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Michael Goldberg of Bridge Investment Fund

Michael Goldberg is founder of Bridge Investment Fund, a  venture capital fund focused on investing in Israeli medical device companies with strong synergies with the leading health care institutions and industries in Cleveland.

Did you consider yourself an entrepreneur before you started the Bridge Investment Fund?

My first foray in entrepreneurship was when I helped a non-governmental organization start a new program to send American volunteers to teach in black South African schools in 1993.  This was the year before the end of apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela.  I also ran voter education programs in South Africa in preparation for their historic elections.  Although the success of these ventures were not measured by financial outcomes, I learned from this experience how critical it is to be creative in order to stretch limited resources to achieve one’s strategic goals.  Also, I developed important skills around communicating with my colleagues in often stressful situations as well as with our funders which have served me well throughout my career.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to make the leap into business ownership?

I think every entrepreneur struggles with the decision to leave behind a steady paycheck (I was working at AOL before I co-founded Bridge) and try and create a new venture.  My wife, who works as a marketing director of a non-profit organization, was very supportive with the decision.

What state or local resources did you take advantage of and how did they help?

Bridge is fortunate to have the support of the Ohio Capital Fund as one of our limited partners (investors).  The Ohio Capital Fund, a fund of funds, was established by the State of Ohio to help increase private investment in Ohio companies in the seed or early stage of business development.  The Ohio Capital Fund has been extremely helpful in assisting Bridge and our portfolio companies as they commercialize their products in the US and look to raise additional capital.  The Third Frontier-supported Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center (GGIC) has been a great partner in helping our companies access thought-leading physicians in cardiovascular medicine from across Ohio.  One of our portfolio companies, IceCure Medical, has its US headquarters inside the GCIC facility in Cleveland.  Finally, BioEnterprise, which is also supported by the State of Ohio and regional philanthropy has been an invaluable partner for Bridge and our portfolio companies.

What’s the most difficult thing about running your own business?

Creating a successful start-up company is more of a marathon than a sprint.  Since the 2008 economic crisis, liquidity events for start-up companies (IPO or acquisition) have been few and far between.  Thus, the challenge for early stage investors and our portfolio companies is building companies that can be attractive for a long-term exit with the understanding that it is going to take a number of years for this to happen.

What do you find most rewarding?

The best part about my job is watching our portfolio companies eventually develop products which can be used to help patients.  When we commit our initial capital to these companies, they may at that stage have a prototype but they are often years away from getting regulatory approval to commercialize their technology.  Three of our four portfolio companies are now selling their products in the US market and impacting the lives of patients.
What has contributed most to your growth?

Our investors recognized that the investment niche we carved out for Bridge, Israeli medical device companies with strong synergies with the medical institutions in Cleveland, capitalized on the technology innovation taking place in Israel and the world-renowned innovative approaches to healthcare happening in Cleveland.  Start-up companies are typically asked to do more with less and having the support of the community in Cleveland to help our companies has made a significant difference in their growth.

What companies or founders do you admire and why?

Mario Morino, a Cleveland-native who successfully exited his technology company in Washington, DC, is an entrepreneur I truly admire.  Mario recently moved his family back to Cleveland (around the same time I moved with my family from Washington to Cleveland) and focuses his energy and talent on venture philanthropy which applies much of what Mario learned in the private sector towards helping non-profit organizations function more effectively.  Mario’s success in the business world and commitment to community is inspiring to younger entrepreneurs like myself.

What’s next for you and your business?

In the future, we hope to raise additional capital for another fund.  We continue to work with our portfolio companies helping them grow their businesses effectively in the US and beyond.  I was selected for a Fulbright fellowship this semester to teach entrepreneurship at a leading business school in Vietnam and have been working in the region to explore opportunities for our portfolio companies to access emerging markets in Asia.

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