About Us

Cornerstone Angels seeks to provide financial capital and mentorship to early-stage companies in the greater Midwest. Our group is a private investment organization composed of highly successful executives, entrepreneurs, and investors.  Cornerstone orchestrates a rigorous and disciplined approach to angel investing.

Our goal is to help bridge the widening gap between initial start-up capital and institutional financing.  We target investment opportunities ranging from $250K to $2MM with our members often syndicating with other angel or venture capital investors.  We also seek opportunities where our members can add value to help our portfolio companies achieve critical milestones.

We are primarily focused on building a dynamic entrepreneurial and investor community in the Midwest, though we will consider selected opportunities across the country.

Cornerstone Angels actively seeks to make contributions to the community and local charities, which includes evaluating socially conscious investment opportunities.


Michael Gruber

Michael Gruber founded Cornerstone Angels and was the Founder and President of Keiretsu Forum Chicago/Midwest, an angel investment group that launched in Chicago in February 2004.

Mr. Gruber has extensive experience with early stage investments particularly in the information technology, material science, and energy sectors. Mr. Gruber is a Partner and Co-Founder of G4 Capital LLC and VentureLab, where he works with emerging growth companies in interim executive capacities on go-to-market and financial strategies. Mr. Gruber also serves as an Investment Partner of the Independence Equity Fund, a venture capital fund that invests in early-stage companies commercializing technologies that improve resource utilization. Mr. Gruber’s prior industry experience includes key operational roles in high growth corporations (Koei Corporation, Intuit, InsWeb, Silicon Investor), two of which went public and one of which was acquired by a strategic investor. Mr. Gruber was also a Director of Taproot Ventures, an early stage investment affiliate of the Harbour Group, an investment and holding company with assets under management of $1.3 Billion.

Mr. Gruber currently serves on the Board of Directors for ACG Chicago as Co-Chair of the Venture Network and Cleantech Network, and serves on the Board of Advisors of The DailyDAC, Factory Physics, Inc., and the Institute for Sustainability and Energy (ISEN) and NUvention Energy at Northwestern University. Mr. Gruber received a BA in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University, and had intensive Japanese language training at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan.

Laurence Hayward

Laurence Hayward is Co-Founder and joined Cornerstone Angels in November 2006.

Mr. Hayward has extensive experience working with smaller companies. Mr. Hayward founded VentureLab to help early-stage companies gain access to the resources they need to grow such as capital, quality people and strategic partners. Mr. Hayward serves as an Investment Partner of the Independence Equity Fund, a venture capital fund that invests in early-stage companies commercializing technologies that improve resource utilization. He is also a Managing Partner for Rainmaker Securities LLC, a FINRA broker-dealer. He previously served as a Managing Partner at SCIUS Capital Group, where he completed more than a dozen private placements (primarily seed and venture capital equity offerings) in areas ranging from water purification to nano-structured materials. Previously, he has held leadership positions as the Chicago Office Managing Partner for Jesup & Lamont Securities, President of entrepreneurial start-up Vcapital. He worked at Arthur Andersen from 1992 to 2000, including as the international marketing director of the Enterprise Group, a $500 million revenues practice serving middle-market and venture-backed companies.

Mr. Hayward earned a BS Psychology & MBA from the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana, graduating a year early. He serves on the CEC Client Advisory Board and Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce assisting local entrepreneurs. He also serves on the Advisory Boards of several Chicago-area companies. Mr. Hayward is an active member of the Angel Capital Association and Cleantech Venture Network, an environmentally focused investor network. He also volunteers his time as a guest lecturer, panelist, and business plan judge for the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, DePaul University’s MBA program and his alma mater. He holds a Series 7 license.