A lifelong interest in exploration and navigating new paths led MVCA Venture Fellow Brad Lichota to a career in venture capital, where he’s scouting startups as a member of RPM Ventures’ investment team. Brad tells us about his new role at RPM, his future as a Michigan job creator, and using the MVCA Venture Fellows program to find his way home.
How did you find out about the Fellows program? What advantage do you think the Fellows program gives younger professionals and venture firms when trying to make a match?
I discovered the Fellow’s program in the MVCA’s annual report. As my interest grew to join the VC community in Michigan and leave Chicago, I came upon the MVCA’s annual report that published information about all the local venture firms, including the current and past Fellows. With time, I met several of the MVCA Fellows in person, who better explained the program and value it brings to the venture firm, venture fellows, and broader community.
The Fellows program helps build new resources for the community. Being early in my career, the program enables a forum for young professionals, like myself, to deepen our roots within the local entrepreneurial community – which is like a venture investment in and of itself!
What are you most looking forward to about being a Fellow? What will you be doing at your new firm?
As a Fellow, I’m very excited to cultivate and bring new resources into the venture ecosystem in Michigan. With RPM’s investment footprint extending into other entrepreneurial hubs across the U.S., I hope to leverage best practices while learning about the venture business at one of the state’s longest standing firms. It is my intent to spread awareness of the developing startup ecosystem and encourage others outside of the community to join in.
At RPM Ventures, I will focus on supporting the primary functions of the Firm. This includes: sourcing and evaluating investment opportunities, modeling and fund performance analysis, financial reporting, L.P. relationship management, and working directly with portfolio companies on special projects.
What do you hope to be doing in 10 years?
In 10 years I hope that I am in a position that will help create jobs. I have come to realize how important organic job creation is for a local community, and have become tremendously motivated to support that effort.
Whether that be at a venture firm, venture backed business, or my own entrepreneurial endeavor, I am excited to build upon something that others can join!
What attracts you to the venture capital industry? Why build your career in Michigan?
Venture capital creates progress. It advances new ideas. It helps support the development of innovative technologies. And, as I mentioned previously, it creates jobs. The positive impacts of the venture capital and entrepreneurship industry are endless, and are the reasons why I am most excited.
In my opinion, Michigan has an enormous amount of unlocked potential. Filled with top universities and strong corporate industry, the state is a great place to be. Building a career in Michigan reaps the benefits of joining in on the momentum budding within the local technology and startup community.
What’s your dream deal (the venture backed firm you wish YOU had spotted first!)?
I’m excited about the momentum built by Automatic, one of RPM’s portfolio companies. The company has emerged as a leader in connected car technology, and continues to set industry standards in the mobility space.
Although based in Silicon Valley, Automatic’s mission ties directly back to the Motor City. With Michigan’s local business community home to many of the world’s largest auto manufactures, it is exciting to see RPM share local resources with Automatic. I am thrilled to be a part in Automatic’s growth, and hope that I can, too, find and support another deal that ties back locally.