Southeastern Michigan, which encompasses metropolitan Detroit and Ann Arbor, has many opportunities for burgeoning startups. The University of Michigan boasts one of the leading engineering schools in the world, and when combined with the entrepreneurial and industrial spirit of Detroit — the city made famous for mass producing the automobile — the future of the region lies in its robust tech sector. The high quality of life, particularly in Ann Arbor, makes it very attractive for talented young people. The area is home to tens of thousands of industrial engineers, 375 automotive R&D centers, and 12 OEM plants, making the primary focus the automotive industry. However, healthcare and agriculture are two verticals that the ecosystem has a strong advantage in. Despite the presence of over 200 startups in Ann Arbor alone, the ecosystem still lacks density in terms of number of startups. Companies looking for Series A funding have to look elsewhere for capital, as there is a serious drought when it comes to funding for that stage.
These businesses offer industry expertise and are a source of startup talent and potential customers. They help fuel the local startup community.
Up and coming startup
Up and coming startup
IPO'd for $158m
IPO'd for $217m
Dan founded Rock Financial in 1985, which was renamed Quicken Loans by Intuit when it was acquired in 2000. He has been at the forefront of the revitalization effort in Detroit. As a part of this, he has founded Bizdom, a nonprofit that provides support and resources necessary for aspiring entrepreneurs to get their businesses off the ground in Detroit. He is also a Managing Partner at Detroit Venture Partners, a VC focusing on startups in Detroit.
A staple of the Ann Arbor startup community, Dug founded the cybersecurity firm Duo Security. He continues to serve as an advisor to number startups in the area, and is a founder of a2geeks, a nonprofit that supports the Ann Arbor startup community with numerous events and meetups.
Christopher Rizik is the CEO and Fund Manager of the Renaissance Venture Capital Fund, a fund that supports the growth of venture capital in Michigan and serves as a bridge between Michigan’s emerging innovation community and its strong industrial and commercial base. With decades of experience in technology, finance and law, he has played a principal role in dozens of multi-million dollar venture capital transactions.
In addition to serving as the Senior Vice President of Ann Arbor Spark, a business incubator, Skip was also instrumental in creating the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund co-investment program. He was also a charter member of the Michigan Venture Capital Association, and serves on their Board of Directors.
Tim is a Managing Director of Arboretum Ventures, a VC firm specializing in the healthcare sector. He was previously the director of the Wolverine Venture Fund at the University of Michigan.
In his tenure as the CEO of Ford Motor Company, Bill Ford supported the launch of Techstars Mobility, an initiative foster innovative transportation solutions. Additionally, Bill is a founder and partner at Fontinalis, a venture capital firm focusing on urban mobility and the environment.
Patti joined Invest Detroit in 2014 where she manages Invest Detroit’s venture funds and portfolio of investments. Prior to joining Invest Detroit, Patti was with Arsenal Venture Partners, a multi-stage national venture capital firm focused on IT, energy and industrial technologies.
Tom serves as the CEO for the nonprofit technology business association, Automation Alley, an organization devoted to enhancing the global competitiveness of Southeast Michigan. Previously, Tom was a consultant for Michigan’s Small Business Development Centers, and has launched three startups.
Emily is Associate Director at the Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing venture capital to Michigan. Emily supports Michigan’s venture capital community by developing the MVCA Research Report, planning educational and networking events, managing talent programs, and advocating for Michigan’s entrepreneurial community.
Ted is the Managing Director of Techstars Mobility, the first US startup accelerator program focused on emerging mobility technologies. He is on the boards of the Michigan Venture Capital Association and Techtown Detroit.
Created by University of Michigan graduate students Farnam Jahanian and Rob Malan, Arbor Networks has become a major success story. The network security company currently sells software to 90% of all ISPs.2000
Known as Detroit's " business innovation hub", TechTown is an accelerator and incubator that connects local entrepreneurs to much needed resources.2004
Cofounded by former auto executive Bill Ford, Fontinalis is a mobility focused venture capital firm that invests in companies that range from seed stage to pre-IPO.2009
Dan Gilbert, billionaire founder of Quicken Loans and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, founds Detroit Venture Partners (DVP). The objective of DVP is to rebuild the Detroit area through investing in early stage companies that have a purpose.November, 2010
After previously raising over $18 million in funding, Duo Security announces that it has raised over $30 million and that it plans on expanding operations to London.April, 2015
In partnership with Ford Motor Company, Magna International and Verizon Telematics, Techstars Mobility will give 10 selected companies deep connections with their partners, $120,000 in funding, and three months of interaction with their extensive mentor network.June, 2015
Arboretum raises a $215 million fund, the largest in state history, for its Arboretum Ventures IV fund. This is after raising an oversubscribed $138 million fund in 2011, and a $73 million fund during the crash in 2009.September, 2015
Rocket Fiber, a DVP-backed company, launches 100 Gb/S fiber in Detroit. This is 1,000 times faster than the current average internet connectivity in the city.November, 2015
Ann Arbor-based Millendo Therapeutics Inc. raises $62 million, the largest VC round for a drug development company in Michigan history. Local investors include the Renaissance Venture Capital Fund and the University of Michigan.January, 2016
The latest addition to Detroit's co-working spaces is WeWork, which has opened up two new locations in downtown Detroit with capacity for over 1,500 members. Other innovative office spaces in the city include Bamboo Detroit and SpaceLab Detroit.July, 2017