Accelerate Michigan Brings over 100 Investors to DetroitBy Amanda Lewan on October 8th, 2015 /
What started as an idea in 2010 to bring together investors has now grown into the top Michigan investment conference of the year. Over 100 investors from all around the country will come together for the three day Accelerate Michigan event. Entrepreneurs will pitch, and one will take home the $500,000 main cash prize.
Lauren Bigelow CEO of Growth Capital Network and the Executive Director Accelerate Michigan had wanted to bring her talents and her network of investors to create jobs in Michigan. Lauren spent many years traveling for the corporate world, working for New Energy Finance. When the company sold in 2009 she returned home to Michigan. She had no idea bringing her network together for an event would grow into Accelerate Michigan’s size today.
“It has just been great. Half of the investors that come in focus on the state’s wheelhouse – transportation, advanced materials, energy,” she said. “It’s been a great way to engage them with the state of Michigan and our companies, and to show off our top companies to national investors.”
About forty investors came out to the first event. This year she expects over 100 investors to attend. Simultaneously Michigan has seen a spike in Venture Capital, with over $204 million in venture capital invested in Michigan based companies just last year. This event brings together over 600 people total, everyone from Michigan’s smart zones, the foundation community, entrepreneurs and corporations, local economic development agencies , and universities too.
The biggest draw for the entrepreneur is that $500,000 first place cash prize. There aren’t many cash pitch competitions in the state, though you can find active ones listed on our funding directory. It’s an opportunity to pitch for a big prize, and to be in the room with all of the right people. Lauren says companies who have one the top prize then go on to raise a significant amount of capital. This includes Varsity News Network who is at 75 employees, and Algal Scientific who is currently close to reaching a round of $15 million.
What can we expect at this year’s event that kicks off on November 3rd in Downtown Detroit?
“I think this year we’re kind of amazed by how the quality of the companies continues to go up. It’s amazing to see how matured, polished, and seasoned the companies become,” she said.
The event will also kick off with a great keynote speaker, bringing in the founding editor of FastCompany which Lauren describes as a “bible for tech startups.” Check out more on the upcoming Accelerate Michigan, and keep this one on your radar when practicing your pitch next year. We can’t wait to see who this year’s winner will be.