I attended the NXMW conference last night at the Innovatrium, which is on UofM‘s campus. It was a fabulous event, featuring a YCombinator vs TechStars panel and an after party at Savas restaurant in Ann Arbor. The most notable take away from the event was the speed and quality at which the UofM startup community is growing. I am always surprised by the number of new people I meet at these events who are building exciting digital media and consumer internet companies here in the manufacturing heart of the midwest.
During the event, Jeff Epstein (Zferral, TechStars Alum) and Zach Steindler (Olark, YCombinator Alum) discussed their different incubator experiences, and Ken Wohl (VP Marketing at Benzinga) did an excellent job moderating the event. Fortunately, a fight didn’t break out between TechStars and YCombinator loyalists.
This was my first entrepreneurship event outside of the b-school in months, and it was terrific to be surrounded by all of the sharp people designing products and building businesses in the Greater Detroit area. To name a few, Erick Bzovi and Lance Carlson (co-founders of HealPay) are building a financial services startup that could massively disrupt the debt collection process. Also, I was introduced to Andrew Rauh while using Highlight for the first time in a large group setting. Andrew is a rockstar iOS developer and freshman at UoM who works part-time at Detroit Labs.
Next on the Ann Arbor startup seen: TechArb demo day on April 13, 2012.