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Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Gregg Hammerman

New economy entrepreneurs love to talk about fundraising, specifically how they are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, for their latest tech startup. Many of these ides never make it to closing an angel round.

Gregg Hammerman's mobile app company, Larky, is one that did.

The Ann Arbor-based startup closed on a $1.76 million in a Series A round of seed capital earlier this year. Ann Arbor-based North Coast Technology Investors led the round, which also was participated in by the Michigan Angel Fund, the BlueWater Angels, and the Pure Michigan Venture Match. Last year the company raised another $650,000 from angel investors.

All of that money is going toward commercializing Larky's mobile app, which helps consumers maximize the discounts and savings available to them. For instance, if a member of an alumni association gets 10 percent off on their car insurance by using a certain carrier, Larky's app will them.

Larky is already working with a couple of large clients, such as the Detroit Regional Chamber and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Its seed capital is helping to continue development of the mobile platform and market it. Larky is also hiring. Its team stands at eight employees after adding five over the last year. Hammerman expects to hire a couple more this year.

This is all largely possible thanks to the fundraising by Hammerman and his team. In many cases it's a long sell to angel investors (high-net-worth individuals who can make large investments in young companies) and venture capitalists (companies that make big investments into startups looking to grow exponentially. Hammerman never expects these investors to cut a check the first time he pitches them.

"In some ways it's ongoing," Hammerman says.

In that way it’s an ongoing relationship. Hammerman keeps them abreast of what Larky is up to, what milestones it’s hitting, where it’s concentrating its resources now. Often he finds an ear willing to listen. The hope is that ear turns into a hand that writes a check.

"Maybe somewhere down the road where if we are raising more money he might be interested," Hammerman says.

Almost all of Larky's seed capital has come from deep pockets based in Michigan. While states like California and Massachusetts are the leaders in the venture capital world, Michigan has been investing millions and millions into growing its own seed capital ecosystem for new economy entrepreneurs like Hammerman.

"We hear all of the time, 'Why are you here?'" Hammerman says. "'This is a California startup.' We have a strong commitment here."

- Written by Jon Zemke

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