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Michigan is tied closely to the auto industry. However, as the state continues its rapid revival, the auto is not the sole industry behind the revitalization of Michigan’s economy. Rather, there are a variety of companies across virtually every industry contributing to the state’s growth.
Three Michigan companies from fintech to drone technology to mouthguard technology, exemplified this when they were selected at Endeavor’s 76th International Selection Panel (ISP).
On December 14, 2017, the rigorous multi-step selection process used to identify innovative and driven entrepreneurs across the globe, culminated at the ISP. Twenty-two companies from 13 countries — including three from Michigan—were selected by the panel made up of business leaders and investors who are part of Endeavor’s extensive network of board members, mentors, and supporters.
Selection at the ISP means the newly minted Endeavor Entrepreneurs are validated as leaders of a scalable business and posses a pay-it-forward mentality. The entrepreneurs behind these companies demonstrate how innovation and sustainable business growth are key factors to Michigan’s current success.
All five of the Michigan-based, high-impact entrepreneurs—Jan and Sassa Akervall of Akervall Technologies, Jason Wenk of FormulaFolios, and Tom Brady and Danny Ellis of SkySpecs—who attended the ISP were selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs. Selection gives them access to a network of local and international business mentors from leading companies who will help them address key needs and opportunities. Endeavor Entrepreneurs are provided with tailored programs and resources to foster growth in their companies.
The five newest Endeavor Entrepreneurs represent potential for growth and impact, as well as a diverse range of backgrounds, industries, business stages and achievements that set the tone for Michigan’s fast-growing entrepreneurial atmosphere.
Learn more about our newest Endeavor Entrepreneurs and their growing companies below.
Sassa Akervall & Jan Akervall, Akervall Technologies
Endeavor Entrepreneurs Sassa and Jan Akervall of Akervall Technologies Inc. (ATI) are revolutionizing the mouthguard industry with their line of patented dental protection equipment. As 2017 EY “Entrepreneurs of the Year”, the Akervalls plan to lean on Endeavor for the expertise and guidance of an advisory board as they scale and grow into international markets. As an Endeavor Entrepreneur, Sassa serves as a role model for female entrepreneurs.
“We are very excited and honored to become a part of the global Endeavor family. This is another step in the direction of becoming the most innovative and technologically advanced mouthguard company in the world,” says Sassa Akervall, CEO of ATI. “With Endeavor’s global network and all the assets they provide, I have no doubt that we will reach our goal faster and stronger than we ever could do on our own!”
Jason Wenk, FormulaFolios
Jason Wenk, the founder of the Inc. 500 and the 10th Fastest-Growing Company in America, FormulaFolios—a fintech platform for financial advisors—was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur because of FormulaFolios’ highly scalable business model, excellent differentiation strategy, and the opportunity it represents to build a fintech hub in the Midwest. Wenk will look to Endeavor’s network of mentors when making strategic growth decisions, to help him think bigger and compete with major players in the market.
In regards to being selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur, Wenk says, “I look forward to being part of the Endeavor network and partnering with fellow entrepreneurs as we strive to better the communities around us together, near and far.”
Tom Brady & Danny Ellis, SkySpecs
Tom Brady and Danny Ellis, founders of SkySpecs, grew their company out of a student club at the University of Michigan College of Engineering to become the first and only provider of completely automated wind turbine blade inspections in the world. SkySpecs is at the forefront of technology transforming the wind energy industry, as recognized in their recent award for “Best Technology/Innovation of the Year 2017” by Wind O+M Dallas. They recently closed an $8 million series B round, including an investment from Endeavor Catalyst. With the support of Endeavor, SkySpecs is looking to expand operations into international markets. They’ll also look to Endeavor for strategic guidance on taking their business to the next level.
“Endeavor’s global mentors have already proven valuable with feedback and guidance about operating in foreign markets,” says Ellis, CEO and co-founder of SkySpecs. “Additionally, Endeavor’s mentors and entrepreneurs have a wide range of international business experience that will allow us to connect and work with local drone operators, repair companies, and wind farm owners.”
The state of Michigan is witnessing an explosion of growth across nearly every industry at the hands of innovative entrepreneurs, particularly with the high-growth of Endeavor companies. More than that, this movement is proving to be the key to sustained economic growth in Michigan and other parts of the world.
Endeavor Entrepreneurs have a history of building thriving companies that employ thousands of people, generate billions in revenue, and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs as role models. These new Endeavor Entrepreneurs are on track to do the same.
About Endeavor Detroit
Endeavor is leading the high-impact entrepreneurship movement around the world while supporting 13 companies in Michigan. With our unrivaled network of seasoned business leaders, we work to catalyze long-term economic growth by selecting, mentoring, and accelerating the best high-impact entrepreneurs.
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