After five years serving Michigan's entrepreneurial community as associate director of the Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA), Emily Heintz is becoming an entrepreneur herself.
Heintz's Ann Arbor-based company, EntryPoint, was established in March with a mission to advance entrepreneurship in Michigan. At the MVCA, Heintz led the development of the organization's annual research report. She hopes to use that same data-driven approach at EntryPoint to help economic development organizations and the startup community develop programs to support Michigan entrepreneurs through public engagement and research.
"I do a lot of analysis on the entrepreneurial community in the Midwest and want to help foundations and economic organizations craft the most meaningful programs and, long term, raise capital and run further programs that work more directly with the entrepreneurial community," she says.
Heintz says her previous work analyzing Michigan's entrepreneurial ecosystem has found many strengths, but also capital and talent gaps. Her work with EntryPoint will address those weak areas.
Heintz has built a network of partners who will assist her through their positions on EntryPoint's advisory board, including representatives of tech firms like Duo Security and numerous local venture capital firms.
"I've worked with most of them 10 years now in various capacities and they are invaluable resources in the type of work I want to put my energy toward," Heintz says. "All these people are really focused toward building a really inclusive entrepreneurial community and ensuring access to capital for entrepreneurs."
She says her initial role will be as a "connector of people and organizations," helping economic development organizations find capital and talent resources. She'll also help connect established companies to startups who can help those established companies "stay on the cutting edge of technology." One of her first projects with EntryPoint will be advising Invest Detroit Ventures on how best to structure the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition it sponsors.
Heintz says startups do have funding options, but there is an especial lack of series A funding in Michigan.
"Companies can scale up to a certain point, but help attracting the capital they need to grow, particularly in Michigan, is critical," she says.
Heintz says a main reason she decided to launch EntryPoint was that she was seeing excitement, momentum, and growth in Michigan's venture capital community.
"We've really built up great infrastructure for companies and investors," she says. "Now is not the time to take the foot off the gas pedal. Michigan needs a data-driven approach, and we need to be very intentional about the way we grow the entrepreneurial community in the Midwest over the next five to 10 years."
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Leisa Thompson.