By: Ben Freeberg

Rev1 Ventures is the most active seed fund in the Great Lakes region. The firm works with angels, VCs, and its 100-person advisor network of corporate and community partners to provide early-stage tech startups with the resources they need to thrive. Rev1 has helped its portfolio companies gain recognition for best-in-class solutions, and acquire name-brand clients such as Kellogg’s and Welch’s.

Rev1 is a lifecycle investor that funds 20-25 companies per year that are in the “proof-of-concept” to “early” stage of development, have self-sufficient business models and are founded by great teams. A large part of its mission is to contribute to the growth of the Ohio startup ecosystem, and Rev1 has done just that. Since its launch in 2013, it has infused $70 million into the region, funded 70+ companies, and created 1,000+ jobs and 11 research institution spinouts.

What is their investment thesis?

Due to its robust infrastructure and dedication to business growth, Columbus, Ohio is a great city to start and scale startups. Ohio has the 6th largest base of Fortune 1000 companies in the U.S. The proximity and scale of these companies has led to higher purchase rates of startup products and has provided a network of potential acquirers. These companies are also investors.  Last year, Rev1 launched its first corporate-backed fund, Rev1 Fund I, with Columbus-based investors like Nationwide, AEP, and Cardinal Health.  In turn, venture funding has increased over the past five years, and Rev1’s portfolio companies are taking advantage of these growth opportunities, growing revenue at an average rate of 100% year over year.

These factors combine to form a truly unique and supportive community that in effect incubates start-up companies and helps them scale, a phenomenon Rev1 calls the backyard effect. Rev1 is located in the heart of this region and leverages the resources its location provides with its extensive network to help its portfolio companies find people, capital, and customers.

How does their portfolio fit in?

High-growth startups from a variety of industries are scaling and seeing success because of this unique approach. As an example, Clarivoy was born and developed with support from Rev1 and the Midwest’s unique startup ecosystem. The company is the Auto Industry’s leading provider of multi-touch attribution for ad analytics.

Clarivoy originally had an industry-agnostic approach. After investing in Clarivoy, Rev1 has served on the company’s board and helped connect it to M/I Homes, through which it was able to pilot its sales and digital marketing tools. Today, Clarivoy pivoted its market strategy by specifically targeting the automotive dealership industry. Rev1 has invested across multiple fundraising rounds and introduced Clarivoy to other sources of capital. 

MentorcliQ provides firms with an automated, award-winning mentoring approach and technology that drives employee engagement, development, and retention. Rev1 first invested in MentorcliQ’s concept round, moving on to lead the company’s seed round. Rev1’s CEO, Tom Walker, serves on MentorcliQ’s board. MentorcliQ connected to its first ever customer, Cardinal Health, through the Rev1 Ventures network.

In conclusion, Rev1 is in it for the long-haul. It is committed to helping entrepreneurs with disruptive ideas enter the market, succeed and scale.

Thank you to Michael Kindrat-Pratt and the Rev1 team for assisting us with this post.