Adding Value to Startups: Club M25 Summit 1.5

Jemal from Dabble speaking truth

The day before Valentine’s Day (coincidence? I don’t think so) of this year I wrote a post following up our first ever M25 Summit — a semi-annual event we hold exclusively to pour into our portfolio companies, a.k.a. Club M25. Last week we took our second swing at it, bringing roughly 30 founders across 25 startups in from 5 different states across the Midwest.

We changed a few things up this time around — based on feedback from the first event and some new ideas / opportunities that presented themselves since then. The biggest (and my favorite change) was we got the companies themselves more involved in leading some of the sessions, leveraging the inherent value built within Club M25.

A few of our CEOs that have gone on to raise multiple rounds composed a new addition, the CEO Panel. Jemal, pictured up top, kicked off our Founder Round Table (a returning favorite) with some valuable insight and lessons learned.

Yes, watching founders asking questions and interacting with each other through the panel and the open forum format of the round table was clearly a hit, but at the end of the day some of the most resounding feedback was pretty simple…

“Just getting CEOs together is the most valuable thing you’ve done here — again. Back in {{insert home state OR city}} {{insert other CEO name}}’s office is literally across the street, and we won’t get time to catch up like this unless something like this event brings us all together.”

Another returning favorite was our Series A+ Investor Panel, also with a small tweak. This time we were excited to host Sonia Nagar, VP at Pritzker Group VC, and two West Coast VCs with Chicago roots, Chirag Chotalia, Principal at DFJ and Harsh Patel, Managing Partner at Wireframe Ventures.

As any responsible host does, we wrapped things up with drinks — joined by 20–30 other great investors right here in Chicago.

As I mentioned in my first post about M25’s approach, we genuinely get excited about creating meaningful value add for Club M25. Whether you’re a founder looking to raise capital from us or another investor, it’s by far in your best interest to partner with someone who’s both excited about and has “referenceable work” of finding meaningful ways to add value to your vision. Although we’re still experiencing some minor glitches with this event, to be completely honest, the feedback continues to come back resoundingly positive.

About the Author

Mike Asem is a director of M25 Group. M25 Group focuses on seed-stage Midwestern startups in most industries. Mike is a proud alum of Purdue University, where he championed The Anvil coworking space and incubator, led business development for a nanotech startup, and mentored and worked with startups as a director of the Purdue Foundry.

Mike lives in downtown Chicago and loves staying active, exploring great food, and rooting for Chicago sports. He also enjoys making fruit wines, with awards for both his strawberry and blueberry wines. If you really want to get his attention, your best bet will be to help him find some great sushi or make a new batch of wine.

Twitter: @dmikeasem

About M25

M25 Group is one of the most active venture capital firms focused solely on early-stage investments in the Midwest. Their objective, analytical approach has helped support their thesis and craft what is known as an ‘index fund of Midwest startups.’ M25 has already invested in over thirty companies since their inception in 2015, and continues to invest in over twenty companies each year. Their collaborative, forward-thinking approach and diverse array of investments across industries and business models throughout the region has quickly established them as a key node in the Midwest startup ecosystem.

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