GRAND RAPIDS — The new managing partner for Grand Angels looks to tap his statewide contacts to build a bigger presence among early-stage investors.
Dale Grogan joined the Grand Rapids-based Grand Angels in late November from Charter Capital Partners, where he worked for 13 years. At Charter, Grogan helped launch and manage Michigan Accelerator Fund I, a venture capital fund, and Charter Growth Capital Fund, a mezzanine fund.
Grogan saw an opportunity in Grand Angels to focus on early-stage investing in startups that want to develop and commercialize an innovation, and to work with entrepreneurs to “solve a previously unsolvable problem.”
“I just like the intellectual pursuit of the early-stage stuff,” said Grogan, a one-time entrepreneur who has started new companies. “I know how hard that is.”
“If you think about what entrepreneurs do, they recognize something that can be done better or something that hasn’t been done before, and then they work like crazy to make that happen. To me. that is tremendously stimulating,” he said. “I know that it takes lots of hands and lots of oars to make that happen, and that’s a place I want to be. I want to be on that bench pulling on that oar.”
Charter Capital Partners’ venture capital funds have previously co-invested in deals with Grand Angels.
“I’m quite comfortable with this space. I know the folks,” Grogan said. “I feel like I can hit the ground running on this one.”
Grogan’s hiring follows the departure of Tim Parker, who left Grand Angels in October after four years as president to become president and CEO of the Wausau, Wis.-based Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin.
During his tenure as Grand Angels president, Parker led the formation of three affiliated angel groups — Kalamazoo-based Ka-Zoo Angels, Flint Angels, and Detroit-based Woodward Angels — under the Michigan Capital Network umbrella.
In Grogan, Grand Angels brought aboard a managing partner who’s experienced, known across the state and “shares our passion for early-stage investment and helping communities thrive by providing capital to early-stage founders,” said Grand Angels Chairman Carl Erickson.
Hiring an executive who can offer an outside perspective “as we’re thinking about the organization’s future” and who knows the landscape for early-stage investing in Michigan was “incredibly valuable,” said Erickson, the executive chairman of Atomic Object LLC, a Grand Rapids-based software developer.
“We got the type of guy we needed,” he said. “To find somebody just like we were looking for and who already happens to be local and has a network in Michigan is just incredible.”
Restructuring, expanding reach
Hiring a new managing partner comes as Grand Angels’ leadership works on a restructuring plan that Erickson expects to roll out in early 2021.
Grogan said his first task “is to really get the lay of the land” and understand how the Grand Rapids market fits in with the larger statewide market.
“It’s really to extend the Grand Angels’ reach across the state so that the angels can have better access and more consistent access to higher quality deals that they might not ordinarily see — things that are not in their backyard,” Grogan said.
Formed in 2004, Grand Angels consists of the angel investment network, plus two active venture capital funds. Paul D’Amato, managing director of Grand Angels’ venture capital funds, said in a recent webinar hosted by the Michigan Venture Capital Association that there is “soon to be four funds.”
“We are actively investing out of our third fund and will continue to do so until the second half of 2021. At that point, we will start investing out of our fourth fund. We will begin raising capital for our fourth fund during the first half of 2021,” D’Amato wrote in an email to MiBiz.
Grogan will work with D’Amato to manage the venture funds.
Grand Angels has invested about $3.7 million in 10 companies in 2020. Of that total, a little more than $2 million was from Grand Angels’ third venture capital fund, and about $1.5 million was through its angel network, which includes Grand Angels, Ka-Zoo Angels, Flint Angels and Woodward Angels, D’Amato said.
Meanwhile, angel investing in Michigan has grown steadily for several years.
Angels put $73.6 million into 106 startup companies across Michigan in 2019, which compares to $52 million invested in 84 startups in 2018, according to an annual report from the Michigan Venture Capital Association.
The number of angel investors in Michigan also grew more than 50 percent from 859 people in 2018 to 1,322 last year, according to the MVCA.