Keynote Speaker

William Taylor, Co-founder and Founding Editor, Fast Company

Bill Taylor is a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur who has shaped the global conversation about the best ways to compete, innovate, and succeed.

As cofounder and founding editor of Fast Company, Bill launched a magazine that earned a passionate following among executives and entrepreneurs around the world, ands has won countless awards—from Startup of the Year in its early days to 2014’s Magazine of the Year, the highest honor in its field. Its editorial success led to great business success, as a company that began in borrowed office space in Harvard Square sold for $360 million— the second-highest price for a single magazine in U.S. history.

Bill’s most recent book, Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself, is based on in-depth access to 25 organizations that are making deep-seated changes under the most trying circumstances imaginable. His previous book, Mavericks at Work—Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, and was named a “Business Book of the Year” by The Economist and the Financial Times.

Bill writes a popular management blog for Harvard Business Review and created the “Under New Management” column for The New York Times. A graduate of Princeton University and the MIT Sloan School of Management, he lives outside of Boston with his wife and two daughters.


Jim Arthurs — Armune BioScience

Jim Arthurs has over 30 years of successful and quality award winning management experience. His past 20 years in executive management and advisory roles have been both in the start-up and growth management of high-tech organizations. His background includes six start-ups (four in biotechnology), ultimate corporate level transactions in information technology, biotechnology, and current-value accounting, and the successful transition of a major software company through three different business models.

Jim has wide industry experience, including FDA and CLIA regulated companies, in-vitro diagnostics, biotechnology, electronics manufacturing, nuclear medicine, consulting, and business management application software. He has held many quality management leadership roles, including in an international corporation, an industry association, and a community quality initiative. He has led one organization to an industry national quality award based on Malcolm Baldrige award criteria. He holds a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University.

Steven Baker — DTE Energy

Steven Baker leads the IT innovation and outreach agenda for DTE Energy and is an elected Council Member in Berkley, Michigan. Since joining DTE in 1998, he led the brewing of the company’s “house blend” of agile software development methods and the achievement of its CMMI Maturity Levels 2 and 3 accreditation. He currently oversees IT-related interaction and outreach, strategic alignment and integration, and fosters a culture of rapid experimentation. As a member of the Berkley City Council since 2009 in his second term in office, Baker promotes Berkley’s unique blend of hometown charm and downtown activity, and advances its quality services and attractive amenities. In addition to leading regional transit initiatives, he fosters a culture of innovation through civic engagement, technology adoption, and sustainable results.

Baker is currently a trustee of the Michigan Municipal League (MML), a Project Management Professional (PMP), and a Certified Computing Professional (CCP). He holds a M.S. degree in software engineering and a B.S. degree in computer science from Oakland University.

Lauren Bigelow — Growth Capital Network

Lauren has served as the CEO of the Growth Capital Network (GCN) since 2010. With this platform, Lauren and her team have managed programs for the innovation and entrepreneurial community including the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, the Midwest Green Technology Entrepreneur Academy and the Midmarket Capital Survey. GCN also provides strategy, analytic, and evaluative services to the foundation and non-profit community for measuring impact and ROI.

Lauren Bigelow has spent 15 years in the innovation and technology space where she has an exceptional professional network of senior executives and emerging technologies as well as an expansive network of venture, private equity, and corporate investors targeting early to mid-stage technology. Lauren brings a strategic perspective with exceptional execution skills on all organizational levels. Prior to GCN and before its ‘09 acquisition by Bloomberg, Lauren was the North American Commercial Director for New Energy Finance, the leading independent provider of information and research to investors in the clean energy markets. From 2004 – 2008, Lauren was the Managing Director of the Cleantech Group where she oversaw the firm’s technology and entrepreneur pipelines. Working directly with over two hundred early stage CEOs, more than $1.4 billion was raised by presenting companies. She is currently on the Advisory Board of the Erb Institute, the Zell Lurie Fund and Belle Capital Michigan as well as the board of the Energy Innovation Business Council. Lauren is a lecturer at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. She has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan and an M.A. and Ph.D. both from Northwestern University.

Hugo Braun — North Coast Technology Investors

Hugo has been an active venture capital investor in the Midwest and California since 1987. Hugo has evaluated hundreds of investment opportunities per year, acted as lead investor in both equity and subordinated debt investments, and has served on the boards of directors of public and private companies. Prior to founding North Coast, Hugo was a partner in Access Ventures, a Michigan based investment firm with over $30 million under management. In addition, Hugo has co-managed BankAmerica Venture Capital’s $100 million venture portfolio. Investments included computer hardware and software, semiconductors, medical devices, telecommunications and retail last year.

Keith Brophy — MI Small Business Development Center

Keith Brophy is the newly appointed Executive Director of the State of Michigan Small Business Development Center, an organization with offices that span the state to support high impact small business development. Mr. Brophy, a past West Michigan Entrepreneur of the Year, has spent much of his career as a business builder across the state and nation. Past activities include serving as CEO of Ideomed, a care-team connected mobile health company that had operations in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor; President of Business Development at NuSoft Solutions, headquartered in Troy with offices in Grand Rapids and Cincinnati, Ohio; and CEO/co-founder of Sagestone Consulting, with headquarters in Grand Rapids and offices in Chicago and Columbus. NuSoft and Sagestone built sophisticated technology solutions for various industries including manufacturing, healthcare, education, finance and other sectors.

Mr. Brophy began his career at IBM Federal Systems and Systems Integration divisions in Washington D.C. working on a wide variety of forward looking technologies. He has served on a range of for-profit, charitable non-profit and economic development organization boards over the years, including as Chairman of the State of Michigan SBDC Advisory Board. Mr. Brophy has been a frequent speaker on future trends in regional and national venues, including testimony before a US Congressional subcommittee on mobile health innovation. Mr. Brophy holds a B.S. degree from University of Michigan and an M.S.I.S. degree from Strayer University.

Denise Christy — iSelect Custom Benefit Store

For over 32 years, Denise Christy has served the health care industry for the state of Michigan as an innovative leader, and contributor to the growth and expansion of managed care. Her rise in the industry began in Grand Rapids MI, as the head of marketing and sales for a health plan start up called Butterworth HMO, taking it to a two hundred million dollar enterprise which Christy re-branded in 1990 to what we know today as Priority Health. In 1997, Christy moved to Detroit to serve as Chief Marketing Officer of SelectCare, Inc., a multi-hospital owned health plan, overseeing the expansion and growth of commercial and government products until its eventual sale in 2001. After a two year stint with United Healthcare Inc. in Minneapolis where Denise led the National Sales Operations for the Small Business Division, she returned to her native Michigan as the Market President of Humana, leading the state in building their commercial and Medicare Advantage group markets.

In 2013 Christy launched iSelect Custom Benefits Store to bring a multi carrier and multi-distributor private exchange to the Michigan market. With a distribution channel of over 1000 certified agents throughout the state and local and national carrier partners, Christy has created a unique solution for independent agents and their clients to remain competitive in this post ACA marketplace. Denise is a graduate of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids MI, where she was later recognized with an Honorary Doctorate of Business. A celebrated leader for her dedicated support on several non-profit boards, Christy remains committed to bringing competitive and innovative solutions to market that aim to elevate the quality of life for the communities she serves.

Noel Dolan — Whirlpool

Noel Dolan is responsible for Whirlpool Corporation’s North American Open Innovation Strategy & Strategic Partner Alliances. She has over 12 years of business experience with a unique background in Entrepreneurship and Sports & Entertainment. Noel graduated from Appalachian State University with a BS in Marketing, then Michigan State’s Broad School of Business with her MBA in 2008. During her 7 years at Whirlpool she has had experience in new to the world Product Launch (Joint venture with P&G), Category (Fabric Care), Licensing (Air Treatment), Sales (Refer-Best Buy) & Merchandising (Cooking).

Danny Ellis — SkySpecs

Danny is the co-founder and CEO of SkySpecs. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan with his BSE and MSE in Aerospace Engineering. In 2009, Danny founded the Michigan Autonomous Aerial Vehicles, a student team with the goal of designing, building, and competing drones. This team eventually grew into SkySpecs after 3 years of development. In 2012, Danny and Tom, along with their 3rd partner, Sam Debruin, founded SkySpecs with a goal of developing autonomous drones for the infrastructure inspection market. They joined TechArb, competed in the Michigan Clean Energy Venture Challenge taking 1st place in 2013, and took 3rd place in the student portion of Accelerate Michigan. After not making it to the finals in the business portion of Accelerate Michigan in 2013, SkySpecs came back in 2014 and took 1st place. Danny and Tom are both active alumni of Techstars after completing the R/GA Accelerator in New York City in February 2015.

Danny focuses primarily on the business side of SkySpecs. He spends most of his time with customers, investors, and industry leaders. Danny facilitates strategic partnerships, fundraising, regulations, and marketing & sales. When he is working on technical problems, Danny’s background is in system integration, CAD design, and fabrication.

Nathan Fink — Shell Ventures

Nathan Fink is an Investment Associate at Shell Technology Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of Shell. STV identifies technologies and businesses to support Shell’s efforts to meet the needs of the world’s ever expanding demand for energy. Nathan works with entrepreneurs that are building companies and technologies in both cleantech and oil & gas that accelerate sustainable energy innovations, making minority investments in these companies and helping them deploy their solutions into the Shell ecosystem.

Prior to STV, Nathan worked in Shell’s internal M&A group on projects including their Master Limited Partnership (MLP) and Shell’s North American midstream strategy. His career started with Shell Energy North America (SENA), the gas and power trading group within Shell. Nathan continues to work closely with the University of Michigan Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity, helping startups commercialize technologies and establish initial traction with customers. Nathan holds a BBA from the University of Michigan, Ross School of Business.

Greggory Garrett — CGS Advisors

Greggory Garrett is the CEO and Managing Director of CGS Advisors, a boutique strategy and innovation advisory firm. Prior to founding CGS Advisors, Gregg was the Chief Strategy Officer for IT & Innovation at Volkswagen Group of America. As such, he developed and led the Strategy and Innovation practice for one of the largest automotive companies in the world. His teams defined the corporation’s strategy for how to apply IT; developed and managed innovation programs focused on “the connected world”; and managed a set of support functions including market research, business planning, and a corporate venture capital program.

Before his time at Volkswagen, Mr. Garrett led the development and execution of the corporate strategy department and reestablished and operated the Marketing and Business Development functions as a Sr. Vice President for T-Systems North America (Deutsche Telekom’s business division). Before assuming this role, Gregg led a consulting group for gedas USA. During his tenure at gedas Gregg was instrumental in launching the Enterprise Architecture Interest Group, a cross industry consortium focused on advancing the practice of EA. Prior to joining gedas, Mr. Garrett was part of Ernst & Young’s and Cap Gemini’s management consulting practices based in the United States.

Gregg’s academic training includes a MBA from Michigan State’s Broad School for Executive Management, and a B.S. in Systems Engineering from Oakland University, as well as certificates from Upsalla University (Sweden) and the Helsinki School of Economics (Finland).

Christine Gibbons — Histosonics

Christine Gibbons is President/CEO of HistoSonics, Inc., a medical device company developing histotripsy, a non-invasive, image-guided tissue ablation technology (licensed from the University of Michigan). She has over twenty-nine years of financial management, fundraising and operating experience and for the past sixteen years she has been deeply involved with early-stage technology-driven companies, both as an investor and part of a management team. Together with other founders, she has raised over $70 million in start-up capital and launched fourteen new ventures. Most recently she served as Executive in Residence (EIR) with Venture Investors, LLC. Prior to her EIR role, Chris served as the CFO of Sensicore, a company with lab-on-a-chip sensor products (acquired by a division of GE). She was the VP of Finance at Ardesta, an investor in “small-tech” opportunities and also served as Partner and CFO of Seaflower Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage biomedical opportunities. Prior to Seaflower, Chris was CFO of MBI International, a biotechnology research institute. Early in her career she was the controller of Nucleus Corp., a private engineering firm and was an auditor at Ernst & Young.

Chris is a member of the Technical Oversight Committee for the Coulter Program at the University of Michigan (UM), serves as an Advisor to Apjohn Ventures Fund LP, is a member of UM’s Venture Center Council and is an advisory board member of Michigan State University’s Center for Venture Capital, Private Equity and Entrepreneurial Finance. She has been a guest lecturer at Michigan State University’s Business School and Wayne State University’s Entrepreneur Network. Chris holds an MBA from Wayne State University and a BA from Michigan State University.

Priya Gogoi — DeNovo Sciences

Priya Gogoi is currently the VP of Research and Strategy at DeNovo Sciences, a company she co-founded in 2010. Denovo Sciences, Inc. is an innovator of cutting-edge products in the emerging liquid-biopsy field. The company’s goal is to transform cancer diagnostics by creating precise, accurate, and reliable tools for research and clinical diagnostics development. For many metastatic and recurrent cancers, such as lung and prostate, procuring repeat biopsy samples is extremely challenging. Liquid biopsy is a less invasive alternative especially in cases where patient monitoring is critical to therapeutic decision making. Prior to co-founding DeNovo Sciences, Priya worked at Esperion Therapeutics under the guidance of Dr. Roger Newton. At Esperion, she gained valuable start up experience which she used to create DeNovo Sciences from scratch. She was instrumental in getting the DeNovo team together, instilling a can-do attitude and strategizing its unconventional de novo ways to achieve unexpected great results such as winning the GLEQ “Best New Business Idea” competition within less than a year of starting the company. The Company went to also win the $500,000 Grand Prize of the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition in 2011. Currently, the company is taking its product through the appropriate regulatory channels for clinical adoption worldwide, including FDA 510K clearance.

Priya holds a M.S. degree in cell and molecular biology from Eastern Michigan University and a B.S. degree in zoology from Cotton College, Guwahati (India). Throughout her academic career, she has been a valedictorian in her class be it high school, under-graduate or graduate school. She is the recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister of India’s meritorious award for being one of the top 10 meritorious students in India in the year 2000.

Geoff Horst — Algal Scientific

Geoff is a co-founder of Algal Scientific, originally serving as the company’s Chief Science Officer. Geoff received his B.S. (Oceanography) from the University of Michigan and an M.S. (Marine Biology) from California State University where he researched the effects of climate change on coral reefs. His Ph.D. at Michigan State University (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) focused on the nutrient physiology of toxic algal blooms.

As a result of his expertise in algal biology, Geoff helped develop the concepts leading to the company’s water treatment process and algal fermentation platform for beta glucan production. Geoff continues to engage with the research and development team and works closely with customers and strategic partners on both the beta glucan and water treatment technologies.

Tom Kelly — Automation Alley

Tom Kelly is chief operating officer of Automation Alley. As COO, Kelly is responsible for the organization’s day-to-day operations, while also overseeing the entrepreneurship department and technology business accelerator programs. Kelly also chairs Automation Alley’s $9.03 million venture capital investment fund, which is invested in 51 high-tech companies. He joined Automation Alley in 2014 as director of entrepreneurship. In this role, he launched the Automation Alley 7Cs™ program, which was created to help advanced manufacturing entrepreneurs accelerate the commercialization of their products, services and technologies.

Kelly came to Automation Alley after seven years as a technology business consultant for the state of Michigan’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), where he actively coached more than 300 technology startups in industries such as advanced automotive, life sciences, homeland security and alternative energy. His support helped client companies through all facets of their early life, including visioning, strategic planning, sales and marketing and operational execution. Kelly’s professional successes also include launching three separate startup companies for angel, VC, and corporate investors in the fields of software, manufacturing technology and distribution. He has created and executed marketing campaigns for both low-volume, high-dollar and high-volume, low-dollar software titles at three separate companies, resulting in rapid growth and five major software awards, including the 2003 National Manufacturing Design and Engineering Award and the 2005 Start Magazine Technology and Business Innovation of the Year Award. Kelly has a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Clarkson University and a M.B.A. from the University of Michigan.

Charlie Moret — Invest Michigan

Charlie Moret, is president and CEO of Invest Michigan, the Fund Manager for the Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0. Charlie has 35 years of diversified experience in investments, entrepreneurship, banking, business development and technology. Prior to Invest Michigan, Charlie was in a leadership role with TechTown Detroit directing their tech-based entrepreneurial advisory services. Prior to TechTown and over a 13 year period at Connecticut Innovations, he founded and directed Connecticut’s $20 million Pre-Seed Fund investing in 45 companies, CTech, an incubator in partnership with Yale University, University of Connecticut and University of Bridgeport, TechStart, a technology venture accelerator and helped start-up the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund. Charlie brings extensive experience in pre-seed investing, portfolio management and working with universities to commercialize technologies. Prior to his work in the technology entrepreneurial sector, Charlie held a variety of senior management banking positions in international finance, asset based finance, SBA lending and credit administration.
Charlie holds a Bachelor’s Degree (Marketing) from Pace University and a Master’s Degree (Finance) from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Jean Redfield — NextEnergy

Jean Redfield is President and CEO at NextEnergy, a Detroit non-profit organization founded in 2002 whose mission is to accelerate advanced energy technologies, businesses, and industries.
Redfield’s experience includes multiple leadership roles at DTE Energy, where she served from 1994 to 2001, as well as consulting roles at McKinsey and Company from 1988 to 1994. Her work has primarily been setting strategy, leading major change initiatives and supporting companies as they transform through major dislocations in their respective industries. She has worked in various industries (investment banking, chemicals, aerospace/defense, pharmaceutical and biotech start-ups, and energy) in the United States, Europe, Brazil, India, and China. She has also served as co-owner and CFO of Fordsell Machine Products, a precision machine products company, from 1994 to the present.

Redfield holds a B.A. in biology from Washington University, St. Louis, a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Memphis, and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Sangeeta Shah — Brooks Kushman

Sangeeta Shah is a registered patent attorney with over 20 years of experience. Her practice includes all aspects of intellectual property litigation, patent prosecution and portfolio counseling. She represents client ranging from Fortune 500 Corporations to start-ups on the development of intellectual property portfolios.

Sangeeta is also the Chief Diversity Officer of Brooks Kushman and Co-Chairs the firm’s post-grant proceedings practice. She leads teams to challenge and defend patents using the post-grant challenges available in the wake of the America Invents Act. She is at the forefront of this changing landscape and its implications and works closely with clients to take proactive steps to obtain competitive advantage from an adversarial and patent procurement standpoint.

Skip Simms — Ann Arbor SPARK

Skip Simms joined Ann Arbor SPARK in 2006 as Director of Entrepreneurial Services and was its second employee. In 2011, he was named Senior Vice President. Skip oversees all the entrepreneurial activities including incubators, business accelerator programs, and all capital programs. He was the architect of the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund co-investment program, the multiple microloan programs managed by SPARK, and the MI Innovation Equipment Depot. His newest initiative is the Michigan Angel Fund.

Skip has nearly fifteen years of experience in financing and investments. Prior to joining Ann Arbor SPARK, he was the Managing General Partner at the Ralph Wilson Equity Fund, a $31 million fund-of-funds. Skip was a charter member of the Michigan Venture Capital Association and currently serves on their Board of Directors. He is a past board member of the New Enterprise Forum.

Ryan Vaughn — Varsity News Network

Ryan Vaughn is the co-founder of Varsity News Network, the largest and fastest-growing network for school sports. VNN’s product facilitates the digital communication of nearly 10 percent of U.S. high schools after only three years in the marketplace.

Ryan Waddington — Arsenal Venture Partners

Ryan Waddington is a Partner at Arsenal Venture Partners and heads their Michigan office. In 2010, he co-founded Huron River Ventures, a leading early-stage venture firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that invests primarily in enterprise and consumer software companies serving the energy, transportation and agriculture sectors. Ryan has over 18 years of experience in investing, operating and consulting roles in energy, environmental and other sectors, and has led over $100 million worth of investments in more than 25 technology companies at seed, venture and growth equity stages, while at HRV, Ziff Brothers Investments, NextEnergy and DTE Energy.

Ryan holds engineering degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin, and earned an MBA with Distinction from the Ross School of Business at University of Michigan, where participated in the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. Current and former Director/Observer roles include Varsity News Network, PeachWorks, Sidecar, Ambiq Micro, Root3 Technologies, Covaron Advanced Materials and Advent Solar (acquired by Applied Materials NASDAQ: AMAT).