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Michigan Growth Capital Symposium Announces Speakers for the Midwest’s Leading Venture Capital Event

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Groupon Co-founder Brad Keywell and Ford Global Technologies CEO Bill Coughlin to Keynote at 34th Annual Symposium 

Ann Arbor, Mich. – April 21, 2015 – Today, organizers of the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS) unveiled initial program details for the 34th annual event, which serves as a conduit for introducing early stage and emerging growth companies seeking funding to U.S. investors prospecting deals, is known for attracting high-quality investors from around the country. This year’s program will feature keynote addresses from Bill Coughlin, president and CEO of Ford Global Technologies and Brad Keywell, the co-founder of Groupon and current CEO and co-founder of Uptake. The conference will also include five panel discussions, as well as a showcase of the most promising early-to later-stage Midwest, high-growth companies seeking institutional investment within the next 12 months.

Hosted by the Ross School of Business’ Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies with support from the Michigan Venture Capital Association, this year’s Symposium will be held May 19-20, 2015 at the Marriott Resort in Ypsilanti, Mich. More than 450 entrepreneurs, researchers, investment professionals and business executives are expected to attend for networking, pitches and panel discussions. Key panel topics covered at this year’s event include:

  • The Internet of Things
  • VC Investment Trends and Opportunities in the Midwest
  • Cybersecurity: Attracting Big Headlines and Even Bigger Valuations
  • Women in the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
  • The Healthcare Investor Playbook: Trends in Sourcing, Evaluating and Structuring Great Investments

Brad Keywell Headlines Roster of Respected Industry Speakers

The program will kick off with a keynote address from Keywell, who currently serves as CEO and co-founder of Uptake, a predictive analytics platform. He is also a co-founder of Lightbank, a venture capital firm that specializes in investments in disruptive technology companies in the United States. A serial entrepreneur, Keywell is the co-founder of several technology companies, including Mediaocean, Echo Global Logistics and Groupon, where he currently serves in advisory roles. He is also the founder and chairman of ideas and innovation platform Chicago Ideas Week and the chairman of the Future Founders Foundation, which runs programs designed to help teach and inspire students in entrepreneurship. He serves on the board of trustees of Equity Residential, an S&P 500 company, and the Zell Lurie Institute. He is on the foundation board of the NorthShore University HealthSystem, as well as an advisor to the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago. Keywell received a J.D. from the University of Michigan School of Law and a B.B.A. from the University of Michigan.

At the Symposium, Keywell will speak about the status of venture capital today and the process of securing capital in the Midwest vs. Silicon Valley. While startups outside the Valley are encouraged and (modestly) financed, cresting the initial round is difficult unless impressive momentum has been achieved.

The program will also include a keynote address from Bill Coughlin, president and CEO of Michigan-based Ford Global Technologies, incorporated in 2002 as a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. Coughlin is responsible for the management and commercialization of patents and copyrights for the Ford Motor Company and all of its subsidiaries. A seasoned lawyer fueled by an entreprenuerial drive, Coughlin has brought the importance of innovation to the forefront of Ford by encouraging all employees to share new ideas and think of themselves as entrepreneurs within a large organization.

In addition to Coughlin and Keywell, the program will feature high-caliber speakers representing entrepreneurs, researchers, investment professionals and business executives who will lead informative discussions on pivotal industry issues. Confirmed speakers include:

  • Jim Adox, Managing Director, Venture Investors
  • Sach Chitnis, Managing Partner, JumpCapital
  • Kevin DiDio, Counsel, Varnum
  • Marc Dominus, Senior Manager and U.S. ERM Solution Leader, Crowe Horwath
  • Brad Erickson, Research Analyst, Mobility and IoT, Pacific Crest Securities
  • Denis Foo Kune, Co-founder & CEO, Virta Laboratories
  • Adrian Fortino, Partner, Mercury Fund
  • Jim Goldman, Chief Trust & Security Officer, CloudOne
  • Leslie Henshaw, Partner, Private Transactions, Deerfield
  • Mark Horne, CEO and Managing Director, Plymouth Ventures
  • Sean Kerney, Managing Director, Three Leaf Ventures
  • Carl Ledbetter, Managing Director, Pelion Venture Partners
  • Paul McCreadie, Managing Director, Arboretum Ventures
  • Kirk Nielsen, Managing Director, Versant Ventures
  • Greg Robinson, Managing Director, 4490 Ventures
  • Ted Shorter, CTO, Certified Security Solutions
  • Matt Van Haaren, CEO, Pixel Velocity
  • Nicole Walker, Principal, Baird Capital

“Venture capital and angel investment is continuing to boom in the Midwest, substantially contributing to Michigan’s continued economic recovery,” said Jim Adox, chairman of the Michigan Venture Capital Association and Managing Director at Venture Investors. “MGCS is a true testament to the exciting companies coming out of Michigan and the consistent trend of success in Michigan’s entreprenuerial ecosystem.”

Selected presenting companies will be announced a few weeks prior to the event. To learn more or to register, visit and follow conversations about the MGCS by tracking #MGCS2015 on Twitter.

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 and the Zell Lurie Institute at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business with support from the Michigan Venture Capital Association and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

About the Stephen M. Ross School of Business

The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is a vibrant and distinctive learning community grounded in the principle that business can be an extraordinary vehicle for positive change in today’s dynamic global economy. The Ross School of Business mission is to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world. Through thought and action, members of the Ross community drive change and innovation that improves business and society.

Ross is consistently ranked among the world’s leading business schools. Academic degree programs include the BBA, MBA, Part-time MBA (Evening and Weekend formats), Executive MBA, Global MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Supply Chain Management, Master of Management, and PhD. In addition, the school delivers open-enrollment and custom executive education programs targeting general management, leadership development, and strategic human resource management.


Media Contacts:

Emily Lospennato                                                        Mary Nickson

Version 2.0 Communications                                       Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute

617-426-2222                                                              for Entrepreneurial Studies

[email protected]                                      734-615-4424

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