Sloan Returns To Michigan, Launches Aria Equities To Change Entrepreneurial Culture

Jeff Sloan knows why the Detroit area has a less-than-ideal atmosphere for venture capital. It’s just not ready for it. The culture needs to change, he says. And that’s why the longtime Michigander, gone for about five years, has recently returned to the state to launch the early-stage venture development firm Aria Equities.

Aria partners with innovators and establishes an equity position in exchange for creating a business plan, putting a team together, raising the first round of funding and providing ongoing strategic guidance. Sloan says that it is especially important to catch these would-be companies at this early stage, before young entrepreneurs take their ideas and go elsewhere.

jeff_sloan“We have a lot of young talent picking up and leaving right after they leave school as opposed to putting down roots here and starting a new company,” Sloan says. “I think that while we’ve improved the venture capital environment here…this is still not where you want to come if you want to grow a company on venture capital.”

He says that companies like his, along with incubators like Detroit’s TechTown, are necessary in order to simply create an atmosphere, a “culture” in which entrepreneurship is encouraged.

“We still just don’t have the culture here that thinks the way people on the coasts do, say in Boston or Silicon Valley or even in some of the other major metropolitan areas that can be very progressive, like Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Denver,” Sloan says. “They just seem to have more of an entrepreneurial culture.”

Aria, established in Birmingham, MI, about three months ago, plans to set up shop in NextWave, a business incubator/accelerator in Troy, MI, beginning in May. Aria’s clients include a general mix of retail and tech businesses, including online games developers and health-care startups. Most are not companies yet.

“We believe that there is a great void in the continuum of company creation … and that void generally occurs … Next Page »

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