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ZLI Alumni Establish Resonant Venture Partners to Invest in Regional Tech Startups

9/7/2010 --

Participation in $1 million investment in mobile security startup Scio Security marks firm's first investment.

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Michael Godwin, MBA '10, and Jason Townsend, MBA '10, two alumni of the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, recently formed Resonant Venture Partners, an emerging venture capital firm that makes seed-stage investments in regional startups across a variety of technology sectors. Resonant is the first venture capital firm to be established by alumni who previously played critical roles in investment decisions for the Wolverine Venture Fund. The firm, which will focus on investments in the IT, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, alternative energy, and defense sectors, closed its first deal in late August.

Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Resonant began subscribing its first fund in July 2010, despite the challenging economic climate. Godwin and Townsend will continue fundraising efforts while simultaneously sourcing new portfolio companies throughout the next 18 months. The initial investments in the fund were raised from both in-state investors, as well as those from out of state, underscoring the investment potential of Michigan and its status as an emerging hub for technology innovation.

"Resonant is committed to keeping promising companies Michigan," Godwin says. "With the entrepreneurial talents and technology innovation coming out of the University, coupled with investors like us who are eager to invest locally, there is tremendous opportunity for companies to succeed in Ann Arbor and its surrounding communities."

Zell Lurie Institute Programs and Support Prove Critical After successful technology and business development careers in Silicon Valley, Godwin and Townsend attended Ross in order to pursue their entrepreneurial passions and hone their venture capital skills. Throughout their MBA studies, they served together as managing directors of the University's $5.5 million Wolverine Venture Fund (WFV), the country's first student-led venture fund that has served as a model for other university programs over the years. Both were deeply involved in rigorous due diligence in support of the fund's investment decisions. During their time as fund leaders, the WVF made seven investments and benefited from two exits, most notably the acquisition of HandyLab by Becton Dickinson.

Godwin and Townsend credit the hands-on experience and mentorship they received at ZLI for much of Resonant's success. They also cite the important relationships they established as a result of the institute's network of entrepreneurs and investors both locally and nationally. Resonant's advisory board is composed of several notable members of the local investment community, including seasoned angel investor and Ross professor Tom Kinnear. He is executive director at ZLI and director of the WVF. Mary Campbell, managing director at EDF Ventures, and Donald Walker, managing director of Arbor Partners, also sit on the Resonant board.

"It takes an immense amount of passion and effort to start a venture capital firm, especially in today's environment" says Kinnear, Eugene Applebaum Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and pProfessor of marketing at Ross. "Based on the experiences and successes both Michael and Jason faced on the Wolverine Venture Fund, I am very confident in their ability not only to make Resonant thrive, but also to make significant contributions to Michigan's flourishing start-up community."

Resonant Closes First Deal with Investment in Scio Security Resonant was part of a $1 million investment in Scio Security, a computer security startup led by serial entrepreneur Dug Song and U-M PhD candidate Jon Oberheide. Palo Alto, Calif.-based True Ventures led the round, which also included two strategic angel investors with extensive security expertise. As part of Resonant's involvement, the firm will be actively involved in building the management team and technology commercialization, and Scio will maintain its Ann Arbor headquarters.

"We are looking to revolutionize the security market and provide strong authentication and fraud prevention by leveraging users' mobile devices," say Scio co-founder Song. "The investment from True and Resonant will provide the necessary capital to launch our flagship product, which protects the security of online transactions and remote access. We are thrilled to have Resonant on board with us as we grow."



For more information, contact:
Mary Nickson, (734) 615-4424, mnickson@umich.edu