Michigan Makers-logo

Michigan Makers

Entrepreneurship >

More Information


United States






M2: Capital Appreciation Month; Doron York, Cityside Ventures

An Israeli Navy Seal, Doron spent the first part of his life in his native homeland of Haifa, Israel. After finishing his duty, he moved to the United States and settled down in Southeast Michigan. Actually, settled down is definitely NOT the right term, as he immersed himself into the startup scene here right away and has been here for just about 30 years. As the founder of multiple successful startups, some of which he’s taken to acquisition, he’s taken his skills and learnings to run an...


M2: Capital Appreciation Month; Jake Cohen, Detroit Venture Partners

Jake is a 3-time University of Michigan graduate who got both his MBA and his JD at the same time! During his undergrad years, he started his first company called Ugrub, which provided college students with an easy‐to‐navigate listing of restaurant menus and weekly specials. After selling that company to a competitor in 2006, he became a consultant for Deloitte, where he focused on Strategy and Operations. Fast forward a few years to when he was one of the early cofounders of Detroit...


M2: Capital Appreciation Month; Chris Rizik, CEO Renaissance VC

A Wolverine-Spartan hybrid, Chris is one of the pioneers in the venture capital ecosystem here in Michigan. After 13 years as an attorney, he went through a massive career change to transition into life as a venture capitalist. Alongside now-Governor Rick Snyder, he started his venture capital career at Avalon Investments. He’s served on Boards like the MVCA, NextEnergy, and University of Detroit-Jesuit High School. Currently, he operates as CEO for Renaissance Venture Capital Fund. This...


M2: Capital Appreciation Month; Doug Neal, Co-Founder, eLab Ventures

With 25+ years in the tech industry, it’s pretty safe to say Doug is a technology veteran. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he started his career at Hewlett-Packard as a Software Engineer and left after 4 years to become a Director at Symantec (Semantic). It was shortly after that when he started Mobile Automation, developing enterprise system management solutions for tech companies and service providers. After selling Mobile Automation to iPass for $20M in 2004, he wouldn’t get...


M2: Month of Mobility; Lisa Nuszkowski, Founder of MoGo Detroit

An advocate for and leader in transportation mobility, Lisa started her career at the City of Detroit office as a Business Analyst and shortly after became the Chief of Staff to House Majority Leader Steve Tobocman. A few years later, she went back to the City of Detroit working as a Senior Associate where she helped bring Code for America to the Motor City. It wasn’t too long after that when she started to dip her toes into the mobility industry. With Wayne State University, she helped...


M2: Month of Mobility; Mark de la Vergne, Mobility Innovation, City of Detroit

Mark is a transportation planning veteran, and he knew he wanted to work in mobility before mobility was even a term. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where he studied Systems Engineering (specifically focused on transportation) he started his career as a Project Consultant for traffic engineering and geometric design. After spending almost a decade in Chicago working as a transportation consultant, he packed his bags and moved to Detroit. Currently, he works to improve in-city...


M2: Month of Mobility; Jessica Robinson, Director of City Solutions at Ford Smart Mobility

An East Coast, to West Coast, to Midwest transplant, Jessica Robinson started out in the tea industry holding roles such as Head of Sales and Marketing, Product Manager, and Customer Relations. After dominating the tea market, she joined the team at Zipcar and managed Marketing in Seattle, Locations in the Bay Area, and eventually served as their Market Launch Manager for North America, a role where she helped launch 7 new markets in 18 months. Now she does work at Ford Smart Mobility...


M2: Month of Mobility; Lisa Seymour, Techstars Mobility

Lisa is a Wayne State Warrior, she started her career in the sports industry, wearing a variety of hats at her alma mater’s athletic department. Soon after, she joined the team at DUO Security heading up People and Culture. When she realized she couldn’t keep making the commute from Detroit to Ann Arbor every day, she had to look for something else. That’s when she met the folks over at TechStars and helped kickstart the Mobility program in Detroit. They’re going strong in their upcoming...


M2: Month of Mobility; Amanda Roraff, PlanetM

Amanda Roraff has produced and planned events and trade shows for multiple companies for over 20 years. After getting her Bachelor’s Degree from the James Madison College of Public Policy at Michigan State, she started out as a Programs Manager in the dental industry, of all places. Shortly after that, however, she became the Operations Manager for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, effectively kickstarting her career in tech. A few jobs after that she monetized her event production...


M2: Marketing and Advertising as a Superpower

A New Orleans native and graduate of Tulane University, Molly McFarland launched her career in Marketing and Business Development at an architectural design firm in Ann Arbor. During her time as Marketing Director at another Ann Arbor startup, she and a coworker started working on a side project that eventually became what is now the company she co-founded with said coworker, AdAdapted. So far, they’ve secured clients such as the Detroit Lions, Nestle, and Proctor and Gamble. They’ve...


M2: How A Writer Turned Entrepreneur Is Building Detroit's Startup Community

Amanda Lewan is an award-winning writer and entrepreneur. After getting her Bachelor's in professional writing from Michigan State University and her Masters in English from Wayne State, she launched into the marketing world as a content marketer at Sunny Media Group. Shortly after, she launched Michipreneur, Michigan's only statewide publication on entrepreneurship and innovation. Taking her passion for building entrepreneurial communities, she cofounded Bamboo Detroit, a coworking space...


M2: Jason Mendelson on Michigan's Startup Community

Jason Mendelson has some serious street cred. A 2-time graduate of the University of Michigan, he started out as a software engineer at Accenture, and after realizing he wanted to be a lawyer, got his law degree, became a lawyer in the Bay Area and now he's a venture capitalist (although he really hates that name). Currently, he serves as the Managing Director at Foundry Group, a Venture Capital firm in Boulder, Colorado, and let me tell you, they put out some hilarious music videos. Blog...


M2: How Medtech is Impacting Michigan's Economy and Focus

Paul Riser is a lifelong Detroit native. He started his career at Sun Microsystems at its peak and currently his main gig, among a litany of other commitments, is serving as TechTown Detroit's Managing Director of Tech-Based Entrepreneurship, a role fitting to his expertise of over 20 years in the tech industry. He's the chair of the board of BLAC Detroit, the premiere lifestyle magazine for African Americans in and around Detroit. He is also the Chief Information and Technology Officer of...


M2: Detroit Tours, Experiences, and Stories

Jeanette Pierce is a lifelong native of Detroit proper, and she is what I would call the human encyclopedia of all things Detroit. After studying abroad in Spain, she was inspired to help create the same small-town, know your neighbors across the street feel to Detroit, as she saw fit. Since then, she's worked at building the new narrative of Detroit for over 15 years. In her cofounder and director roles at Inside Detroit, D:hive, and now the Detroit Experience Factory, she has been a huge...


M2: Venture School Part 2 - Redefining Student Success

This episode is a continuation of "How Venture School Is Reshaping Entrepreneurial Education in Detroit." (From Venture School website) The mission of VentureSchool is to empower students to become capable, curious, and courageous leaders, innovators, and agents of change in their community through groundbreaking educational opportunities. Equipped with an entrepreneurial mindset, our students will be prepared to develop solutions to the complex challenges that affect our lives today and...


M2: How Venture School Is Reshaping Entrepreneurial Education in Detroit

Venture School's mission is to empower students to become capable, curious, and courageous leaders, innovators, and agents of change in their community through groundbreaking educational opportunities. Equipped with an entrepreneurial mindset, their students will be prepared to develop solutions to the complex challenges that affect their lives today and the world tomorrow. Marvin English is the Founding Head of School at VentureSchool Detroit. Prior to his role at VentureSchool, Marvin...


M2: How To Attract Talent To A Growing Startup Ecosystem

Deirdre Groves is a self-identified social entrepreneur, having founded multiple nonprofits. A graduate of both Michigan State AND the University of Michigan, she has degrees in both Construction Management and Urban Planning. She’s a Crain’s 40 Under 40 awardee, recipient of the Detroit Young Professionals Vanguard Award, Honoree of the Women and Leadership in the Workplace Award, and she’s been recognized by Governing Magazine as one of the top 10 people that could save Detroit, a list...


M2: From Life on the Run to Immigrant Entrepreneur

Edi Demaj's story is one that will impact everyone who listens to it. A childhood riddled with hardship, he never had a real education from 1st to 7th grade since his family lived life on the run. Having to dodge bullets most of their life in Kosovo, his family made it to the border of Macedonia and were let in by an Albanian police commander. Considering their options, his parents decided to move to the US, which was a life-changing decision that gave him a chance to exceed all...


M2: How To Keep Your Entrepreneurial Dream Alive

Shelly Sahi is a first-time founder, yet she’s already been making waves across not only the Michigan startup scene but the global fashion and beauty industry as well. Starting out as a researcher at the Univ. of Michigan hospital, she made a career change and started working at Ford Motor Company as a materials science researcher. Not satisfied, she moved up to the business office and started going to night classes at Michigan to get her MBA. After completing her MBA in two and a half...


M2: How To Build An Early Startup Team

Ryan Landau is a serial entrepreneur, having started his first company at the ripe age of 14 years old, ran it during his high school and college years with his brother before eventually selling it to a competitor. A Michigan State alum who got his professional start post-graduation at IBM in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., he felt the call to move back to Michigan and start a tech company of his own. With his brother, he started Chalkfly, an e-commerce platform for janitorial and...