Michigan eLab bridges the gap between Silicon Valley and Ann Arbor startups

Michigan eLab opened with an idea for bridging the startup economies of Silicon Valley and Ann Arbor. Most people would assume that means focusing on California first, then Michigan. The team at the Ann Arbor-based venture capital firm has found the opposite to be true.

"We just wrapped up our eighth investment with this fund," says Doug Neal, co-founder & managing director of Michigan eLab. "We are on pace to do an investment per quarter. We did two investments in the fourth quarter of last year."

That last investment is in an artificial intelligence startup based in Ann Arbor. Neal declined to disclose the name at this time but believes it can become a household name in tech. The investment before that was in a startup called Rachio, which was co-founded by a University of Michigan alumni. The startup's technology helps maximize the water used by sprinkler systems through wifi and software.

"Think of it as nest for your lawn," Neal says. "It saves people as much as two thirds of the water they would use on their lawn."

Michigan eLab raised nearly $25 million in this investment fund with a focus on investing in early stage tech startups. So far about half of the fund is committed and Neal expects to make a number of investments later this year.

"Were off to a good start," Neal says. "We're close on one right now. That will be our first quarter investment. We have found that deal flow is not a problem for us."

Source: Doug Neal, co-founder & managing director of Michigan eLab
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

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