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MVCAcademy Recap: Strengthening Michigan’s VC Community through Mentorship & Education

School is back in session! Earlier this month, MVCA Venture Fellows and partners hit the books for MVCAcademy, a one-day deep dive on venture capital covering everything from book recommendations to fundraising. This program is supported by MEDC and is essential to fostering a strong entrepreneurial and investment community in Michigan.


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In case you’re not familiar, Venture Fellows are part of MVCA’s ExeConnect program, which pairs investment professionals early in their career with a Michigan venture firm for a two-year employment term. Participating venture firms are offered a salary match component while Fellows have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with leaders in Michigan’s entrepreneurial and investment community by attending MVCA events and continued education seminars like MVCAcademy. This year, breakout sessions were tailored for partners and Fellows.

For Fellows, sessions focused on educational topics to aid them as they embark on their career in venture capital. Their day began with a conversation with Joe Malcoun of Nutshell and Jeff Epstein of Ambassador, who both provided insight on the value investors offer to portfolio companies beyond funding. Following this session, industry veterans Jim Adox of Venture Investors, Hugo Braun of North Coast Technology Investors, Doug Neal of eLab Ventures and Ryan Waddington of Arsenal Venture Partners participated in a panel, where they shared lessons they have learned throughout the years and the fundamental characteristics needed to build a management team. The morning classes concluded with a panel featuring Chris Rizik of Renaissance Venture Capital Fund, Jay Katarincic of Draper Triangle, John Barker of The Kresge Foundation, and Erik Lundberg of University of Michigan Endowment on fundraising.  After lunch, Fellows had the opportunity to have an in-depth discussion with Jared Stasik of Detroit Venture Partners on tools of the trade for Associate Life.

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Partners participated in advanced sessions in the afternoon that focused on fundraising and board member best practices. The fundraising panel explored how to identify potential LPs, institutional versus individual investors, and managing fundraising goals featuring Chris Rizik of Renaissance Venture Capital Fund, Jay Katarincic of Draper Triangle, John Barker of The Kresge Foundation, and Erik Lundberg of the University of Michigan Endowment. The discussion on board member best practices was led by Jan Garfinkle of Arboretum Ventures and Jeff Williams of NeuMoDx who discussed partnering with portfolio companies and ways investors can add strategic value beyond financing.

Mixology 101

Following these breakout sessions, Fellows and partners reunited for a couple of joint sessions. Marcia Hatch of Gunderson Dettmer provided a comprehensive lecture on current trends in term sheets followed by a panel on marketing venture firms and their portfolio companies featuring Rachel Fukaya of Barokas PR, Kathleen Shanahan of BOCA Communications. Shane Bliemaster of Marketing Supply Co., Bri Vallesky of PR Supply Co., and Amber Pineda of MVCA.

Keeping with the “back-to-school” theme, MVCA wrapped up the day with a special guest from Two James Spirits, a distillery located in Detroit, who taught attendees how to make a one-of-a-kind cocktail!

MVCA wants to thank all of our panelists and speakers who contributed to making this year’s MVCAcademy a success!


Posted August 22, 2017 in MVCA Venture Fellows Program | MVCA Events