Christopher Rizik

CEO and Fund Manager of the Renaissance Venture Capital Fund in Ann Arbor. With two decades of experience in technology, finance, and law, Rizik has played a principal role in more than 50 multimillion dollar venture capital transactions. He most recently served as a co-founder, partner, and board member of Ardesta, LLC, an industry accelerator dedicated to the development of microsystems and other small technologies. Previously, he served as a managing director of Avalon Investments, Inc., a $100 million venture capital firm specializing in technology-oriented investments. During his tenures at Avalon and Ardesta, he accepted four consecutive "Deal of the Year" awards from the Michigan Venture Capital Association. Prior to joining Avalon, Rizik was a senior partner with Dickinson Wright PLLC, where he led the law firm's emerging company department. He also passed the CPA examination and worked at PriceWaterhouse Coopers. Rizik is also the founder of the website He is a member of the executive committee and serves as finance chair of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. He also serves on the board and is immediate past chair of NextEnergy, Michigan's advanced energy economic development organization, and sits on the advisory board of the Detroit Medical Center. Rizik chairs the investment committee of the First Step Fund and also serves on the boards of the Michigan Venture Capital Association and Leadership Detroit, and is a member of the advisory board of several venture capital funds. In 2010, Crain's Detroit Business named him a "Newsmaker of the Year" for his leadership role in the advancement of venture capital and entrepreneurship in Michigan. Rizik received his bachelor's degree in accounting from Michigan State University and his JD from the University of Michigan.

WHERE BORN: “Flint.”

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: “Two people: The governor, who I worked with for 12 years. He taught me a few things – how to stay cool in crisis situations, doing the right thing even in stressful times, and it's better to think before responding. Also, Bob Peterson, a Dickinson Wright attorney, who was my first boss out of law school. He taught me the value of treating people fairly and with respect.”

LAST BOOK READ:Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith by Robert Barron.”

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: “Entrepreneurial, thoughtful, involved, crazy mad about my wife, and love sports and music.”

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: “Michigan has traditionally been lagging in venture capital and entrepreneurialism. One of the positives that came out of the recession is the beginning of a cultural change. We'll see venture capital, while it continues to struggle in other parts of the nation, grow here. The Renaissance Fund is playing a part in that. We'll see terrific growth over the next five to 10 years in venture capital and entrepreneurship in Michigan.”

FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET: “The Sonos stereo system in my house; I control it with my phone.”

FAVORITE PLACE: “Comerica Park.”

FAVORITE HOBBIES: “Soul music, any kind of sports, and writing articles for SoulTracks, my website.”

FAVORITE FOOD: “Turkey and stuffing.”

MY HIDDEN TALENT: “I can throw a grape 30 feet up in the air and catch it in my mouth.”

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: “As a good husband and dad and someone who made a difference in Detroit.”