MSU Launches Student Venture Capital Fund Within Broad College of Business

Contact(s): Aaryn RichardCaroline Brooks

A new partnership between Red Cedar Ventures — the wholly owned venture investment subsidiary of the Michigan State University Foundation — and the Center for Venture Capital, Private Equity and Entrepreneurial Finance, or CVCPEEF, is now delivering venture funding experiences directly into the classroom.

Launched in Spring 2019, students taking Entrepreneurial Finance will get a taste of the risks and rewards associated with venture capital investment. Moreover, startup companies within MSU’s entrepreneurial ecosystem will get a chance to receive funding up to $50,000.

"Students taking Entrepreneurial Finance can now put the principles learned in the classroom into practice," said Zsuzsanna Fluck, associate professor of finance and director of the CVCPEEF. "Working with MSU startups, students will conduct assessments and due diligence into emerging startups here on campus. This is experiential learning at its finest."

Entrepreneurial Finance students are already hard at work conducting investment evaluations on over 20 startup dossiers, many of which are competing in this week's Burgess New Venture Challenge. At an event on April 26th, the Student Venture Capital Fund will deliver its final investment evaluations and award venture funding to its top picks.

The Student Venture Capital Fund’s dollars come directly from Red Cedar Ventures, which will execute and hold student investment recommendations within the company’s portfolio.

"Since 2016, Red Cedar Ventures has been building a portfolio that champions some of the most promising technologies and startups coming out of Michigan State University," said Jeff Wesley, executive director of Red Cedar Ventures and who will serve entrepreneurial finance students as a key investment mentor. "This collaboration supports our students by providing a richer experiential learning opportunity, lending depth to their understanding of the venture capital landscape."

The Student Venture Capital Fund will continue seeing new investment opportunities generated by activity within the MSU Hatch, the startup incubator exclusive to MSU student entrepreneurs. Today, the MSU Hatch serves hundreds of student members in its three-stage, milestone-based program. With over sixty startup companies in the Hatch program’s final “Launch” stage alone, the Student Venture Capital Fund will have a growing pipeline of companies into which dollars can be deployed.

"At the CVCPEEF, we focus on four core values to help drive the industry forward: research, education, outreach, and collaboration,” said Fluck. “The Student Venture Capital Fund is vital to driving student learning.”

GreenMark Secures Additional Funding for Cavity Identification and Treatment

East Lansing & Ann Arbor, MI — GreenMark Biomedical Inc. today announced it secured $670K equity funding completing a $1.2M Series Seed Preferred Stock round to further develop and commercialize its patented nanoparticle-based dental technology. The University of Michigan’s MINTS program, Invest Michigan and Red Cedar Ventures investments follow earlier funding from Blue Water Angels, Western Michigan University's BRCC and Invest Detroit Ventures. GreenMark’s products, which are being developed by GreenMark with collaborators at the University of Michigan, quickly identify early dental ‘pre-cavities’ that can be treated non-invasively to prevent the formation of cavities. The technology utilizes bioresorbable starch-based nanoparticles which degrade into harmless materials by the time the patient is ready to leave the dental office. [Read the full news release here.]

CiBO Technologies Appoints Daniel P. Ryan as Chief Executive Officer

Cambridge, Mass., – Wednesday, January 23, 2019 – CiBO Technologies, a science-driven software company that models and simulates agricultural ecosystems, has appointed Daniel P. Ryan to the role of chief executive officer. Founded in 2015 by Flagship Pioneering, CiBO’s platform blends science, data, and software to help companies unlock previously unattainable outcomes in agriculture. [Read the full release at CiBO Technologies’ page.]

Every Two Minutes Finalists at 2019 SXSW Pitch

Every Two Minutes Finalists at 2019 SXSW Pitch

Every Two Minutes, Inc was selected as a finalist in the Social & Culture category for the 11th annual SXSW Pitch®(formerly SXSW Accelerator).

SXSW Pitch is the marquee event of South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference & Festivals (March 8-17, 2019) Entrepreneurship & Startup Track, where leading startups from around the world showcase some of the most impressive technology innovations to a panel of hand-picked judges and a live audience. Out of the more than 800 companies that applied to present at SXSW Pitch 2019, Every Two Minutes, Inc. was selected among the 50 finalists spanning 10 separate categories.

South Lyon native's $700K 'Shark Tank' VADE Nutrition deal excites family, friends

South Lyon native's $700K 'Shark Tank' VADE Nutrition deal excites family, friends

An East Lansing nutrition company co-owned by a former Michigan State University athlete from South Lyon has received the business offer of a lifetime. 

The $700,000 cash infusion from Alex Rodriguez and Mark Cuban during Sunday night's airing of ABC's "Shark Tank" could transform the company into a leader in several industries. 

Lansing incubator funds medical tech startups

Lansing incubator funds medical tech startups

As surgeons rely more on their phones to record surgeries, they risk infecting their patients with the bacteria on their devices.

When Rob Zondervan, a med student at Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, was asked to take photos and videos of a surgeries, he came up with the idea of creating sterilized phone cases.

ABC's 'Shark Tank' to hear former Michigan State athlete's business pitch

A former Michigan State University athlete and his wife are expected to pitch their business to a popular TV show's panel of experts this month. 

Joe and Megan Johnson, co-owners of VADE Nutrition will explain their business plan to hosts of ABC's "Shark Tank" at 9 p.m. Nov. 25. 

The show has already been filmed, Joe Johnson said, and is expected to reveal whether VADE will get financial support from any members of the show's entrepreneurial "sharks."

"With our business as exciting and innovative as it is," Joe Johnson said Wednesday morning, "pitching it is really what we strive in and love doing." 

 VADE is an East Lansing-based company that sells packets of protein powder that dissolve quickly in any type of liquid. 

Johnson said he's sworn to secrecy about the company's outcome on the show. The couple earned a spot on the show after their business plan received strong reviews from the "Shark Tank" team during an open casting call. 

Amanda Munoz-Temple, a spokeswoman for the show, confirmed in an email Wednesday that episode 1007 of "Shark Tank" will feature VADE Nutrition on Nov. 25.

Johnson, 26, from South Lyon, competed for MSU's wrestling team from 2011-16.

His wife, Megan Johnson, 27, of Anthem, Arizona, is a former University of Arizona cheerleader. They live in East Lansing.

Joe Johnson said the couple came up with the idea for the dissolving protein packets a few years ago. They were tired of post-workout nutrition that wasn't convenient for their fast-paced lifestyles. 

"Scooping protein powder in the car after a workout made the seats and console of their car covered in powder," a message on the VADE Nutrition website reads, "and taking the protein powder on the go was impossible without prepping ahead of time by pre-measuring into a baggy or bottle compartment."

The Johnsons named the company VADE because it's a Latin term meaning "to go" or vanish. 

"That's what it does when you toss it in water," Joe Johnson said of the protein packets. "And (the name VADE) looks cool." 

The Johnsons started selling their products online about a year and a half ago at vade-nutrition.com. 

"I would say this business was born out of what most good businesses are born out of: a legitimate need in our own lives," he said. 

Sam Johnson, 28, of Howell, is Joe Johnson's brother. He uses the protein packets regularly and describes himself as an average person who works out a few times a week. 

VADE Nutrition has potential to grow as a company because it suits everyone ranging from serious athletes to weekend warriors, Sam Johnson said. 

Video Sam Johnson took last year of himself dropping a protein packet into a shaker of water shows it dissolved in a few seconds. 

"It’s such an easy product," he said. "You don’t have to worry about measuring, you don’t have to worry about carrying a large container (of powder) to the gym.”