Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS) – now known as the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium – is one of the most celebrated events of the year. The event brings together venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and executives from tech transfer offices for two-days of networking, panels and company pitches, showcasing the exciting innovation that’s happening in Michigan. This year, MVCA conducted short Q&As with investors and entrepreneurs throughout the conference to hear their thoughts about the event and Michigan’s growing entrepreneurial and investment community.
As background, MVCA had entrepreneurs and investors weigh-in on their level of confidence in Michigan’s fundraising, investing, and hiring environments in our latest research series post. The findings from the post include:
- 63 percent of VC partners feel that, in the last three years, Michigan’s entrepreneurial & investment community has improved.
- Of the firms that are going to be fundraising between now and 2020, 64% felt confident in their firm’s ability to raise this fund. Adding to this, 71% felt that, even if they were less than confident in their ability to raise the fund, they did feel confident they could successfully fundraise while maintaining an office and venture professionals in Michigan.
- 84% of VC partners feel at least somewhat confident in their firm’s ability to find and hire top-tier talent for their firm’s Michigan office.
To elaborate on these findings, we asked attendees at MGCS the following questions to get their thoughts on Michigan’s entrepreneurial and investment community.
Why is Michigan a great place to launch a startup?
“Michigan has a couple of advantages for launching a startup. One is that the cost of building a company in Michigan is a lot lower than the coasts. Secondly, there are efficiencies in the way that capital is deployed. Your investment can go a lot farther in Michigan.” – Doug Neal, eLab Ventures
“The support community in Michigan is surprisingly amazing. With all that’s happening in Downtown Detroit to events like MGCS, we’ve found the support from the community to be very impressive. Also, the skill and talent available in Michigan are often underestimated. There is a lot of talent here in Michigan that can participate in the startup community.” – Mohan Sethi, Collabtic
“Michigan is a great place to launch a startup, because we live in a generation where we don’t buy products as much as we buy stories, and how they make us feel. I feel that Michigan, the Midwest, and Detroit, in general, are very compelling and are giving entrepreneurs a platform to tell their stories and create products and solutions that solve big problems.” – Aaron McClendon, Detroit Venture Partners
What can Michigan do to create a stronger entrepreneurial and investment community?
“We should focus on how entrepreneurs and investors, as well as the public and private sector, can work together in the community. It sounds simple, but we need to continue to create a virtuous cycle by bringing together startups, capital, and knowledgeable people from throughout the state and the country to focus on the growing sectors of mobility, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics.” – Chris Thomas, Fontinalis Partners
“One of the best things we can do is continue to add to the diversity of interests throughout all different types of companies whether it’s life sciences, technology or consumer products.” – Kent Brown, Oxx
“We are already doing a great job. The MVCA Annual Research Report shows things have been growing quite substantially in the last couple years. I think building the mentoring and co-investing networks can help import thought leadership and capital to take companies to the next level. Detroit Homecoming, as it continues to grow and expand, will also help out. I would also say continuing to be a close-knit community and partner at events like MGCS, pitch competitions, as well as MVCA networking events, makes everything easy and efficient to learn about the great entrepreneurs in the area, investable companies, and the pool of talent and capital available. Working together and continuing to have that kinship is going to be big.” – Cayse Llorens, Invest Detroit Ventures