InvestMichigan Shows Off VC Successes, Job Creation

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The Invest Michigan Growth Capital Fund, a venture capital fund that includes two state pension funds, showed off some of its successful investments Wednesday in a program at the Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit.

InvestMichigan has so far invested $95.78 million in 20 companies that employ moer than 2,800 Michiganders.

I spoke with a couple of them in detail Wednesday.

Mophie is a Paw Paw company founded by two partners, Kalamazoo native Shawn Dougherty and Southern California’s Daniel Huang. It was established in a Kalamazoo garage but moved to a former St. Julian Winery building after neighbors and local officials complained about too much truck traffic in a residential area.

Mophie started out making iPhone speakers, but bought an iPhone case maker in 2007. Dougherty said the profit margin was too low with plain cases — so she and Huang decided to add some high-tech touches to the cases.

Now, Mophie sells the Mophie Juice Pack, an iPhone case with a built-in battery that effectively doubles an iPhone’s battery life and retails for $79.95. It also sells the Mophie Marketplace, an iPhone case that adds a credit card reader to any iPhone, for $179. They’re available in Apple and AT&T stores.

Dougherty told me the company’s growth has been explosive — 600 percent last year and more than 100 percent so far this year. It employs 25 Michiganders in tech support, finance and accounting.

Mophie got an investment last month from the InvestMichigan Growth Capital Fund through one of its managers, Farmington Hills-based Beringea, Michigan’s largest venture capital fund.

More at www.mophie.com.

I also spoke with Jake Sigal of Livio Radio, another InvestMichigan portfolio company. Ferndale-based Livio is finding huge success in providing Internet radios and audio accessories.

Sigal’s latest toy is the Carmen, which allows users to record any Internet radio stream, save it on the device, and play it in the car. The device plugs into the car’s lighter jack and plays it tunes over the FM radio. Its manufacturers suggested retail price is $60, but Sigal said it’s on the street for $40.

More at www.livioradio.com.

Other InvestMichigan portfolio companies on display include:

* InTouch Health, a California telemedicine company, with three Michigan companies and plans to add more at a software development center in Ann Arbor.
* IPR, a water and wastewater pipe maintenance provider in Detroit, with 85 Michigan employees.
* gloStream of Bloomfield Hills, a health care IT provider with 30 Michigan employees.
* Ranir, a Grand Rapids provider of consumer health and oral care products, with 425 Michigan employees.
* Moosejaw, a Madison Heights maker of outdoor apparel with 200 Michigan employees.
* Pioneer Surgical, a Marquette surgical implant developer and manufacturer with 260 Michigan employees.
* Hearthside, a Grand Rapids maker of grain-based specialty foods, with 1,430 Michigan employees.
* Sakti3, an Ann Arbor advanced battery developer with 15 Michigan employees.
* Accuri Cytometers, an Ann Arbor developer of benchtop cytometry (cell analysis) machines, with 60 Michigan employees.
* Liberty Dialysis, a Washington company that has acquired dialysis clinics in several West Michigan locations and which has 30 Michigan employees.
* Relume Technologies, an Oxford LED lighting manufacturer, with 45 Michigan employees.
* Salon Grafix, an Auburn Hills retailer of hair care products with 13 Michigan employees.
* Eco Synthetix, a Lansing-based developer of bio-based replacements for petroleum-based products, with four Michigan employees.
* Novo 1, a Ft. Worth, Texas contact center services provider that’s hiring 300 people for a new location in Holland.
* Delphinius Medical Technologies, a Detroit developer of alternatives to mammograms, with five Michigan employees.
* American Educators Group, a Grand Rapids specialized education developer, with 14 Michigan employees.

There are videos of the companies at www.investmichiganfund.com. InvestMichigan is managed by Beringea and the Troy regional office of capital giant Credit Suisse.

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

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