Banking & Finance and Small Business & Startups

Start Garden ends weekly investments and re-plants 5x5 Night

February 16, 2015
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Start Garden is a $15-million early stage venture capital fund in downtown Grand Rapids. Photo via

Start Garden is handing off the task of regularly investing in startups to the community — through a new crowdfunding platform.

Start Garden, the $15-million early stage venture capital fund in Grand Rapids, said today that it’s discontinuing its $5,000 weekly initial investments in startups after Feb. 26, as it transitions to overseeing the development of a “community-based investment vehicle” in the form of a “new” 5x5 Night.

New 5x5 Night

Launched in 2011 by Rick DeVos, the CEO of Start Garden, 5x5 Night was held on a monthly basis. Five entrepreneurs pitched their ideas in front of a panel of five judges. The winner walked away at the end of the night with a $5,000 grant. The event series was discontinued prior to the launch of Start Garden.

Start Garden said the new 5x5 Night will be a member-based crowdfunding platform. Grant funding for startups will be pooled from members’ contributions.

The membership will also allow the members to become part of the judging process.

“We want Grand Rapids to remain a great place to start running with an idea, which is why we’re asking the broader community to get more involved with bringing back 5x5 Night,” DeVos said.

People interested in becoming 5x5 Night members can email hello at startgarden dot com.


DeVos said Start Garden's weekly $5,000 investment program was designed to generate a lot of activity around potential businesses and has exceeded expectations.

“Start Garden’s focus stays with our portfolio, as investments we made into projects a few years ago are now fledgling companies,” DeVos said.

Earlier this month, Start Garden said it will expand its funding limit to its portfolio companies from $500,000 to $1.5 million to better position the entrepreneurs to attract additional investor support and allow the fund to play a larger role in early stage investment deals in the Midwest.

Years of weekly funding

Since its launch in 2012, Start Garden has invested $5,000 on a weekly basis in more than 190 startups.

The fund focused on connecting early stage entrepreneurs with intellectual, social and financial resources in the region to facilitate startup development.

As part of the program, initially funded companies returned to Start Garden to present their outcomes during Update Night events.

Start Garden then chose to make additional investments in the startups based on their viability, feasibility or desirability. Many startups did not receive additional funding.

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