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Guest Blog: Lauren Bigelow, CEO, Growth Capital Network: Six reasons to attend the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition

By Posted on November 4, 2013

It’s just a few weeks away and the excitement is building.

The semi-finalists are chosen and we are gearing up for Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition in Detroit from November 12 -14, 2013 at the Book Cadillac. In its fourth year, Accelerate Michigan is an international business competition that brings together entrepreneurial companies with local and national investment capital. It showcases the best and brightest new businesses to foster their growth within Michigan.  Each year, 50 innovative companies and 25 top student companies compete for almost $1 million in prizes.  In 2012, 60 venture capitalists from 51 firms judged the competition – providing a great network across the country.

If you’re an entrepreneur, or are engaged, or want to become engaged, in the innovation community, here are six great reasons you should join us:

Reason #1: Networking opportunities with local and national innovators and investors
As an attendee, you can network with innovative young companies as well as those holding billions of dollars of venture capital. In addition to local Michigan and Ohio firms, the competition has investors coming in from across North America including: Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Palo Alto, and San Francisco, as well as Toronto and Vancouver.  The competition is the largest gathering of venture and institutional investors in Michigan where the public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Reason #2: National keynotes
The conference includes keynotes from Carla Harris, a Vice Chair at Morgan Stanley and the newly appointed chair of the National Women’s Business Council.  She is also an author on entrepreneurship and great supporter of women business leaders.

Our Gala Awards keynote is CIO hall of famer Tony Scott, currently the CIO of VMWare. Some folks may remember Tony from his years as the CTO of General Motors.  He moved on from there to spend five years each as the CIO of Disney and Microsoft.

Reason #3: Business pitch pointers from competitors
Accelerate Michigan is a great opportunity to learn from other firms seeking to grow their business. By attending, you are able observe first-hand how the competing innovators present their story to the investment community. You will walk away with valuable pointers that you can apply to your current or developing business idea.

Reason #4: A chance to ‘test out’ your elevator pitch
Accelerate Michigan is an ideal place to test out your business idea with potential investors. Prepare your short pitch before you head out.  You don’t know how much time you’ll have with someone before you’re interrupted, so if you give the high level overview in 60-90 seconds, they will always walk away with a picture about your opportunity.  My rule of thumb with companies is to have them put together this framework and modify it to their own style.  My [company name]is developing/manufacturing a [product/ technology]) to solve [x problem ] for [x audience]).  Our competitive edge is [x].

Reason #5: Get plugged in!  Meet potential coaches and mentors for your next endeavor
Many of the attendees at Accelerate Michigan are deeply engaged and committed to developing the innovation economy in Michigan.  They know the available resources, have contacts there and as such, are often open to helping people with business ideas.  Also talk to the company competitors to learn what free/low cost resources they used to help move them forward.

Reason #6: Support innovation in Michigan
The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is at the epicenter of the burgeoning community that’s fostering start-up incubation, acceleration, and finance in Michigan. The focus on local entrepreneurship has been growing exponentially over the last decade. We welcome you to join in and share the excitement.

For details about the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition event, or to register, visit



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