Startup Cafe is an entrepreneur speaking series that shares experiences and wisdom of successful technology entrepreneurs that have a local connection with people working in the Research Park and community. Dr. Michael Philpott is an Associate Professor in the University of Illinois Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering. He conducts research in the areas of micro-miniature systems, design for manufacture and assembly, rapid prototyping and layered manufacturing, computer integrated manufacture (CIM), and robotics and automation. Dr. Philpott is one of the world's foremost authorities in the areas of Design-to-Cost, Design-for-Manufacture, and Design-for-Assembly. He directed the research on process cost modeling and the development of the aPriori software at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1993. He is founder and Chief Scientific Officer of aPriori, whose software and services generate hard-dollar product cost savings for discrete manufacturing organizations. Using aPriori’s real-time product cost assessments, employees in sourcing, manufacturing and design engineering make more-informed decisions that drive costs out of products pre- and post-production. With aPriori, manufacturers launch products at cost targets, maximize savings in re-work projects and never overpay for sourced parts. As a result, aPriori customers significantly reduce product costs and measurably improve overall financial performance. In July 2013, aPriori announced closing an additional $6 million in venture capital funding lead by Sigma Prime. Sigma Partners, a long standing existing investor also participated. The funding announcement follows record revenues and customer acquisition for the most recent fiscal year which ended April 30, 2013. A summary of highlights included: annual revenue growth of 84%, a 62% annual increase in customers, and achieving a customer renewal rate of 90% for the fifth consecutive year.