Ann Arbor :
Good things can sometimes be hard to find. But that makes them all the sweeter, doesn't it?. Take Ron's Roadside BBQ. Fans complain about its obscure location, poor signage, and threadbare surroundings. But once they sink their teeth into the "low and slow," the criticisms melt away. Little do many know that Ron's (aka Romanoff's Catering) has 40 storied years of history. And nearly 200,000 toy soldiers!
It's hardly a surprise that the University of Michigan is considered a world-class institution with deep political connections. But with the urgent concerns of today's economic policies, the Obama Administration, in particular, has reached out to Ann Arbor for guidance, expertise, and advice.
They have clients that travel from as far as a thousand miles away. Some offer their employees health and retirement benefits. Others have attracted loyal customers via social media and late night hours. They are the crème de la crème of Ann Arbor's hair salons.
Mike Burns is a born entrepreneur, and at 58, he could easily run rings around guys half his age. Or fly rings around them, as the case may be (he pilots WWII era P-51 Mustangs). More importantly, Burns is an entrepreneur who believes in doing business in Michigan. It's why he sources nearly all the components to his iPad accessory, the HandeHolder, locally. And it's not just a recession thing. It's part of his overall business philosophy.
Why order a vodka tonic when you can have The Last Word? Or, better, a drink recipe that's created on site and with locally sourced ingredients? Custom cocktails (aka "mixology") have come to Ann Arbor and fans of unique libations are embracing the trio of downtown venues that sling more than just beer and shots.
When it comes to building a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, Kurt Riegger, COO of OcuSciences, argues that there's no lack of ideas or innovations in Ann Arbor. Talent with enough experience to execute on those ideas may be another question. Riegger has launched, funded, and advised 26 companies, and chats with Concentrate about what our community needs to succeed.
Ann Arbor-based ForeSee Results has seen growth every quarter of its existence. That's a pretty impressive track record for this U-M spin out. CEO and co-founder Larry Freed talks about his home grown approach to hiring, our area's startup climate, and what we need to keep and attract more young talent.
The student-run MPowered is U-M's startup for startups. Living up to its name, it has not only prodded the university into offering more classes in entrepreneurship, it has also attracted a community of business-minded students through its 1000 Pitches Summit and annual Career Fair. This year they debut "Startup Weekend," a 54-hour event which seeks to create a web or mobile applications business in a weekend.
The idea of establishing a pedestrian mall in downtown Ann Arbor has long been discussed but never acted upon. Concentrate's Jon Zemke looks at how some communities have found great success with their people-only plazas, but most have encountered failure. Would Tree Town buck the odds or struggle like the rest?
One excels at style. The other, substance. But when it comes to nurturing an entrepreneurial ecosystem, both matter. Jon Zemke attends Silicon Valley's quarterly Founder Showcase and our own annual business plan competition, Accelerate Michigan, and finds a clash of both cultures and community.
In 2003, Ann Arbor residents voted to support the Greenbelt, creating a patchwork of protected area parks and farmland. It was a pretty progressive policy for Michigan, but is it delivering what was expected? From securing local food sources to curbing sprawl, Concentrate reviews the program's goals, impacts, and consequences.
The mantra for many an entrepreneur is: Where there's a need, there's a dollar to be made. So, what do you get when twenty five thousand cars are looking for a parking space at the same time? A business opportunity. Concentrate's Jon Zemke chats with Taylor Bond, co-founder of the game day parking finder ParknParty.
Local author Brenda Bentley recently published a book on Ann Arbor river walks and that got Concentrate's Constance Crump wondering what it would take for Tree Town to become more of a River Town.
Maker Works is the future of manufacturing! Tom Root, managing partner of Zingerman's Mail Order, has help found the ultimate D.I.Y. workshop, a place where members can access high-tech machines and learn to bring their designs to fruition.
Vaughan Taylor wants to establish Motown 2.0, an interface of music and social media that changes the business landscape for musicians. And he wants to do it in Ann Arbor. Jon Zemke talks promotion, hip-hop, and Michigan's start-up culture with the rapper/entrepreneur.