News from the Ohio Venture Association meeting on March 13, 2009

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Keynote Address:

Chris Mather
Jumpstart TechLift Advisors

In just under a decade, Northeast Ohio has gone from a region with very few institutions to help start-ups and early stage ventures to one with an extremely robust ecosystem of support.

That was the main message delivered to the OVA at its March luncheon by Chris Mather, head of TechLift. The program, established by NorTech in 2007, has recently been folded into JumpStart as one of its three business units. It's now called Jumpstart TechLift Advisors. Mather will continue to lead the organization.

He recalled the regional landscape in 2001, before the formation of such groups as BioEnterprise and Jumpstart and Ohio's Third Frontier program. At the time, Primus Ventures was essentially alone in early-stage investing in this region. He called it "kind of a wasteland from an entrepreneurial point of view."

"So along came BioEnterprise, with a lot of forward-thinking people. BioE was set up as a structure where they would understand what the VCs wanted. And the connections BioE has with VCs around the country is really amazing. They do a lot of coaching. They pick the best & the brightest, and try to help move them along."

As he worked with TechLift clients over the years, he found that "coaching really counts," along with matching would-be entrepreneurs to the right technology. But what about all the companies they worked with that didn't get funded? The State of Ohio challenged them to come up with a way to help those ventures. Thus was born the current group. "We're really egalitarian. We don't turn too many people down." Companies that just missed getting funded by angel investment groups or VCs are probably their best clients, he said, "because we know we can get them there next."

The new TechLift arrangement will include six Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (including Mather), all former CEOs who have experience raising money for their own ventures. "Between the six of us, we've raised about $50 million," he said. "We help (clients) through the funding phase, and we also try to help people understand what investors are looking for." The group also has a program it calls First Pitch, which allows companies to practice their VC pitch "in a safe and highly evaluative environment." Program participants receive a written report, as well as a video of their presentation.

Webcasts from the Meeting:

Click on the image below to view the entire presentation as video.

Webcast produced by Mike Sutyak, The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative.

Venture Capital Summit IV

February 20, 2009
Topic: "Entrepreneurship in Good Times and Bad"

Amid Challenging Economic Times, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Remain the Keys To Economic Success, Both in Ohio and the Region

The macroeconomic climate may be as challenging as it's been in decades, but that's certainly no reason to back away from supporting continued investments in innovation and entrepreneurship, twin anchors that can set the stage for the next generation of wealth in the region.

That was one of the main themes emerging from the OVA's fourth annual Venture Capital Summit, held February 20th at Corporate College East.

"Given the difficult economic times, it's easy to feel gloomy about our economic future," Ohio Speaker of the House Armond Budish said in his keynote address. "Pulling ourselves out of this situation requires the kind of innovation that entrepreneurship embodies, and that all of your promote. Entrepreneurship is the key to the success of our state." He called entrepreneurship a "bedrock" of the state's economy, and said lawmakers would continue to make strategic investments to foster and support it.

Judith Cone, vice president of emerging strategies for the Kaufmann Foundation of Kansas City, said she is impressed with Northeast Ohio's "yeasty environment" for entrepreneurial support. "I see very few places that really have put all of the elements (of a supportive ecosystem) together. I think you all are really on the right path. My advice is…keep doing what you're doing. You really have a density of focus on entrepreneurship."

At the same time, she noted that many years of research by the foundation into what works best in regional economic development suggests that more thought should be put into matching the right people with the best ideas. "Many times, people decide to be entrepreneurs, and then they go out and try to find the idea to hook on to. And sometimes I see really talented people with weak ideas…Let's make sure that the best ideas are connected to the most talented people, and that way we'll get the most success."

The leaders of the three new Jumpstart business units (TechLift Advisors, Inclusion Advisors and Jumpstart Ventures) and the organization's chief marketing officer, Cathy Belk, also explained how a newly reorganized Jumpstart would better serve more emerging and early-stage companies. With the reorganization, they noted, Jumpstart will now be able to engage with as many as 2,000 companies a year, rather than the approximately 1,200 companies they've been advising annually.

A panel of veteran entrepreneurs offered some advice about how to deal with the current recession. Tim Mueller, president & CEO of Phylogy, encouraged the audience to think about what kind of company they want to have when good economic times return, and to act accordingly now. The CEO of Same Page Solutions, Andrew Vaeth, said his company has brought a new focus to its core revenue drivers. Michael Keresman, founder and chairman of Cardinal Commerce (and former CFO of Steris Corp.), opined that "there's no better time to get to know your customers" than during a downturn. He counseled the audience to spend less time on their product and more time focusing on what customers currently need and can afford.

In one of the more lively sessions, a panel of VCs and angel investors put a start-up—MedCityNews, an online-only medical news site-- through the vetting process they would normally face when making a presentation to VCs.

Webcasts from the Meeting:

Click on the images below to view the entire presentation as video.

Webcast produced by Mike Sutyak, The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative.

OVA on LinkedIn:

To connect with members of the Ohio Venture Association, Inc. see OVA on LinkedIn.

Next Meeting:

April 17, 2009
Jon Snyder
Chief Executive Officer
Neuros Medical
CEO in Residence

The Union Club
1211 Euclid Ave.

Jon Snyder has over 20 years of management experience in biomedical and healthcare sales and marketing with significant experience in bringing new products into the marketplace. Jon's background covers business development, product development, market management, and sales management. He has helped launch and manage products at small and large companies including Cyberonics, Cardinal Health, Imalux, and STERIS. Snyder has a B.S. in Communication from Ohio University.

Neuros Medical, a Cleveland, Ohio based neurostimulation company, is focused on developing neurostimulation therapies for unmet needs to patients worldwide. The Company's neurostimulation therapy will deliver solutions for patients with chronic pain and other neuro-muscular disorders including spasticity. The Company's platform technology, Nerve Block, provides patients with elimination of chronic pain and spasticity in a variety of applications including neuroma/phantom limb pain with potential applications in cancer pain, diabetic neuropathy, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and stroke.

The patented Nerve Block Technology was developed by Drs. Kevin Kilgore and Niloy Bhadra of CWRU and the Functional Electrical Stimulation Center in Cleveland. Neuros Medical was formed around this technology in 2008 by a team let by Jon Snyder and the inventors.

See complete details and registration.

5-Minute Forum:

Early Detection Of Diabetes

Advanced BioSensors, Inc. is working on an electronic abdomen patch, which would provide minimally invasive, continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels and thus provide early warning for diabetes. "It's a very expensive disease, and in those countries monitored by the International Diabetes Federation, it is the fourth-leading cause of death," the company's founder, Dr. Albert Kretz, told the OVA in March. He said that $174 billion is spent each year on diabetes care in the U.S., $8 billion on monitoring devices alone.

He said 18 of his 20 collaborating organizations are located in Northeast Ohio. "We do not have to go to China. We can do it all here." The company's insulin infusion pump has been approved by the FDA. Dr. Kretz is seeking $400,000 to complete animal testing.

For more information, contact Dr. Albert Kretz, at 440-231-1039 or

The 5-Minute Forum is an opportunity for business owners to make a 5-minute presentation at our monthly luncheon meeting for raising capital, identifying customers, establishing distribution, or recruiting management. See details.

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