Michigan Hosting Venture Capital Conference

October 9, 2002
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LANSING — Three years ago Doug Rothwell, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, said one of the obstacles to high tech development in this state was its dearth of venture capital funds.

Now as he ends his tenure as director of the state’s economic development agency, a turnaround in venture capital seems to be occurring.

At the end of this month, in fact, a large number of people with large amounts of money to invest will be in Michigan to attend the annual Great Midwest Venture Capital Conference.

The gathering — which was born in Indiana where it is helping to foster high tech medical investment —will run Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at the Ritz Carlton in Dearborn.

The gathering is an opportunity for ventures seeking capital to meet and present their proposals to capitalists of national stature who are seeking new ventures in which to invest.

About 300 people, most of them from the investment side, are expected to attend.

MEDC, which is the conference host this year, advises that almost 50 companies have applied to participate in the conference thought only 24 will be accepted. Some years as many as 32 companies qualify to make their pitch.

MEDC advised that each participating firm is entitled to have a display booth in the modest exhibit site to demonstrate its products and business models.

The conference is a key networking opportunity for professional investors who may meet with the principals of these companies and discuss potential investments. 

Each presenting company at the conference has 12 minutes to outline its business to an audience of professional investors.  The primary networking event is a catered reception held in the exhibit area on the first evening of the conference.

A spokesman indicated that the deadline to apply for inclusion in this year’s conference is closed, though the 24 participating firms have yet to be identified. He said it’s not clear whether any participants are from this side of the state.

Rothwell says that merely having the conference in Michigan indicates that the state has taken a giant step and that the venture capital industry has begun growing rapidly here.

“In addition to shining the spotlight on our state’s venture capital presence, this conference is an excellent opportunity for Michigan companies to present their new ideas to a top-notch, national group of investors.”

The conference’s managing organization is the Indiana Business Modernization and Technology Corp. (BMT)and its Corporate Investment Services, located in Indianapolis.

The conference itself was one of three venture capital conferences selected by the National Association of Seed Venture Funds to represent the practice of producing successful venture capital conferences at their 1998 annual meeting in Puerto Rico 

According to BMT, the conference is designed by investors for investors. It typically attracts more than 200 venture capitalists, private investors, investment bankers, mezzanine funds representatives, commercial bankers and economic developers.

Also normally attending are accountants, lawyers, management consultants, and representatives of government commerce agencies.

To be invited to participate in the conference, a company it must submit an application that is reviewed by two to three panels comprised of professional investors and industry related service providers.

The panels ultimately select which companies will be invited to present at the conference.  The guiding selection criteria, but not limited to, are:

  • Well developed "business model"

  • Seasoned management team

  • Large market potential; Rapid revenue growth

  • $30 million in sales within 5 to 7 years

  • High technology and innovative product(s)

  • Seeking $1 to $20 million in capital.

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