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.


University of Michigan’s Social Venture Fund Invests in Conversa Health

The Social Venture Fund, in collaboration with the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, today announced that it has participated in the Series Seed B convertible note round for Conversa Health, a rapidly growing San Rafael Calif.-based patient engagement company. The Social Venture Fund was part of a syndicate of early-stage health care investors.

The Social Venture Fund, the nation’s first student-led impact investing fund, invests in and supports innovative, for-profit companies that place social and environmental impact at the heart of their business models. The Fund is managed by a team of approximately 40 MBA and BBA students – many of whom are pursuing dual-degrees with education, environment, health, law and public policy – along with faculty advisor Uday Rajan, the chair of the finance department at the Ross School of Business. The Fund, which has seven active investments, focuses in four key industry verticals: health care, education, food systems and environment and urban revitalization. In addition to the dollar investments it makes, the Social Venture Fund conducts consulting projects for its portfolio companies, from market sizings and pricing analyses to financial models and pitch materials to support companies’ future business development and fundraising needs.

“Investing in companies with a purpose is an increasingly important mandate both for our students and for the investing world as a whole,” said Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute. “The Social Venture Fund has done a great job choosing a company that has good prospects for a strong exit as well as the potential to change the way our health care system interfaces with patients for the better.”

Conversa Health, the Fund’s first direct investment in the health care space, aims to improve patient engagement, adherence and health outcomes through a software as a service (SaaS) platform that provides hospital systems with an automated way to bridge the gap in communication that occurs between visits. Conversa’s main product, “Digital Checkups,” uses data-driven algorithms to generate personalized clinical questions, patient education, reminders and alerts triggered by a rich profile of each patient, including data from Electronic Health Records (EHR), biometric monitoring devices (i.e., wearables, glucometers) and Patient Generated Health Data (PGHD) derived from Digital Checkup responses. This information is analyzed and fed back into the EHR and other care management systems to alert the care team about patients that are in need of guidance, support and intervention.

Priori Social Venture Fund Michigan Ross Zell Lurie InstituteA team of seven students, led by Christine Priori, MBA/MPH ’17, sourced the deal and conducted in-depth due diligence on the company. The Fund’s rigorous deal sourcing process began with screening nearly 160 companies that submitted applications and narrowing the pool to five companies that would undergo the three-month due diligence process. For Conversa, this process included analyzing the company’s management team, its product’s effectiveness and market potential, its financials and revenue model and its potential to create positive social impact. The team interviewed numerous industry experts, including leaders in the patient engagement space, the Fund’s health care advisors and key thought leaders and purchasers at large hospital systems.

“I was continuously impressed by the intelligence and dedication of my fellow fund members as they diligently researched and clearly articulated the possibility of investing in this company and industry,” said Priori. “Leading this due diligence team has accelerated the refinement of both my analytical and leadership skills, while cementing my interest in social impact and corporate responsibility.”

The team determined Conversa would be a strong investment for the Fund due to the company’s potential to enhance the way health care is provided. “We believe in the product’s ability to improve patient adherence, serve as a conduit to foster communication between patients and their doctors and ultimately improve patients’ health outcomes,” said Logan Pitts, BBA ’16, a member of the due diligence team. “We also have great confidence in the caliber and experience of the entire management team and the company’s traction with thought-leading providers and health IT distributors. Finally, the management team’s deep-seated interest in developing a continued, working relationship with the Social Venture Fund is a very important factor in arriving to our decision.”

“We were impressed with the thoughtful and rigorous due diligence process the Social Venture Fund went through,” said West Shell, co-founder and CEO, Conversa Health. “We were delighted to have them on our team to help work on business building and research projects that will drive Conversa’s innovation and social value impact.”

About the Social Venture Fund

The Social Venture Fund is a leader in university-based impact investing, with several active investments. The Fund’s previous investments include Powerhouse Dynamics, LearnZillion, Mytonomy, Loveland Technologies, and Jack and Jake’s. To learn more, visit

Momentum Builds as Michigan Growth Capital Symposium Announces Track Sessions and Panel Discussions

Organizers of the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS) unveiled initial program details for the 35th annual event, which will be held May 17 and 18 at the Marriott Resort in Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti. This year’s event will feature panel discussions led by respected national investors and business strategists that explore pressing issues facing today’s entrepreneurs and investors. A new Tech Transfer ‘Alley’ will also provide a larger platform for Midwest universities to spotlight Tech Transfer offices and their emerging company spin-outs.

Michigan Growth Capital Symposium Zell Lurie Institute University of MichiganThe MGCS is the premier Midwest networking event and the only university-based venture fair of its kind that connects national leaders in venture capital with emerging growth companies actively searching for partners and funding. Year after year, it has successfully facilitated valuable relationships that help move companies forward. At its founding in 1979, upon the heels of the newly launched National Venture Capital Association, the MGCS set out to bring institutional investment interest to Midwest companies and continues to play a critical role in fostering growth in the region’s startup community.

Featured panels at MGCS 2016 include:

  • The Challenges of Medical Software Startups: Led by Jonathan Murray from Draper Triangle Ventures, this session will explore the opportunities and challenges for selling and integrating healthcare system productivity enhancement technology into hospital and legacy systems.
  • Healthcare 2.0 Impact and Opportunities: How do the Changes Related to Healthcare Reform Impact Your Investment Strategy?: Led by Tom Shehab, MD from Arboretum Ventures, this panel of seasoned healthcare venture capital investors will discuss how healthcare reform impacts their investing strategy and how the companies they invest in respond to the high level of uncertainty in the industry.
  • The Corporate Venture Capitalist Role and Goal in Healthcare Innovation: Led by Jim Adox from Venture Investors, this session will discuss how corporate VCs and business development executives are playing a bigger role in healthcare innovation, and what this means for venture-backed companies.
  • Tech Transfer Panel: Presented by Osage Venture Partners and University of Michigan Tech Transfer, this panel will gather panelists who have licensed university technologies for a discussion of investing in the tech space with a focus on startups coming out of universities.

In addition to informative panel discussions, 30-35 presenting companies, and keynote speakers, this year’s MGCS will feature an expanded focus on innovations and companies emerging from the Midwest area’s university Tech Transfer offices.  With its new Tech Transfer Alley, MGCS has carved out a unique and distinct space to showcase universities’ commitment to technology innovation, business formation and commercialization.  Complementing Tech Transfer Alley will be a Tech Transfer Pitch Track, representing five to seven university Tech Transfer programs that will spotlight three to five companies emerging from their systems.

MGCS organizers are in the process of reviewing applications submitted by emerging and high growth companies from across the Midwest to present at this year’s 35th event.  Selected companies will be publicly announced in early May.

Sponsorships Still Available

The 35th annual Michigan Growth Capital Symposium is presented by the University of Michigan’s Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and Center for Venture Capital & Private Equity Finance at the Ross School of Business, with support from the Michigan Venture Capital Association. Sponsorship opportunities are available at various levels, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. For more information, please contact Mary Nickson at (734) 615-4424 or visit the website at

About the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS)

MGCS is the original university-based venture fair, which was first held in 1979. This nationally attended two-day event provides an opportunity for investors to connect with up-and-coming Midwest businesses and learn about emerging technologies. The Symposium offers the opportunity to build relationships with an unparalleled business network of distinguished private equity industry leaders, leading university research faculty, and entrepreneurial business professionals. MGCS is presented by the Center for Venture Capital & Private Equity Finance at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business with support from the Michigan Venture Capital Association.

Equinox Holdings, Inc. CEO Harvey Spevak Supports Entrepreneurship among University of Michigan Ross School of Business MBA Students

Alumnus Inspired to Give Funds and Time after Ross Experience Influenced His Own Entrepreneurial Career Path

University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Zell Lurie InstituteThe Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business today announced that Harvey Spevak (MBA ’87), fitness mogul and CEO of Equinox Holdings, Inc., has made a sizable donation to further expand the opportunities available to students with an interest in pursuing an entrepreneurial career path. The funds will be used to create the Spevak Fund for Entrepreneurial Studies, which will provide scholarships for students focusing on entrepreneurship.

Spevak is currently CEO and director of Equinox Holdings, Inc., a luxury fitness company that operates four separate fitness brands—Equinox, PURE Yoga, Blink Fitness, and Soul Cycle—and its newest venture, Equinox Hotels. After starting his professional career in audit and financial services, Spevak quickly identified a desire to work in a more creative environment and co-founded Manhattan Sports, a sporting goods retail chain. This led him down an entrepreneurial path in the health and fitness sector that also included serving as vice president and general manager at Chelsea Piers Sports Center and joining Equinox as president when the company was a small family business of five clubs. Spevak then led a buyout of Equinox in 2000 and ultimately partnered with Stephen Ross and Jeff Blau in 2006 to further accelerate growth of the company.

“I have been a great beneficiary of everything the university has to offer, and it is a privilege to be in a position to give back to a school that has been so instrumental in my career by instilling in me not only the spirit of entrepreneurialism but also the ability to think creatively,” said Spevak. “My hope is that this gift will support and inspire those like me with a desire to pursue a less traditional business path.”

The Zell Lurie Institute is consistently ranked among the top graduate programs in entrepreneurship education by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine, placing among the top five graduate programs in the nation for six consecutive years. This is due not only to robust programming, comprehensive coursework, and action-based learning opportunities pioneered by the Institute, but also an active alumni base of entrepreneurs eager to help the next generation of Ross alumni entrepreneurs. In addition to Spevak, one of the most notable alumni dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship at Ross is Sam Zell, who last July pledged $60 million through the Zell Family Foundation to provide endowed support to the Institute for continued delivery and development of entrepreneurship programs for students and alumni.

In addition to the creation of the Spevak Fund for Entrepreneurial Studies, Spevak’s gift will also support a classroom in the Ross School of Business. The classroom is part of Michigan Ross’ $135 million dollaraddition and renovation, scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.

Beyond providing financial support, Spevak also supports students by giving generously of his time. He helped with the design of the Och Fitness Center and regularly returns to campus to speak to and mentor both BBA and MBA students.

MGCS Industry Insights – U-M’s David Brophy: Equity-market Turbulence and Shifts in Investor Sentiment Reshape the Venture Capital Industry in 2015

Join us for the 35th annual Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS) to take place on May 17 & 18 at the Marriott Resort in Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti. In addition to providing a platform for Midwest startups to pitch investors; the two-day conference will feature two keynote speakers, several panel discussions, a technology transfer pitch session and ample networking opportunities. More than 450 investors, entrepreneurs and related stakeholders are expected, with nearly 75 investment firms represented. The deadline for presenting company applications is Thursday, March 10. Apply online. Register to attend at

In the weeks leading up to the Symposium, the Zell Lurie Institute will highlight a new topic around growth capital each week. Learn about the topics surrounding venture capital from leaders in the industry who take part in MGCS.

David Brophy, Zell Lurie Institute University of Michigan RossTurbulence in the U.S. equity markets coupled with the realignment of investors and the emergence of new investment strategies has turned the tide in what had become an exuberant and frothy venture-capital landscape throughout much of 2015, according to David Brophy, professor of finance and director of the University of Michigan Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance, or CVP.

“The sharp decline in the equity markets in August and early September took a little bit of the shine off the runaway excitement about early-stage companies and the heavy use of the private market by large investors looking to take stakes in start-ups while they were private,” Brophy says. “Until the market sag, attention centered on the $1 billion-plus tech ‘unicorns’ and their sky’s-the-limit pre-money valuations. Then suddenly, we had a few IPOs that went public at valuations considerably less than their last private valuations. That was a big shock to some people.”

Mutual funds, which had joined the rush of venture investors pouring money into high-flying VC-backed private companies, later pulled the plug after these companies went public. “Mutual funds consistently mark to market (by valuing assets at the most recent market price) and want to see after-tax profits in the companies they own,” Brophy explains. “They took big markdowns on Internet and high-tech companies that had gone public and were still not generating the level of cash flow and profits they wanted to see.” Subsequently, venture-backed start-ups with headline-grabbing IPOs saw their share prices plummet once they were listed on the public stock exchanges, and this further accelerated the equity markets’ swoon.

Despite the pullback, valuations remain stubbornly high in both the venture-capital and private-equity business, according to Brophy. This has put investors between a rock and a hard place. “While PE firms now see this as a good time to sell out the companies they’ve invested in, they find it difficult to rationalize paying 10 times earnings for companies they otherwise would have bought for 5 or 6 times earnings,” he says. “In the venture business, there are still VCs who are willing to make big bets on high flyers, but the general tightening has affected many smaller firms.”

As the IPO market has sputtered, acquisition has become the favored exit for venture investors. “Although the market for initial public offerings has been relatively hot for the last few years, it was almost nonexistent for the prior decade,” Brophy says. “I think people have come to believe that the IPO market is a sometime thing, whereas acquisition is a steady path to harvest.” Typically, acquisition opportunities attract two types of buyers: strategic buyers such as large corporations; and financial institutions, such as private-equity firms, which buy a company, make operational and other improvements and then sell it to a strategic buyer or take it public.

Another growing phenomenon ─ the tendency for corporations to use venture-capital investment now as a substitute for their historic R&D activities ─ has put a new twist on the industry. “We are seeing the creation of corporate VC divisions that are reviving what used to be called ‘intrapreneurship,’ and are incentivizing their own employees to create value-generating start-ups within their companies,” Brophy remarks. Using an internal model, global manufacturer Robert Bosch has launched its own division that invests venture capital in high technology or services in the technology area. GM Ventures, in contrast, has adopted an external investment philosophy by investing in start-ups originating outside General Motors.

There’s an upside and a downside to the entry of corporate VCs into the market. “On the one hand, this is stimulating because corporations are looking for add-on and bolt-on companies and for technologies they can meld with their existing technologies internally,” Brophy observes. “By the same token, if corporations are building start-ups internally, this could depress their appetite for buying other venture-backed companies.”

In short, the venture-capital landscape is changing and evolving in ways that will have significant, but unpredictable, consequences. “Venture-capital investors now have a new collaborator, the large corporate VC, and both will always need the other,” Brophy concludes. “We’re entering a new phase where we’re focusing on things each investor can do to dig up new deals and turn entrepreneurial ventures into solid businesses.”

Register to attend MGCS 2016, visit Follow conversations about the Symposium with the hashtag #MGCS on Twitter.

U-Mich included in Fortune’s list of top universities that produce the most VC-funded female startup founders

We’re very excited to be included in Fortune’s list of top universities that produce the most VC-funded female startup founders. According to the article, the University of Michigan placed seventh with 35 female startup founders within their network undergraduate alumni. Also, the University of Michigan ranked ninth with 12 female MBA alumni who have founded their own startup. To view the full Fortune article, click here:

University of Michigan’s Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund Invests in PHASIQ

The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, in collaboration with the Zell Lurie Institute today announced that it has invested in PHASIQ, a healthcare company that provides a cheaper, faster, and more accurate solution to test for multiple proteins on a single patient sample. The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund is the first and only institutional investor to contribute to the round.

The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund is a pre-seed investment fund established to identify and accelerate the commercialization of ideas generated within the University community and the surrounding area with a focus on healthcare, technology, consumer and cleantech. It is one of four student-led investment funds at the University that operates under the direction of the Zell Lurie Institute, which also include the flagship Wolverine Venture Fund, Social Venture Fund and newly-formed Zell Early-Stage Fund. The team adopts a hands-on approach to investing that leverages the talents and resources available at the Ross School of Business to make a real impact for the entrepreneur and the University. The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund currently has ten active investments.

“The student team involved in the PHASIQ investment has done a phenomenal job of identifying a company that’s technology is blossoming and is clearly ready for commercialization,” said Stewart Thornhill, managing director of the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund and executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute. “We’re excited to see what is in store for PHASIQ and are confident that it will be a solid addition to our already strong portfolio.”

Founded by Shuichi Takayama, professor of biomedical engineering and macromolecular science and engineering, and member of the Biointerfaces Institute and Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care at the University of Michigan, PHASIQ provides scientists and clinicians with a cost- and time-efficient way of identifying multiple proteins in one culture sample, giving them a holistic view of the overall picture of a person’s health. This allows scientists to quickly and more easily complete research to develop new drugs and enables clinicians to test for and diagnose multiple diseases at the same time. The company intends to use the funds to automate its manufacturing process to allow for scalable production of the finished first product.

A team of five graduate students—Kunal Rambhia PhD ‘17, Alexandra Pulst-Korenberg MBA’15, Don Rauscher MBA ’16, Kaitlyn Norman PhD ‘17 and Pavel Azgaldov MBA ‘16—conducted in-depth due diligence on the company, which included multiple meetings with PHASIQ’s new CEO, Francis Glorie. Based on those conversations, the team felt confident that PHASIQ’s technology was ready for commercialization and has been working over the course of the past few months to finalize the investment.

“My time as part of the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, particularly my recent experience working with PHASIQ, has been extremely rewarding,” said Rambhia. “There is no better way to learn than to work with real people at a real company and evaluate the new products they’re developing.”

“The opportunity to work on a student-led fund at the Institute is a valuable way for students to make an impact by investing in local startups and learn a lot in the process,” said Matt Ross, managing student director of the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund. “PHASIQ passed through our rigorous due diligence process and we’re thrilled to support the commercialization of what we see as a potentially game-changing platform technology.”

The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund’s investment in PHASIQ is the first time the fund has used a “safe” (simple agreement for future equity) investment, a relatively new investment vehicle that came out of Y Combinator and provides a simple agreement between investor and entrepreneur. Though safes have already been put to use among San Francisco investors, it has only recently been adopted in other parts of the country, putting the Institute and the Fund ahead of the national curve.

“Our technology has the potential to change the face of healthcare by providing scientists with the tools they need to exceed even their own expectations,” said Francis Glorie, CEO, PHASIQ. “We’re grateful that the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund has recognized that notion and are looking forward to what’s in store for the future as we head into commercialization.”