New VC Firm Launches, Names First Investment

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A new venture capital firm has launched in Ann Arbor with its first investment.

Resonant Venture Partners was founded by Jason Townsend and Michael Goodwin – two Michigan natives who spent several years working out in Silicon Valley, then returned to the region to pursue their entrepreneurial passions and help build on the promise of Michigan as an emerging hub for technology innovation and startup success.

Both have committed to spend at least the next decade in Ann Arbor. Both partners are also under 40, and are building the firm based primarily on expertise acquired during their time on the University of Michigan’s student-led Wolverine Venture Fund to guide them. (Both are 2010 graduates of UM’s MBA program.)

The two won’t say how much they’ve raised, but say their goal is $10 million, a modest sum by venture capital fund standards.

Resonant closed its first investment late last week — part of a $1 million investment in Scio Security, a computer security startup led by serial entrepreneur Dug Song and University of Michigan PhD candidate Jon Oberheide. Palo Alto, Calif.-based True Ventures led the round, which also included two strategic angel investors with extensive security expertise. As a result of Resonant’s involvement, Scio will maintain its local headquarters.

Resonant is the first venture capital firm to be established by alumni who previously played critical roles in investment decisions for the Wolverine Venture Fund. The firm will focus on investments in the IT, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, alternative energy and defense sectors.

Resonant began subscribing its first fund in July despite the challenging economic climate, and will continue fundraising efforts while simultaneously sourcing new portfolio companies throughout the next 18 months. The initial investments in the fund were raised from both in-state investors, as well as those from out-of-state, underscoring the investment potential of Michigan.

“Resonant is committed to keeping promising companies Michigan,” said Godwin. “With the entrepreneurial talents and technology innovation coming out of the university, coupled with investors, like us, eager to invest locally, there is tremendous opportunity for companies to succeed in Ann Arbor and its surrounding communities.”

After successful technology and business development careers in Silicon Valley, Godwin and Townsend attended the Ross School of Business in order to pursue their entrepreneurial passions and hone their venture capital skills. While there, they served together as managing directors of the University’s $5.5 million Wolverine Venture Fund, the country’s first student led venture fund that has served as a model for other university programs over the years. Both were deeply involved in rigorous due diligence in support of the Fund’s investment decisions.  During their time as fund leaders, the Fund made seven investments and benefited from two exits, most notably the acquisition of HandyLab by Becton Dickinson.

Godwin and Townsend credit the hands-on experience and mentorship they received at the institute for much of Resonant’s success, as well as citing the important relationships they established as a result of  the institute’s network of entrepreneurs and investors both locally and nationally. Resonant’s advisory board is comprised of several notable members of the local investment community, including Tom Kinnear, executive director of the Institute and seasoned angel investor, as well as  Mary Campbell, managing director at EDF Ventures, and Donald Walker, managing director of Arbor Partners

“It takes an immense amount of passion and effort to start a venture capital firm, especially in today’s environment,” said Kinnear, Executive Director of the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, Wolverine Venture Fund Director and member of Resonant’s advisory board. “Based on the experiences and successes both Michael and Jason faced on the Wolverine Venture Fund, I am very confident in their ability not only to make Resonant thrive, but also to make significant contributions to Michigan’s flourishing startup community.”

“We are looking to revolutionize the security market and provide strong authentication and fraud prevention by leveraging users’ mobile devices,” Song said. “The investment from True and Resonant will provide us the necessary capital to launch our flagship product which protects the security of online transactions and remote access.”

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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