There is no doubt our entrepreneurial ecosystem has fundamentally changed here in Northeast Ohio. What recently reminded me of this fact was a special event we had for our key supporters and how it reflected these significant changes in a very real and personal way.
Seated in front of about 40 of our supporters from foundations, corporations and others were an entrepreneur (Dean Koch, CEO of CerviLenz), the Venture Partner who has worked with the company since applying to JumpStart (Kevin Mendelsohn), and the two VCs who have since funded them (Koleman Karleski of Chrysalis Ventures and Tim Petersen of Arboretum Ventures).
Think of the timeline for this. In less than two years, this company got funded from a local non-profit that didn't even exist five years ago, received technical assistance from an experienced entrepreneur for free, raised an angel round from the North Coast Angel Fund, and a Series B venture capital round from Arboretum Ventures and Chrysalis Ventures, who have offices here in Cleveland (both opened within the last three years), with one of them here in the same building as JumpStart.
Not only did our operations not exist five years ago but neither did an angel fund in our region. And what we have now is not just any angel fund; it's a fund that is organized, professionally run, and is making a significant number of investments. This entire ecosystem is relatively new, yet it's working very collaboratively and, as you just read, making a real impact.
Sometimes, with all that is going on, it's worth taking a step back and doing an inventory of what is so different today than just a few short years ago. Even with the slowdown in VC investments, there are deals being done and attractive companies are receiving funding right here in Northeast Ohio!
John Dearborn is the Chief Development Officer of JumpStart and brings experience as an entrepreneur, founder and CEO at companies across the US and Europe over the last 25 years to the pursuit of economic transformation in Northeast Ohio.