peer-to-peer network focused on ongoing problem solving, development and mentorship.

Zell Lurie University of Michigan Ross QuantumShiftThe diverse class of participants represents some of the top entrepreneurs and executives in the country. As a group, the participants’ organizations average $62 million in revenue and have a combined total revenue of $2.4 billion. Together, they have a three-year growth rate of 149 percent, and more than half of the executives were named to the 2015 Inc. 5000 list.

“We were blown away by the expertise and knowledge the inaugural QuantumShift class brought to this year’s program,” said Brian Hughes, national leader of KPMG LLP’s Private Markets Group. “We’ll continue to follow these gifted business leaders throughout their careers, and are looking forward to watching each of their enterprises reach new levels of success.”

The following participated in this year’s QuantumShift program, held May 1-6, 2016 at the University of Michigan:

  • Manoj Agarwal, CEO, US Tech Solutions
  • Jason Albanese, CEO, Centric Digital
  • Bruce Ballengee, CEO, Pariveda Solutions, Inc.
  • John P. Borneman, Ph.D., CEO and chairman, Standard Homeopathic Company and Hyland’s, Inc.
  • Lauren Boyer, CEO, Underscore Marketing
  • Vance Brown, CEO and co-founder, Cherwell Software
  • Ricky Caplin, CEO, The HCi Group
  • Jaswinder S. Chadha, CEO, Axtria, Inc.
  • Oni Chukwu, CEO and president, etouches, Inc
  • Ryan J.Q. Clark, CEO, PeopleShare, Inc
  • Megan Driscoll, CEO and founder, PharmaLogics Recruiting
  • R. Gregory Eisner, president, Engineers Gate
  • Sloan D. Gaon, CEO, PulsePoint
  • Nick Gesue, CEO, Lancaster Pollard
  • Dinesh Gulati, CEO and managing director, IIT, Inc.
  • Avi Gupta, CEO and founder, SmartZip Analytics
  • Vinita A. Gupta, co-CEO and founder, Apex Resources, Inc.
  • Oisin Hanrahan, CEO and co-founder, Handy
  • Mike Harris, CEO, Zonoff
  • Joe Hessling, CEO, 365 Retail Markets
  • Sylvester Hester, CEO and president, Global Automotive Alliance
  • Craig Hubbell, CEO, PlayNetwork
  • Jay Kulkarni, CEO, Theorem Inc.
  • Carl Joyner, CEO, TRIOSE, Inc.
  • Michael Kaiser, CEO, People’s Care
  • E. Davon Kelly, CEO and president, NOVAD Management Consulting LLC
  • James Kilkelly, CEO, Apto Solutions, Inc.
  • Wan Kim, CEO and Brand Owner, Smoothie King Franchises
  • Tony Knopp, CEO, TicketManager, Inc.
  • Amy V. Kothari, CEO, My Alarm Center
  • Paulo Lima, co-founder and president, IT Cosmetics
  • Peggy McHale, principal, Consultants 2 Go
  • Abdul K Naushad, CEO, PayCommerce Inc.
  • Jeff Nelson, CEO and president, Healogics, Inc.
  • Chris Onan, co-founder and CFO, Galvanize
  • Eric Schweiger, M.D, CEO and founder, Schweiger Dermatology Group
  • Gary Solomon, Jr., president, Solomon Group
  • Timothy W. Wallace, CEO, iPipeline, Inc.
  • Wade Wyant, CEO and president, ITS Partners

Zell Lurie University of Michigan Ross QuantumShift

This year’s QuantumShift participants were vetted through a nomination and application process beginning in September 2015. To qualify, candidates must be the founder, owner and/or CEO of a private, U.S. company and have a meaningful personal stake in their companies’ success. Their companies must be private, have an established revenue base, show a strong record of revenue growth and have a clear objective of continued growth. A final list of qualified nominees was reviewed by the Michigan Ross QuantumShift Admissions Committee, with the top 40 candidates selected for admission to the program.

Following completion of QuantumShift, graduates become members of the QuantumShift Fellows Network, a business support association providing them with opportunities to convene with fellow peers at scheduled in-person regional events and an annual National Fellows Conference.

To learn more about the 2016 QuantumShift graduates, visit and follow #QuantumShiftUS on Twitter.


Celebrating Innovation in Entrepreneurial Education – 2015 ZLI Annual Report

The Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies Highlights Innovation in Entrepreneurial Education in the 2015 ZLI Annual Report.

The Zell Lurie Institute cZell Lurie Institute University of Michigan Ross Annual Reportelebrated exciting new milestones that made 2015 a historic and formative year. Highlights of the report include a major gift announcement from our founding benefactor and the launch of cutting-edge programs designed to expand entrepreneurial engagement and opportunities for our students and alumni. The university was also awarded a No. 4 national ranking, which recognized our long-term standing as a pioneer and leader in entrepreneurship education.

The report showcases several outstanding student entrepreneurs as well as the dedicated alumni, mentors and faculty who help to inspire and guide them in the pursuit of their entrepreneurial dreams. The team at the Zell Lurie Institute is proud of what these talented young people have accomplished, and hope you will join in supporting their personal and professional success and fulfillment in the future.

100 Student Startup Teams Kick Off 33rd Annual Michigan Business Challenge

The Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studiesat the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business announced the kick off of its annual business plan competition, the Michigan Business Challenge. Round one of the competition will take place today where participating teams will present their pitch to a panel of judges, and several of the top teams will be selected to advance to round two to compete in January. Now in its 33rd year, the Challenge continues to thrive as interest in entrepreneurship at the collegiate level is growing rapidly across a wide variety of disciplines and student degree programs.

Michigan Business Challenge, the University of Michigan’s annual campus-wide business plan competition, exposes students to a rigorous, multi-phase business development and planning process. Open to all current undergraduate and graduate students, more than 100 student teams from medicine, engineering, and a number of other different disciplines are expected to participate. These teams will have the opportunity to win a variety of cash prizes totaling more than $85,000, gain feedback from judges, and expand their business network with entrepreneurs and prospective investors.

“As interest in entrepreneurship continues to grow among students, we at the Zell Lurie Institute are proud to offer a competitive and intensive program to help both business and non-business majors gain experience building a business concept, developing it, and moving it toward launch,” said Sarika Gupta, managing director of the Zell Lurie Institute. “We engage students from all areas of study to test and validate their business concepts, and provide them with valuable feedback from seasoned entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.”

Last year, the Michigan Business Challenge debuted a social impact track in response to heightened interest in startups that have a social mission at their core. This track is presented in partnership with the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute and the Center for Social Impact and was created to stimulate the creation of new businesses, products, or services that have a mission-driven goal or prioritize social and/or environmental considerations. In 2015, Blueprints for Pangaea was selected as the recipient of the Social Impact Award and $15,000 for the company’s work collecting unused medical supplies from local hospitals and shipping them to emerging nations that lack such supplies.

In 2015, the Pryor-Hale Award for Best Business and $20,000 cash prize was awarded to Companion, which launched a peer-to-peer safety app and participated in the Desai Accelerator. The early-stage accelerator is jointly managed by the Zell Lurie Institute and the College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship. Winners in past years have represented a wide range of industries, including educational tech, fashion, bio and medical tech, and app-based businesses.

For more information on the Michigan Business Challenge competition, deadlines, process, and eligibility, please visit:

Read the full press release here:

Entrepreneurship Course 2016 – Biomedical Commercialization

Entrepreneur BioMedicine Univeristy of MichiganAre you thinking about a career in healthcare consulting, investment banking, private equity or in-house business development? Or do you wish to join a healthcare product development and commercialization team in an established or an early-stage company?

If you are considering these options, you might find this interdisciplinary course from ZLI (ES 720) a worthwhile career booster or simply interesting. The class was developed at Johns Hopkins and is taught Winter A on Mondays, 6:30-9:30p.m.

Registration is open to MBA students and to graduate students in medicine, bioengineering, pharmacy, life sciences, law, public health, and health management.

The course is taught by ZLI Associate Director and Clinical Assistant Professor Eric Gordon. Professor Gordon’s areas of interest are entrepreneurship and technology commercialization, the biomedical industry (pharmaceuticals, devices and biotechnology), venture capital, private equity, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, and digital and mobile marketing. He also is a professor at the School of Law. He has served as an adviser or co-founder to numerous companies.

For more information email: (Erik Gordon)

LPs and GPs Examine the Pros and Cons of Emerging Investment Trends

The relationship between limited partners (LPs) and general partners (GPs) has continued to evolve in recent years, as niche strategies – such as co-investment and secondary transactions – have become more widely adopted. A panel of LPs and GPs examined the pros and cons of these trends at the 2015 Michigan Global Private Equity conference on October 9. The event was sponsored by the Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance and the Zell Lurie Institute at Michigan Ross.

Co-investment Goes Mainstream

“What we’re seeing over the last three to five years is that a lot of LPs are trying to get more co-investment,” reported Eric Hanno, a principal at AlpInvest Partners, a global private equity firm with an integrated investment model and $48 billion in assets under management. “Many LPs use co-investment as a fee-reduction strategy.” AlpInvest creates synergistic opportunities for its business partners by providing fund commitments or supporting the timely execution of co-investment or secondary transactions.  The firm plays the co-investment role broadly ─ from participating in a syndication to teaming up as a co-sponsor early in the process and actively supporting underwriting a bid.

“Co-investment is beneficial for both LPs and GPs because it deepens mutual understanding and strengthens partnerships,” said Eric Wilcomes, director and portfolio manager at DuPont Capital Management, which offers proven investment management services and global perspective to institutional investors. “LPs have an opportunity to see how a GP works in more detail, and a GP is able to solidify the relationship with investors.”

“Despite the favorable economics, co-investment is not for everyone,” said Brian Gimotty, director of investments at the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, which provides health care benefits for retired UAW members of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler along with their eligible dependents. “Co-investment takes a lot of time, and not all LPs can do it,” he continued, “These days, more LPs are bringing on additional talent, because they need a different skill set for co-investing.”

Secondaries Are Overheated

Another trend, according to the panelists, is the rapid growth and mainstreaming of the secondary market, which focuses on the buying and selling of pre-existing investor commitments to private equity and other alternative investment funds. Stricter U.S. banking regulations and tighter oversight in the U.S. and Europe are compelling banks, funds, insurers and other institutions to pare down or sell off assets. Impatient limited partners also are opting to sell their interests in PE funds early to receive liquidity for their funded investments as well as a release from any remaining unfunded obligations. Many private equity and global investment advisory firms have set up specialized teams or programs dedicated to the origination, structuring, execution and monitoring of secondary transactions in the private equity and hedge fund markets.

“Secondaries are now part of portfolio management, and there is no longer a stigma attached to selling off positions,” Gimotty said. “Secondaries also make an illiquid market more liquid. However, most LPs don’t have the skill set to execute these acquisitions.”

“We place the most weight on the quality of people,” Hanno remarked. “If we are buying a secondary portfolio, we want to make sure we have the best people as partners. It’s not just about the deal. You can buy great assets at a discount, but what you do with these assets is how your create value.”

“A lot of players have come into the secondary space, and it is now very competitive,” Wilcomes reported. “These secondary buyers have a lot of money. Therefore, discounts have shrunken because so much money is chasing secondaries.” In the past, GPs looked unfavorably on secondary transactions, which resulted in the sale of LP commitments to unfamiliar investors. “Now it happens so frequently and fluidly that GPs accept it and use it as an opportunity to get to know new investors,” Wilcomes added.

Two Female Corporate VCs Share the Nuts & Bolts of Moving Start-ups Through the Funding Pipeline

Whirlpool Corporation and Robert Bosch are two vastly different companies. Each has its own goals, culture and products. Yet, these two global corporations share one thing in common: a laser-sharp focus on fostering innovation and developing entrepreneurial ventures both inside and outside the four walls of the company. At the Women Who Fund conference on October 8, Noel Dolan from Whirlpool and Maximiliane Straub from Bosch shined the spotlight on different channels of innovation and offered tips for moving more women-led start-ups through the pipeline.

“We see innovation coming into Whirlpool through four different avenues,” said Dolan, who is responsible for the company’s North American Open Innovation Strategy and Strategic Partner Alliances. “These avenues include our internal employees; our corporate and academic relationships; emerging growth companies; and the crowd (ordinary consumers).” Although Whirlpool has limited relationships in the start-up community, and has “yet to physically write a check to fund a start-up,” Dolan and her team are pushing the 103-year-old company to fund and grow entrepreneurial companies rather than acquire them or shunt them into the supplier pool.

“I need to bring these opportunities to leadership for them to ultimately write a check,” Dolan explains. “But in my role, there is a big disconnect. We love start-ups because they are fast, agile, creative and courageous ─ but they are also reactive, chaotic, starved and deprived. They look at us the same way. They like us because we are disciplined, strategic and business focused and can help them scale. But they also can’t stand us because we take forever, have bureaucracies and are risk averse.”

As a potential corporate investor, Dolan said, Whirlpool is looking for visibility on a start-up board, an opportunity to learn, a path to recognize revenue and information about other investors’ interests and timing. She offered these words of advice to start-ups that have been identified for potential investment and want further consideration:

  • “Help me understand how your technology and product can apply to my business.”
  • “Help me become comfortable with your personnel, whether it’s your team or partnerships, and help me understand why I should feel good about the work you’ve done.”
  • “We’re a financial company, so help me understand the lifetime value of your company and where the capital is going to hit your pro forma.”
  • “Don’t be a one-hit wonder. Help me understand where you’re thinking beyond this. Don’t be a QVC. Help me understand how you’re going to do more things.”
  • “Go to market with realistic assumptions. You’re not going to be a $100 billion company in three years. Be realistic and help me understand how you’re going to get there.

Straub, who is CFO and EVP of Finance, Controlling and Administration at Bosch, told the audience that the company’s product slogan, “invented for life,” requires continuous innovation. “We get that innovation in several ways,” she said. “Bosch is a venture capitalist and has its own division that invests venture capital in high technology or services in the technology area. We also have our own start-ups.”

Straub drew on her professional experience with Bosch’s “innovation framework” to offer some generalized tips to entrepreneurs seeking to promote their ideas and procure seed and early-stage funding:

  • “Fall out of love with your technology. If you want to pitch, you have to pitch a business and be confident about that business. You have to be clear about your idea, know it well and show passion ─ then stop there. Ten percent is technology and 90 percent is other things.”
  • “When you pitch, be clear about what you actually want: resources, advice, market channels, money and timing. Spend time thinking about what you are asking for.”
  • “Do your homework. Know your market, how it is defined and who your competitors are. Do an analysis of other patents and determine whether you are competing with any of them.”
  • “User experience is important. Test your products with users early on and get live feedback from your future customers.”
  • “Financials are also important. It’s difficult when you start-up a business or enter a new market. Think in terms of scenarios ─ what happens if. For investors to see a scenario and realize you have thought about competitors and things that could happen in a market helps to support the business.”
  • “Secure support early. File for a patent very early. Get people who fill your gaps. And don’t go for the nice people. You need very clear feedback from people who are critical but also willing to help you.”
  • “Develop a milestone plan, so you can identify places where you’ll need more money and You have to give investors the opportunity to fail fast, fail cheap.”

KPS Capital Partners Co-Founder David Shapiro Shares Highlights of His Firm’s Evolution

Over a span of nearly two decades, KPS Capital Partners has successfully made four transformative changes to its investment strategy and scope since raising its first private equity fund in 1997. At each juncture, the New York-based investment firm has met new challenges head on and established a strong track record as a leader in the private equity industry. David Shapiro, co-founder and managing partner, shared highlights of his firm’s evolution at the 2015 Michigan Global Private Equity conference on October 9. The event was sponsored by the Zell Lurie Institute and the Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance at Michigan Ross.

“Since 1997, we have evolved from advisors to investors; from union advocates to employers of large workforces; from pure distressed investors to investors in challenged and healthy businesses; and from pure U.S. investors to global investors,” Shapiro said. KPS Capital Partners manages the KPS Special Situations Funds, a family of private equity funds with approximately $5.6 billion of assets under management. The firm has won the Buyouts Deal of the Year Award ─ given by Buyouts Magazine in recognition of exceptional buyouts ─ for three of the past four years.

KPS’s most recent evolution from a domestic to a global investor presented both opportunities and obstacles to its founders. “At first, globalization seemed a one-way street of badness, and we had no interest in outsourcing,” Shapiro said. “We viewed the rest of the world as a risk factor in our investment thesis as opposed to an opportunity.”

Two investment deals, one in a Pittsburgh-based steel manufacturer and a second in a U.S. machine tool business, changed KPS’s perspective after both companies saw industry competitors move their manufacturing overseas to China. “It certainly opened our eyes to what can happen and how quickly it can happen, if you are not paying attention to what’s changing on the demand side and how manufacturing is shifting around the world,” Shapiro said. “The lesson for us was that even if you are not making low-end products that can be outsourced by cheap labor, you are still vulnerable to changes and movements in manufacturing.”

KPS entered the international arena shortly after purchasing Wire Rope Corporation of America. Shapiro and his team revamped the company’s management team, purchasing a competitor in Mexico to expand the product line and geographic reach and optimize its manufacturing footprint. KPS then turned its attention to China, where there was no dominant Chinese manufacturer of high-quality wire rope. This vacuum created a market-entry opportunity for other investors and companies looking to set up low-cost manufacturing facilities in China and gain market share.

“We hired consultants to advise us on how best to get involved in the Chinese market, because we had very little experience in China,” Shapiro said. “We determined that finding a joint-venture partner would be better than trying to do it ourselves.” KPS negotiated a JV agreement with a Chinese material supplier, contributed capital and then sold the business. “One of the most exciting things for potential buyers was this international Chinese connection,” he remarked. “From our perspective, we sold the sizzle without actually building the JV.”

Since then, KPS has made successful investments in various companies around the globe. Today half of its deals are done outside the U.S. At the conclusion of his talk, Shapiro shared lessons-learned with other private equity investors seeking to enter the European and Asian markets:

  • Investing outside the U.S. requires extra due diligence.
  • Cultural differences need to be considered.
  • Currency issues are huge, especially for dollar-denominated investment firms.
  • Micro improvements can be swamped by macro factors, such as currency devaluation, labor inflation and market meltdowns.