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MSU Student Venture Capital Fund announces 2023 investments in Michigan startups

By Grace Griffin, student writer
Tuesday, May 30, 2023

On April 11, the MSU Student Venture Capital Fund held its fifth annual Investment Celebration event in the Broad College’s Minskoff Pavilion. The event is a collaboration with the MSU Research Foundation and its venture arm, Red Cedar Ventures, along with Broad’s Department of Finance and its Center for Venture Capital, Private Equity and Entrepreneurial Finance.

At the event, the MSU SVCF announced its recommendations for pre-seed investments in five promising Midwest-based start-ups. Approximately 100 participants, including MSU alumni in the venture industry, CVCPEEF advisory board members, and guests attended the event this year.

An outstanding group of 28 start-up companies from various industries — among them software, social media, electronic games, sports equipment, medical devices, health care, agriculture, and food and space — competed for a recommendation. Five companies ultimately won recommendation:

  • Audio Radar is a gaming accessory designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing gamers. A light bar, which can adapt to any standard monitor, shows users changes in the light to indicate intensity and directional help. Hearing players who keep their sound low or off can also benefit from this visual input.
  • The Bee Corp, a nonintrusive technology used by beekeepers to maximize pollination, detects colony size and pollination value by using thermal data. With this advancement, beekeepers will be able to better plan their pollination season for stronger results.
  • Kall Morris Inc., a research and solutions company designed to keep outer space clean, uses proprietary software, exclusive hardware and partnerships to detect and remove debris objects from space.
  • Smart Bridge Medical Inc. has an innovative tracheostomy tube that eliminates potential disconnections from ventilators. This allows patients who rely on ventilation to feel more secure and not worry about being put in a situation that would cause “pop-off” events.
  • Revolin is an advancement in pickleball paddles that allows for high-intensity use with support from a resilient material. Natural and renewable resources lower the carbon footprint while creating long-lasting sports equipment.

The SVCF allows MSU students who are taking classes in entrepreneurial finance, venture capital and private equity the opportunity to acquire hands-on experience in venture capital investing. In FI 444: Entrepreneurial Finance, students review a pipeline of early-stage start-up companies from the entrepreneurial ecosystem and conduct investment selection, due diligence, market and competitive analysis and valuation analysis to make investment recommendations to Red Cedar Ventures.

“This class was such a unique learning opportunity and helped shed light on what it takes for a start-up to be granted pre-seed funding. I’m grateful for this hands-on experience and excited to carry it with me throughout my career,” finance senior Kate Connelly said.

This program places MSU among the leading universities in the VC/PE space and contributes an important educational component to MSU students looking to enter the venture capital industry.
Hayong Yun, associate professor of finance

Associate professor of finance and CVCPEEF co-director Hayong Yun said of the collaborative event, “This program places MSU among the leading universities in the VC/PE space and contributes an important educational component to MSU students looking to enter the venture capital industry.”

Every student who attended the 2023 celebration gained a new set of skills and perspectives. Kennedy Goudeseune, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance and a minor in sales leadership this May, shared, “I am incredibly grateful for this class and the opportunity to see what it takes for a start-up to be granted pre-seed funding. This experience was extremely beneficial to me as a student, and I am excited to carry it with me throughout my career and in future endeavors.”

From 2019 to 2022, $200,000 of pre-seed and seed-stage investments have been deployed in 19 separate companies. Overall, these companies have since raised over $27.6 million from dilutive and non-dilutive sources. When this year’s recommended investments are completed, the SVCF will have 24 companies in its portfolio.

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