Sleeping Giant Capital closes $10 million in funding, enhancing partnership with WMU

Contact: Angela DeYoung

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Sleeping Giant Capital, a West Michigan-based investment and growth platform, is announcing it has closed a $10 million funding round to scale operations, with a focus on empowering women professionals in acquiring and growing businesses. The funding secured by Sleeping Giant Capital enhances the partnership with Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business, allowing more students to benefit from transformational experiences and showcasing the college as a leader in business education.

Launched in 2020, Sleeping Giant Capital was founded by Drs. Derrick McIver and Doug Lepisto, who serve as managing partners of the firm as well as co-directors of the Center for Principled Leadership and Business Strategy at the Haworth College of Business. The firm seeks to take majority positions in established companies with $1.5 million to $4 million in annual cash flow. 

Giving undergraduate students a competitive advantage

As a platform, Sleeping Giant Capital connects West Michigan stakeholders including investors, executives, current business owners, future business owners, WMU Haworth undergraduate students and advisors. The platform offers resources and capabilities including mentorship, technology, growth strategy consulting and office space. By acquiring and growing businesses, the platform generates financial, social and educational returns to stakeholders in the West Michigan community, including a portion of returns that are donated to WMU Haworth’s Center for Principled Leadership and Business Strategy.    

Sleeping Giant Capital also offers for-credit practicums to leadership and business strategy undergraduate students. Undergraduate students are paired with executive advisors to offer growth strategy analysis and recommendations for current and prospective portfolio companies. Sleeping Giant Capital provides space, mentorship, technology and strategic connection to cultivate real, impactful and transformational learning experiences.

Sleeping Giant Capital’s platform provides the first model in integrated business education to address a generational shift in business ownership in communities.

“To our knowledge, this is the first platform of its kind in the country. We have created a model that offers a locally-based and integrated solution to a foundational challenge in American communities—succession planning in small business ownership. Through our connection to WMU Haworth, we are also providing experiential learning opportunities that are not seen anywhere else nationally,” says McIver.

Dr. Satish Deshpande, dean of the Haworth College of Business, says, “WMU Haworth strives to be a leader in innovation and business education nationally. The opportunity that this provides our students benefits them tremendously. Being able to develop skills, capabilities and character through real experiences, alongside executives in their field, makes WMU students stand out among their peers.”

The leadership and business strategy program offers a co-major and minor to students across the University. Consequentially, the partnership with Sleeping Giant Capital provides opportunity across WMU.

“Our engagement with Sleeping Giant Capital differentiates Western Michigan University and our students,” says President Edward Montgomery. “It empowers real, immersive and transformational learning experiences for undergraduates across our University as well as executives in our community. From Upjohn to Stryker to Haworth and more, the West Michigan region has a track record of entrepreneurial innovation. By having our students working with cutting-edge entities such as Sleeping Giant Capital, we are excited to continue that tradition of innovation in the higher education sector.”

Funding enhances partnership

The $10 million funding secured by Sleeping Giant Capital enhances the partnership with WMU Haworth, allowing students to continue to benefit from experiential learning opportunities and showcase the college as a leader in business education. It will enable Sleeping Giant Capital to scale operations across its platform in several key areas, including:

  • An office space in downtown Kalamazoo for executives-in-residence, advisors and undergraduate students.
  • Paid internships for WMU Haworth undergraduate students.
  • A residency program that covers salary and costs for up to four concurrent professionals engaged in a two-year, full-time search.
  • Two full-time executive employees.
  • Technology to facilitate search, learning and post-acquisition growth.

About the Women Leadership Advisory Committee

The formation of Sleeping Giant Capital’s Women Leadership Advisory Committee seeks to create relationships, awareness and mentorship to increase the number of women on the path to business ownership. 

The committee includes 11 women founders, CEOs and C-suite executives:

  • Kris Bahner, senior vice president, global corporate affairs at The Kellogg Company
  • Lynn Chen-Zhang, CEO of Zhang Financial and chair of WMU Board of Trustees
  • Sandi Doctor, president of Northwood Group
  • Michelle Eldridge, co-founder of Clear Ridge Wealth Management
  • Sara Fetke-Sweers, assurance director at BDO
  • Jennifer Lentner, senior director of marketing communications at Stryker
  • Jen Randall, co-founder and CEO of Maestro
  • Leigh Ann Sayen, president of The Peterson Company
  • Nancy Turtle, president of the Kalamazoo Community Bank at Mercantile Bank
  • Tracy Thurkow, expert partner, global head of behavioral science at Bain & Co.
  • Elizabeth Weindruch, managing director of private investments at Barings

For more information on Sleeping Giant Capital visit

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