On a winding path from teen entrepreneur to partner at Detroit’s largest venture capital firm (and winner of the 2016 MVCA “100” Award!), Fontinalis Partners’ Chris Stallman rarely strayed too far from his true calling: building and investing in valuable businesses. After starting several tech companies as a high schooler in suburban Chicago, Stallman headed to the University of Michigan for a BBA degree and “talked his way” into an internship at the university’s endowment office, where he credits University of Michigan Chief Investment Officer, Erik Lundberg, and his team with teaching him what L.P.s look for in fund managers. “I got to see a lot of really great investment managers come through the office and see their strategies and competitive differences,” said Stallman, who was recently promoted to partner at Detroit- and Boston-based Fontinalis. “To be in that position so early in my career helped show me how an L.P. thinks, and ultimately comes into play with what I am now doing at Fontinalis as we continue to build our firm and raise new funds.”
The promotion from Principal to Partner at a venture capital firm focused on next-generation mobility, will carry Stallman further down the path he began at the firm six years ago. He played a key role in the expansion of the firm’s active portfolio to 25 companies, co-led the firm’s fundraising efforts for its second fund (a $100 million fund completed in mid-2016), and is actively involved with many of the firm’s investments through various board positions. Fontinalis co-founder and partner, Bill Ford, says of Stallman: “Since we launched Fontinalis Partners in 2009, we have worked to build a portfolio of world- class mobility companies, and Chris has played a critical role in that effort. On behalf of all the Partners at Fontinalis, I am pleased to recognize him for his exceptional performance and important contributions.”
Stallman looks to the future at Fontinalis as a chance to continue doing what he’s always done–build and invest in valuable businesses–in a state that he thinks has all the components of a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem. “Michigan’s built a startup community that I am extremely enthusiastic about, with innovative entrepreneurs and supportive investors as the cornerstone. I’d like to see more angel capital and repeat entrepreneurs in the community, but I think it’s just a matter of time,” he says. And coming from a firm focused on transportation, for Stallman, it’s all just a matter of travelling a little further down the right path.