Tim Petersen sees VC as the spotlight that’s making Michigan shine bright in the national landscape.
“Venture capitalists in Michigan continue to grow in an environment where, in other parts of the country, the industry is contracting,” said a Managing Director of Arboretum Ventures and the outgoing chair of the Michigan Venture Capital Association. “Nationally, statistics are down, but in Michigan, we’ve accelerated venture under management and are getting more deals done compared to most of the rest of the country. What’s exciting is that people – entrepreneurs and other VCs – are taking notice of what’s happening here.”
Now on its third fund, Petersen and his partners have led Arboretum Ventures to incredible success. The organization is a prime example of what’s exciting about Michigan’s VC community right now.
“Arboretum’s core portfolio companies in the third fund, including Tangent Medical Devices, ArborMetrix and NeuMoDx, are looking very promising,” said Petersen, “and they’re all based in Michigan. We don’t just invest in Michigan, but the Michigan companies are really exciting.”
“In the past year, one of our companies, Esperion Therapeutics, went public,” Petersen added. “Two years ago we helped found ArborMetrix and it has outgrown its start-up space and now has prime office space in downtown Ann Arbor.”
In addition to his work at Arboretum, Petersen has served as the chair of the Michigan Venture Capital Association for the last two years. He’s quick to point to the organization’s greatest accomplishment: Bringing up the next generation of venture capitalists and keeping the industry ahead of the national curve.
“The launch of the Michigan Venture Capital Association Venture Fellows Program has been very exciting,” Petersen said. “It has struck a chord with our VC members, and they’re readily utilizing the program. We weren’t sure what to expect when we launched it with MEDC support less than two years ago, and it’s exciting that it has really taken off. Having spent time with the fellows, it’s easy to see that there’s a desire to be in this profession, in Michigan.”
To Petersen, Michigan’s future only looks brighter when considering what’s yet to come. He’s particularly inspired by the growing ranks of serial entrepreneurs in Michigan, and the potential for that trend going forward. “In recent years, there have been more and more entrepreneurs that are exiting and then starting a new venture,” he said. “When I talk to students about being an entrepreneur, I always say it’s a profession – it’s a lifelong gig. The good news is that experience makes it easier to grow a successful company, which is why serial entrepreneurs are so important.”