Nic Wetzler has been a long-standing member of Michigan’s entrepreneurial and investment community with previous leadership roles at Detroit Materials and Wayne State University. Now as a Venture Fellow, Wetzler will be in charge of deal sourcing and due diligence at Augment Ventures.
The Venture Fellows Program, supported by Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), is designed to increase the number of venture professionals in Michigan to accelerate the fundraising and deployment of capital into early-stage companies.
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 became familiar with the Venture Fellows Program from my relationships with past Fellows and through my involvement with Michigan’s entrepreneurial and investment community. Through the program, venture firms can attract and hire talented individuals. The program also provides an attractive platform that helps younger professionals join an investment team and become involved in the community through networking and training. The Venture Fellows Program is the juncture that bridges and addresses critical elements that we need in Michigan’s entrepreneurial and investment community – capital and talent.
What are you most looking forward to about being a Fellow? What will you be doing at your new firm?
I look forward to helping build Augment Ventures and Michigan’s entrepreneurial and investment community as a whole. Venture capital is a relationship-based business, and I am excited to learn and foster relationships with other Fellows, local and national investors, and entrepreneurs. My primary responsibility at Augment Ventures is deal sourcing and due diligence. I’ll also work alongside the partner on fund development and portfolio management.
What do you hope to be doing in 10 years?
In ten years, I hope to be a managing director with Augment Ventures. Sonali’s work in creating and operating Augment is impressive. With LLamasoft’s recent partnership with TPG representing the first exit from Fund I, and with more success stories developing with other portfolio companies, I am confident that Augment Ventures will continue to grow and thrive. I hope to be a critical part of that growth.
What attracts you to the venture capital industry? Why build your career in Michigan?
Creativity and building have always been my passion, since spending countless hours building Lego creations as a young boy. I have always been attracted to entrepreneurship from watching family and friends launch and run their own businesses growing up. I love the idea that you can put a great team together around an idea to do something better, or create something that has never been done, and change the way we work and live. I am inspired to change the world by investing in and building transformational companies; it is exciting to see so much opportunity and try to figure out how to nurture some of it to maturity.
Michigan is home, so it’s natural for me to build my career here. The venture capital industry in Michigan is growing so well, as told by the MVCA Annual Research Report. I am excited that we are building a solid foundation with significant companies that have founded and exited, right here in Michigan. We are starting to see the spillover effects of when the people from these exits come together, create something new, pick up and develop new talent, and build new companies. I am thrilled to be part of that story now.
What’s your dream investment (the venture-backed startup you wish YOU had spotted first!)?
Intel. It created the idea, which was not as popular at the time, that if you don’t like your employer or think you can do it better on your own, you leave and start a new company. Prior to the company, the best talent was looking for a steady corporate job at Bell Labs, General Electric, General Motors, RCA, US Steel, etc. Intel cemented the idea of starting your own high-tech firm. Intel also created an industry; it catalyzed the explosion of transistors and the microchip, which became the foundation for the internet and mobile computing economies. Software is indeed eating the world, but it all runs on silicon somewhere.
Locally, I wish I had spotted LLamasoft, recipient of the MVCA Capital Event of the Year Award. LLamasoft pioneered the idea of using a software platform to analyze and thoughtfully build and manage the supply chain from an enterprise-level. Until then, the supply chain developed haphazardly, with the optimization happening at the individual sourcing decision level. It wasn’t obvious at the time of investment that this was going to be a huge market, as no one was doing enterprise-level supply chain design and analysis. It’s a testament to Don, Toby and the team for creating and building the company, and for Sonali and the early investor team for seeing their vision and backing this transformational company.