Today’s Ability to Deliver Superior Results Is Based Upon Our Uniquely Different Background

The story of Innovative Ventures is explained by our founder Tom Nastas.

Our Beginning:

Be Uniquely Different

“I started Innovative Ventures Inc (IVI) in 1986 to invest in Michigan firms unable to capture the attention and money from venture investors on the East and West coasts of the USA. At the time Michigan had just one venture fund– Doan Resources and one growth fund––Michigan Capital and Service––with demand for capital outstripping the supply of capital in the Michigan ecosystem.

This fund targeted young, technology rich companies seeking capital to expand, with investments structured as a royalty in perpetuity. Being a non-dilutive, off-balance sheet investment, this money appealed to company founders, management teams, investors and owners; quickly we transacted several investments.”

Uniquely Different Competencies

Building the Business and Our Brand, One Market Segment At A Time

Not only do royalty funds generate cash returns and equity-like ROI, they are a solution to finance the underserved and underfinanced in a state, a region, a country; medium growth firms that do not grow big enough fast enough to raise VC since they have limited liquidity prospects. A 2nd segment is family held businesses that may be fast growing but shun capital from non-family investors.

Without capital, these two segments underperform to their economic potential.

“I wrote articles on the use of hybrid funds as solutions to overcome the limitations of venture capital––risks which venture investors accept as givens in the business––and which force them to seek unicorns to compensate for less-than-spectacular investments. My articles appeared in the Canadian Venture Capital Journal and their sister publications in Asia, Europe, UK and USA and others; small yet significant actions to not only open doors to LP investors and potential investee companies, but to create awareness of hybrid funds and us.”

Uniquely Different Competencies

Curiosity and Market Pull as Drivers for Go-to-Market

“Inquiries and invitations to ‘learn more’ led us to cautiously enter Canada, then Europe, later Africa, Russia, Kazakhstan and others, advising direct, institutional and development bank investors in our approach and later in fund creation to finance enterprises underserved and underfinanced in foreign markets.”

Uniquely Different Competencies

Product Line Additions to Fuel Growth

Venture capital is simply a product in the financial services industry as soup and juice is to the food and beverage industry. We added new products to serve our investors and our investee companies thru private equity, fund-of-funds, cash flow and innovation grant schemes.

Uniquely Different Competencies

Scaling to $500 Million AUM

11 funds created over 30 years with assets managed increasing from $4 million to >$500 million, >100x growth, evidence of our scaling accomplishments across land and sea.

Uniquely Different Competencies

Building Relationships and a Worldwide Network

“We accomplished these results by employing a bootstrapped, ‘missionary selling’ model that utilized relationship building to establish partnerships and raise capital from pension, government, sovereign wealth & corporate investors from four continents. “

Uniquely Different Competencies

International Execution: Team Building, HR and Operations

“Uhm––with these international funds, I and the team, learned all sorts of new stuff, from recruiting, hiring and managing multi-cultural teams, local labor laws, compensation, taxation, FOREX, regulatory and legal affairs with offices in regions/cities including:

– North America: Detroit, Montreal, Toronto & Vancouver
– Europe: Paris & Luxembourg
– Africa: Nairobi, Kampala, Cape Town & Johannesburg
– Russia: Volgograd, Samaria, Saratov, Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Sakhalin, Moscow
– Kazakhstan: Astana”

Uniquely Different Competencies

Diversities Learned in Going Global

“We scaled ourselves & our investees across diversities in countries, cultures, currencies, customers, investors, legal systems, markets & stakeholders with different needs & buying motivations––economic, cultural, social & psychological. Managing such diversities gave us insights, intuitions & skills in the governance of actors with very different needs, motivations & agendas––competencies & contributions we make to companies.”

Uniquely Different Competencies

Managing Ups and Downs of Economic Cycles

Innovative Ventures outlasted the financial calamities of 1987’s Black Monday, 1997-8 Asian/Russian financial crisis, Internet implosion in 2001, 2008 global crisis and 2020 pandemic––proof of our talents to survive mayhems, manage risk and prosper when economies renew

Our Current Business Model and What the Market Seeks

In 2015 our 11th fund finished; given the exponential increase in entrepreneurship, the availability of venture money globally, accelerators, incubators and the like, a 12th fund would not make a dent in the entrepreneurial universe nor advance our skills as individuals, as a team, as a company.

The needs now––as we see them––is to solve three concerns in ecosystems thru our venture studio business model:

  • Make companies ‘customer ready’ to be ‘investor ready.’ it’s fashionable now for funding institutions and others to support ‘investor readiness’ projects, yet companies graduating from these programs inadvertently create an illusion of investability vs. reality. Being investor ready is more than achieving MVP and having an investor pitch; mandatory is capturing the smallest # of customers for network effects to take hold––scaling growth organically, a team of executors, complete with operations as the playbook and corporate governance overseeing behaviors.
  • Be capital efficient as enterprises advance from commercialization to scaling to international expansion. Even young companies can minimize the costs of experimentation, trial and error, to execute a ‘Ready-Aim-Fire’ GoForward strategy vs a ‘Ready-Fire-Aim’ approach.
  • Overcome the culture of risk which blocks the flow of local capital to local enterprises. There is no shortage of money in any city, region or country on Planet Earth, yet founders frequently label local investors as risk adverse when the contrary is true; investors don’t ‘buy’ the risks a company is selling. Multiple solutions exist to open the wallets of local money and better match investors’ DNA to what entrepreneurs and founders are selling.