Michigan is emerging like every other state from the haze of the COVID-19 pandemic. As companies and individuals chart a course forward, Cronicle wanted to check on the base of the tech startup pipeline: funding. Patti Glaza and Ara Topouzian have front-row seats to VC funding in Detroit, and in Michigan overall, and were gracious enough to spend an hour talking with us about what they’re seeing in the tech startup space after 2020. We hope that whether you are tech talent, a VC investigating Michigan’s startup space, or a startup founder looking for funding, our conversations with the folks in the venture capital scene help you connect with resources that help you also chart a course forward as the pandemic winds down.
Michigan’s economy has had a “K shaped recovery” as the COVID-19 pandemic had a disproportionate effect on restaurant, retail, and Main Street businesses that still have not recovered. What many people have been wondering is how businesses are faring who were able to function remotely or support businesses in that endeavor. Has Michigan hit yet another “once in a lifetime” financial crisis? The answer is a bit complicated, but there is a lot of good news for businesses like tech and life science companies that could pivot to remote work structures. We reached out to a few VC and angel investors in the Ann Arbor-Detroit startup space to get their perspective on what’s happening at the very base of the startup pipeline: funding. As everyone in the startup space knows, Michigan has always dragged a bit behind on having enough funding for the great startups that come out of this region, so we were concerned that if the funding dropped, the ecosystem might lag. Fortunately, we found the behind the scenes reality is quite the opposite, and many investors were happy to share their tips on how businesses can get in the loop on what’s going on in Michigan startup funding in 2021.
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.