Foundry’s Jason Mendelson, Now Bullish On Michigan Startup Scene

The Michigan Growth Capital Symposium was held this past Tuesday and Wednesday in Ypsilanti. Xconomy’s Sarah Schmid reports that over 450 founders, entrepreneurs, VCs, and others in the Michigan startup community showed out for the event.

Among them was the managing director and co-founder of Foundry Group, Jason Mendelson who gave a keynote address entitled: “The Velocity of the Midwest Venture Capital Ecosystem: Sleeping Giants or Momentary Blips?”

During his speech he was very positive about the current startup scene in Michigan. Mendelson is no stranger to the state of Michigan. He was born in Detroit and graduated from the university of Michigan.  While this weeks talk was all positive, it wasn’t always that way for Mendelson and his native state.

After graduating from law school at the University of Michigan, Mendelson wanted to stay in Michigan but he quickly found that the state, so deep rooted in the auto industry, didn’t care if someone had the next million dollar idea. At that time no one cared about anything except seniority.

So like any aspiring entrepreneur Mendelson made a pilgrimage to Silicon Valley, an experience he doesn’t speak to highly of.

Mendelson said that the competition in Silicon Valley was so harsh that the only pleasure in life came from relishing in others’ failure. Mendelson described Silicon Valley to Schmid as “toxic” ultimately causing him to leave in 2006 and head for Boulder Colorado.

More after the break

Boulder was where Mendelson laid down roots and through Foundry and it’s partnership with Techstars, among others, they’re seeing Boulder thrive. Boulder has grown to take the fourth place spot in the nation in terms of new company formations and startup funding.

Mendelson went back to Ann Arbor in 2005 with an open checkbook and couldn’t find anything that piqued his interest enough to invest in. There were plenty of creative people and people with good ideas, but like Mendelson they were running for the exit door as fast as they could.
Now, Mendelson has completely reversed his earlier views of Michigan and Detroit in particular. He gives a lot of credit to Dan Gilbert of Detroit Venture Partners for creating a tech hub in downtown Detroit. There are a lot of attractive things about Michigan for new startups.  Including the fact that Michigan delivers a bigger bang for your buck. Mendelson points out that for every $28,000 in venture capital invested in Michigan one U.S. job is created. Xconomy points out that it takes $75,000 in venture capital to create a job in California, $70,000 in Massachusetts and $40,000 in Illinois.
We’ve recently reported on great Detroit startups like Credentiallock, PicketReport, RegainGo and student founded FetchNotes.
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Source: Xconomy





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