Mr. Robertson has over 20 years of combined experience in investment banking, leveraged finance, engineering, and project management. Mr. Robertson is a Director with Seneca Partners, an investment banking and private investment firm located in Birmingham, MI, where he advises clients on mergers & acquisitions and capital raising transactions. Prior to Seneca, Mr. Robertson spent five years in the Leveraged Finance Group for Wachovia Securities, with transaction experience in leveraged buyouts, corporate restructuring, and senior and subordinated debt underwriting. Prior to Wachovia, Mr. Robertson was an engineer with General Motors, specializing in vehicle dynamics control and software development. Mr. Robertson has an MBA from the University of Michigan and BS in Electrical Engineering from Florida A&M University.
Entrepreneurship Hour is held Fridays from 2-3 p.m. in the Stamps Auditorium, at Walgreen Drama Center: 1226 Murfin, Ann Arbor, MI.
You can view videos of past Entrepreneurship Hour lectures on CFE's YouTube Channel.
Speakers for Winter 2013
George founded Pilko & Associates in 1980 with a simple idea: perform high-quality consulting on Operational Risk and EHS issues, keep clients ‘thrilled’ by delivering results and attract experienced advisors who are committed to the same principles. As Chairman, George has advocated that clients be diligent with Operational Risk and EHS issues and, equally, with respect to corporate governance. George promotes a proactive approach with the corporate officers and senior deal leaders in the chemical and energy industries in his network—he continues to look for ways to push the envelope and anticipates changes in advance to exceed client expectations.
During his 30+ years of leadership, George has grown the Pilko team from a small advisory group in Houston to an international firm with senior-level advisors in 32 different countries across six continents. George oversees global responsibilities for sales & marketing, business development and operations but prides himself on being hands-on and accessible.
George earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and his MBA in finance from the University of Michigan.
"It's Time to Think Like a Startup"
The Startup You Economy is about re-wiring people from a factory mindset to began to think like a startup: fast,creative, and innovatively. The future thought leaders in our economy will not come exclusively from the C-Suite or the senior management level of Fortune 500 Companies. Hajj believes the future of cities like Detroit, Boston, and Berlin will be fueled by the Startup You Economy. The Startup You Economy will be powered by individuals that will emerge globally that embrace digital technology and create tangible value in real-time. Hajj will help you transform the way you view the intersection of people, brands and technology.
Hajj has been featured in CNN’s Black In America 4: The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley that aired 11/13/11 and was viewed by over 1 million people. The documentary chronicled the journey of Hajj and 7-other entrepreneurs from around the nation as they lived in Silicon Valley for 9-weeks.
He founded Brand Camp University in 2008 and has grown it into the largest personal branding conference in the Midwest. In 2011 he expanded the Michigan conference and added the NYC and Boston markets. In 2012 he is on schedule to expand the conference to seven markets. One of his main goals is to establish a Michigan based campus that focuses on entrepreneurial and digital technology training for the knowledge economy. GM has sponsored this event for the past two years.
Hajj was selected as the inaugural Oakland County Elite 40 Under 40 winner. Oakland County is one of the most affluent counties in the country from over 400 nominees.
His second Book is due out the 4th Quarter of this year: ‘The Startup You Economy’ which focused on helping people to use digital technology to reposition themselves for the knowledge based economy.
Founder of Gokit (Michigan based) a tech startup that will officially launch Sunday, March 11 at SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin, TX one of the largest interactive conferences in the country which is attended by 20,000 people annually.
He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and CNN Tech Money on the subject of startups, digital technology and branding.
His client list includes: Walt Disney, the U.S. Department of Defense, Iowa State University, University of Michigan - Ross School of Business, Davidson College, University of Detroit and many more.
BLAU AUDITORIUM, Ross School of Business, 701 Tappan, Ann Arbor
Don Runkle joined EcoMotors as CEO in September, 2009 and brings nearly four decades of executive leadership to the company. Mr. Runkle’s experience spans automotive commercial vehicles, power, medical and many other industries in Private Equity, Venture Capital, Public and Private companies. Prior to joining EcoMotors, Mr. Runkle served as Chairman of EaglePicher, and of Autocam – both privately held corporations.
Mr. Runkle is a director of Lear Corporation, WinCup, Transonic Combustion, Envirotest Systems, and the Lean Enterprise Institute. He is also an operating executive at Tennenbaum Capital Partners, where he advises on investment opportunities, and is an advisor to a start-up battery company. He is a life member of the Shingo Academy, which recognizes distinguished manufacturing excellence; and is a recipient of the Wu Manufacturing Leadership Award, which identifies role models for visionary and strategic thinking leaders, and the ASM Medal for the Advancement of Research. Mr. Runkle co-founded with the DOE the USABC, United States Advanced Battery Consortium.
Mr. Runkle co-led the Delphi Corporation IPO and its spinout from GM. He served as Delphi’s Vice-Chairman and CTO as well as having P&L responsibilities for more than half of Delphi, a $28 billion public enterprise. Prior to Delphi, Mr. Runkle had many key executive roles at GM including: GM’s VP of Engineering, VP of Advanced Engineering, Director of Advance Vehicle Engineering, Chief Engineer of Chevrolet and Chief of Buick powertrain, both roles included racing. During his tenure at General Motors, his teams created countless innovations including the GM EV1 electric vehicle, the 100 mpg Ultralite concept, a Top 10 Engine, a Car of the Year, multiple high efficiency and high performance concepts, and numerous national racing championships.
Mr. Runkle has a B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, and an M.B.A from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was a Sloan Fellow.
On Jan. 5, 2012, Dan Martell unveiled Clarity.fm, a web-based application that links budding entrepreneurs to advisors and experts, before a crowd of 500 people at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton.
As Mr. Martell explains it, the service “connects speakers with seekers.”
Those speakers will include more than 350 of “the world’s best technology entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.” Real estate moguls, marketers and best-selling authors are also on board, he says. Spanning from Silicon Valley to Boston, New York and Canada, users will be a phone call away from the advisor of their choice. Once connected, the advisor aids the entrepreneur and charges a fee for his or her time.
Matt is a 36-year-old deadbeat from Westport, Connecticut who used to think that all he ever wanted to do in life was make and play videogames. He got lucky, landing a job as a game designer in Los Angeles at a young age, and figured he had everything pretty much figured out.
At 23, he moved to Brisbane, Australia, where it's a pretty typical thing for people to take off and travel the planet for a while before settling down. He thought that sounded amazing, and was also starting to realize that maybe videogames weren't the only thing that mattered. So in early 2003, he quit his job to go wandering around Southeast Asia until the money ran out. He made this site so he could keep his family and friends updated about where he was.
A few months into his trip, he and his friend, Brad Welch, were taking pictures on the streets of Hanoi when Brad said "Hey, why don't you stand over there and do your stupid dance. I'll record it." Matt did it, and he thought it looked pretty funny, so he kept on doing it everywhere he went.
That turned out to be a very good idea.
He put the video of his dancing adventures on his blog (back then people had things called "blogs"), and then in 2005 he found it on a new site called YouTube, where some kid had uploaded it, pretending to be him, and like a million people had already watched it. In 2008, he put out another video that showed thousands of people laughing, smiling, and goofing around together. Matt put his fourth video out in 2012. He's really proud of it and he hopes you like it too.
Mophie started out in the home garage of company co-founder Shawn Dougherty in Kalamazoo. She and the company’s co-founder and CEO, Daniel Huang, have quickly turned the company into a major supplier of portable cases for recharging mobile devices such as the iPod and iPhone as well as other electronic accessories. The firm has since outgrown its space in Dougherty’s garage and moved its distribution center to Paw Paw, while its design and marketing operations are now located at its headquarters in Santa Ana. (Still, 30 of its roughly 45 workers are in Michigan.) Its sales have already exceeded $20 million in 2010, continuing a trend of huge increases in annual revenue at the company. Beringea, Michigan’s largest venture firm, announced that it has made an investment in Santa Ana-based Mophie through the InvestMichigan Growth Capital Program to advance the company’s marketing and product development. Jeff Bocan, a managing director for the Farmington Hills, MI-based private equity and venture firm Beringea, which has become Mophie’s first institutional investor.
Life Magnetics, a spinout from the University of Michigan, is developing an in vitro diagnostic device for rapidly determining the antimicrobial susceptibility of bacterial infections. Currently, there are no diagnostic products on the market that can rapidly determine bacterial response to antibiotics within eight hours of sample collection. Life Magnetics, an early stage diagnostics company, is developing a technology that can.
The technology is targeted for use in clinical microbiology laboratories. The current standard-of-care requires the growth of extremely large populations of cells, which results in long turnaround times for test results before the optimum patient therapy can be determined.
The company's proprietary technology platform is sensitive to single cell changes, allowing for significantly faster time to results (hours instead of days). The ability to rapidly and accurately monitor bacterial growth and response to antimicrobials with single-cell sensitivity provides the opportunity to significantly improve clinical outcomes while at the same time lowering the cost of care and enhancing antimicrobial stewardship.
Beverly Parenti and Chris Redlitz co-founded The Last Mile program at San Quentin State Prison. This program teaches fundamental communication skills, business plan development, and prepares its participants for jobs in the technology sector. The program has been a rousing success with plans to expand throughout California and into other states in 2013.
Beverly Parenti is the VP of Operations for KickLabs, recognized by Forbes as one of the top 10 technology accelerators in the US. Beverly is also the General Manager of The Factory, a revolutionary zero gravity development environment, located in the heart of San Francisco. Beverly is a serial entrepreneur and successful investor, and she is committed to an active lifestyle, a former dancer and certified fitness instructor.
Chris Redlitz is the Founding Partner of Transmedia Capital, a leading technology investment fund focused on early stage digital media companies. Chris was the founder of AdAuction, the first online media exchange, and he was awarded the prestigious i20 award for his contribution to digital media and advertising. For over twenty years, Chris was a distance runner and today he is an avid cyclist and health advocate.
Carolyn Yarina, a senior in chemical engineering, was recognized for her commitment to combining technology and business in order to create social change. Yarina is the co-founder and CEO of CentriCycle, a startup dedicated to bringing appropriate, simple medical technology to rural India. Its first product is a portable manual centrifuge that runs without electricity. Under Yarina’s leadership, the fledgling venture earned a $15,000 grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, spent two terms in the TechArb student startup accelerator, won the ERB Award for Sustainability at the Michigan Business Challenge, and was recently featured in Business Insider as one of the best college startups in the country.
Ram Rao, a doctoral candidate in biomedical engineering, was recognized for his passion for healthcare innovation and the translation of clinical research. He is the former vice president of biomedical engineering student organization M-HEAL and currently serves as a Healthcare Team Fellow for the Zell Lurie Institute Frankel Commercialization Fund. In 2010, Rao co-founded STIgma Free Diagnostics, a medical device company dedicated to developing a rapid at-home test for the detection of common sexually transmitted diseases. Last summer, Rao participated in the NSF Innovation Corps program as the entrepreneurial lead for U-M team MEDCell, which focuses on tissue repair and bone regeneration. His entrepreneurial journey will continue next fall when he begins medical school at the U-M, where he hopes to bridge the gap from research to clinical activities to technology commercialization.
Carolyn Yarina and Ram Rao are the 2013 RPM Ventures Student Entrepreneur of the Year award winners. Learn more...