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GOOD 100: Meet Rick DeVos, Making Good Ideas Happen GOOD 100: Meet Rick DeVos, Making Good Ideas Happen
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GOOD 100: Meet Rick DeVos, Making Good Ideas Happen

April 30, 2013

Have a great idea, but no dough to get it off the ground? Rick DeVos just might be your knight in shining armor. 

Enter Start Garden, DeVos’ recently launched $15 million venture capital fund for all you business misfits, scrappy hustlers, and wide-eyed optimists in need of a few Benjamins to jumpstart your brilliant schemes. Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Start Garden aims to change the game for startups, investing broadly and rewarding successful ventures with continued patronage. 

Each week, the project invests $5000 each in two ideas — one selected by the Start Garden staff, and the other chosen through a public vote. Each initial investment requires a public status update after 90 days to be considered for a shot at a $20,000 investment. DeVos says the goal is to drastically change Michigan’s attitude towards entrepreneurship.

“The reason we are investing so broadly is because the existing investment culture in West Michigan has not had an appetite for very early stage ideas,” DeVos says, “which pretty much by definition means we see much fewer later stage startups. We’re trying to get as much exposure to as many ideas and entrepreneurs as possible.”

Their mindset is simple: finance bright individuals with good ideas, help launch these projects into the world, see what happens, and continue to invest in the successful endeavors.

This is yet another example of DeVos’ belief in the power of public choice, as he is also the founder of ArtPrize, an international art competition that will take place for the fifth time this September and October in downtown Grand Rapids. Last year, ArtPrize awarded $560,000 to winners selected by a combination of public votes and a panel of art experts.

As for Start Garden, DeVos says they will continue investing and growing its diverse portfolio over this next year. 

So get those neurons firing, because who knows? Maybe your big idea isn’t as farfetched you think.

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