Although minority tech startups are making a larger footprint in Michigan, the landscape does not always offer equal financial footing from the initiation stages.
Luckily, bridging the gap for these underserved entrepreneurs, like women, minorities, immigrant founders and other marginalized populations is something that comes naturally to Invest Detroit Ventures, (IDV), which provides early-stage investment to Michigan-based, high-tech startups and programs, especially through the organization’s FAM (Funding, Access & Mentorship) fund program, now in its second year.
Nonprofit Invest Detroit, a mission-driven lender, investor and partner that supports business and real estate projects, created IDV in 2009 to enhance its overall mission to support the inclusive growth of entrepreneurial ventures.
“At Invest Detroit we raise capital separately and operate through state investments,” Ben Bernstein, principal at Invest Detroit Ventures, told the Michigan Chronicle recently.
Bernstein, who develops relationships with entrepreneurs across Michigan, assisting them to develop startup talent to prepare them for investment, said that ID Ventures has an “intentionality” in assisting underserved communities.
“[With] extending venture capital to a broad fund of entrepreneurs our numbers speak for itself,” Bernstein said.
Sixty-four percent of its total portfolio is represented by founders of color, women, immigrants and Detroit residents.
“Those are areas we consider of need,” Bernstein said. “If you look at any other funds across the country you see that mix … being much lower. Our Black founders are 20-222 percent of our total portfolio.”
Earlier this year, Bank of America supported IDV’s IDV Fund IV, which is an established $20 million fund that provides capital investment to Michigan startups during early, critical stages of development.
“This investment by Bank of America is significant because there is not enough early-stage capital for Michigan-based startups,” said Patti Glaza, managing director of IDV. “Only 10 percent of Michigan venture capital is currently invested at the seed stage, resulting in entrepreneurs spending too much time fundraising instead of executing in a space where time to market is critical. Founders of color have an even bigger challenge as they try to navigate systemic barriers to funding.”
IDV IV, the fourth fund managed by Invest Detroit Ventures, will build on the $22 million invested in 175 companies over the past decade. The fund will continue to invest in pre-seed and seed-stage high-growth and high-tech companies based in Michigan. The unique fund structure will combine traditional investment capital with philanthropic capital to better serve Michigan’s entrepreneurs. Up to half of the fund will come from partners in whose investment returns will recycle into IDV’s evergreen fund to support innovation in the state long-term. To date, over $1 billion in additional capital has been raised by their investments, according to a press release.
The fund will continue to focus on underserved entrepreneurs; in addition, capital and support to help bring ideas to early-product release is provided by the organization’s FAM fund, according to a press release.
“Bank of America’s equity investment in Invest Detroit Ventures underscores our ongoing efforts to address the persistent gap in access to growth capital for minority-led businesses. Being based in Detroit, Invest Detroit Ventures is well-positioned to help more women, minority and immigrant entrepreneurs scale their local business ideas, which will ultimately spur job growth and create more economic opportunities across the state of Michigan,” said Matt Elliott, president, Bank of America Detroit.
“We are thrilled to see Bank of America add its support of early-stage companies to the Detroit region as startups are a major driver of economic growth,” said Dave Blaszkiewicz, CEO of Invest Detroit. “Though our venture program supports startups across the state, 25 percent of our founders are from Detroit, and the more we can build the state’s ecosystem, the more Detroit becomes a startup destination.”
IDV is also creating the state’s first evergreen fund to develop and scale high-tech, high-growth startups in Michigan.
IDV also announced a $50,000 grant from the Revolve Fund to support its FAM Program, an IDV initiative to provide capital and partnership to underrepresented founders and help prepare them for the next round of investment.
“Our vision for Revolve Fund is to not only make financial investments in entities led by people of color but also to help position these groups to access a wider array of capital,” said James Wahls, Revolve Fund managing director and founder. “Partnering with organizations like Invest Detroit Ventures that are working to address systemic barriers means that innovative, ground-breaking startups that are often overlooked can have a better chance of succeeding.”
Bernstein told the Michigan Chronicle that IDV is “well-positioned” to fill a lot of the large gaps out there that are readily available to most of the high-profile business deals done in the state that mostly get done by “outside investors.”
“There is not a ton of notable founders of color getting capital,” Bernstein said. “Part of our mission is to extend access to all communities we serve, in the communities we serve.”
Visit investdetroit.vc for more information.