JumpStart Thawing The Freeze On Cleveland Tech Investment

Not only is there a big chill in Northeast Ohio’s weather, but there’s also a freeze on tech investments. There have been notable declines in both public and private valuations for technology companies — being felt here and worldwide.

According to Dow Jones VentureSource, the median pre-money valuation for tech firms raising venture capital in the fourth quarter of 2015 was $28.75 million, less than a third of what the median valuation was the previous quarter. And this declining trend is expected to continue.

However, some recent announcements by JumpStart, a non-profit organization that supports the regional tech and entrepreneurial industry, should provide needed warmth on the local tech investment front.

With new funds available for investment, Cleveland could become a bright fire in a global tech investment ice age. Also this week, a local tech company takes flight to join one of the most prestigious tech accelerators in the United States.

Jump Starting Start Ups. In 2015, JumpStart, a local tech economic development organization, had a great year in helping create a momentous cultural change in the region.

CardioInsight, Exployrs, Simbionics and other startups experienced a big financial exit for their founders and investors – all proof that this region can create provocative tech companies that hold national appeal and can generate significant returns.

And, the State of Ohio also recognized Northeast Ohio’s tech renaissance by committing $25 million out of a $60 million round to regional pre-seed and seed venture funds.

It takes a tremendous amount of effort and focus in Northeast Ohio to raise an investment fund especially in the startup arena. With this new State money, JumpStart has announced three funds that will invest in different segments in the tech continuum.

The Focus Fund will be the largest seed fund of its kind in the United States as it seeks investment opportunities for $10 million in women and minority based tech companies. The Fund will invest up to $500,000 into 20 companies. And the Fund will also consider companies that would consider moving to the Cleveland area.

Another $10 million will be placed into the Evergreen Fund. This Fund targets pre-seed and seed investments. From 2006 to 2013, the Evergreen Fund made more than $27 million in tech investment in Northeast Ohio, and now it will target $300,000 to $600,000 in an investment in tech, biotech and promising start-ups.

Additionally, JumpStart has created the Next Fund – a for-profit fund that will help mature companies raise a Series A or B round of capital. The fund has $20 million in committed capital – $7.5 million from the State of Ohio and $12.5 million from other parties. The Next Fund can participate in the Series A or B round by committing capital between $750,000 and $2 million.

JumpStart also has started a bank – Growth Opportunity Partner – that can offer growth debt capital in the range of $150,000 to $500,000 in typical bank financing. A missing link for so many looking for startup funds

Cleveland is starting 2016 in a much stronger investment position than it has in years. Finally, the dearth of capital for tech companies is being addressed in a profound and meaningful way.

Now, it is up to other local and regional corporations, organizations, investment funds and personal investors to join JumpStart in creating a unique investment environment while the rest of the world feels the freeze.

This article originally appeared on Cleveland.comFirst published January 31, 2016