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The Branch

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For more info on upcoming
events & programs
visit your community's
new home on



Nov 15
  • Registration Starts
  • Dinner & Networking
  • Welcome & Speakers
  • Pitches Start
  • Attendees vote for the top ideas
  • Teams start forming and discussing ideas
  • Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend


Nov 16
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Do some work and get customer validation!
  • Lunch & Coaches
  • Call for needs & skills
  • Dinner
  • Mid weekend check-in, status reports, call for help
  • Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow


Nov 17
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Practice pitch - practice, practice, practice.
  • Lunch
  • Gut check. Start prepping for presentations
  • Judging & awards
  • Wrapup
  • Go home!

Amish Shah

President/CEO Kem Krest

Amish Shah has 15 years of experience in Executive management and business development both domestically and internationally. His efforts have proven consecutive double-digit growth by developing new products and services and implementing technologies to drive operations excellence. His achievements have been noted through Supplier Awards at General Motors, the State of Indiana Business Excellence Awards, Indiana Companies to Watch 2011, Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies 2011, 2012 and was awarded top 40 under 40 business leaders in the Michiana Area in 2011.

Amish has held many positions with Accra Pac Group (a former family business)


Jacob Schpok

Director, ISDBC

Jacob Schpok is the Director of the ISBDC, Indiana’s premier business consulting organization. Funded by public and private organizations with an interest in developing the Indiana economy, the ISBDC provides no-cost consulting to entrepreneurs growing businesses in our state. Last year, the ISBDC helped clients raise $54 million in new capital and create over 2,000 new jobs.

Prior to becoming Director, Jacob worked for the ISBDC in a number of roles, co-founded two businesses, earned an entrepreneurship and small business management degree from Ball State University's entrepreneurship program, and spent his youth in South Bend Indiana cutting his teeth working for a family business.

George Spohrer

Executive Director, EnFocus

George is an active community volunteer in the Michiana region, working with local economic development entities as well as the Innovation Park at Notre Dame to improve a startup’s chances of success and improve their connections with the local business community. He has been the (volunteer) interim executive director of enFocus since January 2013.

George retired from Crowe Horwath (Crowe Chizek) in South Bend, where he spent his entire professional career in management and systems consulting. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1978 and 1980 with degrees in Mechanical Engineering.

He has more than 30 years of professional consulting experience, with extensive experience in manufacturing and distribution systems. He was an early adopter of bar code technology and a leader in scanning and business process integration. He oversaw Crowe’s subsequent expansion into business partner integration initially via EDI and later via XML. He has significant large scale systems implementation, integration, business process management and change management experience.

Kerry Oslund

Schurz Communications   |   LinkedIn

After its CEO, Kerry is the primary digital spokesperson for the company, advocating Schurz Communication aspirations both internally and externally. In 2011, Kerry became a voting member of the Board’s Acquisition Committee. He has held positions with numerous media, radio, television, and new media companies. Full bio can be viewed here:

Kelly Schwedland

Elevate Ventures   |   LinkedIn

Kelly Schwedland is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Elevate Ventures. His responsibilities include mentoring portfolio company leadership, and sourcing and evaluating new investment opportunities in Northern Indiana.

He is a senior executive, certified consultant and serial entrepreneur focused on assisting other entrepreneurs and early-stage companies. Kelly has worked on over 30 Startups, two Angel backed companies, three companies with exits, invested in several startup, was part of an INC 500 company, grown a company to over $200 Million, and on innumerable occasions... failed! His experience has taught him how to recognize good ideas and ... not so good ideas.

Tier 2 Sponsors
Tier 3 Sponsors

Karen Deak

Director, MS in Patent Law,University of Notre Dame   |   LinkedInGoogle+

After earning her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, she spent three years working in the intellectual property group of a law firm, where she was a part of the biotechnology patent practice. She then joined the firm as a patent scientist.
Karen directs a new MS program in patent law attracting people with scientific and engineering backgrounds who wish to practice as patent agents in their fields.

Tony Magaldi

Serial Entrepreneur

Tony is a native of South Bend where he spent 21 years (started at age 5) in his father's business. He graduated from IUSB with a BS in Computer Science and worked at Allied-Signal Aerospace Company as a Computer Systems Analyst before venturing off to start Integrity Consulting & Computers. Tony then integrated his computer skills with painting and started Integrity Painting doing onsite paint matching and graffiti remediation. In 1996 he opened his first Jackson Hewitt tax service franchise and grew that business to over 90 offices in 4 states. Concurrently he started two fireworks companies as well as 5 cell phone companies. His latest venture is opening a Golden Corral in Mishawaka, IN with his wife (Tamara) and business partner (Pam Zahrt). He serves as the National Board President for a state-wide at-risk school (The Crossing) and is a member of the strategic growth board, finance board and coaches the Job Training program management team. He could be officially called "unemployed" or "retired" at the moment as he ramps up to venture into his next business opportunity. Fishing is his true passion…

Robert Ducoffe

Dean and Professor of Marketing, Judd Leighton School of Business and Economics, IU South Bend

Under Dr. Ducoffe’s leadership, the business school has been ranked six consecutive years as a “best business school” by The Princeton Review. Graduates of both the undergraduate and the MBA programs have repeatedly performed better than students from over 90 percent of business schools in the U.S. on Educational Testing Services (ETS) field tests. Dr. Ducoffe has won the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching and his research has appeared in a wide range of publications. Before entering academia, he worked in radio sales and in account management with several Canadian advertising agencies on national and international accounts.

Dan Neumann

Entrepreneur and Business Analyst   |   LinkedIn

Dan Neumann is an Agile Coach and co-owner of The Branch. In his role as Agile Coach, Dan advises companies on ways to capture value by emphasizing people, interactions, customer collaboration, and responding to change. He has trained and consulted with both national and global companies. Dan also speaks and conducts workshops at regional and national conferences. With his wife Debi, Dan started The Branch, a co-working space in downtown South Bend. The Branch supports independent workers, telecommuters, and startup companies by providing both physical infrastructure as well as the community necessary for them to focus on growing their businesses.
In addition to agile coaching and growing The Branch, Dan serves on the Board of Directors for the Agile Leadership Network, the YMCA of Michiana, and is a co-founder of Hack Michiana, a Code for America Brigade. Interests include software development, Lean Startup, and triathlon.

Dr. Robert Williams, Jr.

Assistant Professor, Saint Mary's College   |   LinkedInGoogle+

Dr. Robert L. Williams, Jr., PhD has taught for over 10 years. He is the Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator, and Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative faculty working with the college’s SPARK program. Publications include numerous peer-reviewed articles in journals such as JBM, and JTMI as well as presentations at conferences and workshops.

Previously he spent 20 years in various management roles in Fortune 50/500 companies and was a co-founder of Baltimore’s first gastroCafe (Smedly’s).

Samuel Miller

Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame   |   LinkedInGoogle+

Sam Miller currently teaches at the Mendoza College of Business.
Prior to joining the Mendoza faculty, Sam served as VP of Strategy for JFNew, a leading ecological consulting firm. In this capacity he led innovation and strategic initiatives, helping craft multiple breakthrough strategic business line launches. He has held strategic management roles in fortune 500 companies and has been a successful entrepreneur. In 2009, Sam was recognized by BusinessWeek as one of “21 People Who Will Change Business." He is a member of the Association of Professional Futurists and the World Future Society, is a LEED accredited professional and has been a frequent speaker on sustainable innovation and strategic foresight.

Eric Kanagy

Founder, The Red Post

CEO with a passion for entrepreneurship and good software design. Currently developing a web app that combines aspects of social networking, digital signage, and content management. Focused on simplicity/ease-of-use and overall value.

Specialties:Advanced IT consulting, programming & database design, marketing/branding consulting, graphic design

Tim Braun

Has Found Money for Startups   |   LinkedIn

Tim Braun is a clean tech entrepreneur who has led multiple companies in the renewable energy and water utility verticals

Grant Carlile
Laura Gekeler
Eric Kanagy
Beth Harsch
Jim Spencer
Alysha Liljeqvist
WANTED: Community Organizer
Jennifer Purdy
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