Coming from an engineering background in corporate America, Michael Sherman, an evening MBA student, is now delving into the smaller scale but often more challenging world of start-up ventures at the Zell Lurie Institute. As a member of the Wolverine Venture Fund’s Victors Health team, Sherman and his fellow MBAs are exploring investment opportunities in therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics and health tech.
WVF students take responsibility for the investment decisions and operations of the $6.5 million fund, which invests real capital in Series A and later rounds in high-potential early-stage companies alongside other venture-capital firms. This down-in-the-trenches experience builds students’ confidence and ability to perform due diligence on potential investments, evaluate and structure deals, manage current portfolio companies and lock in returns on their investments through exists, including both IPOs and M&As. In the process, they build strong relationships with the fund’s advisory board members, who include professional VCs and entrepreneurs with valuable experience and insights.
Through a Ross School interdisciplinary course, Commercialization of Biomedicine, Sherman was introduced to the key issues faced by companies attempting to bring science and technology innovations in biomedical therapeutics, devices and diagnostics to market. The course provided him with a clearer understanding of biomedical markets, regulation, financing, risk, organizational configurations and alliances. Equally, important, he was able to interact with start-up founders, ask questions and discuss pitfalls and missteps.
Sherman’s career trajectory began with nine years in the automotive industry and then veered into the biomedical field at Ann Arbor-based Terumo Cardiovascular Systems where he was a chief engineer. Currently, Sherman is vice president of sales at Sentio, a technology-driven medical-device company based in Southfield, Michigan. During his first nine months at the start-up, he took it from pre-revenue to more than $1 million in sales, with an average growth rate of 40 percent month over month.
With that first taste of success, Sherman is now considering future career options in entrepreneurship and venture capital after he completes his MBA degree at the Ross School. It’s bound to be a lot of hard work, he admits, but the payoff will be worth it.