NVCA Member Spotlight: GM Ventures

Welcome to our Member Spotlight series where we give a profile overview of our many diverse members. For this deep dive, we spoke to Kent Helfrich, President at GM Ventures to learn more about his firm.

Kent Helfrich, President at GM Ventures

Tell us about your firm. What makes it different?

Founded in 2010 and serving as the venture capital arm of General Motors, GM Ventures strategically invests in startup companies that share GM’s vision of a world of zero emissions, zero crashes and zero congestion.  

We operate with an entrepreneurial spirit and common purpose to focus on strategic investments in breakthrough technologies that are helping to transform General Motors into a platform innovator and leading transportation technology company. 

Our team facilitates connections between startups and GM’s network of partnerships, iconic brands, technology talent, and manufacturing expertise to accelerate and commercialize innovations globally. These efforts expand and scale their technology throughout and beyond GM’s footprint, bringing industry-first advancements to market sooner.

Our portfolio companies develop software and hardware to power an all-electric, hands-free future, even beyond the personal vehicle. 

What inspired the name of your firm?

GM Ventures LLC is the venture capital arm of General Motors. While sharing a similar namesake, we are a wholly-owned subsidiary of GM. 

What defines your portfolio?

GM Ventures focuses on four main investment pillars including Electrification Ecosystem, Digital Enterprise, Connecting the Customer, and Autonomous Experience. While our four key focus areas guide and align our portfolio, we actively invest in innovative companies and technologies to enable GM’s vision and accelerate its competitive advantage. 

GM Ventures’ focus areas: 

  • Electrification Ecosystem – Companies that are redefining the future of EV and zero tailpipe-emissions technology in the areas of batteries, motors, power electronics, seamless charging, sustainable design, and materials. 
  • Digital Enterprise – Companies focused on creating increasingly seamless transitions from the outside world through digital technology with emphasis on cybersecurity, 5G, biometrics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and new business solutions. 
  • Connecting the Customer – Companies focused on connecting customers to vehicles in new ways through software including advancing sensory interactions, human-machine interface, cloud services, and voice interactions. 
  • Autonomous Experience – Companies which are advancing our autonomous future and pioneering the next generation of safe autonomous mobility in areas of proactive, predictive & preventative technology, smart alerts, smart factories, and advanced safety. 

How has your firm evolved from its founding to today?

As the capabilities and requirements of future mobility continually evolve, so must our investment strategies to support the vision of the larger GM enterprise.  

In addition to its commercial vehicle and product lineup, GM is taking a holistic approach to enabling an all-electric, connected, and autonomous future by investing heavily in EV infrastructure, research and development, alternative energy solutions, and even extending zero-tailpipe emission technology to other industries and applications beyond automotive. 

As GM continues to redefine future mobility, GM Ventures must look at bleeding-edge companies who can help accelerate the company’s competitive advantage in batteries, software, vehicle integration, and customer experience for not only its own products and services, but for applications beyond the automotive industry.  

Why is your firm an NVCA member?

As the venture capital arm for one of the world’s leading transportation platform developers, it is important for us to remain connected to the latest industry trends, innovators, and additional channels which could lead to mutually beneficial opportunities for GM Ventures and potential collaborators. 

Tell us about the current VC landscape in your geography/region. 

GM Ventures is headquartered in Warren, MI (US), but has a global presence with offices in Detroit, Michigan (US), Silicon Valley, California (US), Canada and Israel. Each of our offices focuses on investments in specific geographic locations, providing us access to global innovation.  

What’s ahead for your firm for rest of the year? 

GM Ventures looks forward to working collaboratively to expand the footprint and technological capabilities of its current portfolio companies, while also seeking new investments which will enable GM to achieve its vision of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion. 

As we continue to progress towards an all-electric, connected, and autonomous future, we’re looking forward to bringing on innovation which will help accelerate the journey and make advanced technology more accessible to a broader population of customers.