Back to Blog August 14, 2014 in

Meet Daniel Ratliff, new MVCA Venture Fellow at Fontinalis Partners

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photo 1We tracked down Daniel, our newest Venture Fellow, as he starts his MVCA Venture Fellowship at Fontinalis Partners in Detroit, to learn more about why he’s excited to be a Fellow, his thoughts about our venture community and the one deal his wishes he’d found first.

MVCA: What advantage do you think the Fellows program gives younger professionals and venture firms when trying to make a match?

Daniel: As I became more interested in making the transition from investment banking into venture capital, I learned more about the Fellows program from Bill (Blake, current Venture Fellow and Beringea team member) as well as from Chris Stallman with Fontinalis Partners. The Fellows program seemed like a great opportunity to get involved in the venture capital community, particularly as a younger professional. Having lived in downtown Detroit over the past few years, I’ve seen a lot of traction in the start up community and the growing number venture investors, particularly in Detroit and Ann Arbor, and the Fellows program offered a unique way for a young professional like myself to connect with a firm like Fontinalis that was seeking to add a new member to their investment team to support the firm’s growth.

What are you most looking forward to being an MVCA Venture Fellow?

From the outset it’s clear the Fellows Program will be a great tool during my early progression as an Associate with Fontinalis, providing a variety of additional resources and support outside of my new organization as I begin building a career in venture capital. As I get more settled in with Fontinalis, I look forward to engaging in the MVCA and Venture Fellows networks and creating opportunities to help grow both Fontinalis, as well as the greater venture capital community in Michigan.


What attracts you to the venture capital industry?

The venture capital industry is attractive for a number of reasons. It provides the opportunity to work with some of the brightest entrepreneurs, including proven business builders as well as rising stars. Additionally, venture capital is at the forefront of new technologies, products, and services that are capable of changing and improving the way we live on a daily basis.

What will you be doing at Fontinalis?

As an Associate with Fontinalis I will be responsible for a variety of tasks involving current portfolio companies, evaluating prospective investments, fund raising, reporting, conducting research, and other functions of the firm where I can be effective.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years?

In ten years, I hope to be well into a successful career with Fontinalis, living in Detroit and continuing to make venture capital investments having worked on numerous investment opportunities from the initial review phase all the way to successful exits. In addition to earning attractive returns for our investors over the next decade, I also look forward to witnessing the evolution and impact of next generation mobility across the world.


Just for fun, what’s your “dream deal” (the venture-backed firm you wish YOU had spotted first!)?

At Fontinalis, our focus is on “next-generation mobility” companies; and within that market, it is hard to ignore Uber’s incredible success to date in navigating a murky regulatory environment to revolutionize on-demand transportation.  The company’s success is a great testament to what can happen when you combine a dedicated team that is fanatically focused the user experience with a market that is ripe for disruption.  While Fontinalis is not an investor in Uber, we’re excited to see the increased innovation that companies like Uber spur when they place a spotlight on the opportunity—and we’re confident that this won’t be the only multi-billion-dollar deal in our space.