GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Angels President Tim Parker has stepped down to run a community foundation in Wisconsin.
Parker starts Monday as president and CEO of the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin in Wasau, Wisc. He’ll continue to assist the Grand Rapids-based Grand Angels, one of the most active angel investor groups in the Midwest, during the transition to new leadership.
Parker, 52, recently became a grandfather and the foundation position moves him closer to family in Wisconsin. The position as well allows him to pursue an interest in philanthropy and “putting all of my full-time efforts into making a difference that’s going to impact communities locally in the long term,” Parker said.
“I love what we’re doing with Grand Angels, but this is to me the next step and probably my final chapter before I hang up the hat. So, I wanted to see what kind of legacy we can create that our grandchildren and future generations can enjoy,” Parker told MiBiz.
During his four years as president of Grand Angels, Parker led the formation of three affiliated angel groups — Ka-Zoo Angels in Kalamazoo, Flint Angels, and Woodward Angels in Detroit — and doubled membership, as well as oversaw the launch of new venture capital funds to further invest in startups.
Carl Erickson, chairman of the board for Grand Angels, calls the formation of the new angel groups around the state using an affiliate model and the Michigan Capital Network umbrella organization as Parker’s “most significant” accomplishment.
“That’s our future and that’s where our real impact can be multiplied and it’s going to help us bring more capital to bear, and that all went down under Tim’s leadership. That’s a big accomplishment,” said Erickson, the executive chairman of Grand Rapids software development firm Atomic Object LLC. “We appreciate what he’s done for us and wish him well.”
Grand Angels presently has “a couple of conversations very active with other cities in the state” for additional affiliates.
Formation of the Grand Angels affiliates coincided with recent growth in the number of angel investors in Michigan.
Michigan had 1,322 angel investors in 2019, a strong increase from 797 in 2017, according to an annual report from Michigan Angel Community, a statewide initiative that promotes angel investing. Michigan had 13 angel groups that in 2019 invested $73.6 million in 106 startup companies. That compares to $52.1 million invested in 84 startups in 2018.
Grand Angels had done 10 deals so far in 2020 and continued investing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Parker said.
The pandemic has given rise to new investment opportunities as entrepreneurs and startups pivoted, and to innovations to address needs and problems the crisis created.
“Crisis stimulates innovation,” Parker said. “When the COVID virus hit we decided to put our foot on the gas and keep supporting companies. As other investors slowed down, the deal flow came toward us.”
Prior to becoming president of Grand Angels in November 2016, Parker formed and ran T.S. Parker Global — which exports American-branded packaged foods from Michigan to Asian markets — and consulted with startup companies on strategy, product development and growth. He previously worked for 17 years at the Walker-based consumer goods maker Bissell Inc., including eight years as vice president of research and development.
An announcement by the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin on Parker’s hiring described him as “an energetic entrepreneur and global business leader, (who) brings a wealth of leadership experience and a passion for positive change within local communities.”
“Our board of directors is thrilled to introduce a leader of Tim’s caliber into our community to guide the Community Foundation,” said Chris Pfender, the chair of the foundation’s board. “Tim possesses the qualifications and expertise to grow the Community Foundation into an even greater, more successful, organization to create a lasting impact on our area.”