October 12, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

Renaissance Venture Capital Fund recently made its first investment commitment from its Renaissance II fund

Renaissance Venture Capital Fund recently made its first investment commitment from its Renaissance II fund. The commitment was made to Allos II, a Cincinnati and Indianapolis-based venture capital fund targeting investments in early-stage technology companies based in the Midwest.  The fund’s investor group, which includes institutional investors such as Indiana University Foundation, Purdue University and The Ohio Capital Fund in addition to RVCF II, continues to be comprised mostly of successful entrepreneurs and executives – including the founders/CEOs of companies such as Angie’s List, Aprimo, Exact Target, and Travelocity – who provide it with deal flow and industry perspective and connections in addition to capital.

Learn more about Allos II at www.allosventures.com.


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August 7, 2012 @ 1:27 am

Mid-Year Michigan Venture Capital Investments Report

The year has started off strong with both the amount and number of investments higher than 2011.  Michigan-based start-ups have received about $90 million of venture capital investment in 17 different companies. The invested amount is at par with the YTD 2009 and the number of companies receiving venture capital has increased over the last few years.


Here are some highlights:

  • Compared to the first half of 2011, YTD venture capital investments for 2012 increased by 24% in terms of amount invested and 31% in number of deals.
  • Life Science deals accounted for more than half of all invested amount.
  • Three of the 17 companies received venture capital for the first time while the rest got follow-on financings.

View the report here.

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July 29, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

Plymouth Ventures Provides Funding for FutureNet Security Solution’s Acquisition of the Assets of Smith & Wesson Security Solutions

Ann Arbor, MIPlymouth Ventures announced its sixth investment from Plymouth Venture Partners Fund II, in FutureNet Security Solutions, LLC (FNSS), a subsidiary of Detroit, Michigan based FutureNet Group, Inc. (FNG)


On July 10 FNG management announced that it had reached an agreement with Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation to acquire the assets of the company’s perimeter security division, Smith & Wesson Security Solutions, Inc. (SWSS). Over the past three years, SWSS has successfully completed over $130 million in perimeter security projects at more than 110 military installations, 16 distinct federal agencies, and a range of Fortune 500 commercial clients. FNG and SWSS have collaborated on past projects, and together have completed over $11 million of turnkey security construction projects for the Federal Government. The asset purchase closed today with funding from Plymouth Ventures.


Mark Horne, Plymouth’s Chief Executive Officer commented “We are delighted to be part of this exciting growth opportunity for FutureNet. The deal represents a unique combination of strong management, industry leading product and service offerings, a history of successful collaboration and a value equation which will allow FNSS to flourish.” Horne added, “The fact that this is a minority owned enterprise, based in a HUBZone in Michigan’s largest city, makes this deal extra special to us as investors who are thrilled to participate in the rebirth of this region’s urban entrepreneurial communities.”


FNG Chief Executive Officer, Perry Mehta, stated, “Our relationship with Plymouth Ventures has been a true partnership from the very start. Mark Horne provided the experience, process and speed we needed to execute on this transaction. I expect we will work closely with Mark for many years to come as we continue to grow and strengthen our business.”


About Plymouth Venture Partners II, L.P.
Fund II is a follow-on fund to Plymouth Venture Partners Fund I. PVP I became fully invested in 2009 after completing investments in 29 companies. Plymouth Venture Partners II invests in growth stage companies in the Great Lakes region. For more information, please visit www.plymouthvc.com.

About Plymouth Ventures
Plymouth Ventures is the manager for Plymouth Venture Partners I and Plymouth Venture Partners II. The company has four partners, Mark Horne, Ian Bund, Jeff Barry, and Bob Savage, and offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Toledo, Ohio. For more information, please visit www.plymouthvc.com.

About FutureNet Group, Inc. (FNG)
FNG is a Detroit, MI based company that provides customized solutions for the environment and infrastructure improvements through innovative technologies. It is a federal contractor with more than 125 employees located in its Midwest, Southwest, Southeast and East Coast regional offices. Its certifications include ISO 9001:2008; US SBA 8(a); US SBA HUBZone; several GSA Schedules, etc. In 2010, SBA Region V named FNG CEO Perry Mehta, Minority Small Business Person of the Year. For four years in a row, FNG was listed on ICIC, Inner City 100 Fastest Growing Companies program founded by Harvard Business School. In 2012 FNG also made the INC 500|5000 list of fastest growing private companies in America for the 4th time. For more information, visit www.FutureNetGroup.com, or call (313) 544-7117.

About Smith & Wesson Security Solutions, Inc. (SWSS)
Based in Franklin, Tennessee, SWSS is a full-service perimeter security solutions provider. The company provides a complete range of products and services to a diverse client base in the defense, transportation and petrochemical industries, as well as corporate facilities, airports, Fortune 500 companies, national laboratories, and federal agencies. SWSS is the manufacturer of the GRAB net barrier system, XMB, ODDS, SW1900, and a range of other proprietary perimeter security products. The company has been recognized as a “Top 600″ Specialty Contractor by Engineering News Record in 2011; received the Government Security News “Best Crash Barriers” award in 2009, 2010, and 2011; and has been recognized for innovation by ASIS International and the American Business Awards. To learn more about SWSS services and products, call (615) 224-0400 or visit http://www.smithwessonsecuritysolutions.com/.

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June 18, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

Open Prairie Ventures Announces Agreement with Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund


Kalamazoo, MI and Effingham, IL Open Prairie Ventures (OPV), an Illinois-based venture fund, announced today that it has entered into a management agreement with the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund (SWMFLSF).


The funds have collaborated for over five years on a number of investments, including Vestaron, a Kalamazoo-based agricultural company developing the next generation of environmentally conscious insecticides derived from peptides produced by spiders.


OPV was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Effingham, Illinois with additional offices in Kansas and Southwest Michigan.  OPV has successfully brought early stage ideas to syndicated investments and successful returns for its investors, including two Initial Public Offerings, the most recent of which was Infoblox (NASDAQ: BLOX).


In 2005, the SWMFLSF was formed as a limited partnership venture fund focusing on early stage life sciences opportunities in Southwest Michigan. Operating under the Southwest Michigan First Group of Companies, the fund’s primary goal has been to spur economic development and retain intellectual capital within the region.


With OPV now assuming an advisory role over both funds, the funds are expected to operate more dynamically and expand their investment focus.


“We are very excited about our new relationship with the SWMFLSF.  We see great potential in assisting the Fund realize its vision and mission, as well as the opportunity to become more involved in the overall turnaround agenda in Michigan, ” said Jim Schultz, CEO and Founder of Open Prairie Ventures.  “We look forward to working closely with the Fund’s portfolio companies and growing new opportunities in Michigan and throughout the Midwest.  Realizing the vision of the Fund’s founders to develop an aggressive life science agenda in the region is key to our knowledge base and investor instincts.”


Patrick Morand, Managing Director of SWMFLSF, will remain in this role as well as assuming the role of President of Open Prairie Ventures.


“Our expanded relationship with OPV brings investment expertise and stronger syndication possibilities at a time when Southwest Michigan First is focusing its effort on increasing capital formation in the region.  Where capital is available, great ideas follow and new companies will be formed.  This investment cycle is crucial to growing the regional economy,” said Ron Kitchens, CEO of the Southwest Michigan First Group of Companies and the SWMFLSF’s General Partner.  “We anticipate great performance from the investment team at OPV.”

About Open Prairie Ventures


Open Prairie Ventures was founded in 1999 as a venture capital firm focused on early-stage Midwest-based technology companies.  The first investment fund, Open Prairie Ventures I, L.P. (OPV I), was formerly licensed by the Small Business Administration as a Small Business Investment Company (SBIC).  In 2006, the fund recapitalized the SBA’s Limited Partner interest in OPV I through a buyout of the SBA position.  OPV I completed fifteen investments with four successful exits, including the 2007 IPO of TomoTherapy (NASDAQ: TOMO) and has three active portfolio investments remaining.


The firm’s second fund, Open Prairie Ventures II, L.P. (OPV II), completed its first close in 2008.  The primary focus of OPV II is growth and early-stage opportunities in the agriculture technology and medical device fields.  The fund has completed five investments to date with one successful exit in December 2009.





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May 2, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

Member News: Arboretum Ventures Announces the Addition of Kristin Myers as Principal

Arboretum Ventures is pleased to announce that Kristin Myers has joined the firm as a Principal. Kristin is a former Partner at Skyline Ventures (Palo Alto, CA), where she led numerous due diligence efforts for medical device opportunities. Kristin Myers Press Release final from Arboretum


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January 9, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

MVCA PRESS RELEASE: Two new MVCA Executive-In-Residence awardees chosen

ANN ARBOR, MICH.—Two MVCA member firms were recently awarded a loan from the organization’s Executive in Residence (EIR)/CEO Placement Program, marking the first distributions from the program’s new Venture Upstart II allocation from the MEDC.  Plymouth Ventures and RPM Ventures will welcome executives Kevin Terrasi and Kurt Skifstad respectively into their firms for a period of deal sourcing and advisement, with an ultimate goal of placing that executive in a leadership role at a portfolio company.

“We’re excited to relaunch the EIR/CEO Placement Program, which has been one of our most popular programs for members,” said Merrill Guerra, Executive Director of the MVCA.  “We’ve chosen two firms who are committed to keeping our entrepreneurial talent in the state.  This program continues to make a difference to the many executives in our market who might otherwise have had to leave the state to find compelling leadership opportunities in their entrepreneurial niches.”

Terrasi and Skifstad both bring operational experience to their venture firm sponsors. Terrasi joins Plymouth following his tenure as Vice President of Engineering and a Director of Pump Engineering, Inc./LLC (PEI), a Plymouth Ventures Fund I portfolio company which was sold in 2009 to Energy Recovery, Inc. (NASDAQ: ERII).  Skifstad, Executive-In-Residence at RPM Ventures, has founded, co-founded, or been part of the senior management team of multiple ventures, including three firms that were acquired, one that went public, and two companies that are still operating.  In addition to his operating experience, Skifstad mentored entrepreneurs in his position at University of Michigan’s Office of Technology Transfer and teaches a senior‐level class on entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan and attended the Executive Education Program at U-M’s Ross School of Business.

About the MVCA EIR/CEO Placement Program
Billed as a talent attraction and retention program, the EIR/CEO Placement program was developed in 2007 to help Michigan venture firms support the eventual placement of an EIR into a portfolio company’s operations post-investment or find and hire a qualified CEO candidate for a portfolio company.  In 2011, the MVCA received a second 21st Century Jobs Fund award from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to renew its EIR and CEO Placement programs.  This grant award allows the MVCA and the MEDC to work together to foster an environment to help entrepreneurs and Michigan-based venture-backed companies succeed.  Under the EIR program, Michigan venture capital firms may apply for a loan award to assist with the first year salary of an EIR.  Under the CEO Placement program, the loan award may be used to pay the one year salary of a newly recruited CEO in one of their Michigan-based portfolio companies.  The CEO Placement loan award may also be applied toward the recruiting fees incurred in finding an entrepreneurial CEO.

For information about the MVCA EIR or CEO Placement programs, visit www.michiganvca.org or contact Merrill Guerra at 734.929.9970.

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.  www.michiganvca.org

About Plymouth Ventures Fund II
Plymouth Ventures Fund I became fully invested in 2009 after completing investments in 29 companies. Plymouth Ventures II is actively looking to invest in strong early expansion-stage companies in the Great Lakes region. Plymouth has four partners: Mark Horne, Ian Bund, Bob Savage, and Jeff Barry, with offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Toledo, Ohio. Visit www.plymouthvc.com for more information.

About RPM Ventures
RPM Ventures, founded in 2000, is a seed and early stage venture firm with $75 million under management. RPM concentrates its investing in Information Technology, taking advantage of the firm’s West Coast experience and Midwest roots.  The combination of these positions RPM to bring a grounded perspective to its investing that reflects an integration of Silicon Valley culture and relationships with Midwest values and network. RPM is a founding investor in numerous deals, often investing before there is a product or management team in place. Additionally, RPM is a valuable investing partner for companies within sectors in which the firm has specific expertise, including: Retail Automotive Software, Solutions for Industrial and Retail enterprises, E-commerce, Online Marketplaces, Cloud and Social Media Infrastructure, and spinouts from leading research universities. For more information, visit www.rpmvc.com.

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November 14, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

MVCA Annual Awards Dinner

More than 145 members of Michigan’s venture capital community gathered to celebrate a year of individual, company, and statewide industry achievement at the MVCA Annual Dinner November 7 at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth. Outgoing MVCA Chairman Ron Reed welcomed the group and praised the venture community for meeting each of the MVCA’s strategic goals set in 2006. Incoming MVCA Chairman Tim Petersen introduced the 2012 Board of Directors, thanking longtime board member John McIlwraith (Blue Chip Ventures) for six years of service and welcoming Jon Lauckner (GM Ventures), Pete Farner (TGap Ventures), and Mark Horne (Plymouth Management Co.) to the board for three-year terms. Managing director of event sponsor Credit Suisse Customized Fund Investment Group Kelly Williams shared her insights on the national venture landscape, offering her perspective on how many other states hope to emulate Michigan’s robust venture activity and programming.
After dinner, awards were presented to several Michigan venture firms, investment professionals, and two venture-backed entrepreneurs for their successes:

• 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 investors Arboretum Ventures, Baird Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures, Credit Suisse CFIG, and Plymouth Ventures Partners; and,

• Jennifer Baird, initial CEO of Accuri Cytometers and current CEO of venture-backed Accio Energy, and Accuri founder Collin Rich, named MVCA Entrepreneurs of the Year.

A special highlight was the recognition of former MVCA Executive Director LeAnn Auer, who received the MVCA Above and Beyond award for her dedication to the organization’s goals and her five years of service in the leadership role. The evening ended with comments from MVCA Executive Director Merrill Guerra, pledging to continue the growth of the 70-plus member organization and keep Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem strong.

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October 18, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

Arboretum Ventures Closes Fund III

The team at Arboretum Ventures has done the improbable: raised an oversubscribed fund during one of the worst venture capital fundraising periods ever.  Their firm’s new $140 million fund, Arboretum III, will continue to focus on companies developing innovative healthcare products that not only improve patient care but also reduce the cost of healthcare delivery.   We asked Jan Garfinkle and Tim Petersen, Arboretum’s managing directors, about their firm’s fundraising success, what’s behind the investor appetite, and why they’re “100% certain” Arboretum Ventures will still be in Michigan in 2021.

MVCA:  You found success on the fundraising trail when so many other firms have struggled.  What qualities in your offering do you think investors found most attractive?

Arboretum Ventures: The main driver for investor interest was our returns, frankly.  We’ve sold five companies, three of which were major exits (HealthMedia, HandyLab, and Accuri Cytometers).  We’ve already returned all of our first fund and a good portion of our second fund, with returns in the top decile of performance for our vintage year, so we think that made a huge impression.

MVCA: Did you have strong support from your existing investor base?

Arboretum: We’re so fortunate to have a very strong high-level group of existing investors that are Midwest- based.  All of the investors in Arboretum II committed to the first close of our third fund, which was great.  Then we were able to bring in new investors from not just the Midwest but nationally because of our track record.

MVCA: You invest in mainly Midwest companies.  Does being located in Michigan give you a competitive advantage or disadvantage when competing for deals in the healthcare space?

Arboretum: We really believe being in Michigan is a competitive advantage.  The major exits we’ve had have all been Michigan companies, so we know we can find great companies locally that funds on the coasts might miss.  And a big part of the reason our exits were so successful is because our CEOs did a great job of being capital efficient.  This is part of the “secret sauce” for Midwest companies—low costs of living and doing business means that invested capital goes further.  It’s up to 30% cheaper to run a business here than in San Jose, for example, so that makes a huge difference because companies in our sector are  usually acquired for a price in the range of $100mm to $300 mm. It’s a real advantage for us investing here in the Midwest.

MVCA: What is your vision for where your firm and our industry as a whole in Michigan will be in five or 10 years?

Arboretum: For us, we are always striving to be one of the top healthcare venture funds not just in Midwest but in the U.S.  But we’re 100% certain we’ll still be located in Michigan in ten years, it’s one of our core competitive advantages.

Our hope for venture capital in Michigan is that we have multiple funds north of $100 million that are able to provide investment and support to companies that are in the Midwest in all of the various industries.  The venture funds on the coasts are all fighting for the same deals in their area, but there’s not as many of us so we have a great opportunity to get good prices and efficient use of capital.  In healthcare at least, and specifically in diagnostics, we’re reaching critical mass here in Michigan.   Management teams from successful companies like HandyLab, Accuri and HealthMedia can now stay in our area and find another company to grow and lead.  Fifty to 100 healthcare companies headquartered in Michigan in 2021 would be a wonderful thing.

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September 26, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

MVCA accepting applications for three venture programs

The Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA) is accepting applications for two new venture programs, the Michigan Venture Fellows Program and the Angel Network Growth Program, as well as for its popular CEO/Executive In Residence Program.  All three programs were funded by a recent $3.1 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s 21st Century Jobs Fund, a program of the Michigan Strategic Fund.  Complete details of each program are available at www.michiganvca.org.

The Michigan Venture Fellows Program will create the next generation of Michigan venture capitalists by expanding job opportunities at Michigan venture capital firms.  Fellows will spend 18-24 months in a Michigan-based venture firm, earn a salary and receive training at the Venture Capital Institute.  Fellow candidates should have strong Michigan ties, preferably as graduate students at Michigan universities whose professional goals include venture capital.  Interested candidates must apply to the MVCA by November 30.

The Angel Network Growth Program awards a maximum of $18,000 per year to the six Michigan-based angel groups (Ann Arbor Angels, Blue Water Angels, Capital Angels, First Angels, Grand Angels, and Great Lakes Angels) or others to be determined by the MVCA Board of Directors.  The angel group must have made at least one initial investment of at least $125K in the prior six month period to qualify for the award.  The group can then use the money to hire a new staff person/intern, organize an angel education event for members and potential members,  organize a network-to-network deal-sharing event, or invest in typical angel investment activity infrastructure (due diligence, back office, legal, and accounting).

The EIR/CEO Placement Program pairs the state’s venture firms with executive talent.  The EIR program is designed to attract and retain executive-level talent, broaden the reach of venture capital firms, and lead to new-company formation and growth in Michigan.  The CEO program is designed to increase the number of venture-backed executives and the number of successful venture-backed companies in Michigan.  This program results in the placement of successful, venture-backed CEOs into Michigan-based portfolio companies.  The MVCA aims to select three to four EIR/CEO candidates in each year of the three year program.

Ron Reed, general partner and founder of Seneca Partners and president of the MVCA, says, “We’re excited to offer these three outstanding programs to the Michigan venture community.  They each address important pieces in cultivating a robust venture capital industry in our state—talent, leadership, and capital.”

MVCA Executive Director Merrill Guerra adds:  “We look forward to an expanding angel network here in the state as well as to attracting and retaining more young and executive talent.  These programs will serve a vital role in executing our mission to support Michigan’s venture capital and entrepreneurial communities.”

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.  www.michiganvca.org

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August 22, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

YTD 2011 Venture Financing Numbers Released

The MVCA reported total venture financings in Michigan topped $72.5 million thus far in 2011, a decrease  over 2010 and 2009. However, 2009 and 2010 financings were unusually high given sizable venture capital raises in several Michigan life science companies.  Despite the decrease in total year-to-date financings, the number of investments made are on par with the prior two years, indicating lower amounts of venture capital contributed per deal.

Click here to review the entire 2011 YTD MVCA Venture Financings report.

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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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