MVCA Aim Diversity and Inclusion
MVCA Venture Fellows Program matches emerging talent with local venture capital firms
To support the growth of Michigan’s venture capital industry, the Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA) Venture Fellows Program matches emerging talent with local venture capital firms to attract and retain investment professionals in Michigan. As part of this year’s program, MVCA will build on its Diversity & Inclusion Initiative to assist venture capital firms in fostering a more diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial and investment community.
To date, MVCA, in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, has awarded more than a million dollars to 19 venture capital professionals across Michigan to advance their careers in Michigan’s entrepreneurial and investment community. As part of the program, Venture Fellows are hired by Michigan-based venture firms to accelerate the fundraising and deployment of capital into early-stage companies.
“Investing in initiatives that cultivate and support new talent, like the Venture Fellows Program, is a key factor as we continue to develop an integrated entrepreneurial ecosystem with support services at each level,” said Nataliya Stasiw, portfolio manager at the MEDC and strategic advisor to the Venture Fellows Program. “The Venture Fellows Program provides Michigan venture firms with access to a talented pool of professionals who can support the growth of the state’s entrepreneurial and investment community.”
One such Venture Fellow, Reda Jaber, gained early-stage experience in the program when he paired with Wolverine Angel Network and Stage 2 Innovations. A graduate of the Fellows program in 2016, Jaber currently serves as Gemphire Therapeutics Director of Business Development and Partner at IncWell.
"Participating in the Venture Fellows Program helped open the door to opportunities that were critical to advancing my career in venture capital," said Jaber. “With this program, we have the opportunity to help build leaders and advocates who will shape the future of the venture capital industry in Michigan."
To identify policy and program needs for Michigan’s growing entrepreneurial and investment community, MVCA examines trends pertaining to investment and entrepreneurship and publishes its findings within the MVCA Annual Research Report. As part of its report since 2014, MVCA includes studies related to the presence and roles of women, individuals identifying as LGBTQ+ and racial minorities within this community. According to MVCA’s most recent report, in 2016:
• Michigan venture capitalists invested $222 million in 54 Michigan startup companies. Of that, $16.9 million was invested in four Michigan startup companies led by a CEO belonging to one or more underrepresented groups.
• 14 percent of venture capital professionals in Michigan were female.
• 7 percent of venture capital professionals were racial minorities.
“While Michigan meets or exceeds the national average of diversity within the entrepreneurial and investment community, the state has the opportunity to set a benchmark for the industry that more clearly reflects representative populations,” said MVCA Associate Director, Emily Heintz. “An ongoing focus on promoting an inclusive community is essential to ensuring Michigan attracts and retains the best talent. Our goal is to set the standard for venture capital associations across the country and create a model that will foster a more diverse and inclusive culture across the entire venture capital industry.”
Jared Stasik, vice president, Detroit Venture Partners, is another graduate of MVCA’s Venture Fellows Program who has gone on to experience tremendous success. As a member of the Program, Stasik gained experience in financial modeling, operational analysis, sales planning and market research.
“What I learned during my fellowship has been invaluable to my career,” Stasik said. “The knowledge I gained and relationships I developed have been essential to my professional growth. I strongly encourage others to take advantage of the Venture Fellows Program to strengthen their skill set and advance their network in Michigan’s entrepreneurial and investment community.”
The 2018 Venture Fellows Program requires candidates to have a track record of actively contributing to fostering a diverse and inclusive community, a commitment to diversity initiatives, and will incorporate training on diversity and inclusion as part of MVCAcademy (a required one-day training for Venture Fellows). In addition, venture firms who participate in the program will be required to submit a statement regarding their firm’s commitment to building an inclusive entrepreneurial and investment community in Michigan.
The Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA) is the nonprofit trade association designed to increase the capital and talent available for Michigan’s entrepreneurial and investment community.