Venture Investments in Ohio Up 26 Percent

From 2015 to 2016, venture investments in the state of Ohio rose by nearly $100 million. The $470 million invested in Ohio companies last year is a 26 percent increase over 2015’s $373 million, and a 46 percent increase over the $321 invested in 2014.

The statistics are detailed in the fourth release of the VentureOhio Report which showcases investment activity across the state.

While the National Venture Capital Association reports an overall decline in the number of deals and the amount of venture capital invested in the U.S. in 2016, investments in Ohio continue to rise.

“You no longer need to be situated on the coasts to grow a great company,” says VentureOhio CEO Falon Donohue.

Ohio has the entrepreneurs, ideas and resources to build world-class companies that are pulling in venture dollars from across the nation. In-state investment groups made 53 investments last year, as the number of out-of-state investors hit triple digits in 2016, with 117 non-Ohio based investors compared to just 77 in 2015.

It’s shaking up Ohio’s image as a “flyover state.” Falon says when they started digging into VentureOhio a few years ago, and talking about why Ohio – why it is a great place to invest, why it is a great place to build a company –  there was much skepticism, even within the state.

“We were building great things, but nobody knew about it,” Donohue says.

Now, investors are starting to know about it. A telling example? Donohue says that at conferences from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco over the last several months, Ohio has come up more often than California.

It’s great to see the numbers match the sentiment,” she says. 

Ohio’s entrepreneurs and investors feel it, but once a year, the VentureOhio report quantifies the sentiment. The report analyzes how that $470 million invested in 210 Ohio companies breaks down by specifications like industry and stage. 2016’s investments included:

  • $244 million in 119 IT Sector Companies
  • $144 million in 54 Life Science Companies
  • $57 million in 19 Manufacturing, Robotics & Automation Companies
  • $25 million in 18 Other Companies

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2016 saw a rise in investment dollars across all three stages:

  • Seed/startup stage: Companies that usually have a product or service under development; investments typically range from $100,000 to $2 million.
  • Early stage: Companies that have revenue beyond the development stage, but still have about a year’s work to hit cash flow positive; investments typically range from $2 million to $5 million.
  • Growth stage: Companies ready to accelerate their growth and position in the marketplace; investments typically range from about $5 million to $7 million.

Investments by amount and stage included:

  • $74 million invested in 140 seed/startup stage companies
  • $204 million invested in 53 early stage companies
  • $192 million invested in 17 growth stage companies

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The biggest jump in dollars came in the early stage, up from $140 million in 2015. Donohue sees a few reasons for the rise. Seed and angel funds have provided the resources and funding to build better startup companies that are ready for the next stage of investment. There are also dollars available to invest as the state’s venture capital community grows. Fifteen Ohio-based investors raised a total of $631 million last year.

While the report focuses on statewide investments, Columbus saw much focus in its pages thanks to two big factors: CoverMyMeds and the Smart Cities Grant.

In early 2017, pharmaceutical giant McKesson acquired CoverMyMeds for a record-setting $1.1 billion. It’s the largest technology acquisition in Ohio’s history. The exit, in addition to providing returns to investors that can be infused back into the ecosystem, shows entrepreneurs to investors that it is possible to build a billion dollar company in Ohio, “Just the confidence that it helps to build for Ohio entrepreneurs,” Donohue says. She also believes it’s one big exit of many more to come.

Donohue also expects to see more startups and subsequent investments popping up around the Smart Cities grant. Columbus will become a destination for starting and growing companies that plug into the Smart City initiative. Singularity University has already announced a Smart Cities Accelerator, while a cross-industry partnership of some of the biggest companies across the state will support Fintech71, a global financial technology accelerator – with fintech starting to see Ohio investments (six for a total of $9.85 million in 2016).

For more information, and to view the full report, visit ventureohio.org/venturereport.

— Listen to Donohue discuss venture capital on Columbus Underground’s Confluence Cast! CLICK HERE. —