To help VCs take plunge, maybe we need a dive
August 1, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Could more drinking
establishments benefit Chicago's economy? One prominent local
venture capitalist thinks Chicago could use at least one more,
provided it catered exclusively to venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.
that according to the Illinois Venture Capital Association, Illinois
tallied a paltry 12 venture capital deals with $56 million invested
in the second quarter.
recorded 307 deals with $2.8 billion invested.
today means fewer job-emanating companies tomorrow.
to create a watering hole culture," says Bret Maxwell, managing
general partner of Northbrook-based MK Partners.
speaking metaphorically. While the concept conjures up images
of financiers rolling in the gutter like winos, that's not the
point. Maxwell thinks too few mid-level Chicago executives leave
established corporations to start companies. There's just no natural
gathering place for VC's and entrepreneurs to mingle.
Maxwell if insufficient venture deals get done in Chicago. Maxwell
is a seasoned VC with a strong track record. His firm just completed
raising a $150 million fund. He and partner Mark Koulogeorge specialize
in backing applied technology and outsourced services firms.
they added former SAIC Executive Vice President Neil Cox as a
partner. Cox is an expert in next-generation telephone and wireless
a good reputation. Says University of Chicago entrepreneurship
Professor Steve Kaplan, "Bret is outstanding because he is
very careful and disciplined as well as honest and direct with
his colleagues have collectively managed 10 venture funds over
the past 20 years investing over $750 million in 200 companies.
Their investments led to 15 IPOs.
executives who test the entrepreneurial waters. Robert Hoyler,
former Keebler Co. SVP, recently finished a successful deal with
Maxwell. Hoyler was CEO of Magnify, a predictive analytics software
company Maxwell backed. The firm was recently sold to Georgia-based
ChoicePoint, an insurance industry information provider. Now Hoyler's
scouting his next deal.
"Maxwell is exceptionally demanding. Yet he's willing to
listen to all sides. He gets the best out of people."
like that, maybe Maxwell can get a leading restaurateur like Rich
Melman, Phil Stefani or Larry Levy to open The VC Grill. Make
it a local watering hole for venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.
It would be
good for business. I'll even buy the first round.
magazine ranks Illinois No. 1 in the nation for biotechnology
in the July issue. The magazine's readers are corporate real estate
executives -- the people who make location decisions for new facilities.
people read this magazine and see what is happening in Illinois,
it's going to lead to more investment," says Jack Lavin,
director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Lavin and a host of dignitaries cut the ribbon on the new Illinois
Science and Technology Park in Skokie. "The new tech park
will create over 3,000 jobs on-site when the development is complete.
It's going to lead to over 10,000 ripple-effect jobs, and 1,000
construction jobs," says Lavin. "It's a great shot in
In town for
the ribbon cutting was Gayle Farris, president of Forest City
Science + Technology Group, developer of the Skokie facility.
Farris is one of the most experienced technology facilities developers
in the country.
Side biotech park?
There a huge
gap in the plan to transform Illinois into a biotech leader. When
will the South Side get a biotech park?
With the Illinois
Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago nearby,
a South Side biotech park makes sense.
announcement that U. of C. president Don Randel is leaving to
take the helm of the Mellon Foundation will further stall progress
on a South Side facility.
hosts VoIP confab
like Internet telephony are gaining popularity. But are they private
and secure? That's the question IIT Professor Carol Davids explores
when she hosts her VoIP/Wireless Security Conference today and
Tuesday at the South Side campus.
is a fast deploying technology," Davids says.
Krauss is a Chicago-area tech writer and consultant.