ANN ARBOR, Mich., Aug. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund of the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business today announced that it has invested in ContentOro, a digital content firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The $50,000 investment from the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, which is part of a larger bridge round, will help ContentOro grow its content marketplace so it can increase its customer base and provide even more compelling content to its existing customers. In June 2015, the company closed a $450,000 seed funding round with Michigan Angel Fund, Lis Ventures and InvestMichigan!, all of which have joined the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund as part of the current bridge round. ContentOro plans to raise its Series A round in 2017.
The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund is a student-led fund focused on investments supporting the commercialization of technologies generated within the University community and the surrounding area in healthcare, technology, consumer and cleantech. The student-led fund leverages the talent and resources at Michigan Ross to make a real impact for entrepreneurs and the University. With the ContentOro investment, the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund (and its predecessor the Frankel Commercialization Fund) has ten active investments.
"The students working on the fund are a passionate and energetic group of talented people, and it's a joy to see them grow through hands-on, experienced-based learning," said Mike Johnson, faculty managing director of the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund. "I've been able to see them grow throughout the year, and the ContentOro investment process is an example of their outstanding work. As a student-run fund, the ZLCF is a unique chance to learn about investing and entrepreneurship."
A team of five graduate students – Andrew Brecher, MBA '17, Matt Ross, MBA '16, Udai Mody, MBA '17, Aditya Pradhan, MBA '17 and Graham Garvin, MBA '16 – conducted in-depth due diligence on the company. The Fund's rigorous diligence process began after an initial introductory meeting between Ross and ContentOro CEO and founder Bob Chunn. This process included extensive interactions with the company's key executives and thorough examination of the technology, market, business model and potential return opportunities.
Through the use of its unique, proprietary software, ContentOro delivers high-quality content to its customers by working with publishers to systematically extract the content of books. As a result, retailers and other brands have access to hundreds of pages of authoritative, edited information to promote online at a fraction of what it would cost to employ freelance writers or hire a dedicated marketing content expert.
"Having the opportunity to collaborate with the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund is an honor and I'm thankful that they chose to invest in us," said Chunn. "But as happy as I am to have the additional funds, I'm even more grateful to receive guidance and advice from students involved with the Zell Lurie Institute – a program at one of the best universities in the world. That is worth more to me than $50,000."
The team determined ContentOro would be a strong investment for the Fund because of its unique value proposition, its proximity to the University of Michigan and its knowledgeable and experienced management team.
"We were very impressed by the creative way ContentOro was going after solving a real problem in an enormous and growing market and feel they are the right team with unique backgrounds to be able to pull it off. We're not the only ones excited by them, given the caliber of their customers, including Sur la Table, General RV and Pet Supplies Plus," said Ross. "We're excited to work with Bob and his team to help them bring the business to the next level, and we look forward to a successful relationship going forward."
"One of the most valuable lessons I've gained from this process is that venture capital isn't just about the numbers. It's also about investing in the right team and the right people," said Brecher. "We know that ContentOro has a product that will sell in the red-hot online content industry, but we also know that they'll succeed because they have a whip-smart, passionate team that knows how to evolve and pivot to make a company truly successful."
About the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund
The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund is a student-managed investment fund established to identify and accelerate the commercialization of technology generated within the University of Michigan community and the surrounding area, and to provide a unique learning opportunity for Ross students. Student investment teams adopt a hands-on approach to investing that leverages the talent and resources available at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and its Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Students to help company founders create value for their companies and for the University community. For more information, visit http://www.zli.bus.umich.edu/wvf/zlcf_fund.asp.
About the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies
The Institute and its Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance bring together an impactful combination of deep-seated knowledge, enriching experiences and strategic opportunities from the front lines of entrepreneurship and alternative investment. Students' learning experiences are further enhanced through internships, entrepreneurial clubs, business competitions and campus-wide events that foster valuable networking and engage the business community. The School's five student-led investment funds, with $8.5M under management, immerse students in the entrepreneurial business sourcing, assessment and investment process. Founding Zell Lurie advisory board members include Samuel Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments, and Eugene Applebaum, founder of Arbor Drugs Inc. For more information, visit the Institute's website at www.zli.bus.umich.edu.
ContentOro is an award-winning startup company that provides the number one need in digital marketing today – content – in a new and unique way. Proprietary software converts millions of pages of text and images from published books into high-quality pieces of fresh and relevant content that can quickly and easily be searched, found, and added to any website. This on-demand access to the world's largest repository of professionally written content positions ContentOro to change the way digital marketers and brands acquire content for marketing.
For more information, visit ContentOro.com
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SOURCE The Zell Lurie Institute