Michigan Founders Fund's Trista Van Tine on Michigan's state of innovation, keynoting the Michigan Innovation Summit.
Organized and sponsored by Song Foundation, in partnership with Lt. Gov Gilchrist, Michigan LEO, and hosted at Michigan Central, in Detroit.
Some of the world's most important inventions,
technologies and cultural contributions have come from
Michigan and from Michiganders.
Who We Are
+180M capital raised
+15 industry verticals
A land of inventors, innovators and cultural
David D. Connell, BBA ’55/MA ’56, was Sesame Street’s first executive producer. He was a key
player in the conception, planning, and launch of the genre-creating children’s program, which
was designed with the input of educators and psychologists to encourage the educational
development of inner-city preschool-age children.
The world’s first modern traffic light was the invention of a Detroit police officer and installed at the intersection of
Michigan and Woodward Avenues in October 1920. It was not only the first four-way signal but also the first traffic
light to use the three-color system.
Sherm Poppe holding two Snurfers, a proto snowboard he created in 1965. Poppen joined two 36-inch long skis
together so his daughter could play on the snow-covered hills behind their home, laying the foundation for what was to
become the snowboarding revolution.
In 1957 Battle Creek-born John C. Sheehan (Ph.D., University of Michigan) achieved scalable synthesis of penicillin.
Ford & Boeing
Computing & Internet: 1900s - 1950s
aided machines, were
developed by John T. Parsons.
The Detroit native is known as
the "father of the second
Claude Shannon - his property
of electrical switches to
implement logic is the
fundamental concept that
underlies all electronic digital
computers. Shannon's work
became the foundation of
digital circuit design, as it
became widely known in the
community during and after
World War II.
Early 1900s partnering with the U.S. Air Force at
Willow Run, John DeTurk built the Michigan Digital
Automatic Computer (MIDAC), one of 20 digital
computers in the United States.
Computing & Internet: 1970s - 1990s
1990s building blocks of the internet
were pioneered by Bill Simpson (PPP,
IPSEC), Nathaniel Borenstein (MIME
email/webpage) and Tim Howes (LDAP).
1973 Founded by three Detroit friends.
Created first software product for
mainframe computing in 1977 and
software became primary business
driver in 1980. One of the largest
Software developers in the world.
In 1970, Lansing-born physicist Donald B.
Keck (Ph.D. from Michigan State) helped
develop the “first optical fiber for wide
use in telecommunications."
1980s Sid Meier video games -
Civilization. "Godfather of
computer game engineering."
1987- Michigan Educational
Research Information Triad
(MERIT - upgrade NSFNET)
Where We're Going
Why it Matters
In recent decades VC has
employment growth in
the U.S. than any other
makes up only 0.2% of
GDP, but delivers an
astonishing 21% of GDP
in the form of VC-backed
VC-backed companies drive outsized growth
US Economy has shifted from Industrial to Knowledge
70% of R&D Investment
59% of R&D Jobs
generate 27.2% of U.S. exports
pay 8.1% of total wages
They provide jobs that have higher wages and create jobs in sectors outside of their own
1 technology-based job can create another 5 jobs in other industries
Startups and scale-ups are more often than not, addressing an unmet need, which
opens NEW markets
And attracts Foreign investment, which leads to immigration and increased population,
not to mention increased population of highly skilled employee talent
They are generally able to move and adapt to market and societal needs quicker than
large companies, which is attractive to a new generation of workers and talent looking to
Without tech startups, there would no net job growth in the US economy
Technology-based start-ups account for only 3.8% of the total firms in the United States
They contribute to population growth
How We Stack Up
Density Capital Talent DEI
Low founder density -
# of startups per
1,000 businesses -
# of VC-backed
million residents -
% of workforce in tech roles - 30th
Median wages 10% below US
Residents’ education levels - 27th
Post-secondary attainment is 41.7%
stark racial disparities - 43.5% for
White and 26.2% for Black residents
Negative net migration of population
Lowest national % of non-home-
grown residents ages of 25-34,
second-lowest ages of 35-44
% of adults who were born elsewhere,
either in another state or another
country - 49th
Black population 14%;
Startups with at least one
black founder - 4.5%
17% of VCs are persons of
color, compared to 24% of
17% of VCs are women,
compared to 21% of VCs
Less than 1% of all US VC
Forbes best states to start
a business in 2023 - 47th
On average, it takes
Michigan startups two
years longer to raise their
first $500,000 than
companies based on the
The median size of an
investment made by an
individual angel investor
in 2020 was $30,000
Sources: Crunchbase; Expert interviews; BCG Analysis, Kauffman; WalletHub, IRS.gov; BCG Analysis, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) by US Bureau of Labor statistics (BLS), LEO, US Census Bureau 2016 data; Bridge Michigan Analysis, Forbes, "Michigan's Great Inflection" report MICHauto
, NBER Working Paper - Funding Black High-Growth Startups, 2021 MVCA Report
WHERE WE SLIP
University of Michigan Ranks #7 in the world for the number of undergraduate alumni entrepreneurs who have
founded venture capital-backed companies and #16 for graduate alumni! But, the companies are being
founded outside of Michigan...
Sara Spangelo, who holds a PhD
in aerospace engineering from
the University of Michigan, has
disrupted the data industry with
affordable satellite technology.
$29 M sold to SpaceX
Josh Tetrick, graduate from
University of Michigan Law
School, has taken the plant-
based food industry by storm.
Inder Singh, founder and
CEO of Kinsa, studied
biomedical engineering at
the University of Michigan
Katherine Ryder, CEO &
Founder at Maven (LSA Honors
The company was launched in
2007 by Jeff Lawson (BS CS ’03),
Evan Cooke (MS CSE ’04, PhD
CSE ‘07) and John Wolthuis (BS
CS ’98, BGS ‘98)
$614 M - IPO
Henry Ward graduated from
University of Michigan with
a BGS in Mathematics and
Business R&D spend - 7th
Patents produced - 7th
Academic R&D spend - U.Mich
ranked 3rd; Our top 10 Unis
account for $2.8B
50% of Michigan college graduates
who moved away indicated they
might return within five years
100 founders and VCs have pledged
1% of their personal or company
equity or investment carry to MFF for
grantmaking/placemaking in MI
Affinity & Community
Sources: Crunchbase, Center for American Entrepreneurship, Bloomberg, Entrypoint Detroit Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Report 2021,
NSF, NCES FY20 data BCG Analysis,
NCES FY21 data, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) by US Bureau
of Labor statistics (BLS), accessed 04/24/2023, BCG Analysis, Survey of more than 6,600 2017 graduates conducted by The Office for Survey Research at Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research
WHERE WE SHINE
Growth & Opportunity
Michigan is the fastest growing state for
VC investment (886% 2016-2020)
Ann Arbor was ranked at the top of
metro areas for female founded VC-
backed companies, one of the US top 25
innovative cities, and a top new tech hub
Detroit is #1 global emerging startup
ecosystem and has seen 37% growth in
high-tech employment since 2010
Growing 4% faster than national average
for median wage - ranked 3rd fastest
Entrepreneurs are just getting it done!
FLOYD $25 Million 97 consumer goods
BLOOMSCAPE $25 Million 45 consumer goods
STOCKX $255 Million 1200
consumer goods /
WORKIT HEALTH $138 Million 500 healthtech
STRATA ONCOLOGY $130 Million 127 life sciences
WISELY $187 Million EXIT 75 hospitality saas
CENSYS $53 Million 126 cybersecurity
DUO $2.35 Billion EXIT 900 cybersecurity
ONESTREAM (buyout) $700 Million 750 fintech
BENZINGA (buyout) $300 Million 217 fintech
AUTOBOOKS $97.8 Million 120 fintech
$32 Million 90 insurtech
OUR NEXT ENERGY $390 Million 150 (+2200 by 2024) energy
SKYSPECS $119 Million 75 energy
MAY MOBILITY $194 Million 230 autonomous vehicle
Sources: PitchBook and Crunchbase
TOTAL RAISED TOTAL EMPLOYEES INDUSTRY
WHERE WE SLIP WHERE WE SHINE
Who We Are Solving For
Roots & Wings
Lisa - CA
Mike - CA
Katie - MA
Myk - MA
Moved Here & Stayed
Guy - BitLeap
(sold to Barracuda)
Nutshell, Trove, Cahoots,
Andy - Nutshell
(sold to WebFX)
David - Censys
1% MFF Pledge to MI - first
proceeds for placemaking!
UofM Founders Lost 2021
Prateek - NY
Brian - OH
Matthew - PA
to influential and
"There are many ESOs & money in that space to support
founders, but not led or guided by founders."
"There isn’t a lot of strong structural support, but many
individuals in the state are doing a lot for founders."
"The ecosystem is much more open and willing to help than it
was ten years ago, but we need more statewide collaboration."
"Overall, we focus a lot on education for startups (pitches and
fundraises) but NOT commercialization (actual company building)."
"Need to stop trying to apply a “one size fits all” approach to
"Best ecosystems have a
strong, shared purpose,
not just geography."
"Need better focus and understanding of different
"We need to keep track of early and first-time founders
and see what happens to their companies."
Hear from the Customer
What we will do together to continue our
legacy of innovation and create the best
possible future for all Michiganders...
How can we be a Founder-Friendly State?
How can we Foster a Culture of Yes?