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Taking a Leadership Role in Venture Capital

Shane Kelly
MBA ’13
Executive Director
Wolverine Angel Network

Shane Kelly, MBA ’13, has used his entrepreneurial-studies education at the Zell Lurie Institute and his venture-capital investment experience at the Wolverine Venture Fund as strategic stepping stones to his current position as executive director of the Wolverine Angel Network. WAN seeks to “unlock the potential of Wolverines in venture” by providing early-stage investors with cultivated deal flow and University of Michigan community engagement. At the same time, the network helps to accelerate early-stage start-ups through its fund-raising support and customer discovery. Since August 2013, Kelly has grown the portfolio of angel-ready investment opportunities from two to ten companies, four of which generate revenue. He also has recruited a four-person team of alumni and MBA students to conduct due diligence and research the state of seed-stage investing in university ecosystems.

To fulfill his new WAN leadership role as a matchmaker between VCs and entrepreneurs, Kelly is able to draw on his Zell Lurie internship experience at Detroit Venture Partners, where he was a summer associate in 2012, and his work at Stage 2 Innovations in Farmington Hills. In 2013, Kelly was named a Kauffman Finalist, following a rigorous screening, evaluation and review process conducted by practicing venture capitalists and partners of the Kauffman Fellows Program. The coveted Fellowship provides a pathway into the highly competitive venture-capital industry and prepares Finalists for dynamic careers as venture investors. With guidance from the Kauffman Fellows Program staff, Kelly is now pursuing leads at several VC firms where he hopes to land an investing position and procure a sponsor for the 24-month, $72,000 program. Alternatively, he may choose to remain at WAN and use the Fellowship to build the network’s venture-investment capabilities.

Kelly began his career at GreeneStreet Films, a film and digital-media start-up in New York City. As vice president of finance, he helped the company raise $50 million in venture capital and designed financial systems for several new ventures launched in-house. He also restructured operations for a sales and acquisition venture which he saw through to exit. Kelly hit the pause button on his career to enroll in the Ross School’s MBA program where he could learn the nuts and bolts of venture investing and gain access to other top-ranked schools and colleges on campus. During his two years on campus, Kelly was a Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellow and studied Web development and data science at the School of Information.