Back to Blog February 22, 2024 in

Michigan VCs attended the Ilitch School’s Future of Venture Capital in Detroit & SE Michigan

Navigate all the resources featured in the Landscape Guide by geographic location, industry sector, and organization type. Landscape Guide
Everything you need to know to make a meaningful first connection can be found in our 2021-22 Landscape Guide! Download the Guide

2023 MVCA Research Report

Our state's entrepreneurial economy hinges on our ability to provide capital to our high-growth, high-potential companies. Download the Report

On February 16, 2024, representatives from venture capital firms across Michigan came to the Mike Ilitch School of Business to attend the Future of Venture Capital in Detroit and Southeast Michigan Conference, hosted by the Ilitch School in partnership with the Michigan Venture Capital Association.

Ilitch School of Business Dean Virginia Kleist provided some opening remarks, noting that “Wayne State University and the Ilitch School of Business sit in the heart of this city, mirroring that same kind of excellence and energy as the entrepreneurs who are building the new Detroit. I am very grateful that the Michigan Venture Capital Association partners and other venture capitalists took the time to provide us with their expertise as we all work together in the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem space. Our students are fortunate to have such wonderful partners in this program.”

This event was organized by Professor Kevin Ketels, director of the entrepreneurship and innovation program. Ketels was glad to see this event come together, stating that “it was an excellent opportunity to bring together the venture capital community, founders, students and faculty.”

The event featured two panel discussions and a keynote address, presented by Paul McCreadie, who is Partner and Chief Operating Officer at Arboretum Ventures. His address, “Venture Capital Strategy in Today’s Economic Headwinds,” focused on the difficulty of raising funds in a high-inflation and capital scarce environment. McCreadie also offered his own insights into his work fundraising against these headwinds, including advising participants to begin the process of raising funds early, and paying particular attention to hitting earning milestones.

The first panel discussion, “The Future of Venture Capital in Detroit and Southeast Michigan” featured Nia Batts, Managing Partner and C.O.O of Union Heritage, Chris Rizik, CEO of Renaissance Venture Capital, Martin Dober, Senior Vice President of Invest Detroit and Managing Director of ID Ventures, and Nancy Philippart, Co-Founder and Partner of Belle Michigan. The discussion was moderated by Ara Topouzian, the Executive Director of Michigan Venture Capital Association

During this discussion, participants talked about what makes the Michigan venture capital environment unique, as well as the software, healthcare and sciences industries that are receiving a lot of attention. Another conversation arose about fostering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in venture capital, both among the enterprises that receive investment and among the venture capitalists who are making investments, something that all panelists agreed deserved attention.

The second panel, “New Generation of Venture Capital Talent,” featured Meagan Malm, Principle of Michigan Capital Network, Keegan McGuire, a Healthcare Investor at Arboretum Adventures, Caroline Wolanin ‘22, an Investor at Plymouth Growth and Nicholas Cohn, and Investment Analyst and Grand Ventures. The discussion was moderated by Austin Churley, a Junior studying finance at the Ilitch School, and President of Warrior Ventures, a student-run venture capital fund.

During this discussion, younger venture capital talent talked about their paths into the industry, which involved everything from traditional banking routes to making the venture capital transition from working as a pastry chef. These panelists all felt that they bring a unique and fresh perspective to the table, as they are often the youngest in the room. They also discussed how to become more comfortable with accepting the risk inherent in the VC space

Wolanin, an Ilitch Business Administration and Finance major, was glad to be back at her alma mater just two years out from graduation. She said this is “a complete full circle moment. If you were to tell me when I started at Wayne State that this is where I would end up, I think I would be beyond overjoyed. There is so much that I did at Wayne State that helped me get to the point that I am.

“This event is pioneering a movement in Detroit that is long overdue. I am super excited to be exposing students to the world of venture capital, it’s an industry with so much potential, especially in Michigan.”


Written by Patrick Bernas, Information Officer III 

The Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business prepares students for challenging and rewarding careers, advances the boundaries of scholarly and practitioner knowledge, and enhances the economic vitality of the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan and beyond through its programs, research and community engagement. Established in 1946, the business school was renamed in 2015 in recognition of a $40 million gift from Mike and Marian Ilitch. Thanks to this lead investment, the school moved to a new state-of-the-art building in the heart of the District Detroit in 2018, and academic programming and collaboration with city businesses are expanding. For more information, visit