Achieving Impact in the Midwest

Energize Ventures Managing Partner, John Tough, On Investing in Industrials in the Midwest

Maggie Kenefake welcomes John Tough, Managing Partner at Energize Ventures in Chicago, a firm focused on innovating energy and sustainability. Together they explore the lagging digital transformation of our energy and industrial sector, how John discovered his passion for sustainable solutions, and what enticed him to focus on the Midwest.

Listen to the full episode above on Spotify or over on iTunes.

On the importance of digitizing the industrial sector

According to a McKinsey study, the energy and industrial sector severely lag behind other sectors in adopting digital technologies. Does this mean they’ll always be behind the curve, or is there a reason for optimism?

On what drives his passion in this space

Growing up in Canada, John enjoyed time in nature at camp and grew to believe that it’s possible to do good while making a substantial financial return.

On why the industrial sector is hot for VC interest now

Though the industrial sector has needed technological innovation for decades, VC investment tends to flow to other sectors. John said the VC approach was one point of failure.

On why he chose to focus on the Midwest

After years of experience and career success, John could have worked in any area of the country, but he intentionally chose the Midwest.

Ginger Rothrock, Senior Director at HG Ventures, on achieving greater impact through VC

In the final episode of Maggie’s miniseries, she hosts Ginger Rothrock (KF Class 25), Senior Director at HG Ventures, an Indianapolis VC firm. Ginger dives deep into the opportunities in the Midwest, the advantages of investing in the region, and how she’s found success with her unique diligence process.

Listen to the full episode above on Spotify or over on iTunes.

On why the VC opportunity is biggest in the Midwest

The Midwest has a solid history in the industry and is home to many large companies, but the number of startups is lagging. Ginger sees huge opportunities in the Midwest due to several factors.

On an untapped advantage of the Midwest

Harder to quantify but clearly important are culture and people.

On her approach to due diligence

Approaches to due diligence vary throughout the VC realm and depend on both the key people in VC firms as well as the sector itself. Ginger keeps other factors in mind, too.

On how working in VC offered her a greater scale of impact

Starting in hard science with a chemistry degree offered Ginger multiple career pathways, but areas with global impact have always driven her.



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