March 2015

Membership Calls Begin Monday, April 13, 1-2 pm

Sandra Cochrane

Join Us!

The MBIA is launching a new program designed to connect members in a peer-to-peer sharing activity.  Dubbed “Membership Calls,” these periodic scheduled phone calls will unite interested members from across the state to discuss common topics of interest.  The first membership call will be on APRIL 13 from 1:00-2:00 PM.  The topic of discussion will center on how MBIA can offer more value to its members. So, members, we need you on the call.  Call in to share your expectations of MBIA as well as your wish list of what else MBIA could do to aid you as an entrepreneurial support person, as a facility manager, as a client advocate, as an economic developer.  We know our members wear many different hats every day.  Tell us what we can do to help you do your job better and more efficiently.  We’ll have a couple special guests on this first member call: Ed White (President), Rick Roeser (Vice-President), and Thalia Mendez (Past President) from the Wisconsin Business Incubation Association ( Thalia is also a former NBIA board member and administered the WBIA training programs under the EDA grant. Ed and Rick will share details on the Wisconsin program as a way to help the MBIA focus on value creating benefits for its members.  Please join us.  MBIA is your association.  Let us hear your voice!

DATE: Monday, April 13, 2015

TIME: 1:00 – 2:00 PM (Eastern Time)

CALL-IN NUMBER: 1-800-360-1000

PASS CODE: 788824#

Central Michigan University Research Corporation Board of Directors Announces the 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year

MOUNT PLEASANT, Michigan, March 24, 2015- Lance and Lisa Ferden, co-founders of Integrated Database Systems, Inc. have been selected by the Central Michigan University Research Corporation Board of Directors as the 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year.

“The Ferdens stood out to the board based on their commitment to the community, their company’s growth, and job creation,” said CMU President George E. Ross, who also chairs the CMURC board.  “It is individuals like them that take the risks necessary for success in today’s economy.”

Candidates are assessed on recent financial performance, job creation and retention, and must also demonstrate core values consistent with CMURC and stakeholders. Those include integrity, respect, compassion, inclusiveness, social responsibility, excellence, and innovation, commitment to the community, strategic direction and company leadership.

“Through the Ferdens exceptional vision and leadership, they continue to evolve and have developed an international presence,” said President and CEO of CMURC Erin O’Brien.  “Supporting over 3,500 users globally their headquarters could be anywhere, yet they remain right here in the Great Lakes Bay Region.”

Lisa and Lance will be honored at the Central Michigan University College of Business Administration’s New Venture Competition awards dinner on March 27 at McGuirk Arena

Founded in 2002, Integrated Database Systems, Inc. (IDS) now focuses exclusively on the homecare market via the software as a service application Generations Homecare System. This tech-savvy and user-friendly system allows agencies to respond quickly to the needs of their clients 24-hours a day. IDS remains compliant with federal and state privacy laws while storing data for more than 1,000,000 individuals. Generations evolves by listening carefully to client suggestions, and monitoring both regulatory changes and technological advancements.

For more information visit


CMURC is a nonprofit business incubator focused on advancing economic development in the community by leveraging the resources of Central Michigan University, the Mount Pleasant SmartZone, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s 21st Century Jobs Trust Fund.  Local, regional and statewide partners assist to accelerate the success of entrepreneurs, growing businesses and jobs.  CMURC is a single source of contact providing physical space and essential business services.  CMURC encourages interaction and partnerships, which accelerates emerging organizations to develop their ideas and bring them to market quickly.

For more information visit, or to schedule an interview contact Elissa Richmond at 989-774-2424 or

Votes Due by March 31 on MBIA By-Laws Changes

Please check your email for a link to vote! We need your input. Thank you!

Forbes Reinventing America - The Workplace Summit

Special Invitation to RSVP

Forbes Reinventing America: The Workforce Summit
 on May 4-5, 2015 at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit

Join us as Forbes convenes a first-of-its-kind congress with leaders from business, education and government to tackle the critical issues facing America’s workforce. 
onfirmed speakers include:
Governor Rick Snyder
Felicia Fields of Ford
Lou Anna Simon of Michigan State University
Mark Kvamme of Drive Capital
Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans

Participate in this important dialogue!

  Please respond by clicking Register Now.
Special Entrepreneur Rate available to MBIA Members & Associates.  
Please enter promo code:  MBIA2015

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For additional information please visit our summit website.

EVERYBODY’S GONNA WANNA BUY MY…. - Book Review of Value Proposition Design

Sandra Cochrane

Contrary to popular belief among many entrepreneurs, not every product or service is valuable to every customer. Figuring out what different customers want and then providing a solution that addresses those needs is really hard to do. When an entrepreneur can provide a product or service that customers actually want, the value proposition is clear. Failure to develop a clear value proposition can result in a lot of time and money being spent on developing a product or service that never quite addresses a customer’s wants; in other words, a failure.

The new book Value Proposition Design was created to help entrepreneurs avoid failure due to lack of a clear, compelling value proposition. Alex Ostewalder, co-author of the wildly popular book Business Model Generation, has done it again. In October of 2014, his new book Value Proposition Design (VPD) hit the market, and it is a fabulous follow-up to Business Model Generation (BMG). Like BMG, VPD is a tool-based book full of practical ideas and useful worksheets that aid in the development of a robust value proposition. Here are some of the highlights. 

Designed to be used in tandem with BMG, VPD focuses on two critical aspects of any business model canvas: the customer segments and the value propositions. VPD helps hone in on the precise value proposition for each customer segment and uses the customer discovery process, so critical in the business model canvas process, to accomplish it. The book points out early on that it is useful for people working with startups as well as for people working in established organizations.  

The book is physically laid out in 4 sections: Canvas, Design, Test, and Evolve. The Canvas section provides an overview of the concepts behind the value proposition canvas: a customer profile and a value map. A customer profile in a visual representation of the customer jobs (things customers are trying to get done), the customer pains (things that annoy customers before, during, or after trying to complete jobs), and the customer gains (outcomes and benefits customers want).  

The book provides examples as well as detailed activities for how to determine and prioritize this information.  The value map is also broken down into three sections: 
the products/services (what will be offered to customers), the pain relievers (how the product offerings solve customer problems), and gain creators (how the product offerings provide customer benefits). Again, there are examples and step-by-step instructions for how to create a value map.The last part of this section covers something called “fit,” the strong match between the content of the value map and the information on the customer profile. It is critical that the value map actually addresses the issues on the customer profile.  A poor fit will result in a weak value proposition.  

The Design section of the book focuses on how to prepare prototypes, or rough models of the business concept. Prototypes don’t have to be detailed or even physically created. In fact, the starting point is the “napkin sketch.” This section goes beyond just creating the prototype that you envision, however; it utilizes the customer discovery process to refine and develop prototypes from the numerous early rough napkin sketches to a small number of viable options to be tested. In this section the business model canvas is revisited to make sure there is a strong fit between the business model and the value proposition. After all, a fabulous value proposition that provides enormous value to the customer is useless if the business model cannot generate revenue in excess of costs. This section of the book walks through the iterative process of tweaking the value proposition and the business model until they align.  

The third section of the book discusses how to reduce risk through testing of the value proposition. This section explains what to test as well as how to test. It includes a very useful “experiment library” as well as many worksheets that can be downloaded and used to keep track of test information. While this section seems to cover the least amount of material, it is one of the most helpful in terms of resources, examples, and tools. The last section is titled Evolve and it explains how to use the value proposition design and the business model canvas together to create alignment and move a business forward. The concepts of measure and monitor are described, and the challenge to constantly innovate and reinvent.  

There are so many things to like about this book! It is easy to read with straightforward language, lots of visuals, and engaging language. I appreciated the vast amount of practical activities and worksheets that I could use with my clients—small business owners struggling to develop strong value propositions and business models.  One cool things is that owning the book allows access to restricted parts of the Strategyzer website.  Access to those areas is gained by answering questions that can only be answered with the book in front of you (like “What is the Trendsetter example on page 90?”). Once inside the site, however, you are able to download worksheets, complete exercises from the book, take tests on book content, and obtain posters.

I can’t think of anything I did not like about this book. Seriously. This book is now going on my recommended reading list for all startup companies, right alongside Business Model Generation and The Startup Owner’s Manual. Anyone who is struggling to create a viable business based on a strong business model and a compelling value proposition should read this book.
MBIA Template 1 - March 2015