With bank loans and venture capital unavailable to so many entrepreneurs, states and communities should develop innovative funding streams to promote entrepreneurship and to help support new businesses in their jurisdictions. Capital should help entrepreneurs at different stages of starting a business, from having new ideas to opening doors to serving customers. There are a number of innovative models that could be scaled across America. States and localities should create competitive Entrepreneurial Capital Catalyst Grants to:
- Create “evergreen” community investment funds that support new businesses as they move through the early stages of proof-of-concept and product development. States and localities can look to successful models such as MassVentures in Massachusetts and JumpStart Evergreen Fund in northeast Ohio.
- Build collaborative investment funds that engage established businesses to work with emerging businesses for joint product development and supplier relationships. States and localities can gain lessons from the experiences of Cintrifuse and Renaissance Venture Capital, operating in Cincinnati and Michigan, respectively.
- Support investment funds that spur the growth of new financial intermediaries — entrepreneurs creating capital to invest in other entrepreneurs — particularly those with innovative models such as revenue-based investing and profit-sharing. States and localities can leverage domestic learnings from Lighter Capital and the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, and can borrow international lessons from Israel’s Yozma Group, IDB Lab, and Capria on growing new investment categories.
JumpStart Evergreen Fund is a nonprofit seed fund operated by JumpStart, a venture development organization created in 2003 with support from Ohio’s Third Frontier program and civic and philanthropic leaders. JumpStart Evergreen Fund invests in technology businesses in the 21 counties of northeast Ohio. The financial returns from the fund are “recycled” to make more investments in additional companies.
By 2017, the fund had invested more than $27 million in 76 businesses. The fund bridges the gap for new businesses with high potential as they move from new idea to proof-of-concept to commercialization and eventually to venture capital. The fund also provides critical services beyond capital, including connections to the right people, operational assistance, and other sources of capital as a company grows.