A continuing problem in an emerging tech and startup hub like southeast Michigan is lagging funding, but many venture capital firms spread resources farther than regional focus and invest in ventures when they’re already producing revenue. That’s not when most ventures need the most help.
Invest Detroit, or ID Ventures, is a venture capital team that provides investment to startup companies in the Detroit and greater Michigan region in the seed stage. We hear a lot at Cronicle Press that VCs often don’t like to restrict their investments too regionally, which further dilutes access to limited capital in the Great Lakes area, but ID Ventures focuses on Detroit and is the company behind the launch of successful Detroit startups Bloomscape, and northern Michigan’s Orbion, and Airspace Link.
We recently caught up with ID Ventures senior vice president and managing director Martin Dober, who just announced that ID Ventures is partnering with Google’s Developers Launchpad program as their first partner in the continental U.S. That means Silicon Valley mentorship from Google along with seed stage funding for hungry Michigan startups, a critical pairing.
Dober says there is a need in Detroit for high-quality accelerator support, especially as TechStars Detroit recently announced it would close for lack of funding. “We’re hoping we can utilize the Launchpad program from Google to help, but we’re not launching an accelerator,” Dober says.
“It’s important to have a consistent reliable source of early seeding funding for companies,” Dober says. “For every company we invest in, there are at least 10 we’re not.” This is why ID Ventures is also working to create an evergreen fund, “so we’re not fundraising every 2-3 years.” Still, ID Ventures is deploying more capital “than we ever have,” Dober adds. “We invested $1 million more last year, a record year. Our pipeline is looking strong.”
ID Ventures is tech-agnostic, but is looking for companies “who are on the VC path and can raise additional rounds through larger firms.” Dober says that this creates leverage for the funding ID Ventures can raise, to launch companies into larger rounds from elsewhere. “The goal is to get companies started so they can go on to raise larger rounds,” Dober explains. “We’re trying to attract that additional capital for the state.” ID Ventures is betting that better access to capital, along with best practices and mentorship from Silicon Valley’s top mentors, will be the ticket to accelerating further success among Michigan’s best new startups.
ID Ventures mostly invests in life sciences, software, “by nature what Michigan is good at,” Dober says. Sometimes there is mobility, manufacturing, or advanced materials in the mix. It’s one of the largest portfolios of any investment firm in Michigan, with 120 companies supported in the last 10 years.
That raises a question for us at Cronicle. Michigan has its own thought leadership in tech-related industries the state has excelled at over the years, from mobility tech to engineering and software. Now that coastal best practices are making their way into the mainstream of tech and business practice in the Midwest, we want to hear from you. Whether its local or coastal, which industry experts do you want to hear from? Which best practices would you like to learn more about, that often gets tied up in private mentorship in an accelerator program? One of our goals at Cronicle is to bring this expertise to you in a way that can’t be highlighted in depth in the mainstream news. Let us know by email or in comments if you have had a topic on your mind you’d like to learn more about, so the best mentorship from Silicon Valley to Detroit’s manufacturing tech industries and life science startups are available to everyone to accelerate the Great Lakes tech industry growth for everyone’s benefit.