Ann Arbor individuals and firms are well-represented in the 2017 list of nominees for the Michigan Venture Capital Association's (MVCA) annual awards dinner. This year marks the MVCA's 15th anniversary.
The winners in each category will be announced at the awards dinner Nov. 15 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit – a change from previous years, when winners were announced ahead of time.
Ann Arbor's Dug Song and Jon Oberheide, founders of cloud-based cybersecurity company Duo Security, are nominated for "Entrepreneur of the Year."
"[Duo is] an exciting company that a lot of folks in Ann Arbor and throughout Michigan have been watching," says MVCA executive director Maureen Miller Brosnan. "Dug has been recognized before for work in industry, so it's nice to be able to recognize Dug and Jon together as builders of such a fast-growing company."
The other two nominees in this category are Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans Inc., and Kaylan Handique, a founder of life sciences startup Celsee Diagnostics.
Two Ann Arbor firms, Deepfield and LLamasoft, are represented in the "Capital Event of the Year" category.
Deepfield, an information technology startup, started at the University of Michigan, secured early-stage investments, and added 65 employees in five years before being acquired by Nokia in 2017. LLamasoft, a supply chain modeling and design software firm, recently announced an investment and partnership with TPG Capital, the global private equity fund of leading alternative asset firm TPG.
The third nominee in this category is Cirius Therapeutics, a life science startup with research and development operations in Kalamazoo.
Ian Bund, senior advisor and founding partner of Plymouth Growth Partners in Ann Arbor, is nominated in the "Lifetime Achievement" award category.
"Ian Bund is legendary throughout Michigan," Brosnan says. "He's been a huge asset in helping to shape Michigan's venture capital community. He's been crucial to the success of a number of firms in the state, not just Plymouth Growth Partners."
Bund was recruited to Michigan back in 1976, when Michigan's venture capital community was much smaller than it is today.
"He's one of those people who have been there from the very beginning, and you'll see his name pop up associated with many venture capital events every year," Brosnan says.
The other nominees in the "Lifetime Achievement" category are investor and entrepreneur Mike Jandernoa, and investor Jody Vanderwel.
Also new this year is a "Community Impact Award." Nominees in this category are individuals, organizations, or events that create connections and build community in the entrepreneurial and venture capital ecosystem.
Nominees in this category are the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, which awards $1 million in cash and in-kind prizes through its pitch competition; the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium, connecting early-stage companies with venture capitalists and strategic investors from Michigan, the Midwest, and across the U.S.; and Techstars Mobility, a mentorship-driven accelerator program focused on the future of mobility and transportation.
In general, Brosnan says that when choosing nominees, MVCA members are looking for "people willing to take risks."
"They are people who work hard to foster a vibrant entrepreneurial community and set the stage for the next generation," she says.
More information about all nominees and the awards dinner is available at MVCA's website.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of MVCA.