Investment group adds staff downtown as it spreads seed capital across Michigan

Invest Michigan is nearing its second year in June and the non-profit that makes and manages small investments in early stage tech startups is celebrating by rounding out its team.

The downtown Detroit-based investment organization has hired a new associate out of Chicago to help with financial market and industry research. Invest Michigan now employs a team of six people from its perch in the Guardian Building, overseeing a growing number of angel investments in startups.

"We've had really good growth in the last 21 months," says Charlie Moret, president of Invest Michigan. "We have had 33 transactions in that time."

Invest Michigan oversees the Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0, a multimillion dollar angel investment fund capitalized by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. It invests in Michigan-based tech startups, typically between $50,000 to $150,000. It has worked with a growing number of institutional investors (25 as of this spring) and Michigan's growing pool of angel investors. The combined power of these different factions helps spread more money around to more startups.

"Having a group of us to support these companies helps reduce the risk," Moret says.

The total size of the Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0 grew to $10.5 million fund after a $2.5 million follow-on capital infusion by the MEDC last year. Moret says Invest Michigan has about between three and four years worth of investment capital in its reserves, including money put aside for follow-on investments in startups.

Follow-on investment -- worth between $50,000 and $150,000 -- is an increasingly used phrase at Invest Michigan. Of its 33 transactions so far, seven have been follow-on investments. These include fast-rising startups like TechTown-based ENT Biotech Solutions, along with Ann Arbor-based AdAdapted and Genomenon. The latter happened shortly after it placed second at last fall's Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. Moret expects more of those follow-on investments to continue as the fund matures.

"We hold the additional capital from MEDC as a reserve so we can continue to support our startups with more investment," Moret says.

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at
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Read more articles by Jon Zemke.

Jon Zemke is a news editor with Model D and its sister publications, Metromode and Concentrate. He's also a small-scale real-estate developer and landlord in the greater downtown Detroit area.

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