NBA owner Dan Gilbert also a venture capitalist

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert received a great amount of attention when his team’s former superstar LeBron James bolted for the Miami Heat. However, the millionaire should receive greater attention for his venture capital efforts, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The 55-year-old Gilbert is one of three partners in a firm named Detroit Venture Partners, which invests in technology startup firms in and around Detroit, Michigan. Gilbert, who is the chairman and founder of Rock Financial, which later became accounting software Quicken Loans, has two partners, Brian Hermelin, who co-founded Rockbridge Growth Equity with Gilbert, and Josh Linker.

“Our goal is to be the Sequoia (Capital) or Venrock of Detroit,” Mr. Linkner tells VentureWire. “There are amazing ideas here, but those ideas are vastly underserved. VCs won’t get on a plane to do a seed round.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Detroit Venture Partners has doled out $51.3 million in VC funds to 16 technology companies in the Detroit area. The company intends to add six to eight more startups to its ledger in 2011 with average lending between $250,000 and $750,000 as detailed by VentureWire.

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