Peter Farner

Partner, TGap Ventures in Kalamazoo. TGap is an early stage venture firm, which has raised two funds, has $50 million of capital under management, and is actively investing. Farner has been involved in emerging ventures since 1984, first in the formation of a marketing services company (in conjunction with a Tier 1 auto supplier), and subsequently through a variety of successful start-up and high-growth situations. He has raised in excess of $75 million in venture capital as an entrepreneur. Farner has served as founder, CEO, and in business development roles for technology, software, and service companies. In these positions he has negotiated, closed, and participated in multi-million-dollar mergers, sales, consulting, equity participations, and product contracts with more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies, including Anheuser-Busch, GE, Compaq, and Proctor & Gamble. He also was a senior vice president with Ryan Partnership and held management positions at the Stroh Brewery when it grew from $150 million to $1.3 billion in annual revenue. Farner has served on the boards of 12 privately held companies. He also is on the board of the Michigan Venture Capital Association. In 2011 he was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to the board of Michigan Early Stage Venture Investment Corporation. He's also served as a Great Lakes Entrepreneurs Quest judge. Farner has volunteered for more than a decade with the YMCA, Junior Achievement, and Duke University's master in engineering management program, and has coached basketball at several public elementary schools. He holds two patents for a cold cathode lighting device. Farner received his bachelor's degree in economics from Duke and his MBA from the University of Michigan.

WHERE BORN: “South Bend, Ind.”

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: “My parents, in terms of the values, ambition, and confidence they provided for me to get started.”

LAST BOOK READ:Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. My daughter and I are trying to get through the 'top 100 novels ever written' list.”

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: “Entrepreneurial, creative, curious.”

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: “Entrepreneurs are our customers in the venture capital business. The country, and particularly Michigan, is seeing rapid growth in entrepreneurship. In Michigan, it's becoming more 'socially acceptable' than it's been historically over the past few generations. Before, we were more interested in the '30-year gold watch' employment. These paradigm shifts have fostered entrepreneurial communications, and groups of people see that as a career path preferable to a corporate career. It's good for venture investing, and the quality of entrepreneurs is key to our business. As it grows, so should our industry. And there are new ways to fund this new generation of entrepreneurs, such as angel and crowdfunding.”

FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET: “My Nike FuelBand. It keeps me moving.”

FAVORITE PLACE: “That's an easy one – the U.P. with my family.”

FAVORITE HOBBIES: “Too many – golf, sailing, photography, birding.”

FAVORITE FOOD: “Any vegetarian fare.”

MY HIDDEN TALENT: “I spent 16 seasons coaching elementary basketball.”

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: “That I tried to experience life to the fullest, was a good parent, family person, and equitable person who's fun to work with.”