March 20, 2014 @ 11:43 pm

Invest Michigan Looks to Create Sustainable Fund for Michigan Entrepreneurs

Charlie Moret has been in the world of startup financing for a long time, but it’s been quite a while since he’s been as excited as he is to take the helm of the soon-to-be-launched Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0.  Invest Michigan will be the Fund manager and, is set to take advantage of Michigan’s unique entrepreneurial ecosystem, and show that sustainability is the path forward to the state’s vibrant future.

 

“Michigan is incredibly active in terms of entrepreneurship,” explained Moret of taking the head job at Invest Michigan. “Doing this in Michigan is an exciting opportunity and I look forward to being a partner with the state’s investor groups.. Working with entrepreneurs and assisting them is a chance to be part of Michigan’s future.”

 

Moret, who was previously with TechTown Detroit, is working now on getting Invest Michigan ready for business. The fund plans to officially launch on May 31.

 

With Invest Michigan, Moret hopes to take the lessons learned running TechTown’s entrepreneurial programs and a similar venture fund in Connecticut, and blend  Ann Arbor SPARK’s experience with the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund to create a sustainable fund over time.

 

“The Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0 needs to become a revolving capital fund,” Moret explained. “It’s important that we create a sustainable fund so that we can continue to be a viable source of capital for start-ups.”

 

As with the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, Invest Michigan will target startups in AgTech, advanced manufacturing, homeland defense, alternative energy, IT and life sciences.

 

The Fund, as its predecessor did, will also engage with all of Michigan’s 15 SmartZones.  “The SmartZones are important partners as well as the state’s investment funds and the SBDC,” Moret explained. “Bottom line: We want to make sure companies get support that reduces time to market, and that usually comes best from the combination of SmartZones, co-investors and the SBDC working together.”

 

Invest Michigan will have monthly conference calls with the  SmartZones and will hold monthly  office hours so clients can engage with the Fund before applying for financing.

 

“Two things that attracted me to Michigan was the strong supportive ecosystem that exists and the momentum,” he added. “Everyone talks about California or Boston or Colorado, but the reality is that Michigan offers startups stronger support. A key advantage to being in Michigan is that an entrepreneur can access more resources and faster than in other states.”

 

Looking forward, Moret sees as a tipping point in Michigan’s technology based economy.

 

“The work that has occurred here over years, and the number of investment funds that are now operating here – well we’ve hit the tipping point,” he said. “Michigan has momentum and all the right tools. It’s a great time to be here, and a great opportunity to be part of something bigger.”

 

For information on funding opportunities available through Invest Michigan, stay tuned and visit www.investmichigan.org at the end of May.

Filed under Featured Member, MEMBER NEWS, news, newsfeature · No Comments »

February 17, 2014 @ 9:21 am

Michigan eLab Invests in Michigan Startups

A perfect storm of talent, ecosystem and history all contributed to Michigan eLab choosing to invest in startups in the state, but it’s a storm that was brewing for some time. Not only did Michigan’s heritage of innovation and engineering compel the founders to choose Michigan, almost all of the founding partners have roots here… and an abiding respect for the tech wizardry that’s emerged from the state.

 

“It’s hard to not be amazed by all of the tech giants that came from Michigan,” Michigan eLab founding partner Doug Neal explained. “Google, iPod, Nest, Twitter, Microsoft, Sun – the amazing talent behind those disruptive companies all came from Michigan. There’s just something about Michigan, whether it be talent or the network of support here or a culture of creating and building things, that make it a natural hub for disruptive technologies and talented entrepreneurs.”

 

Neal, who moved to California after college and soaked up the startup lifestyle, wanted to raise his family in Michigan after selling the startup he founded. And, as much as he wanted to give his family the ideal life, he wanted to give back to the state he’d called home for most of his life.

 

“While in California, experiencing the startup culture and launching my own venture backed tech company, I learned the importance of ecosystem and the power of a strong network,” he explained. “Michigan eLab was founded to bridge the talent, capital and customers from Silicon Valley to Michigan and invest in the next generation of technology startups that exist here.  Most non-Michigan venture funds that come to Michigan do so as part of a broader geographic independent strategy.  Michigan eLab is laser focused on bridging only two locations:  Silicon Valley and  Michigan.”

 

“Michigan is an underserved market, and so many investors continue to fly over our state and they’re missing tremendous opportunities,” Neal added. “We have a passion for that early, messy stage of a startup where there’s tremendous opportunity and where being able to bring the talent, capital and customers together can have tremendous impact.”

 

The firm is focused squarely on those high impact opportunities, specifically in digital health care, big data, mobile and technology that connects the physical world to the Internet, such as wearables, automotive technology and embedded sensors. Its first investment, in the startup Fonemine, reflects its vision for the type of startup that can thrive in the Michigan ecosystem.

 

“Fonemine highlights multiple aspects of the Michigan eLab approach,” Neal explained. “The company is headquartered in Silicon Valley, but we convinced them to open a design center here to tap in to engineering talent in Michigan. We were also able to connect someone from the eLab coaching network – in this instance, David Sergura, founder and CEO of VisionIT – to help the startup move forward. David is an amazing and very successful Michigan entrepreneur who brought expertise in enterprise sales and a large existing customer base to Fonemine. It’s a great example of how Michigan eLab’s network, and the network of expertise in this state, can accelerate the growth of a company we invest in.”

 

Although Michigan eLab just launched a year ago, it completed its first closing last fall. It’s wrapping up the fund raising on Fund I this year, and looking at other exciting investment opportunities.

 

“There are a lot of things that have me geeked for the coming year,” Neal said. “The significant interest from first time venture capital investors to be part of Michigan eLab Fund I is exciting and we’re seeing a growth in disruptive technology companies coming out of the ecosystem in Michigan. From low-powered sensor technology to cloud and virtualization technology.”

 

“It’s the technology that solves really big problems that gets everyone excited, generates interest and delivers outsized returns,” he added. “Michigan eLab is committed to finding, funding and nurturing those startups and we are looking for entrepreneurs that want to change the world!”

Filed under Featured Member, MEMBER NEWS, news, newsfeature · No Comments »

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.”

Filed under Featured Member, MEMBER NEWS, news, newsfeature · No Comments »

November 26, 2013 @ 1:33 am

Jim Adox and Venture Investors Charge Full Steam Ahead

Jim Adox and Venture Investors are charging full steam ahead in a challenging economy, and in doing so, are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible here in Michigan. Dreaming big – including the potential for a new, state-sponsored fund of funds – and being willing to work for it are setting Adox and his firm apart, and positioning them for leadership.

 

Adox joined Venture Investors in 2007 as a managing director and heads up its Ann Arbor office. Venture Investors, founded in 1982, is one of the leading venture capital firms in the Midwest.  It’s focused on making seed and early stage healthcare and technology investments.  With offices in Madison, Wisconsin and Ann Arbor, Venture Investors is strategically located in the backyards of the nation’s two leading public research universities. The firm is currently investing out of its fifth fund and has more than $200 million under management.

 

Venture Investors recently made three exciting investments, UpTo, Reshape Medical and NetSocket.  UpTo, a social calendar app that’s generating a ton of buzz, is the firm’s first investment in Detroit, and one that it made in collaboration with Detroit Venture Partners. ReShape Medical is a nonsurgical weight loss company headquartered in Southern California, and NetSocket is a Plano, Texas company focused on software-defined networking solutions (SDN).

 

Although Venture Investors’ recent deals are diverse having just closed its fifth fund has Adox and his team particularly bullish about Michigan’s future. “It’s a really challenging environment to close funds, and we’re pleased we were able to accomplish it,” he said. “Michigan offers some unique resources, such as the Venture Michigan Fund, that make choosing to raise VC and make investments here appealing. There are a lot more VCs to do deals with and more experienced entrepreneurs, and Venture Investors has a new fund and money to invest. I’m looking forward to making a few more Michigan investments in the next year.”

 

Adox came to Michigan from the east coast, despite never having heard of Ann Arbor before choosing University of Michigan’s engineering school. “My familiarity with Ann Arbor was tied to Bob Seger’s song about Ann Arbor,  ‘Main Street’,” he said. “Once I got here, though, I didn’t leave. After graduation, I became a gear head in automotive world through an executive engineering program at Chrysler.  I left that position and returned to U-M, where I earned my MBA.”

 

He left U-M with more than an MBA, though. It was during his MBA program when he was introduced to VC through professors David Brophy, director of the Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance, Andy Lawlor, Lecturer of Entrepreneurship and Strategy and Director, Global MBA Projects, and Tom Kinnear, the Eugene Applebaum Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies.  Adox maintains these transformative relationships today.

 

Adox, who was recently elected chair of the Michigan Venture Capital Association, sees assets like the Venture Michigan Fund, a fund of funds managed by Credit Suisse, as critical to the state’s future success. He also sees the state’s burgeoning entrepreneurial network as a strong indicator of future success.

 

“The more I’ve gotten involved with MVCA, the more I’ve seen that there’s an opportunity to improve Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Adox explained. “I want to play a role in that. I’ve been here 15 years and have a good idea of where we’ve been and where we can go. I want to do my part to improve the opportunities for everyone – entrepreneurs and VCs alike.”

 

Filed under Featured Member, MEMBER NEWS, news, newsfeature · No Comments »

October 24, 2013 @ 10:28 pm

Outgoing MVCA Chair Tim Petersen: VC in Michigan Bucking National Trend, Inspiring Startup Culture in State

Tim Petersen sees VC as the spotlight that’s making Michigan shine bright in the national landscape.

 

“Venture capitalists in Michigan continue to grow in an environment where, in other parts of the country, the industry is contracting,” said a Managing Director of Arboretum Ventures and the outgoing chair of the Michigan Venture Capital Association. “Nationally, statistics are down, but in Michigan, we’ve accelerated venture under management and are getting more deals done compared to most of the rest of the country. What’s exciting is that people – entrepreneurs and other VCs – are taking notice of what’s happening here.”

 

Now on its third fund, Petersen and his partners have led Arboretum Ventures to incredible success. The organization is a prime example of what’s exciting about Michigan’s VC community right now.

 

“Arboretum’s core portfolio companies in the third fund, including Tangent Medical Devices, ArborMetrix and NeuMoDx, are looking very promising,” said Petersen, “and they’re all based in Michigan. We don’t just invest in Michigan, but the Michigan companies are really exciting.”

 

“In the past year, one of our companies, Esperion Therapeutics, went public,” Petersen added. “Two years ago we helped found ArborMetrix and it has outgrown its start-up space and now has prime office space in downtown Ann Arbor.”

 

In addition to his work at Arboretum, Petersen has served as the chair of the Michigan Venture Capital Association for the last two years. He’s quick to point to the organization’s greatest accomplishment: Bringing up the next generation of venture capitalists and keeping the industry ahead of the national curve.

 

“The launch of the Michigan Venture Capital Association Venture Fellows Program has been very exciting,” Petersen said. “It has struck a chord with our VC members, and they’re readily utilizing the program. We weren’t sure what to expect when we launched it with MEDC support less than two years ago, and it’s exciting that it has really taken off. Having spent time with the fellows, it’s easy to see that there’s a desire to be in this profession, in Michigan.”

 

To Petersen, Michigan’s future only looks brighter when considering what’s yet to come. He’s particularly inspired by the growing ranks of serial entrepreneurs in Michigan, and the potential for that trend going forward.  “In recent years, there have been more and more entrepreneurs that are exiting and then starting a new venture,” he said.  “When I talk to students about being an entrepreneur, I always say it’s a profession – it’s a lifelong gig. The good news is that experience makes it easier to grow a successful company, which is why serial entrepreneurs are so important.”

 

Filed under MEMBER NEWS, news, newsfeature · No Comments »

October 5, 2013 @ 8:50 am

Tetra Discovery Partners Reaches New $1 Million Strategic Funding Milestone with Grand Angels-Led Investment

Latest Financing to Accelerate Development of Alzheimer’s Drug

 

Tetra Discovery Partners, a leader in the design of new therapeutics for major neurological conditions based on PDE4 modulation in the brain, today announced it has closed a $1,041,000 seed investment led by Grand Angels, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based investment group.

 

The investment in Tetra includes funding from Grand Angels and the Biosciences Research & Commercialization Center (BRCC), which invests in promising, Michigan-based life sciences ventures, and the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund.  It also includes funding from the Michigan Emerging Technology Fund as a match to the recent $3 million Phase II SBIR award Tetra received from the National Institute of Mental Health.  The investment will support Tetra’s efforts to develop an innovative drug to treat cognitive impairment caused by Alzheimer’s disease, and a second drug to treat depression and restore cognitive function in patients who have suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI).

 

“We are pleased that Grand Angels led the seed round for Tetra, and we look forward to the increased momentum this investment provides,” said Mark Gurney, Ph.D., Tetra’s founder and CEO.  “Our partnership will not only help to fund our key research and commercialization objectives, but the strategic connections and counsel that Grand Angels provides will accelerate Tetra’s work on behalf of the millions of people suffering the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease, depression and traumatic brain injury, for which there are no effective treatments.”

 

“Grand Angels is very pleased to have led this investment in one of Michigan’s most innovative businesses,” said Jody Vanderwel, Grand Angels President.  “Mark and the Tetra team are changing the face of Alzheimer’s research and working on some truly industry-changing breakthroughs right here in Grand Rapids.

 

“As of July 2013, we have invested nearly $12.5 million in 26 entrepreneurial companies. This latest opportunity with Tetra is a perfect example of how Grand Angels is able to make an important and potentially transformative impact through the funding and strategic support that we provide.”

 

Tetra’s research focuses on designing drugs that inhibit phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), a key enzyme in the brain that controls the biochemical process of memory. The company works closely with the NIH Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network, a $50 million program across 15 NIH Institutes and Centers that support drug discovery research collaborations with early stage biotechnology companies and academics to develop effective therapeutics for nervous system disorders. The Blueprint Neurotherapeutics team of skilled industry drug discovery and development consultants has been pivotal in helping Tetra to develop a drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

 

About Tetra Discovery Partners

Based in Grand Rapids, Mich., Tetra Discovery Partners (http://www.tetradiscovery.com) uses structure-guided drug design to discover mechanistically novel, allosteric inhibitors of phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4).  The Company’s research focuses on developing new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), depression and traumatic brain injury (TBI).  In addition to its NIH Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network cooperative research agreement, the Company has been the recipient of both NIH/NIMH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Michigan Emerging Technologies Fund awards.  The Company’s founder, Dr. Mark Gurney, was recently named one of two leading inventors globally in the creation of Alzheimer’s disease treatments by Griffith Hack, a leading Australia-based intellectual property law firm, following the analysis of nearly 50,000 patents for the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

 

About Grand Angels

Grand Angels is committed to using its financial, intellectual, and networking capital to foster the success of emerging companies and to enhance the economic development of West Michigan. Grand Angels makes investments that have a positive effect on our region through business growth, job creation, and the attraction and retention of local talent.

 

In addition to investing in primarily early stage companies, Grand Angels continues to be very active in its effort to create a climate for the success of entrepreneurs in West Michigan. Many of its members have served on panels, judged pitch competitions, and mentored entrepreneurs through organizations including the Accelerate Michigan competition, Hope Entrepreneurship Initiative, and Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.  www.grandangels.org.

 

# # #

 

Contact:

Amanda Passage

Lambert, Edwards & Associates

(616) 233-0500

apassage@lambert-edwards.com

Filed under MEMBER NEWS, Member Press Release, news, newsfeature · No Comments »

July 24, 2013 @ 11:28 pm

Beringea Attributes 25-Year Success to Seeing Things a Little Differently

Ask Beringea founder and managing partner Charlie Rothstein what makes doing business in Michigan different and you’ll get a quick, candid answer.  “We don’t follow the herd and trip over competitors like you would on the coasts.  We collaborate and we cheer for each other, and that makes us different than the rest of the world.”

 

Looking beyond the Great Lakes has provided Beringea with terrific perspective and unparalleled opportunities for investing, but the firm’s roots in Michigan are the strong foundation on which it’s continued to thrive.  Beringea chose to call Michigan home because unlike others, it saw the state as offering amazing potential for those willing to take a chance and start here.

 

“People outside of Michigan wondered what we were doing starting here,” Rothstein said, recalling Beringea’s humble beginnings in his basement 25 years ago.  “That always struck me as the wrong question because the answer is so obvious: In order to be successful, you have to see things different than the rest of the world.  In Michigan, we don’t give up when things are tough, which is a huge advantage for entrepreneurs that will get knocked down a lot in the early stage of business.  Knowing these companies will get off the mat and persevere makes them a really attractive investment opportunity.”

 

That eye on Michigan’s strengths has helped Beringea find great investment opportunities that those outside of the state are missing.  Recently, it backed Fiber Byproducts, a Michigan company that recycles wood waste.

 

“Fiber Byproducts is based on a smart, simple concept that’s in great demand,” Rothstein said.  “The company takes scrap wood from construction business that would otherwise go to waste and recycles it for wood pellets used in heating stoves as well as mulch, wood chips, and other consumer products.  Investing in Fiber Byproducts gives Beringea the chance to support a company that’s innovating a clean, cheap, sustainable fuel, and commercializing a Michigan-made product.  Fiber Byproducts is a great investment because it created an in-demand product but needed capital to take business to the next level.”

 

Identifying and embracing those attractive investment opportunities has helped Beringea become a partner of choice for entrepreneurs in a range of business sectors including media, healthcare, clean technology and IT. Today, the firm has offices in Detroit and London, more than 60 companies in its portfolio, and more than $525 million under management.

 

Recently, the firm’s portfolio has been boosted by a few major wins.  Beringea investment Pioneer Surgical Technology was acquired by RTI Biologics Inc. for $130 million. Earlier this year, the firm was also part of a $5 million investment round in Abe’s Market, an online store for natural and organic products.

 

Looking forward, Rothstein is as enthusiastic about the future now as he was 25 years ago.  “We are seeing an economy nationally and locally that has stabilized,” he said.  “In Michigan, we’ve laid the groundwork and now’s our opportunity to show that we’re home to great VCs and great companies.”

Filed under Featured Member, MEMBER NEWS, news, newsfeature · No Comments »

May 20, 2013 @ 11:10 am

MVCA Research Report: Michigan Jumps to 15th for VC Activity, $242M Invested in 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — MAY 20, 2013 – ANN ARBOR, MICH. — The Michigan Venture Capital Association’s annual research report, a compilation and analysis of investment activity, shows that 2012 was a banner year for venture capital (VC) in the state.  Compared to the national trend of declining VC funds and activity, funding activity and fund sizes in Michigan continued strong and steady growth last year.  In 2012, Michigan jumped from 25th to 15th in the national VC ranking — one of the largest increases in venture funding last year.

 

“The data reported in MVCA’s research report tell a compelling story about Michigan’s success in growing and nurturing an innovation-based economy,” said Carrie Jones, MVCA executive director.  “The venture capital community in Michigan continues to mature, with more VC under management among firms here than ever before as well as a steady increase in out-of-state funds establishing a presence in the state.  In tandem, Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to mature and strengthen, and more companies than ever before are attracting VC funding.”

 

The MVCA data shows that there are 29 venture capital firms doing business in Michigan. In 2012, venture capital firms invested $242 million in 33 deals in Michigan.  An additional $12.5 million in a combination of angel and pre-seed funding was invested into these same deals.

 

The state has 106 active companies that have received venture capital or angel investment. While the majority of these companies are in the life sciences, the number of companies in other sectors are growing, most notably those focused on information technology.

 

Growth in Michigan venture funds has been steadily trending upward.  In 2012, the amount invested by VCs, average fund size, capital under management all increased, as did available capital for new investments and the number of investment professionals. This growth has, in part, come from out-of-state funds opening offices in Michigan to tap into Michigan’s growing deal flow.

 

“Attracting outside investment to Michigan infuses the economy with new money that can help a company grow here,” Jones added.  “Entrepreneurs are taking notice of this trend; thanks to the successful venture community in Michigan, more entrepreneurs are considering the state as a destination to locate and grow their business.”

 

About the Michigan Venture Capital Association

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. 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. For more information, visit www.michiganvca.org.

 

###

Filed under news · No Comments »

May 14, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

PodCast with Chris Holman and Carrie Jones

Carrie recently was interviewed by Chris Holman, Michigan Business Beat on the Michigan Business Network.com. Carrie spoke about the growth of the venture capital industry in Michigan and about retaining and recruiting entrepreneurs.

Listen to the PodCast.

Filed under MEMBER NEWS, news, newsfeature · No Comments »

April 19, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

The Road Less Traveled: Detroit Venture Partners Pursues “Crazed Mission” to Back Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurs

 

Detroit Venture Partners

Ask Josh Linkner what’s got him, and the team at Detroit Venture Partners, fired up, and you’ll get a simple response: Detroit.  The VC firm’s “crazed mission” is to back companies that are committed to rebuilding the Detroit area by entrepreneurship.

 

We view business building as a palette for creative expression and an opportunity to make a difference and change the world. If not, why bother,” explained Linkner, who is managing partner of Detroit Venture Partners.

 

Linkner and the Detroit Venture Partners team aren’t shy about getting in the trenches to make sure these world-changing businesses succeed.  “We are willing to get down and dirty with our entrepreneurs in order to drive results. We look at venture investing as a full-contact sport, and are ready to do whatever it takes to help our portfolio companies win. You’ll find us hands-on and deep behind enemy lines while other VCs are enjoying their French-vanilla, no-whip, mocha frappuccinos.”

 

Detroit Venture Partners’ commitment to entrepreneurial warfare has helped the firm achieve a key goal to re-establish Detroit as a beacon of innovation and entrepreneurship.  “We’ve led the way and set a path for others to come invest in Detroit, and for startup leaders to build their businesses here,” Linkner said.  “We believe that this region has tremendous untapped potential and this last year was about laying the foundation to harness it.  With the groundwork in place, Detroit is now poised to take off as one of the most important startup cities in the country.”

 

The firm’s investment portfolio is a telling reflection of Detroit Venture Partners’ commitment to backing entrepreneurs who are making their mark in the Detroit area… and beyond.  Over the last year, it’s invested in several exciting Detroit-based companies, including:

 

  • LevelEleven, a company that develops enterprise gamification and CRM solutions that help sales and other managers keep their teams focused on the right things. The company’s flagship product, Contest Builder, is a salesforce.com app that gives companies new ways to motivate salespeople to make more calls, book more meetings, and close more business, which in turn spikes adoption of Salesforce.
  • Chalkfly, which is becoming known as the ‘Zappos for office supplies.’ It offers 50,000 products, 24/7 customer services, free over-night shipping, and a 365-day return policy. Most importantly, Chalkfly gives 5 percent of all sales directly to teachers in your local community.
  • iRule, LLC, a cloud software company offering a platform for the connected home and home entertainment control. iRule’s control and automation software, available for both iOS and Android, is loved by its customers for its functionality, versatility, and value, and is sold by professional dealers in 50 countries.

Linkner is careful to point out that Detroit Venture Partners’ “crazed” mission is really rooted in a common sense, practical approach to investing.  “Michigan offers real advantages to other locations,” he said.  “The state, and the Detroit area in particular, are ripe with top talent that are attracted to what’s unique here: Affordable housing, and accessibility to business leaders and networks.  Plus, there’s a low cost of doing business here that makes an investment go far.”

 

While pursuing their favorite pastime of changing the world’s mind about VC opportunities beyond the coasts – and in Detroit, specifically – Detroit Venture Partners will continue to work hard at being an illustration of all that’s going right here. “We’re excited to add eight to 10 more companies to our portfolio this year,” Linkner said.  “While we continue to grow, we’ll continue to work deep in the trenches with our existing companies to help them win.”

Filed under Featured Member, MEMBER NEWS, news, newsfeature · No Comments »

About

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.
Read More

Recent News

Tag Cloud