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According to a report by the Michigan Angel Community, over $41 million was put into 70 Michigan companies by angel investors in 2017. This type of funding is vital to Michigan’s economic growth and to its journey to become an entrepreneurial destination.
Fortunately, in addition to countless new startups, Michigan is also home to a significant network of seasoned angel investors. Similar to those of us in the Endeavor network, most angel investors are interested in not only the most promising companies but the people who run them. These investors are characterized not only by providing entrepreneurs with capital that is often difficult to obtain elsewhere, but by the importance they place on mentoring entrepreneurs and business owners. What follows is just a sampling of angel investors who are working to improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Michigan.
In 2011, Ted Serbinski uprooted his life in San Francisco because of his belief in Detroit. He saw immense potential and has since been a great advocate for midwest startups. He is currently the managing director of coding education company TechStart. In a previous venture, Ted was co-founder and CTO of ParentsClick Network and partner at Detroit Venture Partners. As an investor, he is very involved with early-stage startups and helping companies during their inception phase.
Jeff Epstein is the founder of Ambassador, a referral software company headquartered right here in Detroit, and was recently acquired by West Corporation which is owned by the Apollo Group – the world’s largest private equity fund. He is an official member of the Forbes Technology Council and, in 2011, he founded Funded by Night, a one-day competition for tech startups to pitch for funding. Jeff is no stranger to working his way from the ground up, he knows what it takes to scale a company and supports Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem with his experience in building his own startups.
Jonathon Triest is the founder and managing partner of Ludlow Ventures and Sandwich Fund. His portfolio consists of some pretty notable startups including May Mobility, Ambassador, and Bloomscape, to name a few. He once owned and operated Triest Group, a design firm that focused on user interfaces/user experience. Jonathon is a Kauffman Fellow and board member of both the Trico Foundation and Venture for America. He is also an advisor at tech accelerators such as Silicon Valley’s Up West Labs, Cincinnati’s The Brandery, and San Francisco’s Highway 1.
Patti Glaza is the Senior Vice President, venture and managing director of Invest Detroit Ventures. Prior to joining Invest Detroit, she was with Arsenal Venture Partners, a multi-stage national venture capital firm focused on IT, energy and industrial technologies. In her 20+ years of experience, Patti founded and developed numerous companies including the Clean Technology and Sustainable Industries Organization (CTSI), where she worked closely with government agencies to promote solutions in energy, water, and sustainability. With a broad background in the development, implementation, and commercialization of advanced technologies, Patti leverages her vast operational experience and industry relationships to nurture up-and-coming startups in Detroit. Patti serves on a number of boards, including the Michigan Venture Capital Association and recently won the Community Impact Award with IDV.
Jody Vanderwel is the president of Grand Angels, a venture
capital firm that specializes in small-business funding. She is also on the investment committee for Grand Angels’ second fund, GA venture fund II, which was launched in 2015. Prior to her work with Grand Angels, Vanderwel spent 12 years as Herman Miller Inc, and served as a corporate counselor and later VP of corporate giving. Jody has been working with the Grand Angels since 2005, and has seen incredible success. Since its inception in 2004, the Grand Angels have primarily focused on the life science, technology, manufacturing and agriculture industry. In 2014, the VC firm surpassed it’s 2014 goals and invest 2.3 million in 12 deals.
These angel investors provide entrepreneurs with the crucial mix of capital and mentorship they need to grow their businesses, and in turn our state’s ability to create jobs throughout its economy. We’re encouraged by the momentum this group of investors, among many others, continue to bring to Michigan.
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