The Institute today announced that its three student-led venture funds are all actively seeking business plans to consider in their respective 2014-2015 investment rounds. The Wolverine Venture Fund, Zell Commercialization Fund and Social Venture Fund together have more than $7 million under management. These funds invest in early-stage companies seeking seed or Series A investments and typically serve as a syndicate partner with other established venture capital funds or angel investors. Companies can be located anywhere in the United States, though each fund has specific criteria and deadlines.
Social Venture Fund
The Social Venture Fund makes early-stage investments of up to $100,000 in sustainable and innovative, for-profit organizations that deliver financial returns and place the generation of a significant social impact at the heart of their mission. The fund currently has five companies in its portfolio, including Loveland Technologies and Powerhouse Dynamics.
Interested companies should submit a 3-4 page business plan by Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Investment criteria include the ability to provide a strong, blended social and financial return and alignment with key investment areas including: education, food systems and environment, health, and urban revitalization.
Zell Commercialization Fund
The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund is a pre-seed investment fund established to identify and accelerate the commercialization of great ideas generated within the University community and the surrounding area with a focus on healthcare, technology, consumer and cleantech. The typical investment is approximately $25,000 to $50,000 in the form of convertible notes with warrants and equity. The fund currently has seven active investments.
Interested companies should submit their business plans and relevant details through this link –https://gust.com/organizations/zlcfund/apply.
Wolverine Venture Fund
The Wolverine Venture Fund invests in early-stage, fast-growth companies raising priced venture capital rounds. The typical investment in a single round is between $50,000 to $150,000, with the option to be able to participate in the company’s later financing rounds. The Wolverine Venture Fund has invested in more than three dozen companies in a wide range of sectors, with a focus on organizations in technology, healthcare, digital, mobile, new marketing, big data analytics and software. Portfolio companies are expected to rapidly grow to a size sufficient to be attractive to strategic buyers or to go public.
The flagship of the school’s three funds, the Wolverine Venture Fund has experienced multiple successful exits. Between 2000 and 2005 the fund invested in six rounds of financing in HandyLab, Inc., leading up to the company’s 2009 acquisition by Becton Dickinson and Co., which returned $2 million to the Fund. In 2010, portfolio company Mobius Microsystems was acquired by Integrated Device Technologies, Inc. Most recently, IBM acquired Silverpop Systems, Inc., marking another profitable exit for the fund.
To be considered by The Wolverine Fund, companies should have a lead investor or syndicate of partners lined up. At that point, companies may submit a business plan, financial information, cap table, if available, and other relevant documents on the Fund’s website. Companies are considered on an ongoing basis.
Student-led venture funds are a cornerstone of the action-based learning experience at Ross and across the University. The Wolverine Venture Fund was the first student-led fund to be launched in the United States and has served as a model for subsequent funds at Michigan and other leading business schools. Together the three funds immerse more than 90 graduate students from multiple disciplines into all aspects of venture capital investing—from seeking, screening and negotiating investments to collaborating with other investors and evaluating the performance of portfolio companies.
Jeff Williams, founder and CEO of NeuMoDx Molecular and former CEO of HandyLab (both Wolverine Venture Fund investments) commented on the value of the student investors following the Fund’s investment in NeuMoDx in April. He said, “Students from the Wolverine Venture Fund have been a valuable addition to the strategic investment team for NeuMoDx Molecular. My experience working with the University of Michigan and the Wolverine Venture Fund goes beyond NeuMoDX. Like the student teams who participated in funding my prior company HandyLab, our current Wolverine Venture Fund team represents a broad cross-section of business expertise providing valuable perspective as we continue with development, clinical trials and approvals.”