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Pitch Pit Competition: 
Selected entrepreneurs will each give a four-minute pitch of their business plan to a panel of investor judges in a “Shark Tank” format.  PowerPoint slides are not permitted. Think of it as the proverbial “elevator speech.” After all of the pitches are completed, the judges will give detailed feedback. At the end of the evening, the person with the highest score will receive the opportunity to receive a Business Readiness Assessment coaching session with NEF coaches.


  • Eric Niemiec, Founder, QIVIR Digital, LLC
    QIVIR Digital provides an innovative digital marketing platform offering a quiver of Call Tracking, QR Code Tracking, and Link Tracking features.  QIVIR’s cloud SaaS solution, along with strategic integrations with leading technology providers, allows its customers to build, manage, and analyze marketing campaigns with ease.
  • Brandon Martin, Founder, Reaction Technologies
    Reaction Technologies is a leader in training solutions for athlete safety and performance.  Through technology solutions that focus on improving player situational awareness, athletes learn proper techniques that can reduce injury potential while improving game performance.
  • Todd McLeod, Co-founder, Vaista
    Todd is an innovator, educator, and software engineer with over 25 years of experience in software development, project management, and higher education, having taught over 440,000 students worldwide through online courses and 3.2M+ through his YouTube channel. Vaista was created to accelerate education with AI, focusing first on writing.


  • David C. Bloom, Executive Director, Pointe Angels
    David Bloom is a veteran of thirteen startups, an advisor or director with four emerging companies, and a mentor for scores of innovative technology ventures in Life Science, Cleantech, Software, and AI.
  • Jake McLeod, CEO EXO Freight
    Experienced logistics executive with a diverse skill set focused on leadership, business development, creating strategic partnerships, process improvement, strategic planning, start-ups and a healthy amount of grinding.
  • Tommy Skinner, Senior Venture Associate, Red Cedar Ventures and Michigan Rise
    Former founder and start-up operator passionate about empowering early-stage technology companies in Michigan.

Showcase Presentation:
Electric Outdoors was incorporated in May 2023 with a mission to connect people with sustainable outdoor experiences. Through its portable, solar-powered camping destination system, Electric Outdoors helps landowners unlock destinations beyond the grid. The EO-Canopy captures energy from the sun and uses it to charge vehicles, harvest and keep water fresh, and incinerate waste so you can create memories and adventure sustainably!

Founder Josef Hjelmaker is a seasoned c-suite executive with more than 24 years in leadership roles globally, renowned for delivering innovation and groundbreaking products. His experience includes 18 years in automotive (Aptiv), 4 years in Consumer Goods (Whirlpool) and 2 years as the Chief Innovation Officer at THOR Industries, the world’s largest RV manufacturer. Josef currently serves as advisor and board member in several mobility / EV startups.

Join us at Ann Arbor SPARK in person to enjoy food, drink, and conversation with members of the local startup community. Portions of the meeting will be available for viewing online via Zoom. For remote viewing, select an Online Ticket when registering via Eventbrite.