Michigan entrepreneurs Rob Malan (Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer, Arbor Networks), Ted Dacko (Former President and CEO, HealthMedia Founder, Arbor Dakota Strategies), Josh Linkner (Founder and Chairman, ePrize Managing Director, Detroit Venture Partners), and Tim Mayleben (President & CEO, Aastrom Biosciences) joined moderator Mina Sooch for a lively panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities of running a venture-backed business in Michigan.
All panelists agreed that Michigan is a good place to start a business, but cited lack of talent and capital as issues for our state’s entrepreneurs. Linkner empathized the importance of culture in creating a valuable and sustaining business, while Dacko discussed how measurable outcomes were vital. Mayleben talked about marathon fundraising campaigns he underwent at Esperion and also named talent attraction as the biggest challenge he sees in locating a life sciences business in Michigan. Malan envies California’s non-enforceable non-compete law and suggests that Michigan adopt a similar position to encourage serial entrepreneurialism.
The panelists were:
Former President and CEO, HealthMedia
Founder, Arbor Dakota Strategies
Ted Dacko, the founder of Arbor Dakota Strategies, has more than 36 years of experience in executive-level management and leadership, principally in the area of software applications and solutions. His career has primarily been spent following the founder where, as CEO, he has been credited with taking great ideas and turning them into great companies.
Most recently, Ted was CEO of HealthMedia® Inc., which he took from a small, near-death company to a $30M annual SaaS business. The company was sold to Johnson & Johnson in 2008 and resulted in an 18 to 1 return on invested capital for Chrysalis Ventures in a six year time frame and a 10 to 1 return on invested capital for Arboretum Ventures which invested a short time later. This was accomplished during the worst economic time in recent history.
Founder and Chairman, ePrize
Managing Director, Detroit Venture Partners
As the founder and CEO of ePrize, Josh Linkner has led a revolution by dislodging the old guard and dominating the industry through disruptive innovation and creativity. ePrize has produced over 5,000 industry-leading interactive promotions across 36 countries, for 74 of the Top 100 brands including Coca-Cola, at&t, The Gap, Procter & Gamble, Disney, Dell, adidas, Citibank and Microsoft. ePrize has won dozens of awards including Red Herring’s Top 100 Technology Firms in North America, Inc. 500 (five years in a row), #1 fastest-growing on PROMO 100, Fast Company’s Fast 50 Reader’s Choice, and 101 best places to work in Michigan.
Josh has won several business, technology, and design awards including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Crain’s 40 under 40, and Automation Alley’s CEO of the Year. His highly-anticipated second Book – Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System for Breakthrough Creativity – is due out in February, 2011 (Wiley / Jossey-Bass). The book offers a 5-part process that will transform your organization – or your career – into a non-stop creativity juggernaut.
Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer, Arbor Networks
Rob brings over twenty years of research experience in computer networking and security to Arbor Networks. Rob, whose thesis work at the University of Michigan formed the basis for Arbor Networks’ technology, is the author of the company’s patents. Rob has successfully transitioned technology from research prototype to product during his tenure in industry, which includes work at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Laboratory and Hewlett-Packard. Rob began his networking career working as a researcher on the Mach operating system project at Carnegie Mellon. He has authored 18 papers published in top-tier computer security and networking journals and conference proceedings. Rob holds a Ph.D. and MSE in Computer Science from the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon.
President & CEO, Aastrom Biosciences
Tim joined Aastrom as a member of the Aastrom’s board of directors in June 2005. Previously he was an advisor to life science and healthcare companies through his advisory and investment firm, ElMa Advisors. He was formerly president, chief operating officer and a director of NightHawk Radiology Holdings, Inc. Mr. Mayleben also served as chief operating officer of Esperion Therapeutics, where he led the raising of more than $200 million in venture capital and institutional equity funding and later negotiated the acquisition of Esperion by Pfizer in February 2004. Mr. Mayleben is on the advisory board of the Wolverine Venture Fund and serves as a director for several private life science companies. He holds an MBA with distinction from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a BA in business administration from the University of Michigan Ross Business School.