Ohio Venture - OVA Review Newsletter
News from the Ohio Venture Association meeting on March 6, 2015


Venture Capital Summit X
CLE: Riding the Wave

Northeast Ohio is at best only about halfway through a generation-long cycle of transforming itself into a place with a focus on innovation, and with the emergence of global capital support for good emerging companies, the informal country club style of funding new companies is withering away.

Those were among the chief themes emerging from OVA's tenth-annual Venture Capital Summit, held at Corporate College East on March 6th.

Jumpstart's Ray Leach observed that, "We're in year ten of a 30- or 25-, or maybe 20-year process of turning ourselves around with an innovation focus." While much has been accomplished, he said, much also remains to be done. He also suggested a new lens through which the region might interpret the absorption of successful regional start-ups by larger companies from outside the region. "As hard as it might be to watch large outside companies buying local companies, if that keeps happening, we'll be fine, because five or six companies will spin off from those profits."

Serial software entrepreneur Charles Stack, meanwhile, announced an end to the old way of funding promising new companies.

"We're in the age of the globalization of capital," said the co-founder of the Flashstarts incubator. "The country club model is dying a justifiably slow and painful death. And now we're moving much more toward the globalization of opportunity... On the internet, nobody knows you're from Cleveland. If we build good companies, I have no doubt the capital will find me, and I don't care where it comes from. Because that's what capital does—it looks for opportunities. And it's voracious."

In opening remarks, new Cuyahoga County executive Armond Budish reminded the audience that he's familiar with the strategic importance of venture capital. "As speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, I led the effort to renew the Third Frontier. So I'm schooled in the importance of having that capital come to us in Northeast Ohio to support the innovators to build new companies." He went on to say, "How do we encourage entrepreneurship? Well, there's no one way. But the county can and will play a role. The county is eager to partner with the innovation ecosystem of Northeast Ohio."

Mutual Capital Partners' Bill Trainor even broke some news. In a brief report about Venture Ohio, he said the new statewide group is now conducting a study on how it might help launch an Ohio fund of funds, possibly modeled on Michigan's popular Renaissance Fund.

A few other notable observations from the summit:

  • Jim Weisman of BioEnterprise: "There are those who say the region is experiencing a renaissance. I've been here long enough to have been through a few of our region's renaissances. The term renaissance brings to mind the visual that we are emerging from some dark ages. Which is not something you escape simply by being mentioned in Foeder's and Travel & Leisure magazine. It takes a lot more effort to get out of the darkness. And yet, like the dark phoenix that rises, we seem to rotate through dark ages and renaissance every 10 to 15 years. We need to break this cycle."
  • Morris Wheeler of Drummond Road Capital: "Some of the most difficult conversations I have are with the scientist or doctor who comes to me and says 'I have this great idea, can you invest?' And I have to answer 'I don't invest in ideas, I invest in companies.' I think the most important thing universities can do is figure out how to match these scientists and doctors up with entrepreneurs and co-founders and actually start a company. Because once there's a company and once there's a commitment by the founders, then it's fundable, but not until."
  • Richie Piiparinen of Cleveland State University's Center for Population Dynamics: Absent a welcoming attitude to immigration, "Cleveland is kind of like a fish tank with the oxygen cut off..it's not about brain drain or brain gain, it's about talent circulation."
  • OVA president Chris Sklarin: "Ohio is no longer flyover country... Clearly there are things that people see in Northeast Ohio that are very, very attractive. So let's stop worrying about ourselves so much, and let's start celebrating successes."

Webcast from the Meeting:

Click on the image below to view the video.

Video Webcast from Recent Meeting

Webcasts produced by Tom Kondilas.

OVA's Video Archive is Online:

OVA is pleased to offer an archive of program videos to its website. You'll find the full video record of most OVA formal programs since 2008 at www.ohioventure.org/events/video-archives/.

Upcoming Meeting Dates:

  • April 10, 2015
    Matt Neely and
    Christopher Sandford
  • May 8, 2015
    Andrew Yang
    Venture for America

See complete details and registration for these events.

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