(This post was originally published in 2015.)
Our Entrepreneurship Master's Program is housed in Notre Dame's Innovation Park, a commercial accelerator that houses startups taking research and innovation towards commercialization. As such, Elevate Ventures, a private, non-profit VC firm is literally down the hall from (i.e. "neighbors") with ESTEEM's main offices.
Hi - my name is Kregg Kiel. This is my first blog post for ESTEEM. I’m the Entrepreneur-In-Residence for Elevate Ventures and I cover the North Central region of Indiana, which includes St. Joseph, Marshall, Elkhart & Kosciusko counties. Elevate is headquartered in Indianapolis, but our coverage is state-wide.
Elevate Ventures is a private non-profit “dedicated to developing and nurturing emerging and existing high potential businesses into high-performing Indiana-based companies.” That’s the official tag line and it’s a pretty good broad-brush of what we do. However, it’s the “how we do it” that is more important. We’re a grand experiment for the state, who happens to be our biggest client. However, we are not “The State” or even “an Agent for the State” as has, to my chagrin, been used to describe me in the past.
Elevate is a group of like-minded individuals who work as hard as possible to help high-potential businesses realize their potential. Elevate is a venture “development” firm. Call us a VC with a heart if you want. The difference between us and a typical VC is that we are dedicated to helping businesses along the entire “entrepreneurial path,” as I like to say. Our intent is to provide funds and assistance from the ideation stage all the way to the second stage of a company’s life. The funding part isn’t something we take lightly. This isn’t an old-school state assistance - ask and ye shall receive - play. As with any venture investment, a company needs to be scalable in a high-growth vertical and well worth the risk.
As I mentioned in the prior paragraph, we offer assistance and funding along the entire entrepreneurial path. On the funding side, we can provide high potential startup grants all the way through to “A round” money. On the assistance side, it’s all about helping startups to succeed. When a second stage company needs help with marketing or market-based assistance, we are able to offer our free Economic Gardening program.
By focusing our efforts only in Indiana, we ensure that the benefits of successful startups becoming successful companies accrue to Indiana. By the way, there’s a big difference between a startup and a company - more on that in a later post.
Going forward, you’ll hear from me on various topics pertaining to startups and the startup ecosystem in the region. Any feedback you have will be well-received. If you ever have any startup-related questions, feel free to stop by my office in the corner of the Greenhouse at Innovation Park. Cheers!
About Kregg Kiel -- Elevate Ventures’ Entrepreneur-In-Residence for the North Central region, spent over 20 years of his career in Chicago’s financial industry - a good portion of which was dedicated to vetting ideas and guiding startups while managing investments for a family trust, The 2217 Group. He created and managed several of his own startups during that time as well. He resides in New Buffalo, MI and is a diehard Northwestern fan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.