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.”


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August 26, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

Michigan Venture Capital Association Hires Emily Heintz as New Associate Director

The Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA) recently named Emily Heintz as its new associate director.  In this role, Heintz will work to actively create connections between venture capitalists and promote the state’s entrepreneurial and investment communities.


“Bringing Emily on board strengthens MVCA’s position in the state’s entrepreneurial eco-system,” said Carrie Jones, MVCA executive director.  “Emily brings valuable experience and connections to MVCA.  Her leadership and expertise will directly benefit MVCA’s members and support its mission to grow and sustain a vibrant venture capital community in Michigan.”


Heintz brings administrative, finance and economic development experience to the organization.  Prior to joining MVCA, she was with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), where she served as an equity capital markets associate.


During her tenure with MEDC, Heintz designed, implemented, and managed capital services programs, including direct investments made in venture capital firms around the state.  She also worked to build and maintain relationships with private equity groups, commercial banks, entrepreneurs, and business development support groups.


Heintz also previously worked for Ann Arbor SPARK, where she was an accounting manager.


Heintz earned her bachelor of arts degree and her masters of science degree in accounting from Michigan State University.

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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



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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 Carrie spoke about the growth of the venture capital industry in Michigan and about retaining and recruiting entrepreneurs.

Listen to the PodCast.

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January 18, 2013 @ 9:23 am

A Crash Course in VC | Sam Hogg, Open Prairie Ventures

This December I had the privilege of attending the 38th annual Venture Capital Institute in Atlanta.  VCI has served over the years as the de facto starting point for VC’s young and old who want to very quickly broaden their network and hone their skills in our trade.  Thanks to the generous support of the MVCA and MEDC, Michigan was extremely well represented with eight attendees – more than any other state.

Upon arriving we were immediately thrown into a speed networking event with folks from a variety of backgrounds – venture capital, economic development, banking, and corporate.  It was a great mesh, really, considering our industry is touched by most all of those fields.  The coursework consisted of case studies, ethics discussions, deal-making strategies, legal, and more.  Guest speakers from around the country participated, including legendary billionaire VC Pitch Johnson (yes, his name is Pitch) who at age 80+ still pilots his own private jet from Palo Alto every year to contribute to the next generation of  VC’s.

It became very apparent during day one that the aggressive schedule would not permit much free time to explore Atlanta and socialize.  Against all odds, however, the Michigan crew led the charge one evening and dragged our classmates and now friends out to check on a local barbecue pit and try some true southern cocktails.  It was great to get to know these attendees beyond a typical case study role.

On the flight home it reminded me a lot of my regular visits out to the Bay Area over the last four years.  While always exhausted (maybe the red-eye flights contributed), I often thought how beneficial it was to be building these networks outside of the state.  All eight of us came back armed with new ideas and connections that will benefit not only our careers but the strength of the overall innovation network in Michigan.  It is truly amazing that we have such forward-thinking programs like the Venture Fellows and my experience at VCI reinforced my decision to participate.  Thanks much for the great opportunity.

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June 22, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

U-M Venture Accelerator Welcomes MVCA

Venture capitalists will have more direct, regular access to University of Michigan startups when the Michigan Venture Capital Association opens a collaboration office at U-M Tech Transfer’s Venture Accelerator, officials from MVCA and Tech Transfer have announced.


The organizations have a long history of collaboration. With state support, MVCA members have invested in many U-M startups, including HandyLab and Histosonics. MVCA has 200 members from 80 firms. Many of them are come from out-of-state, and office space at the university will be particularly useful for them, said Manisha Tayal, MVCA associate director.


“Our members will get to use this office space adjacent to U-M Tech Transfer to facilitate more interaction with university technologies and deal flow,” Tayal said. “It will also benefit U-M Tech Transfer and their university startups, who now will have more access to our venture capitalists and angel investors.”


Read the rest of the story here.

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May 14, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

Michigan Venture Capital Association Annual Research Report: Venture Community is Growing in Size, Deals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – MAY 14, 2012 – ANN ARBOR, MICH. – The Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA) recently released its annual research report, which details investment activity across the state.  The report also highlights venture capital activity in Michigan compared to other regions and the U.S.

“The data collected in the MVCA research report show that Michigan’s venture community is growing, both in size and deals,” said Tim Petersen, MVCA board chair.  “It’s particularly exciting to see significant growth — 64 percent — in venture capital under management by Michigan firms as well as a trend towards larger fund sizes.  Michigan is making steady gains in its efforts to be a destination for entrepreneurial business.”

MVCA’s research report findings include:

o   Michigan start-up companies received $191 million in venture capital investment during 2011. There were 38 total investments, including 22 new companies that received a first round of venture capital funding.

o   In Michigan, the number of venture firms, investment professionals, and capital under management have all increased.  The 54 funds managed by venture capital firms in Michigan had 335 active portfolio companies.

o   Venture capital under management among firms headquartered in Michigan increased by 64 percent over the last 5 years. Of the $3 billion of venture capital under management, nearly $370 million is available for new investments within and outside Michigan.

o   In 2011, four Michigan venture capital firms successfully closed their funds, raising a total of $348 million. Arboretum Ventures and Plymouth Venture Partners are headquartered in Michigan while MK Capital and Arsenal Ventures have Michigan offices.

o   As venture firms raise their next funds, the trend for larger fund sizes continues. Michigan now has six funds that are greater than $100 million. There are eight funds between $50 million and $100 million and 13 funds less than $50 million.

The MVCA annual research report is available to its members, legislators, and Limited Partners.  It’s also available upon request.

About the MVCA
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.

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May 9, 2012 @ 6:45 am

Renaissance VC’s Second Fund Has First Close At $60M

Member Renaissance Venture Capital Fund recently announced its first close on its second fund.


“When we formed the first fund, we said, ‘Let’s make a model of a new kind of venture entity, and if it works we can broaden it out later to foundations and universities and to include the whole state,’ ” said (Chris) Rizik.


Read the article from Crain’s Detroit Business.


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April 27, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

Call for Presenting Companies for 31st Michigan Growth Capital Symposium – May 15 & 16

MGCS 2012 will feature presentations from more than 40 of the Midwest’s top high-growth companies. Applications will be accepted through Tuesday, March 6. A four page (maximum) executive summary is needed to apply along with a $20 application fee.

Who should apply?
High-growth innovative companies from market sectors including but not limited to internet, software, healthcare, medical device, pharma, mobile and energy. Companies encouraged to apply include seed, early-stage, late-stage, and pre-IPO. Presenting companies will be selected by a committee of qualified venture capitalists. Companies will be selected based on market opportunity, competitive advantages, intellectual property, partnerships, business/technology platform, financial projections, exit strategies and the quality and experience of the management team.

Companies considered for presenting should meet the following criteria:
- Project $20M in revenue within five years.
- Seek funding in the range of $500K to $20M.
- Preferably have a Midwest connection.

Presenting Company Benefits
*  A four-page company executive summary will be included in the conference binder.
*  Listing of company name and link on the MGCS web site.
*  Pitch and presentation coaching.
*  15 minute presentation slot to showcase your business opportunity.
*  Table-top exhibit space.
*  Extensive networking time in and near the exhibit area.

Selected companies receive a reduced registration rate of $295, which is a $200 discount off regular admission.

MGCS will also feature:

*         2 Keynote Luminaries

*         65+ Investment Firms Represented

*         42 Top Midwestern Companies Seeking Funding

*         30 Premier Panelists

*         5 World Class Panel Discussions

*         2 Days of High Level Networking

Questions? Please contact Mary Nickson, Symposium Manager, at 734-615-4424 or

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February 23, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

MVCA Board Member Jon Lauckner Named VP & CTO of General Motors

General Motors has named Jon Lauckner vice president and chief technology officer (CTO), effective April 1. In addition to his current position as president of GM Ventures, Lauckner will be responsible for GM’s Research and Development activity.

Lauckner succeeds current CTO, Tom Stephens, who retires April 1, and he also assumes R&D responsibilities from Vice President Alan Taub, who has elected to retire and pursue outside interests after 11 years with GM.

Lauckner will continue to report to GM Vice Chairman Stephen Girsky. He will also serve as a member of the Global Product Development staff headed by Mary Barra, senior vice president of GM Global Product Development.

“Jon’s vast knowledge and experience in product development and engineering, combined with his ability to identify new and innovative external technology partners, make him a perfect fit for this critically important role,” said Girsky.  “With both GM Ventures and Research and Development aligned under him, we will be more nimble and can move faster to integrate the latest and most-advanced technologies into our vehicles for the benefit of customers.”

Lauckner has been president of General Motors Ventures, LLC since July 1, 2010.  In this role, he leads a team that makes equity investments in innovative startup companies developing next-generation automotive technology. Lauckner previously held the positions of vice president, Global Product Planning and vice president, Global Program Management.

Lauckner, 54, joined GM in 1979 as a test engineer and held a number of positions in product engineering, powertrain engineering and product development, including international assignments in South America and Europe. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1979. He earned a Master of Science degree in management from Stanford Business School in 1990 through the Sloan Fellowship program and attended the GM-Harvard Senior Executive Program in 2001.

Regarding the retirement of Alan Taub, Girsky said, “Our company and the industry have benefitted greatly from Alan’s experience and leadership. His talent and contributions are appreciated by all those who worked with him.”

Taub joined GM R&D as executive director in 2001. In July 2009, he was named vice president of Global R&D, where he led GM’s advanced technical work, seven science laboratories and seven global science offices.

Read about it on GM’s site.

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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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