January 2, 2014 @ 11:07 am

Baird Capital Opens Ann Arbor Office, Sees Michigan as Ripe with Potential

When global investment firm Baird Capital announced in 2013 that it was opening a Michigan office, investors – and entrepreneurs – took notice. Not only is the firm’s Ann Arbor office its first outside of a major metro area, it’s being headed up by David Gregorka, whose entrepreneurial roots grow deep in the state.


Before joining Baird Capital, Gregorka was working on several projects with the Office of Tech Transfer at the University of Michigan. He assumed this position after leaving HealthMedia, a venture-backed company he co-founded in Ann Arbor in 1998 that was acquired in 2008 by Johnson & Johnson.


Being deeply entrenched in Michigan’s entrepreneurial eco-system is a differentiator for Gregorka. “I’ve worked with all seven research universities in the state and most of the ecosystem partners, at the state and local levels, and can bring those relationships to bear in building a network in Michigan for Baird,” Gregorka explained. “Although we chose to locate in Ann Arbor, Baird is excited by what we are seeing across the state.”


Baird Capital’s venture capital team invests in early and growth stage companies in tech enabled services and health care. Since its inception, Baird Capital has invested approximately 50 percent from its three funds in Midwest companies.


“We see a strong pipeline of potential investments in Michigan in both IT and health care,” Gregorka explained. “This strong potential is consistent with Baird Capital’s overall investment strategy. As an organization, we are committed to partnering with leading entrepreneurs and helping them build great companies.”


Those partnerships and relationships are key to what Baird is and does – and was a critical factor in the firm’s decision to open an office in Michigan. Gregorka intends to use his experience and existing relationships to help Baird find the best investment opportunities in the state.


“Being here is a chance to work with entrepreneurs, regardless of whether they’re in Baird Capital’s ‘sweet spot’ for investments,” Gregorka explained. “Being a part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem is something that Baird Capital, as an organization, likes to do. You never know when an entrepreneur or company that isn’t a potential investment today will become a future partner.”


Baird Capital was an early investor in Accuri Cytometers, an Ann Arbor company that had a very successful exit. It is currently invested in Ann Arbor-based Molecular Imaging, a contract research organization that provides services to pharmaceutical companies and conducts small animal imaging studies. The company is on the fast track to success, having just expanded operations to the west coast to run a preclinical imaging center at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine in La Jolla, Calif.


Baird Capital’s investment in Molecular Imaging is part of larger pool that also includes Michigan Venture Capital Association member Beringea. Baird typically syndicates with other investors and hopes to increase the deals it does with other Michigan firms.


“Ultimately, finding and making investments in IT services and health care companies – both early and growth stage – is the primary focus of Baird Capital’s work, including our office here in Michigan,” Gregorka said. “As an organization, the Baird team has been in the trenches as venture capitalists and as entrepreneurs, and we know what it takes to be successful. We see Michigan as a ripe environment for future success.”

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August 8, 2013 @ 8:18 am

Strong B2B Base, Deep Roots in Building Sustainable Businesses: Why Michigan is for RPM Ventures

RPM VenturesRPM Ventures, founded in 2000, is a seed and early stage venture firm with $75 million under management. RPM concentrates its investing in the information technology (IT) space, on companies in specific disciplines.  RPM specifically seeks opportunities in businesses where the firm’s West Coast experience and Midwest roots add strong value: Retail automotive software, industrial and retail enterprise solutions, E‐commerce, online marketplaces, and cloud and social media infrastructure.


RPM co-founders Tony Grover and Marc Weiser both attended University of Michigan, and chose to come back to the state to grow their careers.  Before starting RPM, Grover and Weiser’s experiences included working for Intel and starting three venture-backed IT ventures.


“The story isn’t that we left the excitement of the coast to come back to Michigan, but that we deliberately chose to start RPM here,” said Grover.  “Our presence in Michigan is a strong asset in the sectors where we focus; our portfolio companies can tap into the resources here in the Midwest and use those resources to leap ahead of their competition.”


“Michigan offers the relationships and global connections that few other locations can match,” Grover added.  “We’re home to major automotive manufacturers, Tier 1 automotive suppliers, Whirlpool, and Dow Chemical – to name a few.  Some of these companies are focused on consumer products, some on industrial B2B, but every single one has large international presence and all are using IT to make their business more efficient.  For RPM’s portfolio companies, those factors are enough to make the argument for ‘Why Michigan?”


The quality and type of investment that RPM is able to find in Michigan strengthens that argument. The firm has made a new investment in Michigan every six months for the last 18 months.  RPM led investment rounds in DeepField, Kontextual, and ArborMetrics. All of these recent investments are reflective of Michigan’s ever growing and strengthening entrepreneurial economy.


“DeepField was co-founded by two early Arbor Networks employees and is a great example of a successful local company that spawned entrepreneurs who launched several ground breaking new startups,” explained Grover.  “Kontextual was founded by Kurt Skifstad, a local tech CEO and serial entrepreneur who has a track record of success here and wanted to stay in Michigan. A prominent University of Michigan faculty member founded ArborMetrics, and its seed round was led by Michigan VC firm Arboretum Ventures.  All three of these companies have very exciting stories that center on wanting to grow in Michigan and being able to find the talent and funding to help them do it.”


“When you look at what Michigan has to offer entrepreneurs and venture backed companies, you see that we have a strong B2B base and deep roots in building sustainable businesses.   Those deeps roots are actually changing our present economy.  We’re starting to have more successes here, gaining experience here, and we’re growing the entrepreneurial talent base here,” Grover added.  “Recently, we’ve seen successful exits, like Arbor Networks, HealthMedia and Accuri Cytometers, and increasing VC activity. It hasn’t happened overnight, but it’s happening here now and building the base for continued future entrepreneurial growth.”


Looking forward, Grover is optimistic that this upward trend will continue.  “We’ve spent a decade growing RPM and are confident that the areas where we’ve built our expertise are our future. We’ll keep doing what we do, and we’re excited for how things are changing in the market and in this state.  We’re seeing more capital, talent, and experience accruing in Michigan, and that provides a great outlook for the future.”

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October 24, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

MVCA will celebrate award winners at annual dinner Nov. 7

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA) will recognize several Michigan venture firms, investment professionals, and two venture-backed entrepreneurs for their successes at its annual awards dinner November 7 in Plymouth.  The statewide membership organization will honor:

  • MVCA “100 Award” winner Arboretum Ventures of Ann Arbor, for closing a venture fund over $100 million ($140 million Arboretum Ventures III, L.P., closed in August);
  • Capital Event of the Year, the $250 million Venture Michigan Fund II, with MVCA members Tom Kinnear (U-M Ross School of Business); Kelly Williams (Credit Suisse CFIG); Charlie Rothstein (Beringea); and David Parsigian (Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn);
  • Venture Exit of the Year Accuri Cytometers, for its 2011 sale to Becton Dickinson, with MVCA member venture investors  Arboretum Ventures, Credit Suisse CFIG, Baird Venture Partners, Flagship, and Plymouth Ventures Partners;  and,
  • Jennifer Baird, initial CEO of Accuri Cytometers and current CEO of venture-backed Accio Energy, along with Accuri founder Colin Rich, will be named MVCA Entrepreneurs of the Year.

“The past year has brought some exciting activity to our state’s venture community, namely the launch of several new venture funds and one large venture-backed exit,” said Merrill Guerra, Executive Director of the MVCA.  “The successful exit of Accuri Cytometers is another example of our region’s ability to produce great returns, owing in part to Michigan entrepreneurs’ capital efficiency and prudent management style.  We encourage out-of-state investors to uncover what local venture investors already know—that there is a lot of potential in Michigan companies.”

About the MVCA

The MVCA is a trade organization designed to bring together venture capital industry participants in the state of Michigan.  The organization’s goal is to grow and sustain a vibrant venture capital community in Michigan.  Membership includes private venture capital funds, corporate venture capital funds, private equity firms, angel investors, and entrepreneurial infrastructure participants.  The MVCA is a vehicle to bring together industry participants and to provide a concerted voice for Michigan’s venture capital industry.  www.michiganvca.org

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July 12, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

Member Press Release: Plymouth Venture Partners I Announces its Portfolio Company of the Year: Accuri Cytometers

Mark Horne, Managing Partner of Plymouth Venture Partners I, L.P. has announced that
Plymouth’s Company of the Year is Accuri Cytometers. In making the announcement, Horne
commented: “Accuri essentially created a new market in personal use flow cytometry, and then
demonstrated outstanding execution in designing and building world class products to serve that
market. The results were measured in outstanding shareholders returns.”

During a recent award event, the following key people were recognized:

  • Accuri’s founders: Jennifer Baird, Collin Rich
  • Accuri’s CEO at point of exit: Jeffrey Williams
  • Board Member who represented Plymouth from Accuri’s formation to exit: Walter Young

When asked about the award’s criteria, Mark Horne listed four characteristics:

  • Exceptional leadership
  • Exceptional execution of the Business Plan
  • Exceptional increase in shareholder values
  • Exceptional governance

Plymouth’s Annual Award, named the Coupe de Ville Award, has now been awarded three
times. The Award was inspired by the immortal words of the entrepreneurial rocker Meat Loaf
in his famous ballad “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad”, where he gave the following advice to
venture capitalists:

You’ll never find your gold on a sandy beach
You’ll never drill for oil on a city street
I know you’re looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks
But there ain’t no Coupe deVille hiding at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box

In reviewing numerous business plans Plymouth has certainly seen its share of empty Cracker
Jack boxes, but occasionally PVP does find a Coupe deVille. Each June one PVP Portfolio
Company will receive the Coupe deVille Award in recognition of its outstanding performance.

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April 25, 2011 @ 10:35 am

PRESS RELEASE: With Support of the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium, In-State Investment Activity Is Burgeoning, According to Michigan Venture Capital Association Report

Combined capital under management has grown 206 percent in just five years

Ann Arbor, Mich. – April 12, 2011 – As the state of Michigan—and more generally, the Midwest—continues to transition from its rust belt roots of auto and manufacturing into an innovation economy driven by clean tech, life sciences, and entrepreneurship, the soon-to-be released annual report from the Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA) shows that investors are noticing. The report is being released in advance of the 30th annual Michigan Growth Capital Symposium, which showcases the innovation within the state and the surrounding region to highlight the “Best of the Midwest” companies and bring them together with leading regional and national investors.

According to the MVCA annual report, which will be released to the public the week of April 25, the state’s investment landscape has grown dramatically in the past five years and is at a major inflection point. Since 2006, over $735 million has been invested into over 120 deals, representing a 40 percent growth in the number of investments made and capital invested in Michigan over the first half of the decade. Other highlights from the report include:

  • A 60 percent growth in the number of venture capital firms operating in the state since 2006, with 24 currently in business;
  • Combined capital under management reaching $2.6B—a 206 percent increase since 2006;
  • Nearly 80 venture-backed companies are located in Michigan; and,
  • A 75 percent growth in the number of venture-backed companies in the state in the past five years.

“It has been a record period of growth for venture capital in Michigan, and better yet, we have abundant success stories to support the numbers, like the notable exits of Esperion, HealthMedia, Arbor Networks, HandyLab and Accuri,” said LeAnn Auer, MVCA executive director. “We’ve worked tirelessly to help Michigan-based venture investors develop and succeed, and the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium has marched in lock-step with us to ensure these firms can connect with the high growth potential startups that will lead to successful exits and a bright economic future for the state.”

Year after year, the Symposium, the state’s largest and most highly sought after venture capital event, showcases the most-promising startups emerging from the region and its top-tier research universities. During the past 10 years alone more than 300 companies have presented, including nearly a quarter that were University-based spinouts representing leading research universities within the state of Michigan and the greater Midwest—with over 70 percent of those drawn from members of the State of Michigan’s University Research Corridor, which have gone one to raise $423 million in funding and experience six had successful exits. Of those 300-plus, 71 percent have raised capital totaling $1.7 billion in investment dollars. Further, 20 percent of the companies funded have gone on to realize successful exits.

“The Symposium represents the many people and organizations that work tirelessly to prove to the world that Michigan has what it takes—the research, the investment power and the talented entrepreneurs, among other things—to develop into an innovation hub that could hold its own with the likes of Silicon Valley and Boston,” said Symposium founder David Brophy. “And this year, I can say with confidence that we’ve arrived on the map. It wouldn’t surprise me if the next Accuri or even the next Google were among the forty presenting companies at this year’s event, and it would be a huge win to have a local firm expose them to the world.”

The Michigan Growth Capital Symposium is taking place May 10-11 at the Marriott Resort in Ypsilanti. It is hosted by the Ross School of Business’ Zell Lurie Institute at the University of Michigan with support from the Michigan Venture Capital Association. Visit www.michigangcs.com to register to attend, and follow conversations about the Symposium by tracking #MGCS on Twitter.

About the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS)

MGCS is the original university-based venture fair, which was first held in 1979. This nationally attended two-day event provides an opportunity for financiers to connect with up-and-coming Midwest businesses and learn about emerging technologies. The Symposium offers the opportunity to build relationships with an unparalleled business network of distinguished private equity industry leaders and entrepreneurial business professionals. Entering its 30th year, MGCS continues to draw top investors from coast to coast. MGCS is presented by the Center for Venture Capital & Private Equity Finance at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan with support from the Michigan Venture Capital Association.


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February 10, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

MVCA Venture-Backed Company News: BD Announces Agreement to Acquire Accuri Cytometers

Franklin Lakes, NJ (February 7, 2011) – BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) (NYSE: BDX), a leading global medical technology company, announced today that it signed a definitive agreement to acquire Accuri Cytometers, Inc., an Ann Arbor,  Michigan-based company that develops and manufactures personal flow cytometers for researchers. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close during the third quarter of fiscal year 2011. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Consistent with BD’s acquisition strategy, the acquisition would expand BD’s presence into the emerging affordable personal flow cytometer space. It would also help expand the use of flow technology by researchers in developing regions where ease of use is critical, as well as by researchers in scientific disciplines that have not traditionally used flow cytometry, such as environmental studies.

“Accuri Cytometers’ offering of flow cytometers for a new audience of researchers will complement and broaden BD’s current offerings for life scientists,” said Vincent A. Forlenza, BD President and Chief Operating Officer. “We believe that, once completed, this acquisition will enable BD to further contribute to medical and scientific advances, in line with our corporate purpose of helping all people live healthy lives.”

“Making flow cytometry more accessible to a wider audience of scientists and clinicians is one aspect of our Cell Analysis growth strategy,” said William Rhodes, President, BD Biosciences. “With its small footprint, ease of use and affordable price, the Accuri flow cytometer enables the adoption of flow cytometry by a broad range of researchers whom BD does not currently serve.”

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November 1, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

NEWS RELEASE: Michigan Venture Capital Association celebrated award winners, appoints 2011 Board of Directors at annual dinner Nov. 15

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Celebrating “A Year of Exits”, the Michigan Venture Capital Association held its annual awards dinner for its members and guests November 15 in Ann Arbor.  The statewide membership organization honored several Michigan venture firms as well as venture capital recipient companies for their successes:

  • MVCA “Michigan 100” Award winner Cerenis Therapeutics of Ann Arbor, for raising over $100 million in venture capital;
  • Michigan’s new venture firms: Huron River Ventures, Michigan Accelerator Fund Management, and Resonant Ventures;
  • Multiple venture capital investment exits, both non-Michigan companies with Michigan venture investors and Michigan-based companies:

o   LenSx Lasers (Venture Investors)

o   Greenplum (EDF Ventures)

o   ZyStor (Apjohn Ventures & Venture Investors)

o   CardioMEMS (Arboretum Ventures)

o   Ikano Therapeutics (Apjohn Ventures)

o   Arbor Networks (EDF Ventures)

o   HandyLab (EDF Ventures, Wolverine Venture Fund, Arboretum Ventures, Ardesta Capital, Dow Venture Capital)

Jeff Williams, former CEO of HandyLab and current CEO of venture-backed Accuri Cytometers, was named MVCA Entrepreneur of the Year.


“The wind is in our sails,” stated LeAnn Auer, Executive Director of the MVCA, in her remarks before the dinner.  “It’s been a year of exits, as many of our venture capital firms have successfully exited portfolio companies located both here in Michigan and elsewhere.  In addition, venture capital financings have already exceeded 2009 levels.  These successes bode well for future growth in our community.  I’m looking forward to this year’s celebration.”

The Michigan Venture Capital Association will also announce its 2011 Board of Directors:

  • Ron Reed (Chairman), Managing Director, Seneca Partners
  • Tom Kinnear (Vice-Chairman/Treasurer), Managing Director, Zell Lurie Institute at U-M Ross School of Business
  • Tim Petersen (Vice Chairman/Chairman-Elect), Managing Director, Arboretum Ventures
  • Uzma Ahmad (Board Secretary), Attorney, Dykema Gossett PLLC
  • Jim Adox, Managing Director, Venture Investors
  • Jeff Bocan, Managing Director, Beringea
  • Hugo Braun, Co-Founder, North Coast Technology Investors
  • Greg Main, President & CEO, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
  • John McIlwraith, Managing Director, Allos Ventures
  • Chris Rizik, CEO & Fund Manager, Renaissance Venture Capital Fund
  • Skip Simms, Managing Director, Ann Arbor SPARK
  • Mina Sooch Partner, Triathlon Medical Ventures; Managing Director, Apjohn Ventures
  • Jody Vanderwel, President, Grand Angels
  • Ken Van Heel, Director, Alternative Investments & Venture Capital, Dow Chemical Company
  • Donald Walker, Managing Director, Arbor Partners

About the MVCA

The MVCA is a trade organization designed to bring together venture capital industry participants in the state of Michigan.  The organization’s goal is to grow and sustain a vibrant venture capital community in Michigan.  Membership includes private venture capital funds, corporate venture capital funds, private equity firms, angel investors, and entrepreneurial infrastructure participants.  The MVCA is a vehicle to bring together industry participants and to provide a concerted voice for Michigan’s venture capital industry.  www.michiganvca.org

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The MVCA is a non-profit trade organization designed to bring together venture capital industry participants in the state of Michigan. The organization's goal is to grow and sustain a vibrant venture capital community in Michigan.
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