8th Annual Kellogg Alumni Entrepreneur Conference
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
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Is the Business Plan Dead?

For years, the traditional thirty page business plan has been the core fundraising document for startup businesses of every ilk. Whether you were starting a technology company, franchise, or a laundromat, traditional fundraising wisdom has generally included spending two to four months meticulously researching and writing a comprehensive business plan that fully discusses every key component of a new business.

In today's fast-moving market, dominated by Web 2.0 businesses and investors with short attention spans, is the business plan still a relevant document for entrepreneurs? Do investors still expect entrepreneurs to produce fully-developed business plan documents or has the business plan evolved into an operating document for the entrepreneur? Should you spend the time writing a business plan document for your next venture? What are the best practices in today's fundraising environment?

Hear experienced investors and entrepreneurs debate the merits of the business plan and the role it plays in fundraising for a new venture


Derrick Collins, Lecturer of Entrepreneurship, Kellogg School of Management


  • Maura O'Hara '96, Executive Director, Illinois Venture Capital Association
  • Alexander Ooms '97, Managing Partner, ClearCreek Partners
  • Mil Ovan '82, CEO, NextGen Solar
  • David Ronick, Co-Founder, Upstart Bootcamp


Maura O'Hara '96
Executive Director
Illinois Venture Capital Association (IVCA)

Maura O’Hara has been Executive Director at the Illinois Venture Capital Association (IVCA) since January, 2004.

The IVCA is a 130 member-firm trade association that represents the interests of the venture capital and private equity community with over 500 individual members. IVCA members collectively invest $100 billion in assets under management. IVCA works to promote the venture capital/private equity industry in Illinois by encouraging institutional investments in Midwest based venture capital and private equity firms, supporting deal flow for Midwest based venture capital and private equity firms, creating opportunities for early-stage equity investors to interact with growing companies, advocating a pro-investment climate in Illinois.

Maura has 25 years’ marketing, strategy and consulting experience and has worked in diverse industries including: retail, home services, consumer packaged goods and professional services. Immediately prior to joining the IVCA, Maura had an eight year career with Sears, Roebuck and Co holding positions in Corporate Strategy, Marketing and Customer Relationship Management. When she left Sears in 2002 Maura was Vice President of Customer Strategies and Consumer Research. Maura has operational planning experience working at Helene Curtis’ manufacturing facility in Chicago for four years. Maura also has five years experience in mergers and acquisitions at Stevenson & Company representing both buyers and sellers in the sale of closely-held companies.

Maura has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Illinois – Urbana and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Maura serves on the board of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and on Mayor Daley’s Council of Technology Advisors. Maura and her husband live in Oak Park, Illinois with their 2 children.


Alexander Ooms '97
Managing Partner
ClearCreek Partners

Alexander Ooms is a Managing Partner at ClearCreek Partners. ClearCreek is a financial advisory firm that works with entrepreneurs and CEO's of private companies on capital raises and strategic transactions ranging from $3 to $30 million. Its clients range from pre-revenue companies looking for their first institutional investor, to later-stage firms with significant cash flow. My firm has advised on over 40 transactions with total capital raised in excess of $350M. .

Alex has 15+ years of advisory and transactional expertise including numerous capital raises and sell-side M&A assignments. He also has entrepreneurial experience as a company founder and with a venture-backed technology start-up.

He has a B.A. from Vassar College, a M.A. from Georgetown University, an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and FINRA Series 7, 63, and 79 licenses.


Mil Ovan '82
NextGen Solar

Mil Ovan is a senior executive with over 25 years of experience focused on bringing discontinuous world-changing new technologies to global marketplaces. Mil has built and run start-up companies, and has created new divisions at Fortune 500 companies.

Mil is the CEO of NextGen Solar. NGS is on an entirely different technology platform from both Silicon and CadTel/CIGS photovoltaic technologies, aiming to be the first PV solar cell technology to effectively combine the best elements of Inorganic PV (high efficiency) with Organic PV (low cost non-toxic/earth-abundant materials and manufacturing) into one system.

Mil previously served as SVP/ co-founder of Firefly Energy, a $50M start-up company which developed a next generation battery technology originally incubated at Caterpillar. Prior to Firefly, Mil served as President and Co-founder of Verascape, a $10 million start-up providing voice recognition infrastructure to major enterprises and carriers. Prior to Verascape, Mil was VP of Marketing & Business Development for a broadband-on-demand company called WarpSpeed Communications, a $30 million Bay Area start-up funded by AT&T, 3COM, and New Enterprise Associates. Before WarpSpeed, Mil spent 12 years at Motorola, at the forefront in the creation and/or advancement of new communications categories such as Cellular Systems, Wireless LANs and Wireless PDAs. Just prior to leaving Motorola, he was co-founder and executive director of the Wireless Broadband Systems division.

Mil received an MBA in Marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in International Business from Elmhurst College.


David Ronick
UpStart Bootcamp

David is co-founder of upstartbootcamp.com, an online school that helps first-time founders in any industry start up smarter. UpStart provides on-demand courses, workshops, coaching, digital tools, articles, and books.

David learned the startup ropes as a founder of two companies: BranchOut, an early social network, and BoxTop Media, an out-of-home advertising network. He then helped over 100 entrepreneurs plan and launch new ventures. David is a graduate of Brown University, and of Harvard Business School – where he’s a judge of their annual business plan competition.

David is the author of "Hit the Deck: Create a business plan in half the time, with twice the impact". He also writes columns for Inc.com and BusinessInsider.com.

For more information, please contact the Larry and Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice at levyinstitute@kellogg.northwestern.edu or 847.491.3255
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