Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Kara Weber was recorded in November 2018.
Bill Baumel, Managing Director at Ohio Innovation Fund, shares terrific insight into the region’s progress.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us a bit about yourself. Tell us about Ohio Innovation Fund. What is the investment focus? How big is the fund? What sized investments are you making? Let’s get you acquainted with our audience.
Bill Baumel: I grew up in Ohio. I went to Ohio State. I went to its archrival school in Michigan and actually was a venture capitalist in Minneapolis where I did some investments on the East Coast. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to come back to Ohio. I’ve been watching Ohio and looking at the investments and the venture capital ecosystem there and saw it developing. It’s a seed stage where a number of angel funds and seed funds had emerged.
I saw a real opportunity for a Silicon Valley-type venture firm to be right here in Ohio leading the Series A and some Series B investments. I came back to head that and am lucky to have the support of many strong Ohio institutions including the Ohio State University, Ohio University, and Kent State University as limited partners in this endeavor.
Right now, we are primarily leading Series A in med tech and technology companies. Over the last couple of years, we have built a portfolio of up to 12 companies. We’ve had some good success with those companies in terms of progress, revenue growth, and some very strong Series B financing including one last week which was unheard of in Ohio. It was a $40 million Series B financing led by Sanofi, one of the top three pharmaceuticals in the world.
Sramana Mitra: We’ll talk about more about some specific investments. Let me first get some of the specifics of the fund together. How big is the fund?
Bill Baumel: We have not disclosed that but it’s approximately $50 million.
Sramana Mitra: What sized checks are you writing?
Bill Baumel: You have to be flexible with Ohio. We’re trying to find the most promising investment in Ohio. It’s anywhere from earlier stages where it’s in the hundreds of thousands to something further along with a few million.
Sramana Mitra: Geographically, it has to be Ohio right?
Bill Baumel: It’s primarily Ohio. I’d say close to 100% will be in Ohio. The fund’s mandate is any company in Ohio or a company that has strong ties to Ohio. For example, close to 100% will be in Ohio. For example, if a company is outside of Ohio but had spun off from Ohio State or the Cleveland Clinic, that would still fall in our purview. 12 of our 13 portfolio companies are in Ohio.
Sramana Mitra: What about types of ventures? For this discussion, let’s stay focused on IT. We don’t really do pharmaceuticals. We do healthcare IT digital health but not necessarily pharma. Let’s focus on IT and healthcare IT.
Bill Baumel: We have two cybersecurity companies. We have one data science company. We have a few SaaS companies that are addressing different markets. One happens to be addressing the healthcare market where for those conducting clinical trials such as Duke, we provide workflow document management, compliance, and assurance.