Christopher L. Rizik is the Chief Executive Officer and Fund Manager of the Renaissance Venture Capital Fund. With three decades of experience in technology, finance and law, he has played a principal role in dozens of multi-million dollar venture capital transactions.
Prior to forming Renaissance, Chris served as a co-founder, partner, and Board member of Ardesta, LLC, an industry accelerator dedicated to the development of microsystems and other small technologies. Chris also co-founded and served as Managing Director of Avalon Investments, then Michigan’s largest venture capital firm. During his tenure at Avalon and Ardesta, he accepted four consecutive “Deal of the Year” awards from the Michigan Venture Capital Association.
Prior to joining Avalon, Chris was a senior partner with Dickinson Wright PLLC, one of the Midwest’s oldest law firms, where he led the firm’s Emerging Company department. He also passed the Certified Public Accounting examination and worked at PriceWaterhouse Coopers. Chris is also the founder of SoulTracks.com, America’s most popular soul music online magazine.
Chris is a member of the Executive Committee and serves as the Finance Chair of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the State of Michigan’s economic development organization. He also serves as chair of the Executive Committee of Detroit’s TechTown accelerator, is the immediate past chair of NextEnergy (Michigan’s advanced energy economic development organization), and chairs the investment committee of Detroit’s innovative community investment organization, the First Step Fund. Chris serves on the National Advisory Board of the University of Michigan Office of Technology Transfer and on the Board or the Advisory Board of several other community organizations, including the Detroit Medical Center, the New Economy Initiative and U of D Jesuit High School and Academy, as well as the advisory board of several venture capital funds. Chris was previously named by Crain’s Detroit Business magazine as one of its “Newsmakers of the Year” for his leadership role in the advancement of venture capital and entrepreneurship in Michigan, and is frequent lecturer and speaker.
Jeffrey Rinvelt is the Principal for the Fund. Jeff’s diverse background in venture capital and technology along with his experience working in various start-up ventures uniquely positions him for this role. In addition, Jeff is quite active in the Michigan start-up community, volunteering his time to mentor young entrepreneurs, judge pitch competitions, and guest lecture student classes and organizations. Through Jeff’s work on the Fund, his volunteer efforts and his role on the Michigan Venture Capital Association’s board of directors, his passion for fostering a productive environment for venture capital investment in the State of Michigan is clearly evident.
Jeff was previously part of Ardesta, where he was Director engaged in sourcing, evaluating, and conducting due diligence on investment opportunities, as well as monitoring and providing assistance to the companies in Ardesta’s portfolio. Prior to joining Ardesta, Jeff was a co-founder of GrapeVINE Technologies, providing Product Management and Marketing for their knowledge management product, eventually resulting in an acquisition by Sun Microsystems. Jeff was also part of the start-up team for MAXfunds.com, an Internet company providing complete coverage of the mutual fund industry, including hundreds of funds not available on any other site. In addition, Jeff spent five years with Ernst & Young’s Information Technology group as a senior consultant.
Jeff lends his expertise to a number of local non-profits through his board work for Non-Profit Enterprises at Work (NEW), the Ann Arbor YMCA, and as Treasurer for 826Michigan.
Kristopher Wiljanen is the Director of Business Development for the Fund. In this role, Kris is working with our portfolio venture capital funds and their companies to identify and develop opportunities with the Fund’s investor base and Michigan’s major corporations with the goal of increasing interaction between the two communities in a way that strengthens both.
Prior to joining Renaissance Venture Capital Kris was a management consultant with Charles River Associates (CRA), based in Boston. At CRA his work focused on strategy and technology commercialization issues facing renewable energy and related grid-level storage technologies. Kris has worked with many start-ups to help them bring their product to market or to help get existing products into new markets. Prior to his consulting career Kristopher worked for Siemens Venture Capital and IndX Software (one of its portfolio companies) where he had business development and project management roles. Kris began his career in the semiconductor industry with Motorola where he held a variety of positions in Engineering, Product Development, Finance and Marketing as part of the company’s management rotation program