The managing director of the Ohio Innovation Fund was once unimpressed with Columbus' VC scene. Years later he moved back to be part of it.

When Bill Baumel was in business school at the University of Michigan, all his friends wanted to go into investment banking on Wall Street. It was the early 1990s and they were dying to get interviews with Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Boston Consulting, Andersen Consulting and the like. Not Bill Baumel.

With a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Ohio State University, the Cincinnati native had spent two years following college at Deloitte & Touche in San Francisco, where he earned his CPA. There, he found himself doing due diligence for private equity firms. The experience was enough to draw him into the field of venture capital when he went to the University of Michigan for his MBA.

“Everyone was interested in working for Ford, and Procter and Gamble, and Microsoft, and General Electric in a leadership development program and what have you,” Baumel says. “And that gave me a real opportunity because I was probably the only one knocking on Professor Brophy’s door and saying, ‘Hey, I’m interested in startups and venture capitalists—I’ll be your TA.’ ” David Brophy, who did his doctoral work at Ohio State University, was a pioneer in the study of venture capitalism, founding what is today the Center for Venture Capital & Private Equity Finance at University of Michigan. His network of contacts in California VC was vast, and it helped Baumel land a venture associate job in Chicago with Brinson Partners when he was finished with his MBA. The firm had about $45 billion under management, with a small part of that invested in VC.

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