In the past five years, Kickstarter has emerged as a legitimate source of funding for startups and entrepreneurs. While banks or traditional investors are likely going to want to see proof that there will be a large, worthwhile return on their investment (sales or letters of intent) Kickstarter is a place for people with great ideas that may not fit conventional funding models.
Business incubation is increasingly becoming a common practice throughout the country. While incubators are continuously popping up in major entrepreneurial hubs, they are also forming in smaller communities, where the cost of retail space is an impediment to developing businesses. By facilitating local startups, incubator spaces generate new ideas that thrive in the entrepreneurial market of West Michigan. Some incubators provide resources to help entrepreneurs bring their ideas to market.
West Michigan’s political, financial, and social environments are seen by many as conservative and slow moving. Shedding light on the intricacies of doing business in the region and the difficulties entrepreneurs face while navigating this business environment, John Kerschen, Managing Director of the Michigan Accelerator Fund, shared some insights on the situation. He has spent over 22 years working with early-stage investments, commercial banking, mergers and acquisitions, and investment banking.
In the Senate version, crowds looking to fund new business ideas will have to do so through approved portals, many of which have been been gearing up to funnel cash into new companies once this law is fully passed. Companies can receive up to $1 million in funding from the crowd, with the amount each person can give being capped based on their income. The limits range between $2,000 and $10,000 dollars.
As entrepreneurs begin to explore funding options, Grand Angels provides an application process for potential investments. The Grand Angels group is dedicated to finding appropriate businesses that will cultivate the local market. Mentoring from experienced professionals and a relatively patient exit strategy make Grand Angels a standalone between all regional investment groups.Founders Charles C. Stoddard and Craig T. Hall, combined their banking and entrepreneurial experiences to establish the angel investor group with a vision to make “investments with a difference.” Community leaders were recruited to join the investing group, and in 2005, Jody Vanderwel was named president of the organization. Grand Angels now has over 30 active members with professional experience in an array of industries.
Engineering a Community of Entrepreneur
Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerber serve as prime examples that entrepreneurship can be a very lucrative career choice. In 2011, The Kauffman Foundation estimates that the 11.9 million self-employed business owners in the United States represent only 6.5 percent of the adult population. With so much to be gained in starting a business, why is it that most Americans decide not to pursue a life as an entrepreneur? Simple answer: lack of talent, knowledge and risk.
Talent development has become a centrifuge for investment firms and individuals looking to maximize ROIs from their investments. The magnitude of great ideas has left investors overwhelmed to spend too much attention on funneling funds on many great ideas.
Driving Growth With Collegiate Talent
Over $6 Billion dollars in investments have been funneled into the Grand Rapids infrastructure since 1980. In just the past eleven years a third of that amount, roughly $2.6 billion, has reshaped and retuned the vibrant city to a new beat as it continues its unprecedented growth. However, economic and physical landscape in West Michigan have changed as they have throughout the nation. It begs the question, how is the city strategically oriented to move forward, and what role will universities play in regards to the city’s continued growth?
Kurt Kimball, former Grand Rapids City Manager, described his views on entrepreneurial innovation driving economic development. “I think we will see innovative independent thinkers driving economic growth. Do we have the innovators we need is the question?”
Michigan Green Technology and Entrepreneurship Academy
It’s rare that a university professor, postdoc or PhD student would be found listening to lectures in the confines of a classroom, yet it perfectly describes the scene at the inaugural Michigan Green Technology and Entrepreneurship Academy. Green TEA, as it is commonly referred, is an innovative program designed to launch cleantech ideas out of the university lab.