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Start Garden triples funding limit

February 10, 2015
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Start Garden is a $15-million early stage venture capital fund in downtown Grand Rapids. Photo via fb.com

As Start Garden settles into its new home, it’s tripling the maximum amount it will invest in a startup and opening up applications to work at its downtown space.

The next level

Start Garden, the $15-million early stage venture capital firm, said yesterday that it has expanded its cumulative funding limit from $500,000 to $1.5 million to further develop its key portfolio companies and increase its role in early stage investment deals in the Midwest.

Rick DeVos, CEO at Start Garden, said the fund needed to establish a volume of ideas, before raising its funding limit to play a bigger role in early stage deals.

“At the point a company has proven its viability and is ready to expand, it needs a significant capital injection from multiple investors, and we are now positioned to lead and manage those type of Series A or pre-Series A investment rounds,” DeVos said.

Chief investment officer

To help facilitate further development of its most-heavily backed startups, Start Garden has hired Mike DeVries, a venture capitalist from EDF Ventures in Ann Arbor, as its new chief investment officer.

A resident of Grand Rapids, DeVries said the opportunity seemed like a good fit as his responsibilities as a general partner with EDF are winding down.

DeVries will work with certain Start Garden portfolio companies and the investment team to help better position and prepare the entrepreneurs for their next round of financing or a stage of commercialization.

“In essence, I will be working with the current companies that have received more than the $500,000 to put together a presentation that other investors would find worthy of investment, help clarify their messaging and help them get to a point where they have a value proposition that is clear,” DeVries said. “I think Start Garden is doing a great job for the area, and I am eager to be working with them.”

Although most of the companies at this stage have reduced their technological, management and intellectual risk, they haven’t solved their capital risk, according to DeVries.

“The need for additional capital to get the company to the next level is still there,” DeVries said.

DeVries said the increased financial support from Start Garden will significantly help startups be positioned to attract other venture capital investment.

Start Garden Space

Start Garden has opened the membership application process for startup companies, venture capital funds and corporate partners interested in working at its new space in downtown Grand Rapids, at 40 Pearl St.

Start Garden Space members do not need to be funded by Start Garden.

Start Garden’s new 15,000-square-foot headquarters on the second floor of the Trust Building is roughly three times the size of the fund’s former location, at 50 Louis St. The relocation allows for expanded programming and growth.

“In 2012, we set out to make a place where people in the region could take their ideas,” said Paul Moore, director of marketing and communications, Start Garden. “With the Start Garden Space, we’re making a place where entrepreneurs take their companies. It’s modeled as a neighborhood where entrepreneurs that know they’ll need to fundraise can bump into new investors, trusted consultants and of course, other entrepreneurs.”

Entrepreneurs can choose from a drop-in membership with access to the space from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. or have access day and night with either a resident membership, half of a private office pod or a whole private office pod.

All levels of membership at Start Garden Space include various amenities: access to events and VIP guest hours, wireless Internet, conference rooms, printers, an MVP Metro Sports Club discount and more. 

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