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November 18, 2022

Heritage Group finds success with venture fund

When Indianapolis-based The Heritage Group launched its New Ventures Group in 2018, it did so in the belief that it could leverage its expertise in materials science to boost entrepreneurship, generating benefits both inside and outside the company.

The strategy seems to be working even better than expected for the privately held, family-owned company that has an ownership stake in more than 30 operating companies, including Calumet Specialty Products Partners LP, Heritage Environmental Services, Monument Chemical and others.

To date, the company’s venture arm, HG Ventures, has invested nearly $200 million in a total of 30 companies, eight of which had been participants in The Heritage Group Accelerator.

And in 2021, HG Ventures became the first non-Europe-based investor chosen to partner with Innovate UK, a research and innovation funding initiative associated with the government of the United Kingdom.

“I would say the thing that surprised me the most was how strong the market for material-science venture investing turned out to be, and how well-positioned we have been to establish a brand in that area,” said HG Ventures Managing Director Kip Frey. The Heritage Group recruited Frey from North Carolina to launch HG Ventures four years ago.

The venture group has a threefold strategy:

  • Invest in U.S. and international companies that focus on materials science (studying
    the substances things are made of and designing more advanced
  • Launch an annual startup accelerator.
  • Incubate employee ideas that show commercial promise.

The venture group’s investments focus on areas such as energy, sustainable materials, water, infrastructure and the circular economy—the concept of reusing and recycling materials rather than disposing of them.

HG Ventures’ investment portfolio includes companies like Zionsville-based 120Water, which offers water-sampling kits, software and services for water system management and compliance. It also includes Israel-based Valerann, which offers a trafficmanagement platform for road operators and traffic authorities.

The accelerator, whose fourth cohort of startups wrapped up last week, has brought a total of 37 startups to Indianapolis since 2018 for a 13-week, in-person accelerator at The Heritage Group’s headquarters just east of Eagle Creek Park. The startups come from around the world; to date, five have chosen to move their headquarters here.

The Heritage Group also decided this year to run its accelerator on its own, after a three year contract with accelerator operator Techstars came to an end.

The third part of The Heritage Group’s strategy, its in-house incubation process, has already resulted in one new company. That startup, Avenew Inc., is a road-management company that launched in February and is now part of The Heritage Group’s portfolio.

‘Amazing resources’

For The Heritage Group, part of its secret sauce is the expertise and resources it can offer the companies it invests in.

HG Ventures and The Heritage Group Accelerator both operate out of The Center, a 113,000-square-foot building that also serves as The Heritage Group’s corporate headquarters. The facility, in InTech Park, also is home to The Heritage Group’s in-house research and development laboratory, which helps its operating companies develop and test their products.

And The Heritage Group’s 6,000-person workforce includes chemists, engineers, scientists and others with specialized industry knowledge.

“We have 6,000 people. We’ve got amazing resources that we can bring to bear for entrepreneurs that show that it’s not lip service, adding value. It’s truly tangible value that we can bring to these companies,” said Ginger Rothrock, senior director of HG Ventures.

These types of resources can help HG Ventures in multiple ways, said
fellow venture investor David Kerr, managing director of Indianapolisbased Allos Ventures.

Allos and HG Ventures are co-investors in 120Water Inc., which is also a graduate of The Heritage Group Accelerator.

A venture firm that invests in the realm of materials science, clean technologies or hard tech—technology that includes both hardware and software—needs the know-how to find and evaluate potential investments.

One way to find this know-how is to work with consultants, universities or industry partners, Kerr said—but The Heritage Group has this expertise inhouse. “That’s where I do think it really does give Heritage Group an advantage, having ready access to those types of people.”

‘A complete mind shift’

These are the types of resources that caught the eye of suburban Seattlebased entrepreneur Jason Puracal, co-founder and CEO of ZILA Works. The company was one of seven startups from the United States and Canada who came to Indianapolis for this year’s accelerator.

ZILA, which launched in 2014, has developed a process for using industrial hemp to create bio-epoxy resin for use in products from sporting equipment to floor sealants. The company hasn’t yet started generating
revenue but has secured its first paid pilot test, which will take place this winter with Vermont-based Burton Snowboards, Puracal said.

He’d been through three previous accelerators in the U.S. and Canada before coming to Indianapolis for The Heritage Group Accelerator, he said, and this one is different.

“This is the first accelerator program that has had specific expertise that is relevant to our industry,” he said. “It’s been great to have the resources and the muscle of Heritage at our disposal.”

Most of ZILA’s partners before had been universities, Puracal said, so working with an industry-based accelerator has given him a whole new perspective.

“Academia runs at a certain pace, and Heritage has helped us shift our mental framework about, ‘Oh, really we can go much faster in this other setting,’” he said. “It’s
been a complete mind shift for us, and we’re trying to scale up as quick as possible now.”

One area ZILA had struggled with, Puracal said, was finding a manufacturer willing to make the company’s product. He said his company had reached out to 40 companies, all of whom said ZILA was too small for them to do business with. But through the accelerator, Puracal is now in conversation with The Heritage Group’s Monument Chemical as a potential manufacturer. “Monument has a different approach because of
the accelerator program.”

During their 13 weeks in Indianapolis, Puracal said, he and his fellow founders were also introduced to representatives from Purdue University, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and other startup accelerators, as well as Indiana-based venture investors. The accelerator participants also traveled to events in Pittsburgh; Columbus, Ohio; and Louisville.

Being in person for the 13-week program has also allowed Puracal to meet other founders who have become both friends and sources of professional support.

Becoming known

The Heritage Group “seriously considered” 75 applicants for this year’s accelerator cohort, Frey said. Many more companies submitted applications, but the 75 represented the strongest.

New Ventures Group is also gaining traction on its venture investment side.

The Heritage Group’s CEO, Amy Schumacher, said HG Ventures has seen an increase in both volume and quality of investment opportunities that cross its threshold over the group’s four years in existence.

Schumacher is a great-granddaughter of John E. Fehsenfeld, who launched the company in 1930 under the name Crystal Flash. She, along with board Chair Fred Fehsenfeld Jr., had the vision for what became New Ventures Group.

“What has surprised me is how quickly HG Ventures has established themselves as a leader in this space,” Schumacher said.

Some of the investment opportunities are pitched by entrepreneurs, she said. Others come from fellow venture firms looking for co-investors for particular deals.

“They see the value we can bring to an opportunity,” Schumacher said.

The third part of New Venture Group’s strategy is to incubate business ideas that come from within.

As part of this effort, Schumacher said, The Heritage Group launched a year-long Concept to Commerce course, which focuses on how to commercialize an idea. Employees must be nominated to participate, and a second cohort is set to begin early next year.

“It was an overwhelming success,” Schumacher said.

New Ventures Group has already successfully taken one idea from concept to commercialization with Avenew, which quietly launched in February.

The company, which helps local governments manage their road and bridge infrastructure, was born out of an idea from Heritage Group employee Micah Vincent. Vincent, who was director of Indiana’s Office of Management and Budget before joining The Heritage Group, now serves as Avenew’s chief operating officer.

The startup’s CEO is Joe McGuinness, who formerly served as commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation. Before that role, McGuinness served as mayor of Franklin.

McGuinness said leading a startup is altogether different from being a government executive. The Heritage Group has helped him with tasks as big as business strategy and as small as creating and ordering business cards.

“They have provided a lot of support,” he said. “They allow you to sleep at night and not be looking around every corner.”

It took about 18 months to develop Avenew’s initial concept into a business, Rothrock said. Other ideas are now making their way through the incubation process, with anticipated business launches in one to three years, though Rothrock declined to reveal details.

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November 18, 2022

HG Ventures Partners with Battery Marketplace Company, Currents

Currents’ platform will help meet the growing demand for end-of-life electric vehicle batteries and improve supply chains.

INDIANAPOLIS – HG Ventures, the corporate venture arm of The Heritage Group, announced today the addition of Currents, a second-life battery marketplace platform, to its growing portfolio.

Currents, a business-to-business marketplace designed for stakeholders throughout the end-of-life electric vehicle (EV) lithium-ion battery supply chain, is a facilitation platform that extends the lives of retired EV batteries, paving the way for a sustainable, renewable future powered by second-life batteries. The platform drives value for buyers by solving pain points around sourcing, while enabling suppliers to scale their operations to the largest available demand pool, fulfilling a real gap in the industry.

“Demand for EV batteries has never been higher, but we’re seeing critical materials and EV batteries being dispersed throughout the US at scrap yards with no sustainable solution to properly discard them,” said Nick Arnold, Senior Associate at HG Ventures. “Currents is building a circular marketplace solution to give end-of-life batteries the option to be repurposed into energy storage or recycled. We’re excited to add them to our growing roster of emerging technology companies solving real-world problems.”

The closed-loop model effectively extends the life of valuable battery assets and reduces greenhouse gas emissions created by production. For every one ton of lithium mined, 15 tons of carbon dioxide are emitted. Last year, 11.4 million EV batteries or 100,000 tons of lithium were produced, yet less than 5% of lithium-ion batteries are properly recycled.

Currents provides the channel and solution for the end-of-life lithium supply chain challenged from the growing demand for EV batteries. In the first quarter of 2022, EV sales grew by 60% and demand for EV batteries continues to rise. The rise in demand, coupled with other macroeconomic factors, has caused material prices, including lithium, to skyrocket over the last couple of years. Maximizing the effective life of every battery is of the utmost importance to strengthen our energy independence, unlock the value of renewables, and bolster domestic supply chains.

“We’re creating a platform that facilitates and optimizes the end-of-life lithium supply chain to ensure that every battery is handled responsibly while maximizing their lifecycle value.” said Anthony Garbarino, CEO of Currents. “Sustainability, resource and energy independence, and modernizing supply chains are at the forefront of our business model, and we’re excited to launch our platform and drive innovation for stakeholders throughout the value chain. We’re glad HG Ventures recognized this gap in the industry and we’re excited to partner with them to bring our product to market.”

With its partnership with HG Ventures, Currents will be able to leverage The Heritage Group’s network and expertise in the battery industry. HG Ventures is committed to supporting the continued innovation in sustainable battery solutions.

Media Contact
Regan Keller
Vice President of Cleantech

HG Ventures

HG Ventures is the corporate venture arm of The Heritage Group, headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. HG Ventures supports innovation and growth across The Heritage Group by investing and partnering with innovative, high-growth companies to support a sustainable future. We leverage the world-class expertise of The Heritage Group operating companies and research center to offer a unique value proposition to our portfolio company partners.


Currents is a B2B facilitation marketplace designed for retired electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries tailor-made for auto OEMs, second life (2L) integrators, and auto recyclers with a mission of enabling the closed loop economic model for all stakeholders. Currents is the safe, trusted sales channel that will provide the platform needed to build a sustainable, renewable future powered by second life batteries.

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June 28, 2022

HG Ventures Backs Circulor to Advance Responsible Supply Chains Globally

INDIANAPOLIS – June 28, 2022 – HG Ventures, the corporate venture arm of The Heritage Group, today announced its participation in a $25 million Series B raise for Circulor, the only proven technology solution that tracks materials, emissions, and compliance within manufacturing and recycling supply chains. Circulor’s suite of technologies gives users data-driven insights into their business to enable responsible sourcing. Through blockchain and AI software as a service (SaaS) technology, Circulor’s platform advances traceability, transparency, and risk management solutions.

“Circulor is helping companies track emissions and prove the sources of their raw materials, which enables decarbonization and mitigates supply chain risks,” said John Glushik, Managing Director at HG Ventures. “HG Ventures is excited to support Circulor’s team in their mission to develop complete industrial supply chain traceability and resiliency.”

Manufacturers in the automotive, extractive, recycling, and construction industries are looking for solutions to track the sources of their materials and decarbonize their operations. Leaders in these industries are seeking a supply chain that is traceable, ethical, and sustainable. Circulor enables them to be transparent about the source of their raw materials, increase the use of recycled plastic, reduce the flow of plastics into oceans, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and decarbonize their materials.

“We’re thrilled to partner with HG Ventures to advance secure and responsible supply chains,” said Douglas Johnson-Poensgen, Circulor CEO. “Digital transparency allows companies to track their material use and be more ethical and informed, and we’re proud to be working with such an experienced partner as we grow.”

HG Ventures invests in growing businesses that are disrupting traditional industries—be it through new processes, technology or materials. The team excels in partnering with visionary entrepreneurs to achieve dramatic business growth. HG Ventures is the corporate venture arm of The Heritage Group, which has more than 5,000 employees and 30 operating companies worldwide and is committed to a sustainable world.

Media Contacts:
Regan Keller
Antenna Group for HG Ventures

Franziska Grammes

About HG Ventures:
HG Ventures is the corporate venture arm of The Heritage Group, headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. HG Ventures supports innovation and growth across The Heritage Group by investing and partnering with innovative, high-growth companies to support a sustainable future. The team leverages the world-class expertise of The Heritage Group operating companies and research center to offer a unique value proposition to its portfolio company partners.

About Circulor:
Circulor empowers organizations to have full visibility of their supply chains. The London-based company offers the most mature, proven, and complete technology software solution available to track materials with high environmental and human rights impacts as they change state within manufacturing and recycling supply chains. With Circulor, businesses can follow the physical flow of critical materials from extraction to final production, as well as associated ESG characteristics and embedded carbon across Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. The tech company was founded in 2017 in the UK, with offices in the US, Germany, Singapore, and Australia. The company has been named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, Global Cleantech 100 and a Future Unicorn by DIGITALEUROPE.
More information can be found at Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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February 10, 2022

HG Ventures’ Glushik Named Global Corporate Venturing “Emerging Leader”

INDIANAPOLIS – February 10, 2022 – HG Ventures, the corporate venture arm of The Heritage Group, today announced that Managing Director, John Glushik, has been recognized among the “Top 50 Emerging Leaders” List by Global Corporate Venturing (GCV), the leading industry publication for corporate venture capital.

Glushik was selected from more than 20,000 industry professionals across 2,500 corporate venturing units. The Emerging Leaders Award recognizes accomplished professionals who are considered the “heir apparent” and the “glue” in their corporate venture capital team. Glushik received the award during the GCV Rising Stars and Emerging Leaders 2022 ceremony, held virtually on February 10th.

At HG Ventures, Glushik leverages more than 20 years of venture investor experience to grow partnerships with innovative, high-growth companies that support a sustainable future in materials, infrastructure, environmental solutions, and industrial systems. Glushik helped start HG Ventures in 2018 after serving as General Partner at Intersouth Partners and Managing Director of the Duke Angel Network, covering all aspects of venture investment and portfolio management.

“I’m honored to be recognized in this year’s Emerging Leaders list by the esteemed GCV team,” said Glushik. “It is a privilege to work with such a talented, diverse and passionate team of experts and innovators who are building solutions to our most pressing challenges. I look forward to continuing our work driving meaningful innovation in critical industries.”

Glushik is the third HG Ventures executive recognized among GCV’s leaders. Senior Director, Ginger Rothrock was named a GCV Rising Star in 2021 and Executive Vice President, Kip Frey, was included in the Powerlist Top 100 leaders of in-house venture capital groups in 2020 and again in 2021.

“John’s commitment to trust, transparency and partnership perfectly demonstrates our team’s values,” said Frey. “His unwavering focus on these tenets is key to our long-term, collaborative, and successful engagements with entrepreneurs, investors, and ecosystem of experts.”

Media Contact:
Regan Keller
Antenna Group for HG Ventures

HG Ventures
HG Ventures is the corporate venture arm of The Heritage Group, headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. HG Ventures supports innovation and growth across The Heritage Group by investing and partnering with innovative, high-growth companies to support a sustainable future. The team leverages the world-class expertise of The Heritage Group operating companies and research center to offer a unique value proposition to its portfolio company partners.

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February 2, 2022

Biosynthetic® Technologies Raises $7.5M Led by HG Ventures

INDIANAPOLIS – Biosynthetic® Technologies, LLC today announced that it has raised $7.5 million in a series A-1 funding led by HG Ventures, the corporate venture arm of The Heritage Group, headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind.

Biosynthetic Technologies is developing and marketing a new class of high-performance bio-based oil, or Estolides, that is biodegradable, non-bioaccumulative, and non-toxic. The patented Estolides can be used as a sustainable alternative to petroleum in lubricants, metalworking fluids, personal care items, and many other applications. These products also provide improved environmental, social, and governance (ESG) calculations sought after by corporations on a global scale.

Funding from this series will be used to scale operations, sales and manufacturing, support work on global regulatory compliance, and enable a deeper lifecycle assessment. The money also helped fund Biosynthetic Technologies’ acquisition of Innoleo®, LLC, a distributor of quality Oleo derivatives.

“We are excited to partner with HG Ventures,” said Mark Miller, CEO of Biosynthetic Technologies. “In addition to capital, HG Ventures has brought passion, expertise, and assets to support us as we’ve executed our strategy for success. The market traction for our products across a wide range of industries and applications has provided us with a bright future. Everyone is seeing the need for more sustainable products, moving toward carbon neutrality, and improving ESG standards. As such, Biosynthetic Technologies is uniquely positioned to expand our business globally.”

“Biosynthetic Technologies’ focus on delivering innovative solutions for a sustainable future in industrial markets aligns with HG Ventures’ mission of supporting cutting-edge innovators in markets where we can help them grow,” said John Glushik, Managing Director of HG Ventures. “We appreciate the opportunity to support Biosynthetic Technologies in a manner that enables transformational growth and expansion of their product offering of sustainable materials.”

For more information on Biosynthetic Technologies fundraising efforts please contact Mark Miller at

Media Contact
Debby Neubauer
Biosynthetic® Technologies
O: (317) 556-1050 M: 317-697-7304

About Biosynthetic® Technologies LLC
Biosynthetic® Technologies manufactures a revolutionary new class of biobased synthetic compounds called Estolides that are made from organic fatty acids found in various bio-derived oils. These highly functional biosynthetic oils have numerous uses in lubricant, automotive, marine, pharma and personal care applications and can be used as the primary base oil of a formulation, a component of a base oil co-blend, or even as an additive. In addition to their high-performance properties, these renewable oils are biodegradable and nontoxic. Biosynthetic Technologies strives to make their mark on the world by delivering innovations for a sustainable future. For more information about Biosynthetic™ Technologies, please visit and follow us on LinkedIn.

HG Ventures
HG Ventures is the corporate venture arm of The Heritage Group, headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. HG Ventures supports innovation and growth across The Heritage Group by investing and partnering with innovative, high-growth companies to support a sustainable future. We leverage the world-class expertise of The Heritage Group operating companies and research center to offer a unique value proposition to our portfolio company partners.