Developing Strategic Relationships with Potential Investors is Vital for Entrepreneurs

Shannon Beeman
April 2, 2012

These are exciting times for East Lansing-based Inventure Enterprises. The fledgling company, whose slogan is, “Making business and government lean and green,” uses management consulting, system design and software solutions to help corporations and organizations operate more efficiently. Currently, Inventure Enterprises is focusing on helping government streamline and re-design the process of managing data from background checks for employees involved with vulnerable populations and homeland security.

“Our prime focus right now is our software product that is essentially an automated background check process for state and federal government,” said Inventure Enterprises President & CEO Robert Fulk. “We were part of a federal pilot program about five or six years ago, and we developed a process and program, as well as software that will allow the whole state to run 100,000 people yearly . . . by automating and integrating all of these federal and state systems and automating the whole process with employers, the state, the feds and everybody. So that’s kind of our niche – giving the ability to do this effectively so there won’t be a hundred caseworkers trying to manage this manually in a paper base.”

Inventure Enterprises is hoping to close on its first sales with three to five state governments by mid-year. Fulk, the company’s founder, says getting to this pivotal stage required plenty of relationship building with the people and organizations that could help him grow the firm.

“There are state, regional, local and other resources to support and help entrepreneurs not just with money, but with business plans, financials, and leads to making connections and professional relationships that will help us with potential investment down the road,” he said.

Developing strategic relationships enables entrepreneurs to have someone knowledgeable to run ideas by and exposes them to people who may decide to invest in their companies when they reach a certain stage. Fulk says he remains in touch with VCs and angels whom he met at the 2010 and 2011 Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS) when Inventure Enterprises was a presenting company. He also recommends doing your homework by researching the state’s available resources, attending seminars and reaching out to organizations that support entrepreneurs.

“The biggest thing is don’t try to do it alone. You develop these relationships with all these folks and they give you different perspectives. They give you help. They give you advice. They give you deadlines to get things done and some support,” said Fulk. “It takes a lot of time and a lot of commitment, but there’s no other way to do it. Otherwise, when you really do need the help and the investment, you won’t know who to call on.”

Inventure Enterprises is moving out of the seed stage and has placed its current investment ask at $3.5 million. Fulk says he is negotiating with some out-of-state VCs and trying to secure partnerships with large companies in the biometric security industry.