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.
The 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:
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 www.MichiganGCS.com.
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.
Alumnus Inspired to Give Funds and Time after Ross Experience Influenced His Own Entrepreneurial Career Path
The 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.
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 www.MichiganGCS.com.
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.
Turbulence 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.”
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: http://for.tn/1JySWNY
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.”