As the Michigan representative of a national venture firm, Arsenal Ventures Partner, Ryan Waddington, regularly finds and touts great Michigan companies to the rest of his nationwide team. “I help promising Michigan-based companies find capital, both inside and outside of the state. Nothing spreads the Michigan message better than great Michigan companies that can attract capital from the traditional centers of venture capital.” Now, Waddington is well-positioned to increase the state’s presence in the national venture conversation with his new role, as a board member of the Michigan Venture Capital Association.
A Michigan native who did a stint in New York with one of the largest family office investment firms in the country, Waddington moved back to Michigan in 2010 to start Huron River Ventures with partner Tim Streit. Several years later, as his role at Huron River Ventures ramps down and his work as Arsenal Ventures’ Michigan partner heats up, Waddington felt it was time to get more involved in the venture community by serving as a board member of the MVCA. During his tenure, Waddington hopes the organization can work with legislators in Lansing to help more Michigan companies find venture funding in the state. “We need more Michigan-focused venture investors in order to adequately support the capital needs of local fast-growing businesses from start-up to exit. Our investment community must continue to grow, and a fund-of-funds like Venture Michigan, that helps more venture firms deploy capital to Michigan companies, can move the needle quickly,” he said.
As for what role MVCA can play for fund managers raising capital, he points to the organization’s programs and LP outreach. “Whether it’s programs to help early-stage managers or an event that opens the eyes of the institutional community to the funds that are here (like the recent Michigan Investment Landscape Meeting, co-hosted by MVCA), MVCA can help make connections for Michigan fund managers and investors and spread the message about the great things that are happening in the entrepreneurial community in Michigan and the need for additional capital by Michigan’s growing companies.” He hopes to help plan future MVCA events linking the VC and investment communities, including one introducing family offices and high net worth individuals to small and first-time fund managers. “MVCA is a strong advocate for the investment community, and a great resource for newly established venture firms. I’m eager to help MVCA build an even stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Michigan.”