Lean Startup Labs

Detroit Summit

September 20, 2016


Dikran Ornekian
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A full time screenwriter for eight years running, Dikran (with partner Rylend Grant) has been fortunate enough to work with some of the top directors, producers and stars in Hollywood. His script, THE GHOST AND THE WOLF appeared on the Black List, an annual ranking of Hollywood’s best screenplays as voted by studio executives and producers. Total Film Magazine called that screenplay one of the 50 greatest unproduced scripts in Hollywood.

Dikran has also published a number of short stories. THIEF COACH was published by Mulholland Books and generated considerable interest in Hollywood. Film rights ultimately sold to Justin Lin (Fast & Furious movies, Stark Trek 3). His next story, SMUGGLERS, is being developed for TV with director/producer Matt Shakman (FARGO, GAME OF THRONES). His latest story, BOTANY BAY, is being developed for F. Gary Gray (STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON).

Dikran holds a B.A. in Film and History from the University of Michigan and an M.F.A. from the Peter Stark Producing Program at University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Phil Dillard
Lean Startup Co.
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Phil Dillard is an entrepreneur, executive and educator with expertise in finance and strategy. A Philadelphia native, now living in San Francisco, Phil completed his BS in General Science, U.S. Naval Academy. After spending nearly 7 years on active duty with the US Navy, he completed MBA in Finance and Strategy at the Chicago Booth Business School. After several years as a corporate strategy consultant, manufacturing executive, and corporate strategy/innovation consultant, Phil embarked on his entrepreneurial career. He leveraged his experience from multiple industries to launch a small wind CleanTech company, serve as an advisor to a BioPlastics company and lead as CFO of a marketing automation company. Currently, as an independent consultant and trainer with Lean Startup Co., Phil helps early stage and growth companies develop and implement strategies and processes that build a foundation for profitable growth. He is also an adjunct MBA professor of Negotiations and Entrepreneurship at Golden Gate University, adjunct professor of Finance at Palo Alto University, and a board member at CiviCorps in Oakland California.

Gabe Karp
Detroit Venture Partners
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Gabe is a Partner at Detroit Venture Partners, a Detroit-based Venture Capital firm that backs seed and early-stage technology companies. Prior to joining DVP, Gabe was the Executive Vice President and General Counsel of ePrize, Inc. (now HelloWorld, Inc.), an interactive promotions company which represents more than 75 of the top 100 brands in the world. Gabe was instrumental in growing the company from a small start up to 500+ employees in virtually every aspect of the business. Crain’s Business named Gabe as General Counsel of the year in 2011. He led the efforts on multiple acquisitions, venture financings, credit facilities, and ultimately the sale of the company to a large private equity firm.

Amanda Lewan
Bamboo Detroit
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Amanda Lewan is an entrepreneur and award-winning writer. She is Co-founder for Bamboo Detroit, a co-working space for entrepreneurs and creatives. She also is the founder and editor of Michipreneur.com, a regional digital publication and online community focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. Amanda is inspired to build creative communities and tell stories that unite others.

Tifani Sadek
Legal Counsel
General Motors
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Tifani Sadek is an attorney whose practice is focused on the intersection of law and technology. After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law, she practiced for several years in large law firms, first in her hometown of Houston and then in Chicago, primarily counseling large corporations, including many Fortune 500 companies.

In 2012, Tifani and her husband moved to Detroit, attracted to its entrepreneurial climate and urban revival. She soon recognized a need for an attorney that applied Detroit’s innovative culture to her practice, and she left her corporate career behind to establish her own firm that catered to start-ups and entrepreneurs. The firm is still going strong, but Tifani now serves as legal counsel for General Motors, specifically for the connected car and connected customer section. Tifani lives in Detroit with her husband, Brian, and dog, Abe Lincoln.

David Alade
Managing Partner
Century Partners
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David Alade is a born and raised native New Yorker. After graduating with a degree in Urban Studies and Economics from Columbia University in 2009, he pursued a career on Wall Street where he focused on providing an array of secured financing solutions for consumer finance companies. During his six years in investment banking at Barclays Capital and Credit Suisse, David facilitated over $100BN in financing for mid-size to Fortune 500 companies, including tens of billions of dollars of financing for the finance arms of the Big 3 US auto companies (Ford, GM and Chrysler). In the summer of 2014, David fell in love with the charismatic energy burning within the city of Detroit, founded Century Partners with his best friend Andrew Colom, and began financially investing in its neighborhoods.

David moved to Detroit in May 2015 to focus on community advocacy and real estate development in Detroit’s urban neighborhoods on a full-time basis. To date, they have led the investment of nearly $1.5MM toward the stabilization and development Detroit’s neighborhoods.

Adam Berk
Liberty Ventures
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Adam travels the world asking entrepreneurs one question, “What problem are you solving?”.

He then helps them design and run experiments to help them identify and manage the biggest risks in their business model. He teaches entrepreneurs from early stage founders to massive global companies (& government agencies) to apply the concepts of being “Lean”.

He founded neighborrow.com. He has coached or trained folks from Google, Sodexo, Techstars, KauffmanLabs, TechPeaks, Bizdom, Numa, StartupTurkey, FastForward Ramallah, AOL, ESPN, NEWSCORP, AMEX.

Now working in the Product Lifecycle team at Pearson with world class lean & agile specialists to help 44,000 people make evidence-based, customer centric decisions. He also invests at the seed stage for teams who are testing specific hypotheses.

Jill Ford
Special Advisor to Mayor Mike Duggan, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
City of Detroit
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As Mayor Duggan’s Special Advisor, Jill Ford heads the City of Detroit’s innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives. Jill chose to come to Detroit from the San Francisco Bay Area, where as an Angel Investor and Advisor she transformed emerging businesses using strategies forged in mobile gaming. Jill brings a wealth of global leadership in mobile and games, including heading Disney Mobile’s worldwide distribution to mobile manufacturers and running Motorola’s global games usage. A global citizen, Jill ran a company in Ghana that discovered, developed, and funded new entrepreneurs and she has traveled to more than 15 countries. Jill combines a Wharton MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Harvard University.

Suneel Gupta
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Suneel will serve as Co-host and Program Advisor for the Lean Startup Labs Detroit Summit.

Suneel was named the “New Face of Innovation” by the New York Stock Exchange. While serving as VP of Product Development at Groupon, he helped grow the business from millions in revenue to billions in revenue, and into what Forbes Magazine named the “fastest growing company of all time”.

As the Founder and CEO of Rise, he raised funding from Google Ventures and was backed by senior leaders at Facebook, Uber, and AirBnB. Just two years after launch, One Medical acquired Rise for nearly $20 million dollars.

Suneel has been heralded as a visionary product leader, and featured by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, CNBC, and the Today Show. Though he won’t always admit it, Suneel is also an attorney and is licensed to practice in California and in front of the United States Supreme Court. Prior to law school, he served in President Clinton’s West Wing during the same time as his older brother, Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN.

Program Advisory Committee

Matt Schaar
Product and Community Marketing Manager, GitHub for Business
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Matt Schaar co-leads the Product and Community Marketing efforts for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs at GitHub. It’s the latest stop in a 13-year career ranging from engineering aircraft engine parts, to helping humanitarian organizations thrive, to teaching companies about the world’s most popular collaborative software development platform.

Prior to joining GitHub, Matt advised Fortune 500 companies, startups, and non-profit organizations through two agencies he founded (SwarmNYC and Brush Labs) and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

Matt studied at The University of Michigan, completing his MBA and Master of Public Policy degrees; his primary areas of focus were in corporate strategy and Base of the Pyramid business development. He engaged with policy and business leaders on several projects in the Philippines, Jamaica, and South Africa during his studies. Matt returned to Ann Arbor for his graduate degrees after completing his undergraduate work in Aerospace Engineering and spending four years as a design and customer services engineer; he graduated With Honors from Michigan’s College of Engineering and began his career with Rolls-Royce, plc and The Boeing Company, where he engaged with clients on six continents and completed exchange programs in Germany and China.

Janice Fraser
Director, People
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Janice is one of America’s leading experts on Lean Startup. She has coached many organizations including the White House, Navy Seals Training Command, Lyft, and Proctor & Gamble. Janice’s current role is to enable Pivotal’s quickly scaling teams to apply Lean and Agile methodologies to solve critical business issues. Before joining Pivotal, Janice was the founder of 6 startup companies, and was among the scant few hundred female CEOS to raise venture capital between 2011 and 2014. Among her startups, Janice was founder and CEO of Luxr, an early Lean Startup firm, as well as Adaptive Path, the world’s first User Experience firm.

Charles Hudson
Managing Partner
Precursor Ventures
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Charles Hudson is the Managing Partner with Precursor Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on first check investments in strong teams developing innovative hardware and software products and services. Prior to founding Precursor, Charles was a Partner with SoftTech VC, one of the most active seed stage investors in Internet and mobile startups. Prior to SoftTech, Hudson spent time at Google, IronPort Systems, and In-Q-Tel.

Hudson holds a BA in Economics and Spanish from Stanford University and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Adam Berk
Liberty Ventures
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Adam travels the world asking entrepreneurs one question, “What problem are you solving?”.

He then helps them design and run experiments to help them identify and manage the biggest risks in their business model. He teaches entrepreneurs from early stage founders to massive global companies (& government agencies) to apply the concepts of being “Lean”.

He founded neighborrow.com. He has coached or trained folks from Google, Sodexo, Techstars, KauffmanLabs, TechPeaks, Bizdom, Numa, StartupTurkey, FastForward Ramallah, AOL, ESPN, NEWSCORP, AMEX.

Now working in the Product Lifecycle team at Pearson with world class lean & agile specialists to help 44,000 people make evidence-based, customer centric decisions. He also invests at the seed stage for teams who are testing specific hypotheses.

Lean Startup and Detroit – Innovation, Growth, Strength

You’ve heard that Lean Startup Methods create continuous innovation and sustainable growth through a learnable and replicable set of skills. You probably know that Lean Startup Methods have been put to dynamic, effective use around the world in high-growth tech startups, non-profits, enterprise level companies, bureaucratic institutions, and that they could make a real difference in your organization.

So you know the “what”, but to put it to use you need the “how”. On September 20th Lean Startup experts are joining Detroit business leaders to provide you with skills you can put to use immediately, and resources and relationships that you can utilize for the long term, to create innovation and growth while minding your budget and managing risk, strengthening and growing not only your organization, but the Detroit business community.

Join us for an evening, learn skills you’ll use for a lifetime.



4:00-5:30PM     Lean Startup Training Session (for “All Access” Passholders only) Led by Phil Dillard (Lean Startup Co.) and Adam Berk
Lean Startup 101: Get off on the right foot with this quickstart guide to Lean Startup Methodology. In this fast-paced interactive training session, Phil and Adam will introduce the key concepts that make the Lean Startup methodology so successful. When you’re done you’ll understand customer validation, MVP, pivots, and the build-measure-learn feedback loop, and you’ll have ideas for how you can apply them. Phil and Adam are experts in using practical, hands-on methods that ensure rapid acquisition and long-term retention, so you’ll walk out of this session not just excited and motivated, but also more skilled and ready to go to work. You do not need to be versed in Lean Startup to attend – this is a level-setting, informational session to familiarize you with Lean Startup and help you get started.

5:30PM     Doors Open for Evening Event
Join us a few minutes early, grab a beverage, and meet fellow attendees.

6:00PM     Lean Startup Summit Evening Event
Opening Remarks by Suneel Gupta, CEO of Rise Labs and Head of Mobile Business at One Medical

  • Testing Your Idea, Adam Berk, Lean Startup Expert & Entrepreneur
    There’s a lot to learn about Lean Startup, but according to seasoned Lean Startup expert Adam Berk, the DNA of the methodology is in the testable hypothesis. In this short session, Adam will outline how to take an assumption and turn it into a high quality, testable hypothesis.
  • From Founder to VC, Gabe Karp, Detroit Venture Partners
    Building a successful startup is hard, unglamorous and often times lonely for founders. Gabe will talk about how to build a team and culture that can help break through barriers to success, and share his perspective on dealing with potential investors.
  • Detroit is for Doers, Amanda Lewan, Co-Founder of Bamboo Detroit and Editor, Michipreneur
    Bamboo Detroit started from their own mantra: just doing it. A group of four entrepreneurs got together and bootstrapped their business into a growing co-working network. Amanda will share specifically how they engage and build community, building a diverse and innovative community with little or no budget at all. She’ll specifically go into how using social and what she calls a “lean marketing” approach helped them grow quickly. She’ll also share more insights into the Detroit ecosystem which is diverse, collaborative, and full of Doers.
  • Risk Management for Startups, Tifani Sadek, Legal Counsel, General Motors
    Sooner or later, every new business will face unexpected problems. However, identifying and mitigating risks can help thwart a potential disaster. In this segment, attorney Tifani Sadek will introduce the concept of risk management, geared specifically towards lean startups.
  • Development Different, David Alade, Co-Founder/Managing Partner, Century Partners
    David will tell the story of Century Partners and the opportunity to “Develop without Displacement.” In a little over a year, he and business partner Andrew Colom raised $1MM in equity, renovated nearly 25 units of housing, secured ~50 tenants and generated annual run rate revenue of ~$280K. All while running a very lean startup and re-thinking the customer development process. As a result, they have developed an innovative community equity model that provides long-time Detroiters with access to the rapidly rising asset appreciation happening in their neighborhoods.
  • From Detroit to Hollywood, Dikran Ornekian, Screenwriter
    A Lean Startup Approach to Screenwriting: After the economic collapse of 2008 and a devastating writers strike, selling an original screenplay in Hollywood became a more difficult proposition than ever before. Dikran will talk about how this harsh environment pushed he and his partner into trying something different — testing their script ideas as short stories — and how this new approach opened more doors for them than any screenplay ever had.
  • Jill Ford, Head of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, City of Detroit
    Jill Ford, head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the city of Detroit, joins us to give the closing remarks. She’ll talk about the state of innovation in Detroit and the importance of the growing ecosystem of entrepreneurs to rehabilitating the economy

8:00PM    Open Discussion: Speakers & Audience, Facilitated by Suneel Gupta
Speakers will stick around to answer questions and participate in an open discussion with the audience.

WHERE: MOCAD, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
4454 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI. 48201

*program subject to change

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MOCAD, The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit

4454 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201, United States

Questions? Contact [email protected]


Lean Startup Company, founded by Eric Ries, Heather McGough and Melissa Moore, is the official place for entrepreneurs and corporate innovators seeking ways of working that support continuous innovation and sustainable growth through Lean Startup methodology. If you’d like us to bring Lean Startup to your city, drop us a line – [email protected]

Thank you to our sponsors:

For inquiries about sponsorship, contact [email protected]

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