Detroit Venture Partners aims to grow downtown tech hub

Detroit Venture Partners, the Motor City's newest venture capital fund, isn't just looking at itself as a regional entity, but as one with a heavy emphasis on its hometown.

The VC fund specializing in technology investments is setting up shop in the Compuware Building. It expects to play a key role in building up the emerging high-tech hub that includes big names like Compuware, Quicken Loans and GalaxE. Solutions.

"We are firmly committed to the city of Detroit," says Josh Linkner, CEO & managing principal of Detroit Venture Partners. "We want to invest in companies in Detroit and recruit them to downtown."

Detroit Venture Partners was founded by Linkner (ePrize), Dan Gilbert (Quicken Loans) and Brian Hermelin of Rockbridge Growth Equity. The VC fund plans to invest in early-stage companies specializing in Internet, digital media, marketing technology, direct-to-consumer, sports & entertainment, social media, e-commerce, software. These are the areas of expertise of the firm's founders. They plan to turn down startups in other fields like advanced manufacturing and bio-tech due to unfamiliarity.

Detroit Venture Partners expects to make 6-8 investments in 2011 and 10-20 the year after. Although a startup's lack of enthusiasm to move downtown isn't a "deal breaker" for investment, Linkner says his VC Fund plans to make such a move "highly advised" and Detroit Venture Partners is not afraid to twist and arm or two to make that happen. Such pressure from investors is common in venture capital. Linkner believes a firm like Detroit Venture Partners will help downtown reach a critical mass for startups based in the new economy, creating an exponential economic impact in the city.

"We want to be the Sequoia Capital of Detroit (referencing one of Silicon Valley's biggest VC firms)," Linkner says. "We're putting our money to work. This is a tremendous opportunity."

Source: Josh Linkner, CEO & managing partner of Detroit Venture Partners
Writer: Jon Zemke

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