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.


# # #



Amanda Passage

Lambert, Edwards & Associates

(616) 233-0500


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

May 3, 2013 @ 5:53 am

Second Annual Deals in the Garden

Our second annual Deals in the Garden took place on April 22 at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids. Emceed by Jody Vanderwel of Grand Angels, the event gave the following companies the opportunity to pitch their businesses to investors.


are you a human, Detroit
Vestaron, Kalamazoo
Nanorete, Lansing
Arborlight, Ann Arbor
Covaron, Ann Arbor
Gema, Ann Arbor
Current Motor, Ann Arbor
FlockTag, Ann Arbor
Optofluidic Bioassay, Ann Arbor
Savvy Languages, Lake Orion
Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing, Grand Rapids
Compoto, Holland


2nd Annual Deals in the Garden

Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing booth, and from L to R: Tom Ross, Managing Director, DWH; Connie Degen, Chief Operating Officer, Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing; Jerry Scott (back to camera), Grand Angels’ member; and Nick Bykerk, Controller, Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing


We were extremely pleased with the quality of the presentations and delighted with the high number of attendees and that the audience was so engaged.


2nd Annual Deals in the Garden

Current Motor’s scooter, and Grand Angels members, from L to R: Andy Keller, Paul D’Amato, and Bob Sprotte

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

January 8, 2013 @ 8:04 am

Start Garden and Grand Angels Group Invest $1.25 Million In Local Tech Company Blue Medora

Start Garden makes largest single investment to date, $500,000


Grand Rapids, Mich., January 4, 2013 — Start Garden, the $15,000,000 seed fund that selects ideas each week for $5,000 investments, announced today they have invested $500,000 in Grand Rapids-based Blue Medora. This is Start Garden’s largest investment in a single entity since its launch in April of 2012. Grand Angels, a regional group of angel investors, also announced that 20 of their members will also be making investments in Blue Medora which cumulatively equal an additional $750,000, bringing the total amount raised to fund the startup to $1.25 million.


Blue Medora is a software development company specializing in the development, implementation, and support of software products for the enterprise systems management marketplace.


Blue Medora’s primary focus is on the development and distribution of product enhancements for IBM Tivoli Monitoring (ITM) and Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM). Blue Medora provides a range of validated/certified integration products that extend the monitoring and management capabilities of IBM and Oracle’s market-leading systems management platforms to the world’s leading cloud, virtualization, ERP, CRM, enterprise directory, and messaging software.


According to Nathan Owen, founder of Blue Medora, Fortune 500 companies around the world depend on Oracle and IBM software to run enormously complex operations. The data generated from these robust systems can create a secondary problem: which data is meaningful to make informed decisions? Blue Medora provides a much-needed solution for those tasked with navigating complex environments to make decisions.


In addition to offering very early support for projects through its weekly $5,000 investments, Start Garden staff has also been actively fielding questions and meeting with later stage companies. On Start Garden’s website companies that are well into their startup phase are encouraged to contact Mike Morin, one of Start Garden’s investment analysts, with questions about funding consideration beyond the $5,000 level. Blue Medora is the latest in a series of recent technology investments from Start Garden in companies that did not enter the program through their submission process on startgarden.com.


“Start Garden is designed to close the funding gap between $0-$500,000 for startup companies,” says Rick DeVos, founder of Start Garden. “We’re known for providing very early support to projects that are not even considered startups. With the Blue Medora investment, we invested aggressively into seasoned entrepreneurs already working in a space with huge potential that they know very well. It’s the aggression to jump on opportunities, whether it’s $5,000 or $500,000, which is vital to making our region a great place for entrepreneurs.”


Founded in 2004 with 44 members currently, Grand Angels is a West Michigan-based angel investment group which invests in early stage companies in Michigan. In nine years the group has invested nearly $11 million in 25 different companies ($2.5 million in 2012). Its investments have ranged from $50,000 to $1.6 million per deal, sometimes over multiple rounds of investment per startup. The group has partnered with many early stage venture capital funds and angel groups to grow the entrepreneurship climate in Michigan and to attract and retain creative talent in the State. “We are pleased to partner with Start Garden on this investment in Blue Medora and look forward to partnering with them in more deals in the future,” says Jody Vanderwel, President of Grand Angels. Information on the application process for Grand Angels can be found on their website, www.grandangels.org.


Blue Medora’s founder, Nathan Owen was previously a member of the IBM Tivoli Business Development team responsible for Alliance management of IBM Tivoli’s SAP and Oracle relationships. Owen was also a member of IBM Tivoli due diligence teams for software acquisitions. In 2001 Owen co-founded and served as Sr. Vice President of Sales and Business Development of OctetString, a software firm focused on the development of an innovative virtual directory server (an identity management solution), that was acquired by Oracle in 2005. Earlier this year, Owen was selected by IBM as one of 20 inaugural worldwide “IBM Champions”, of the IBM Tivoli software group, recognizing innovative thought leaders in the technical community.


Start Garden said another factor to invest heavily in Blue Medora was the existing partnerships the startup already has in place. Owen’s industry expertise and background combined with the expertise of local software development firm Atomic Object, an early investor in Blue Medora, helped the company secure partnerships with technology leaders IBM, Oracle, Amazon Web Services, Citrix.


“We are extremely grateful for the support that Start Garden and Grand Angels have provided for Blue Medora,” said Owen. “We feel that we have a significant opportunity to build a successful business and to be able to find others right here in our own community that share that belief and are willing to provide the resources to help make it possible is pretty remarkable.”


About Start Garden

Start Garden is an unconventional venture capital fund that invests in over a hundred ideas a year in small increments. The program brings financial, intellectual and social capital to ideas at the earliest stage by connecting them to the resources of an entire region. Ideas for new businesses can be submitted anytime to startgarden.com. Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it is founded by Rick DeVos whose past projects include ArtPrize, 5×5 Night, Momentum and Spout.com.


About Grand Angels

Grand Angels is committed to utilizing its financial, intellectual and networking capital to foster the success of growing companies and to enhance the economic development of Western Michigan. Grand Angels will make investment that will have a positive effect on our region through business growth, job creation, and the attraction and retention of local talent. Investment with impact will be the result of engaged, experienced business leaders providing both capital and wisdom to entrepreneurs. The organization is part of the Angel Capital Association, sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which provides leadership and resources for angel investors across the country.



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

November 8, 2011 @ 1:12 am

Michigan Venture Capital Association appoints 2012 Board of Directors, recognizes members at Annual Dinner

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA) celebrated a year of individual, company, and statewide industry achievement at its Annual Dinner held November 7 at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth. Over 145 members of the Michigan venture community attended the evening event, where incoming Chairman Tim Petersen introduced members of the organization’s 2012 Board of Directors. They include:
• Tim Petersen (Chairman), Arboretum Ventures
• Ron Reed (Vice Chairman/Past Chairman), Seneca Partners
• Jim Adox, (Vice-Chairman/Treasurer), Venture Investors
• Jeff Bocan, Beringea
• Hugo Braun, North Coast Technology Investors
• Pete Farner, TGap Ventures
• Mark Horne, Plymouth Management Company
• Tom Kinnear, U-M Ross School of Business Zell Lurie Institute
• Jon Lauckner, GM Ventures
• Chris Rizik, Renaissance Venture Capital Fund
• Skip Simms, Ann Arbor SPARK
• Mina Sooch, Apjohn Ventures
• Jody Vanderwel, Grand Angels
• Ken Van Heel, Dow Chemical Company
• Donald Walker, Arbor Partners

Pete Farner, Mark Horne and Jon Lauckner are new to the board and begin three-year terms while former director John McIlwraith of Blue Chip Venture Company completes his board involvement after a six-year term.

“It was a wonderful evening that really celebrated the best of the best in our industry,” said Merrill Guerra, Executive Director of the MVCA. “We’re pleased so many venture investors, portfolio company executives, development officials and other supporters could join us, showing the growth and success the venture capital community has demonstrated in Michigan.”

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Filed under events, eventsfeature · No Comments »

July 18, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

Member News Release: West Michigan WiMAX company AzulStar secures funding from Grand Angels, Blue Water Angels

Deal marks the first time two Michigan angel groups have co-invested

Grand Rapids, Mich.– Two Michigan angel groups have co-invested in fixed WiMAX owner/operator AzulStar, which teams with leading companies, governmental agencies and private investors to offer very-high bandwidth wireless data, voice and video services.  West Michigan angel investing group Grand Angels and Midland-based Blue Water Angels, along with two individual investors, provided the funds, which will be used to help the company expand their high bandwidth wireless broadband services to Lansing, Kalamazoo, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“We’re excited about AzulStar because you ‘invest in the jockey’, and we really like Tyler (van Houwelingen, CEO of AzulStar),” said Jody Vanderwel, President of Grand Angels.  “His passion, work ethic and vision are evident, and he knows the broadband space inside and out.  A few of our members were already investors in AzulStar, so we had the opportunity to watch the company’s growth for quite a while.”

AzulStar leverages a combination of licensed and unlicensed wireless technology to deliver very high bandwidth wireless broadband services.  AzulStar’s new licensed spectrum 4G fixed WiMAX (802.16) networks deliver speeds up to 1Gbps Symmetric for business customers, with uptimes over 99.995%.

The AzulStar investment marks the nineteenth deal Grand Angels has completed and its thirteenth active portfolio company.  Grand Angels has invested over $1 million in growing companies this year alone, with a total $7.3 million invested since the group’s inception in 2004.

“Collaborating with the Grand Angels has increased our deal flow and brought complementary perspectives to our business practices, allowing us to multiply our resources and advance the company strategy quickly,” said Joe Asiala, Founding Member of the BlueWater Angels.  “Both Grand Angels and Blue Water Angels are highly respected groups, and the energy they have created by investing in AzulStar has brought investors off the sidelines.  It’s been a great partnership so far.”

AzulStar CEO, Tyler van Houwelingen added, “We are thrilled to partner with the Grand Angels and Blue Water Angels and are excited to have smart, institutional capital flowing into Michigan technology firms.  We see a tremendous amount of growth happening in wireless broadband and are very well positioned to capitalize on it going forward.”

About AzulStar, Inc.

Established in 2003, AzulStar Inc. is a privately held provider of 4G wireless Internet & communications services to commercial and government customers. Leveraging open standards wireless technology and an all IP wireless architecture, AzulStar delivers unprecedented levels performance and reliability.  AzulStar has pioneered the market for wireless broadband access and won awards for its innovation and service quality.  With carrier-class networks in the top markets of Michigan and New Mexico, AzulStar offers a variety of high value services including high-speed Internet Access, managed wireless networking and intelligent transportation.  www.azulstar.com

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 Momentum, the Hope Entrepreneurship Initiative, and the Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.  www.grandangels.org
About Blue Water Angels
BlueWater Angels, LLC, is an angel investment group with a significant amount of capital available to invest in promising companies on an annual basis. Their governing board and officers include representation from multiple Michigan counties.  Membership is based on application, and includes a select group of high net worth individuals and organizations interested in investing capital in promising companies with the expectation of receiving a substantial return on their investment(s). New members must be sponsored by an existing BWA member. www.bluewaterangels.com
#             #             #

Filed under Member Press Release, news · No Comments »

July 7, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

Grand Angels create new fund to invest alongside members

West Michigan angel group Grand Angels announces the creation of Grand Angels Co-Investment Fund I, a “sidecar” fund which Grand Angels Company, LLC will manage.  The fund, whose investors include members and non-members of Grand Angels, will invest a small amount in most of the deals in which Grand Angels members invest.  Grand Angels President Jody Vanderwel says the fund will make more capital available for most Grand Angel deals and provide more diversification for members than they get by selecting their own deals, as well as provide an angel asset class investment opportunity for people who do not have the time or inclination to be active angels. Warner, Norcross & Judd, the Hylant Group, and Korte Consulting assisted the Grand Angels in establishing the new fund.

Filed under news · No Comments »

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

Filed under newsfeature · No Comments »


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