Enduring Innovation: Entrepreneurs Unite!


Sept 10th,
9:30am-5pm EDT

Enduring Innovation: Entrepreneurs Unite!

Scroll down to watch the recordings!

About The Event

Putting man on moon in the 60’s had a great side effect right here on earth. It led to an amazing explosion of start-ups and entrepreneurship. That “moon shot” injected a heavy dose of confidence in the common businessman, tinkerers, makers and inventors. It gave us hope to experiment and try new things.

In a similar way, catastrophic events like this COVID-19 pandemic is also, in its unique way, making people scramble to innovate and come up with better methods to solve for the new challenges we are going through. This pandemic is changing the sentiments, behaviors, sensitivities, and intentions of people. Most of these changes are probably going to stay and will alter the way we do business.

In our conference, we will get boots-on-the-ground experts in the field to shed light on this heartbeat of America – the start-up and entrepreneurial community, their passions, goals, aspirations, challenges and barriers. We will have a spectrum of start-ups join in to share their insights and perspectives, good and bad. We will have experts from accelerators and incubators chime in from their experience in coming alongside entrepreneurs through their assortment of start-up services. And of course, we will have experts in the field of design and innovation to share their successful and proven methodologies to get your idea off the ground and make it a commercial success.

Join us for this virtual conference with Design 101 presentations, Top 10 guideposts for start-ups, local start-up panels and fun elements for happy hour. It’s free but limited to 100 seats (virtually), so make sure to sign up! We’ll see you there!


LIVE Sketching and Cello Performance

9:30 – 10:00am

“Ikigai Philosophy and Design-Led Manufacturing Ikigai Philosophy and Design-Led Manufacturing and Design-Led Manufacturing”

Josiah LaColla

Senior Product Designer, Transportation Design Specialist

Josiah’s creative passion is centered on the unification of design, emotion and technology. A logical, calculated approach to aesthetic design paired with real-world mechanical understanding has vaulted his ability as a creative designer to communicate with engineers. Formally trained at College for Creative Studies, his professional experience prior to SF encompassed the industrial design of kinetic artifacts including SEMA show cars, high-end RVs, Class 8 truck experimental aerodynamics, and automotive design for a Silicon-Valley electric vehicle startup. His spare time is entirely absorbed by a Midcentury-Modern home renovation, keeping a prized litter of vehicles in driving condition, and exploring the farthest corners of the civilized world.

Lynnaea Myers

Industrial Designer, Marketing and Communications

Lynnaea has a natural passion for storytelling and building relationships. She started her college education in Journalism, but soon found her passion in switching to Industrial Design. Now she uses her industrial design skills to support studio projects as well as design and develop Sundberg-Ferar’s marketing and communications products and materials. In her spare time, she does anything outdoors, reads, writes, and keeps her cello performance skills sharp.

Product Innovation 101

10:00 – 10:30am

Jeevak Badve

Principal & Director of Strategic Growth

Jeevak brings energy, passion & curiosity to his role at Sundberg-Ferar. With his unique blend of education and experience in industrial design, engineering and business, he is a rallying voice for the alignment and optimal inclusion of the end user’s un-met needs, and unspoken wants in the core value proposition of a company’s products & service portfolio to generate sought-after shareholder value. Jeevak has more than 23 years of professional design experience, first in India for 7 years at Tata Motors, and then in the U.S. for 16 years at GM Design and now Sundberg-Ferar. Beyond his role at SF, Jeevak is a board member of many prominent design associations and think tanks including the Michigan Design Council, Aether Design Group, and Detroit Creative Corridor. He also served on IDSA’s International board for 6 years and chaired IDSA’s 2017 flagship International Design Conference: “Design IS Business”. In his copious amounts of spare time, Jeevak can be found indulging his love of kickboxing, and obstacle course running, or photographing birds in obscure parts of the world.

Panel : Local Startups

10:30am – 12:00pm

Mark Ferri

President & CEO


Mr. Ferri serves as President and Chief Executive Officer for the Company.  He is a senior leader with 16 years of experience in a Fortune 100 company serving in roles that include customer support, strategy and planning, and business and IT portfolio management.  He has also lead transformation programs in install-base systems redesign delivering 10x performance improvements. He is passionate about people, technology, innovation and culture.

Eric Christie


Jeffery Banker

Managing Partner

Catalyst CEO Group

Jeffery Banker is an experienced tech company CEO having raised nearly $30 million in investor funding for multiple early stage companies at the Seed and Series A stages. He has taken various products and services to market serving as Lead Executive, Adviser, Mentor and/or Board Member, adding particular value in customer discovery, productization & market entry, capitalization planning, and strategic partnerships.

For 25 years, he has been embedded in the Midwest entrepreneurial ecosystem mentoring 50+ companies and vetting 100+ more for investment in a range of domains including microelectronics, MEMS, sensors/sensor systems, IoT, Med-tech, biomedical devices, ADAS, consumer products, software/SaaS, and more. He has spent thousands of hours in market research and initial customer discovery, helping early stage firms devise market entry and account penetration strategies.

His education includes a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering (University of Michigan, Northwestern University respectively) and an MBA (University of Michigan).

David Thimm

Principal & Design Director

Sundberg Ferar

As and experienced designer with over 28 years in product development working in both the corporate and consulting environments, David has created design solutions by combining his lifelong fascination of human behavior and how it affects the relationship with the products and places in which we live. He believes in being hands on and getting dirty. It’s not only the best way to experience the ‘ideal experience’ but also to uncover the insights that lead to innovation opportunities and better product relationships.

David joined Sundberg-Ferar in 1995 as a senior designer and worked on a diverse set of projects including home goods, automotive, utility vehicles, tools, electronics, and many others. In 2002 David left Sundberg-Ferar to join Johnson Controls Automotive Experience Group. While at JCI David managed the Design Studio for both Ford and GM business units, and also managed the New Product Strategy Seating Design Team for North America completing many production and advanced concept interior solutions. David re-joined Sundberg-Ferar in 2008, became Principal in 2009, and has continued to work on projects large and small, from start-ups to internationally known brands with centuries of history.

David is a Detroiter, and loves motorcycle excellent adventures.

Celebrity Chef : Live Cooking Demonstration & Tips

12:00 – 1:00pm

Angelo Loria

Executive Chef

Vince & Joe’s

Chef Angelo Loria, Executive Chef for Vince & Joe’s Gourmet Market, holds a degree in Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts and Restaurant Management from Macomb Community College. Sustainability and responsible farming are important to Loria, who was Executive Chef at the Fox Theatre in Detroit and a Chef at Oakland Hills Country Club. Chef Angelo is a regular on Fox 2 News in the mornings, and has also made appearances on WXYZ and WDIV.  He has been featured in Hour Detroit, Macomb Now, The Detroit News, The Macomb Daily, The Italian Tribune, Lick the Plate Radio Show on 93.9 FM the river.  Chef Angelo was voted Best Chef of Detroit by Hour Detroit Magazine’s Readers in 2020.

Panel : Local Incubators & Accelerators

1:00 – 2:30pm

Neil Kane

Director of Undergraduate Entrepreneurship and Instructor

Michigan State University

A leading authority on technology commercialization, entrepreneurship and innovation and member of the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Michigan State University, Kane is Innovation Executive in Residence at the Research Park at the University of Illinois and is the former co-Executive Director of the Illinois Technology Enterprise Center at Argonne National Laboratory and. He was the founding CEO of several startup companies based on university research in areas such as nanotechnology and advanced materials. He was the first Entrepreneur in Residence at both the University of Illinois and Northern Illinois University. Earlier he held engineering, sales and business development positions at IBM and Microsoft. His other startups include a toy company and a barbecue sauce company.

He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from The University of Chicago. Named a 2007 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, he twice attended their annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Recognized for Outstanding Entrepreneurship by the National Science Foundation. Twice an invited witness on tech transfer for the U.S. House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Research & Science Education. Contributor to Forbes.com. Co-author of . He is trained in improvisational acting and is a graduate of the Player’s Workshop at The Second City in Chicago. www.linkedin.com/in/neilkane

Check out Neil’s book : The Innovator’s Secret Formula

Ken Seneff

Co-Founder & COO

Lean Rocket Lab

Ken has a passion for growth. Throughout his journey as an entrepreneur, he has had some pretty cool successes and fantastic failures. In the process, he’s learned a lot about the lean startup method and he’s passionate about helping other companies and startups through the lean startup methodology.

Ken is the co-founder of, and currently operate the Lean Rocket Lab – a nonprofit co-working space, startup incubator, and business accelerator in downtown Jackson, MI. Additionally, he is a partner at the Lean Rocket Group – we provide outsourced CMO and marketing department services.

He lives in the greater Jackson, MI area with his wife and three kids. When not at work, he enjoys woodworking, biking, and golf.

Paul Riser Jr.

Managing Director, Technology-Based Entrepreneurship

TechTown Detroit

Paul Riser, Jr. serves as the inaugural Director of Detroit Urban Solutions at TechTown Detroit. This role entails leading a technology innovation consortium dedicated to advancing the growth of Detroit’s technology ecosystem and supporting the development of solutions to challenges that face Detroit and other urban areas. The core areas of focus are mobility, digital health, civic and smart city technologies. Prior to taking on the role as Director of Detroit Urban Solutions, Paul was the Managing Director of Technology-Based Entrepreneurship at TechTown Detroit where he guided the design, execution and management of the nonprofit’s technology programming for early stage companies. This included support for tech startups in the form of business acceleration, proof of concept, university and health care system commercialization and incubation services.

Riser is an entrepreneur, chief technologist, information officer and systems engineer with more than 20 years of professional experience working with start-up firms to global enterprises in the areas of IT systems administration, systems architecture, technology integration, technical pre-sales support and medical device development.

Prior to joining TechTown, Riser served as chief technology and information officer for Innovative Health Technologies, a Detroit biotech startup developing health care solutions in the form of regenerative, biomimetic medical devices. Riser is also the CEO of the Riser Group, a Northville-based IT and business development consulting firm.

In addition, Riser is a founding member of the MedHealth Innovation Cluster and Board Member of the New Detroit Coalition, Motown Museum, LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow), Together.health Steering Committee Member, Cranbrook Institute of Science, International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), Gener8tor Accelerator (Madison, WI), WEtech Alliance (Windsor, Ontario) and the National Advisory Board for University of Michigan’s Fast Forward Medical Innovations (FFMI).

Top 10 Guide Posts for Startups

2:30 – 3:00pm

If you’re a startup, an entrepreneur, or an intrapreneur in a big company, this is the best time to be YOU! The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on our economy, yes. However, we’re seeing a really exciting need and already an explosion of startups and entrepreneurs across industries in this time. Their ideas and products are the new currency for change and pivoting in this crisis. Startups have the agility and fresh perspective to react in the changing economic and social landscape in ways that few others do. Larger companies who are having to pivot, try new things, and invest in the new areas are looking at startups and entrepreneurs as their “new hope” in many cases. Sundberg-Ferar is seeing this crisis only accelerate the role of startups in the flow of our economy.

Here are our Top 10 Guideposts to maximize your edge and make your startup business survive and thrive post-COVID19!

Panel : Startups Making it BIG

3:00 – 4:30pm

Sanjay Gupta

Sanjay drives BioVigil’s overall strategy and growth. He has over 20 years of leadership experience in both developed and emerging markets with passion for driving profitable growth and building high-performing teams. Sanjay has extensive experience in General Management, Marketing, Sales, Operations and New Business Development. Beforejoining BioVigil, Sanjay was the CEO of a MedTech startup in Bay area. Prior, Sanjay spent over 17 years at Johnson & Johnson in global leadership roles. He was the President of health technology business for Johnson & Johnson where he led the health & wellness business covering over 34MM lives focused on delivering healthcare outcomes. Sanjay holds a MBA in Marketing and a MS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Florida.

Gary Dannar

Founder & CEO


Starting with early patents for rough terrain forklifts in the 1970’s, Gary Dannar’s career has continuously centered on innovation and new product development. His corporate responsibilities spanned North America and across Europe and Asia, in leadership roles for several corporations, including Ford Motor Co., The General, New Holland, and Alamo Group.

Today, Gary is an established leader and industry innovator thru his two privately held heavy equipment companies, Little Roadside Management, LLC, and DD DANNAR, LLC. With DANNAR, Gary has looked to the future and clearly identified the need for a new product category in the heavy-duty non-road and off-road equipment sector, a product that meets strict new ZEV emissions standards with increased productivity and utilization. Highly configurable for everyday use in multiple applications, DANNAR’s Mobile Power Station® is a strong departure from our diesel fueled past, and benchmarks a new category of clean, electric work vehicles.

Residing in Muncie, Indiana, Gary is married with two daughters. He is a private pilot, active in the outdoors, and participates in marathons, triathlons, and biking events.

Check out DANNAR on YouTube  •   Build your DANNAR video

Shorya Awtar

Founder, Board Director & Chief Scientific Officer


Shorya Awtar, Sc.D., is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, and the Technical Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of FlexDex Surgical. His technical interests include mechanical design, human-centric design, mechatronics, and robotics. He has developed affordable medical devices for minimally invasive surgery, precision motion stages for semiconductor metrology, motion sickness mitigation solutions for autonomous vehicles, and micro-electromechanical systems. Prior to joining UofM, Shorya worked at the General Electric Global Research Center. He earned his engineering degrees from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Shorya has started two companies, FlexDex Surgical and HIPERNAP, to commercialize the technologies developed in his research lab with more in the pipeline. He has published more than 70 peer-reviewed conferences and journal articles and has three-dozen inventions that are either patented or patent-pending. He has received the Leonardo daVinci Award and Thomas A. Edison Patent Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award from Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the General Motors Young Investigator Award, and multiple R&D100 Awards for his research and innovations. He teaches courses for students and industry engineers in precision mechanical design and mechatronics.

Cocktails : Live Cocktail Mixing Demonstration & Tips

4:30 – 5:00pm

David Byron

Manager, Innovation Strategy & Design

Sundberg Ferar

David Byron, is a passionate innovator of creative cocktails as well as our fearless Manager of Design & Innovation Strategy here at SF. David has led the SF team and many others in tutorials on the tools and techniques of creative cocktail-making. He is also a winner of the SF Happy Hour Cocktail Making Competition.

David’s passion for design and cars led him to the Motor City where he graduated from CCS in Transportation Design. He spent his early career at GM and ASC before becoming Lead Designer at Saleen where he penned the 2008 S5S Raptor supercar and 2010 Saleen S281. David then jumped from sports cars to sports equipment when he joined New Balance’s hockey and lacrosse brand, Warrior, where he lead the helmet design team. David has a strong ability to edit, communicate and execute concepts that connect on an emotional level while delivering real world solutions. His diverse background provides a wide perspective when tackling the vast array of design challenges experienced at Sundberg-Ferar. He stays active in the art community teaching design courses at CCS and has judged multiple times at the National Fine Arts Festival.