FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., August 30, 2013 -- Start Garden, the $15,000,000 seed fund that selects individual ideas each week for investments, and opportunities for further investment has operated at a feverish pace since its launch in April 2012. Today the team announced that its investment plan is ahead of schedule. With investments in 49 startups ranging between $25,000 and $500,000, and more than 136 $5,000 experiments funded in just 16 months, Start Garden adjusts its process to fund a single $5,000 investment per week.
In its final week of double $5,000 investments, Start Garden chose FlipsiBottle, a reusable drinking bottle that is designed for easy cleaning, while the public endorsed The Elf Factory, a holiday school program specializing in handmade gifts for parents.
The practice of the Start Garden team choosing one investment and the public endorsing the other from the website, will become a hybrid process. Visitors to the website still endorse an idea on startgarden.com, but only one idea is ultimately chosen every week.
“The number of investments we have today between $25,000-$99,000 is way more than we anticipated," said Mike Morin, head of portfolio relations. "With the amount of activity those startups are generating, the flow that began with $5,000 is maturing. We'll keep the door open for new experiments, but we see the volume of activity spreading out across funding levels now.”
In April of 2012, Start Garden launched in April 2012 as a way to discover, create and grow a new generation of businesses in Michigan. To do this, it used venture capital in a way that it had not been used before. Rather than investing in startups on the verge of a massive growth phase, Start Garden funds ideas, projects and experiments.
In the 16 months since it launched, Start Garden has invested:
$5,000 into 136 ideas
$25,000 - $99,000 into 39 projects
$100,000 - $500,000 into 10 startups
“The entrepreneurial spirit is strong here,” said founder Rick DeVos. “If this region can become as good at helping entrepreneurs get started as we are at philanthropy, there's no telling what this city could look like in ten years."
While the number of weekly investments changes, the process remains the same. The Start Garden team still seeks an endorsement from the public in order to help them make the selection. Additionally, the change has little affect on the monthly Update Night events, where people who receive $5,000 investments report back in front of a live audience and explain what they learned and how their idea is desirable, feasible and viable. The Update Night events will start to include some of the startups funded at higher levels, who will be giving an update but not competing against the $5,000 experiments.
In 16 months, Start Garden has committed more than $4 million to 156 ideas, projects and startup businesses. 136 of its funded projects were submitted via startgarden.com. 29 ideas went to the next step and received between $25,000-90,000. 20 startups did not come through the $5,000 gateway because of their maturity as companies.
Additional detail about Start Garden and its programming can be found at startgarden.com.
About Start Garden
Start Garden is an unconventional venture capital fund that invests in over a hundred ideas a year in small increments. The program brings financial, intellectual and social capital to ideas at the earliest stage by connecting them to the resources of an entire region. Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it is founded by Rick DeVos who’s past projects included ArtPrize, 5x5 Night, Momentum and Spout.com.
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