Renaissance VC Fund Backs New-to-Michigan Next Coast Ventures

Ann Arbor, MI-based Renaissance Venture Capital Fund announced this week that it has invested in Austin, TX-based Next Coast Ventures. The fund-of-funds, which puts money into out-of-state VC funds to help entice them to invest in Michigan startups, did not disclose the amount of the investment.

Chris Rizik, CEO of Renaissance and Detroit/Ann Arbor Xconomist, says his team first met the folks at Next Coast, which primarily invests in early-stage software and IT companies, about six months ago. The initial meeting went so well, Renaissance invited Next Coast to Michigan to participate in an immersion session.

“We were very impressed by them,” Rizik says. “We brought them here for two days and introduced them to a good [portion] of the ecosystem: VC funds, University of Michigan tech transfer, startups, and innovation groups inside major corporations. They hadn’t looked at Michigan before, and they realized it was a geography ripe for investment.”

The deal with Next Coast is the 25th investment for Renaissance so far, and Rizik says internal company data shows that during the past eight years, every dollar the fund has invested has generated $24 in startup capital for Michigan companies.

In a statement, Mike Smerklo, Next Coast’s co-founder and managing director, said, “Michigan is a great example of a Next Coast market for venture capital. The region has a strong innovative mindset, great entrepreneurs, and amazing universities but has not received a lot of attention from coastal venture firms in the past.  We … plan to bring our mantra of ‘bringing Silicon Valley DNA to Next Coast markets’ as part of this partnership.”

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