Jeff Bocan is Not Crazy: Beringea’s Ex-Californian Seeks Gold Rush in Michigan

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  • ReCellular, based in Dexter, MI, is the world’s largest recycler and reseller of cell phones, generating annual revenue of $100 million. The company received an undisclosed investment from Beringea late last year.
  • Relume Technologies, based in Oxford, MI, makes advanced, highly efficient LED lights that can remove heat more quickly thanks to patented thermal management technology. The company provides products for covert military communications, mobile hospital and command shelters, commercial and traffic signs, street and area lighting, and outdoor advertising.
  • Pioneer Surgical Technologies, a spine and orthopedics firm based in Marquette, MI, last year received a patent for its nanocrystalline calcium phosphate technology, which it uses to make highly durable, synthetic bones.
  • GloStream, based in Troy, MI, developed software to manage electronic medical records. Aided by voice recognition technology, the software gives doctors a single onscreen dashboard where they can view patients’ contact and insurance information, track patients’ location from admission to discharge, and order lab tests and refill prescriptions. Beringea invested $6.8 million in GloStream in the fourth quarter 2010.

Michigan is by no means Silicon Valley. The state lacks venture capital dollars and managerial talent, Bocan says.

In 2010, Michigan startups raised $151.6 million, a 13.8 percent jump from 2009, even though the number of local deals remained steady at 33, according to the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association based on data collected by Thomson Reuters.

However, aside from angel and early stage seed funds clustered in Ann Arbor, Beringea is the only large, later stage firm in town that can throw $4 million to $6 million into a single deal.

The exclusivity cuts both ways, Bocan says. Michigan’s inefficient venture market presents attractive opportunities for Beringea. However, the absence of other venture firms means Beringea lacks partners to help fund startups to the next level, he says.

“I hate to see a technology die because we couldn’t cut the company a big enough check,” Bocan says.

But Michigan’s biggest problem is the dearth of talent, experienced executives who can nurture a fragile startup to maturity, Bocan says.

As a result, Beringea has had to import talent from across the country to help run its portfolio of Michigan companies.

Inventing a new technology is great and fine. But without the right management team, that technology will never see the light of day, Bocan says.

“What I’m doing is the modern day version of gold prospecting,” he says.

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One response to “Jeff Bocan is Not Crazy: Beringea’s Ex-Californian Seeks Gold Rush in Michigan”

  1. vern rutherford says:

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