Capital Climate Is Mean In Michigan, VCs Say at Symposium, But We’re Used to Dealing With Bad Weather

Only in Michigan can you take some pretty dismal-sounding numbers and make them sound like a good thing. That’s what’s happening now at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium taking place in Ypsilanti, MI—the 29th annual meet-up of Michigan entrepreneurs and potential funders. The theme here, broadly speaking, is that, yes, Michigan may be near the bottom in terms of venture capital investment, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, because the state knows how to do more with less.

Sure, California and Massachusetts are swimming in VC dough, comparatively, but then that puts unrealistic burdens on the entrepreneurs there to produce a return on investment all out of proportion with reality, say VC experts here.


Although, at times, it is difficult to tell when Michiganders are being ironic. When we talk about ourselves, among ourselves, there is always an unspoken understanding that, yes, things are bad here, so the gallows humor can come out and we can laugh at it.

But Kate Mitchell is not from Michigan. The chairwoman-elect of the National Venture Capital Association is from California, where the streets are paved with gold. And when she says in her keynote address here that “any good market can be ruined by too much venture capital,” she knows what she’s talking about. So, if that’s true, then Michigan must be doing great.

Anyway, here are the latest numbers for 2009 from the Michigan Venture Capital Association. They’re bad, so let’s get them out of the way all at once. … Next Page »

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