WJR Business Beat with Jeff Sloan: Midwest Venture Showcase (Episode 215)

On this morning’s WJR Business Beat, Jeff and Paul W. Smith discuss the 2021 Midwest Venture Showcase, a partnership between the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS) and InvestMidwest, which will showcase 57 companies actively seeking funding to an audience of top-tier investors, entrepreneurs, researchers and business executives. The virtual event runs April 27 to 28, 2021.

Tune in to the Business Beat, below, to learn more about the 2021 Midwest Venture Showcase:

Tune in to News/Talk 760 AM WJR weekday mornings at 7:11 a.m. for the WJR Business Beat. Listeners outside of the Detroit area can listen live HERE.

Are you an entrepreneur with a great story to share? If so, contact us at [email protected] and we’ll feature you on an upcoming segment of the WJR Business Beat!

Good morning, Paul. Big news, indeed. It’s an important thing for the state of Michigan and actually the Midwest region as a whole. This is the 2021 Midwest Venture Showcase, where about 60 companies, 57 companies will be featuring, they’ll be pitching and featuring what they’re all about to various investors, venture capitalists, angel investors, and so on, who are interested in investing in these companies and, you know, Paul, how important small business is to the engine of the American economy, and certainly the local economy, too. This is, this is where the rubber meets the road, Paul.

Absolutely. Due to COVID-19, the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium has partnered with the Invest Midwest Venture Capital Forum to present the virtual Midwest Venture Showcase. It will highlight Midwest companies seeking early stage funding and offer an opportunity to connect with founders, angel investors and venture capitalists. It sounds like this is right up your alley, Jeff.

This is right up my alley, indeed. This is exciting! And you know, it’s up my alley, Paul, but the thing about this is, most people think this venture capital stuff, and maybe even startups and entrepreneurship, you know, maybe it’s for somebody else or it’s too esoteric, especially the venture capital investments made into companies started at the university level. This is pretty heady stuff, pretty sophisticated and esoteric stuff coming out of the research labs, typically at these universities. By the way, University of Michigan’s number one public university in the country for this kind of activity.

There we go, that’s right, something to be proud of, but the reality is, listen, for anybody out there wondering, you know, how does this relate to me? How does all this activity relate to me? Well, the next time you pick up your iPhone, you’ll know how it relates to you. The next time you conduct a search online through Google, a company early backed by venture capital, and so on many of these game-changing technologies and life experiences and, and you know, the way we live our lives today are generated by these venture capital investments into these companies that then later impact our lives really significantly, as you can see.

You know, Jeff, I thought of you the other day when I saw the headline, “Venture Capital Activity Strong in Michigan, Despite Pandemic.” And you’ve been at the spear tip of that, you’ve been promoting it, you’ve been helping people connect with it, and it’s good to see that 88 Michigan-based startup companies received $257 million in venture capital from Michigan venture capital firms in 2020, that according to the Novi-based Venture Capital Association’s 2021 research report. That’s healthy and that’s good.

Yeah, indeed, Paul, you know, it’s a really strong number, 257 million. Now we were on a bit of a run-up I think in 2019, we eclipsed the 500 million mark and in 2018, around 350 million in venture investors. So down a bit, but during a year like we had in 2020, that’s a really, really strong number. It certainly speaks to the strength of our local venture community here. And, you know, I think companies like Duo Security, having the big exit they did, a couple of billion dollar exit two or three years ago, and other companies like One Stream, for example, in Rochester, and LLamasoft recently having a big event.

These things really, you know, set the tone, set the culture, inspire others, and they certainly, when they have these big exits, they bring a lot of money back into the community too, both because the founders and others that receive the money when they exit have a big exit event like that, spend it, again, and by investing in these local startups, further fostering and fueling the local economy. It’s just all good, and so, this is really great what’s happening this week. There are going to be again, 57 companies featured from across the Midwest, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, so on, Ohio, Illinois, certainly Michigan, in a broad array of fields. And they’ll be pitching to these investors. I think roughly 160 investors, both venture capitalists and angels have signed up to listen to the pitches from these companies and perhaps make really significant investment into them. It’s an exciting thing, Paul.

Yeah, it is. And what do people have to do to, uh, to join in, log in or whatever for the Midwest Venture Showcase, what do they have to do?

Okay, now, it’s actually going to be tomorrow and Wednesday, it’s virtual, the 27th and 28th, and if people want to, you know, check this out and maybe, you know, if you’re an entrepreneur out there and you want to know how these companies get money… we watch “Shark Tank” and that’s kind of product-oriented, typically. This is more, as I say, esoteric, you know, research converting to commercial opportunity.

Really interesting. If you’re interested in checking it out and perhaps learning, seeing how they make their pitches and honing your own, you can go to midwestventureshowcase.com to register, and if you’re an investor, whether it be a venture capitalist or an angel investor interested in investing in these companies, you can sign up and hear these pitches right as they’re made live and be part of it.


That’s it, Paul.

You always put us in the middle of it all happening, Jeff Sloan, thanks very much.

All right, thanks, Paul, make it a great week.

You do the same. We’ll look forward to our report tomorrow, our WJR Business Beat, Jeff Sloan, founder and CEO of StartupNation, spotlighting the entrepreneurial tech and startup community on WJR.

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