ANN ARBOR – Emily Heintz, Associate Director of the Michigan Venture Capital Association, has spent a decade working with a wide range of entrepreneurial support groups and startups, in which she found gaps in funding, talent and research that she felt needed to be filled. 

In March, Heintz launched EntryPoint, her gap-filling company she hopes will accelerate the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Michigan. EntryPoint’s focus, she said, is to foster an inclusive culture, build connections and advance research as well as develop messaging for education, outreach and advocacy purposes.

“We have such great talent coming out of our Universities in the Midwest,” she said in an interview with MITechNews.Com Editor Mike Brennan. “We have great research institutions. But we need to help connect the dots between capital research and talent. Innovation in the Midwest is ranked highly, but our innovative companies tend to be ranked in the middle nationally in capital invested.”

Heintz has assembled an Advisory Board that’s a who’s who of entrepreneurial and financial support groups in the state. Advisors include Shane Bliemaster, Founder, Marketing Supply Co.; Trey Boynton, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Duo Security; Patti Glaza, Managing Director, Invest Detroit; Jennifer Owens, Chief Executive Officer, Lakeshore Advantage; Amy Peterson, Vice President of Special Projects & General Counsel, Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality; Jeff Rinvelt, Managing Director, Renaissance Venture Capital Fund of Funds; Ted Serbinski, Managing Director, Techstars Mobility; and, Monica Wheat, Partner, Venture Catalyst.

“Everyone on the advisory board is someone I have worked closely with for years,” Heintz said. “When I asked them to join me in helping promote entrepreneurship in Michigan their answer was yes. I have experts who can help me with specific tasks EntryPoint is looking to accomplish.”

Serbinski, managing director of Techstarts Mobility described EntryPoint as utilizing real venture experience and helping spread best practices to improve Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“I’ve worked with Emily for a number of years as a former MVCA board member, and I can attest to the active role she has played in jumpstarting several programs and conducting research that has taken Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to the next level,” Serbinski said. “The combination of Emily’s first-hand experience and deep involvement in the community along with the talented team of advisors made it an easy decision to get involved with EntryPoint.”

His sentiments were echoed by Jeff Rinvelt, principal at Renaissance Venture Fund. 

“The entrepreneurial ecosystems throughout the Midwest are significantly changing,” said Jeff Rinvelt, principal at Renaissance Venture Fund. “Communities are realizing they don’t need to be the ‘next Silicon Valley’ and are finding their own ingredients for success. I’m very excited about Emily’s vision, because by utilizing her research expertise and data-driven approach, emerging entrepreneurial hubs can better identify their strengths as well as challenges within their community to determine the resources that are needed to create more vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Resources like training, research and mentorship are essential to helping entrepreneurs grow successful businesses, said Monica Wheat, founder and partner of Venture Catalyst.

“I believe Emily’s approach to addressing challenges in the community in terms of diversity, talent and connecting various groups is uniquely positioned to accelerate important initiatives forward,” Wheat said. “We’ve continued to see Emily successfully develop programs and research, but I believe this is only the beginning, and we’ll continue to see a significant impact in the community due to her level of expertise and drive.”

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