By Garret Ellison | firstname.lastname@example.org
on January 09, 2013 at 7:50 PM, updated January 09, 2013 at 10:15 PM
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — A local tech firm that makes software monitoring products for Fortune 500 companies is going through a growth spurt this year after getting an infusion of cash from a pair of West Michigan venture capital funds.
Blue Medora, a software development company that spun-off from Atomic Object in 2008, got a combined $1.25 million from Start Garden and Grand Angels this week, money that company CEO Nathan Owens said will help the firm expand into new markets.
While the $750,000 Grand Angels chunk represents the largest investment portion, the $500,000 from Start Garden marks the largest single investment by Rick DeVos’ firm to date, and is the latest in a series of recent gambles on more seasoned, second-stage companies demonstrating market potential.
“With the Blue Medora investment, we invested aggressively into seasoned entrepreneurs working in a space with huge potential that they know very well,” said DeVos.
Blue Medora writes plugin efficiency software that helps larger companies manage databases and monitor internal infrastructure using systems like Oracle Enterprise Manager and IBM Tivoli. Among other things, such programs help companies understand available data storage capacity, avoid server crashes and optimize applications so the company can do more with the software they already have, said Owens.
Global enterprise monitoring is a “multi-billion dollar.”
“It’s definitely not as dynamic as, say, the mobile applications market, where you develop something today and three months later it’s out of date,” Owens said.
The market for monitoring software tends to be more stable because large companies tend to adopt new technology at a slower rate, he said. That allows firms like Blue Medora to evolve products over a period of several years without the constant worry of immediate obsolescence.
“Companies tend to buy these packages and keep them a long time,” he said. “They don’t like a lot of constant change.”
Today, Blue Medora has 22 employees and hopes to grow that number to 35 by mid-2014 using the new growth capital. Owens started the business in 2007, incubating the company at Atomic Object, a surging web development firm headquartered on Wealthy Street SE with offices in Detroit.
Owens took the company standalone in 2008 when IBM liked their first product, a monitoring solution for the PeopleSoft Oracle package, which IBM decided to sell under its own name to customers.
Owens has expanded the relationship with the multinational tech giant since then and has been recently branching into larger relationships with Oracle, which is the world’s third largest software maker by revenue, behind Microsoft and IBM.
He said Blue Medora, with a client list around 50, is gaining velocity in the marketplace and beginning to attract the attention of analyst groups like IDC and Gartner.
“Systems management is rapidly evolving,” he said. “Companies are moving away from single solution systems management and demanding more customization and integration into cloud-based solutions like VMware.”
Owens said his staff is almost entirely comprised of graduates from Michigan universities like Grand Valley State, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan and Michigan Tech
“We’re finding a good pipeline of talent coming out the (computer science) programs in those schools.”
Grand Rapids, Mich., January 4, 2013 — Start Garden, the $15,000,000 seed fund that selects ideas each week for $5,000 investments, announced today they have invested $500,000 in Grand Rapids-based Blue Medora. This is Start Garden’s largest investment in a single entity since its launch in April of 2012. Grand Angels, a regional group of angel investors, also announced that 20 of their members will also be making investments in Blue Medora which cumulatively equal an additional $750,000, bringing the total amount raised to fund the startup to $1.25 million.
Blue Medora is a software development company specializing in the development, implementation, and support of software products for the enterprise systems management marketplace.
Blue Medora’s primary focus is on the development and distribution of product enhancements for IBM Tivoli Monitoring (ITM) and Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM). Blue Medora provides a range of validated/certified integration products that extend the monitoring and management capabilities of IBM and Oracle’s market-leading systems management platforms to the world’s leading cloud, virtualization, ERP, CRM, enterprise directory, and messaging software.
According to Nathan Owen, founder of Blue Medora, Fortune 500 companies around the world depend on Oracle and IBM software to run enormously complex operations. The data generated from these robust systems can create a secondary problem: which data is meaningful to make informed decisions? Blue Medora provides a much-needed solution for those tasked with navigating complex environments to make decisions.
In addition to offering very early support for projects through its weekly $5,000 investments, Start Garden staff has also been actively fielding questions and meeting with later stage companies. On Start Garden’s website companies that are well into their startup phase are encouraged to contact Mike Morin, one of Start Garden’s investment analysts, with questions about funding consideration beyond the $5,000 level. Blue Medora is the latest in a series of recent technology investments from Start Garden in companies that did not enter the program through their submission process on startgarden.com.
“Start Garden is designed to close the funding gap between $0-$500,000 for startup companies,” says Rick DeVos, founder of Start Garden. “We’re known for providing very early support to projects that are not even considered startups. With the Blue Medora investment, we invested aggressively into seasoned entrepreneurs already working in a space with huge potential that they know very well. It’s the aggression to jump on opportunities, whether it’s $5,000 or $500,000, which is vital to making our region a great place for entrepreneurs.”
Founded in 2004 with 44 members currently, Grand Angels is a West Michigan-based angel investment group which invests in early stage companies in Michigan. In nine years the group has invested nearly $11 million in 25 different companies ($2.5 million in 2012). Its investments have ranged from $50,000 to $1.6 million per deal, sometimes over multiple rounds of investment per startup. The group has partnered with many early stage venture capital funds and angel groups to grow the entrepreneurship climate in Michigan and to attract and retain creative talent in the State. “We are pleased to partner with Start Garden on this investment in Blue Medora and look forward to partnering with them in more deals in the future,” says Jody Vanderwel, President of Grand Angels. Information on the application process for Grand Angels can be found on their website, www.grandangels.org.
Blue Medora’s founder, Nathan Owen was previously a member of the IBM Tivoli Business Development team responsible for Alliance management of IBM Tivoli’s SAP and Oracle relationships. Owen was also a member of IBM Tivoli due diligence teams for software acquisitions. In 2001 Owen co-founded and served as Sr. Vice President of Sales and Business Development of OctetString, a software firm focused on the development of an innovative virtual directory server (an identity management solution), that was acquired by Oracle in 2005. Earlier this year, Owen was selected by IBM as one of 20 inaugural worldwide “IBM Champions”, of the IBM Tivoli software group, recognizing innovative thought leaders in the technical community.
Start Garden said another factor to invest heavily in Blue Medora was the existing partnerships the startup already has in place. Owen’s industry expertise and background combined with the expertise of local software development firm Atomic Object, an early investor in Blue Medora, helped the company secure partnerships with technology leaders IBM, Oracle, Amazon Web Services, Citrix.
“We are extremely grateful for the support that Start Garden and Grand Angels have provided for Blue Medora,” said Owen. “We feel that we have a significant opportunity to build a successful business and to be able to find others right here in our own community that share that belief and are willing to provide the resources to help make it possible is pretty remarkable.”
About Start Garden
Start Garden is an unconventional venture capital fund that invests in over a hundred ideas a year in small increments. The program brings financial, intellectual and social capital to ideas at the earliest stage by connecting them to the resources of an entire region. Ideas for new businesses can be submitted anytime to startgarden.com. Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it is founded by Rick DeVos whose past projects include ArtPrize, 5×5 Night, Momentum and Spout.com.
About Grand Angels
Grand Angels is committed to utilizing its financial, intellectual and networking capital to foster the success of growing companies and to enhance the economic development of Western Michigan. Grand Angels will make investment that will have a positive effect on our region through business growth, job creation, and the attraction and retention of local talent. Investment with impact will be the result of engaged, experienced business leaders providing both capital and wisdom to entrepreneurs. The organization is part of the Angel Capital Association, sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which provides leadership and resources for angel investors across the country.
TROUT CREEK VENTURes
A regional co-investment fund specializing in angel and early stage private equity.