| Follow Us: Facebook RSS Feed

Ypsilanti : Innovation & Job News

144 Ypsilanti Articles | Page: | Show All

Java Hope Project empowers jobless with entrepreneurship

Brenda Moore believes people without jobs who are receiving government assistance can improve their prospects with coffee. A coffee business, actually.

The Java Hope Project focuses on helping women break the cycle of poverty through business development by offering extensive small-business skills training programs. The Ypsilanti-based non-profit does this by teaching its clients the basics of budgeting and running a business, then gives them opportunity to start their own coffee stand business.

"It's a rigorous program," says Moore, executive director of the Java Hope Project. "We require they show up to class everyday. If something catastrophic happens they are required to call in."

The idea is that sparking the entrepreneurial spirit in these women will help them break the cycle of poverty. Moore points out that it not only helps them learn how to live within a budget but also give them a path to make a good income through their own business. Moore claims operators of these coffee stands have the potential to make in excess of $100,000 a year.

"It can be very lucrative because unlike coffee shops it doesn't have a high overhead," Moore says.

The Java Hope Project has a staff of three and is in its first class of eight people and expects to expand that by the end of the year. Moore hopes to offer the Java Hope Project's services across Metro Detroit one day. The non-profit also recently took first place in the New Enterprise Idea category of the Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, a prize worth $5,000 in seed capital.

Source: Brenda Moore, executive director of the Java Hope Project
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Arbor Brewing Co doubles production, caps India expansion

Arbor Brewing Co spent much of 2012 setting the stage for some significant growth both at home and abroad. This is the year the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti-based craft brewery begins to reap some of those gains.

The Ann Arbor-based company completed a $1 million eco-friendly expansion to its sister brewery, Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti, last year. That gave the firm the room to double its capacity. Last year it sold 3,500 barrels of beer and is on pace to sell 5,000 barrels this year. Next year's target is 7,000 barrels.

Helping drive that growing demand is sales of its new award-winning IPA (Buzz Saw American IPA) and its takeoff of its strawberry blonde beer, Bollywood Blonde. Arbor Brewing Co is also doing a quarterly release of its Imperial Series, which includes a double IPA and an imperial pilsner. The brewery is also increasing production of its four-packs of barrel-aged sour beers.

"Some of our brands are really starting to take off," says Rene Greff, who co-founded Arbor Brewing Co with her husband, Matt Greff, in 1995.

Arbor Brewing Co's new India franchise is also gaining traction. The firm recently decided to open a franchise in Bangalore to fill the void in the practically non-existent craft brewing scene in India. After a year of trying to get the brewery off the ground, it is now up and running and gaining speed.

"It's doing fantastic," Matt Greff says. "We started serving beers in February and it's blowing away our expectations of sales and beers sold. It's absolutely nuts."

Arbor Brewing Co currently employs about 50 people in India and expects to begin searching for an American master brewer to work there full-time later this year. It is also exploring the idea of expanding to a few more locations in India in the next few years.

The company has a staff of 70 full-time employees and two interns between its downtown Ann Arbor brewpub and the Corner Brewery. It has hired five people between those two breweries over the last year, both for its kitchens and the breweries.

Source: Matt & Rene Greff, co-owners of Arbor Brewing Co and Corner Brewery
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

VC Web Design nearly doubles staff, plans to add interns

VC Web Design has grown to the point it's having a hard time finding space for its new hires, leading the downtown Ypsilanti-based business to start looking for a bigger home.

"We can't fit any more people in here," says Vince Chmielewski, president of VC Web Design. "We would like to stay in downtown if possible."

The 3-year-old business was the first to spin out of Ann Arbor SPARK's downtown Ypsilanti incubator. It specializes in website construction and video work. Its revenue has doubled in the last year, allowing it to hire three people. Those new hires include a videographer and website developer.

The company now has a team of seven employees and is planning to add more interns this summer. That staff has been doing work with the Barwis Methods and Ann Arbor SPARK. Chmielewski expects the current rate of growth to continue for the rest of this year.

"So far we're on track to double again," Chmielewski says. "It's why we might not be able to be where we are for much longer."

Also helping accelerate VC Web Design is its recent switch to agile software development methodology. This new system emphasizes website developers showing updated versions of sites in the progress of development so changes can be made quickly and efficiently.

"You can change direction very easily without waiting until the end," Chmielewski says. "It changes our output because we have to do less rework."

Source: Vince Chmielewski, president of VC Web Design
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Tree Fort Bikes renews focus on customer service, adds 5 jobs

Tree Fort Bikes is in an interesting position, where even though its sales volume hasn't spiked, it has found a way to improve its profit margins, allowing the company to hire more staff.

Over the last year, the Ypsilanti-based retailer has turned to doing more high-end bicycle business. That change means a lower volume of bikes sold, which allows the firm to focus more on customer service. That has led to better profit margins and a happier customer base.

"We're always focused on customer service but now we have the extra time to take of each customer," says Scott Mulder, president of Tree Fort Bikes.

It has also allowed Tree Fort Bikes to hire five people over the last year, expanding its staff to 15 people. Among those hires are sales and customer service professionals and a videographer. The videographer has let the company expand its YouTube channel with videos, such as instructional videos on maintaining a bike or overviews of certain brands.

That sort of extra is part of the customer-service-oriented plan to broaden the company's bottom line.

"We're growing but at the same time we're not Wal-Marting out our service," Mulder says.

Source: Scott Mulder, president of Tree Fort Bikes
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Ann Arbor SPARK lands $1M to expand reach regionally

Ann Arbor SPARK has landed $1 million in funding from the Michigan Strategic Fund that will help the economic accelerator expand its reach across Washtenaw County.

"This broadens the geography and the number of companies that we can serve," says Paul Krutko, president & CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK.

The money will go toward creating the Washtenaw County Incubator Collaborative, which will help bring Ann Arbor SPARK's business incubator activities across the county. The idea is to help further the growth of tech-based start-ups and jobs across the county.

Ann Arbor SPARK will partner with the MC3 Business Accelerator and the Michigan Research Institute to leverage the $1 million in state funding (and $722,500 in matching funds from the participating agencies) to create the the Washtenaw County Incubator Collaborative. The new partnership will focus on the medical device and defense industries as well as other high-growth industries in Washtenaw County.

"We need to deal with regional solutions," Krutko says.

Source: Paul Krutko, president & CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Ypsilanti's ISSYS set to begin clinical trials

Integrated Sensing Systems, AKA ISSYS, is looking tot expand its product portfolio from micro sensors in the life sciences industry to micro sensors that can be used in the industrial space.

Since 1995, the Ypsilanti-based business has designed and developed microelectromechanical systems for medical and scientific sensing applications. Its latest piece of technology is an implant that allows medical professionals to wirelessly monitor the heart.

"We hope to begin clinical studies early next year," says Nader Najafi, president & CEO of Integrated Sensing Systems. He adds he hopes to begin sales in Europe in 2014 and in the U.S. the next year.

The company is also looking at selling fluid sensors in industrial manufacturing, however, the company is still in the early stages of exploring that new market. "We're trying to bring in strategic partners," Najafi says.

Integrated Sensing Systems employs 25 people and has made a handful of hires in 2012. It expects to add a couple more jobs in 2013.

Source: Nader Najafi, president & CEO of Integrated Sensing Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Eastern Michigan student launches start-up CollegeGenius.net

Nick Schlemper is a student at Eastern Michigan University and was always frustrated with the social media options at his disposal so he and two more partners created their own, CollegeGenius.net.

The almost 2-month-old website provides an online avenue for college students to sell, buy, share and connect on their own campus. It is now at universities across the Midwest, including all of the major colleges in Michigan.

"I was wondering why there wasn't a resource like this out there?" Schlemper says. "Something that allows students to look for jobs or other things on campus."

CollegeGenius.net is a free website that lets students buy, sell or share items with other students on their campus, such as books or furniture or other student necessities. It also lets them post and find jobs and even find a way to share a ride, among other avenues for them to save money.

"We want to be the resource students will go to before eBay or Amazon," Schlemper says.

He and his partners are building out the website's infrastructure so they can continue to expand its reach. They hope to become a household name in colleges across the U.S. by the end of 2013.

Source: Nick Schlemper, founder of CollegeGenius.net
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Beal construction firms continue growth in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti

The construction companies owned by Ypsilanti-resident Stewart Beal have gone through quite the growth spurt over the last year.

Beal Inc (a demolition and construction contractor company) and Beal Properties (a property management firm) have both notched 20-30 percent growth during 2011/2012, allowing them to expand their staffs from 40 employees to 180 employees. The Ann Arbor-based companies were also recently recognized as FastTrack firms by Ann Arbor SPARK.

Beal Inc does a lot of different work. Last year it started CityFARM, an urban-farming design company, and has tackled a number of large construction projects, including the recent work to renovate the Broderick Tower in Detroit.

"Right now we're looking for our next large project," Beal says.

Beal Properties specializes in property management, specifically rental properties. It has properties in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Detroit and Toledo. It recently hired eight people to manage the now-leased-out Broderick Tower. Beal expects his companies will focus on maximizing the strides forward it has taken in the near term.

"We're going to be concentrating on growth and profits instead of growth and revenue next year," Beal says.

Source: Stewart Beal, president of Beal Inc and Beal Properties
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Washtenaw Community College lands $2.9M grant for tech training

The U.S. Dept of Labor is giving Washtenaw Community College a $2.9 million grant to help the institution of higher learning retrain more workers in tech and IT careers.

The two-year grant, made through the Labor Dept.'s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Community Colleges Career Training program, will fund an initiative called IGNITE Michigan that will develop new IT employees in the state.

"There are people who are still out of work or are underemployed or are returning from war and need the opportunity to get a job in a high-growth area," says Michelle Mueller, associated vice president of economic & community development for Washtenaw Community College.

Washtenaw Community College is partnering with Ann Arbor SPARK to get IGNITE Michigan off the ground. IGNITE Michigan will help train workers in software development for Java and network and systems administration in Microsoft and Linux/Unix platforms. The programs will be designed to meet the needs of the adult, non-traditional learner and will combine online and classroom instruction approaches.

"Hopefully, we will be able to help a couple hundred people over the life of the grant," Mueller says.

Source: Michelle Mueller, associated vice president of economic & community development for Washtenaw Community College
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

DeNovo Sciences raises $1.75M, aims for $6M Series A next year

DeNovo Sciences continues to hit its milestones again and again, raising seven figures worth of seed capital, growing its team, and pushing forward the development of its cancer warning system.

The Michigan Life Sciences and Innovation Center-based start-up has raised in excess of $1 million since winning the $500,000 first place prize at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition last year.

"I was looking for $1 million," says Kalyan Handique, CEO of DeNovo Sciences. "I was happy to get $1.75 million from a network of angel investors and the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund and some grants."

DeNovo Sciences is developing a platform for early detection of cancer from blood as an alternative to painful biopsies. It got its start in Ypsilanti and has since moved to the Ann Arbor SPARK managed Michigan Life Sciences and Innovation Center in Plymouth. There it has grown to four full-time employees and eight part-time consultants. It is in the process of hiring a researcher now.

The company is also hitting some of its development milestones, successfully using its technology to capture cancer cells in the blood. Handique expects to begin commercializing the product next year and have the full product platform available by 2014. His team is also gearing up to raise $6 million in a Series A round next year and land some corporate partnerships.

"We're beginning to speak to corporate partners who would benefit from our technology," Handique says.

Source: Kalyan Handique, CEO of DeNovo Sciences
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

LookInTheAttic expands into new facility, plans to hire 8

LookInTheAttic is expanding its business into a new facility in Romulus and redeveloping its downtown Ypsilanti base into a design center for its growing business.

The 15-year-old company specializes in selling antique reproduction hardware and housewares. It also owns and operates Silver & Gold, an online jewelry store. It sells all of its products both at its downtown Ypsilanti storefront and online.

"Both of them are expanding," says John Coleman, CEO of LookInTheAttic. "I am amazed at how fast both are expanding."

This has allowed LookInTheAttic to hire four people over the last year, expanding its staff to 14 people and the occasional intern. It is also in the process of hiring eight new sales people.

The growth has also prompted the company to expand to a new 13,000-square-foot warehouse facility in Romulus. The downtown Ypsilanti space is being renovated into a design center for its home products.

"Basically, we're out of space," Coleman says. "We couldn't have any more products and we're trying to do develop a complete line of home solutions."

Source: John Coleman, CEO of LookInTheAttic
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Merit Network picks EMU for 1st Michigan Cyber Range

Merit Network has chosen Eastern Michigan University as its first site for its Michigan Cyber Range, a training platform that will help IT professionals find a cyber attack and nip it in the bud.

The Michigan Cyber Range will help prepare cybersecurity professionals for detecting, preventing, and thwarting cyber-attacks in a real-world setting. It will enable individuals and organizations to conduct live-fire exercises and simulations that will test the detection and reaction skills of participants in a variety of situations.

"Cyber security involves outthinking your adversary as a team," says Don Welch, president & CEO of Merit Network. "That range is there to help us outthink out adversaries as a team."

The Ann Arbor-based non-profit is collaborating with Eastern Michigan University to establish the initial site for the Michigan Cyber Range. Racks of equipment, located in the University's data center, will provide the computing power to the Range's cybersecurity educational, training, and testing programs. It will use EMU's Information Assurance program as well as state and regional cybersecurity courses taught by Merit.

Merit Network is currently fundraising for the effort. It is looking to raise $3 million by later this fall to make the Michigan Cyber Range come to life.

"We have some of the funding in and we're starting to build it," Welch says. "We're starting to hire people right now."

Source: Don Welch, president & CEO of Merit Network
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Meritful aims to help make student online presence presentable

Azarias Reda decided to combine two key aspects of his adult life when creating his new start-up, Meritful.

The PhD candidate in computer science at the University of Michigan once worked at LinkedIn and has spent a fair amount of his time in Ann Arbor teaching at local high schools. While teaching he noticed every one of his students produced some sort of online content, usually through social media outlets.

So last spring he began building a start-up that helped students in high school and college create a professional online presence that would make potential employers happy and their parents smile.

"We want to help high school students present themselves better on the web," Reda says. "That's our underlying goal."

The Ypsilanti-based start-up plans to conduct a private launch in mid August at a U-M summer camp and fully open up the site in the fall. Reda and his team of four people plan to focus on students in Michigan in the first year and then move onto a national presence in year two.

"We want Meritful to become the de facto location if you want to learn the merit of high school students," Reda says.

Source: Azarias Reda, founder of Meritful
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor biz pros promote entrepreneurship in Detroit

More and more business professionals from the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area are staking a claim in Detroit by working with programs that are helping spread entrepreneurship and technology across the Motor City.

The Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center (which is run by Eastern Michigan University Business Prof Richard King) is launching its new statewide New Venture program from Detroit. New Venture aims to help aspiring and early stage entrepreneurs establish their business through a 10-week course, which teaches the basics about opening a business, how to make sure the venture is viable and consulting with the entrepreneurs after they are up and running. It has already graduated its first two entrepreneurs.

"It's going to be offered in a number of locations," says Wendy Thomas, associate regional director for the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center.

Dave Koziol, founder of the downtown Ann Arbor-based mobile app firm Arbormoon Software, is the co-founder of Develop Detroit. The new initiative looks to help expand the mobile app workforce in the Motor City through a 12-week course that teaches the participants how to build their own mobile app. Develop Detroit is modeled after a similar program in Chicago called Code Academy.

Bruce McCully, CEO of Dynamic Edge, has been growing a technology club in the Detroit Institute of Technology. The institute is one of four schools from Detroit Public School's inside the former Cody High School on the city's west side. The Ann Arbor-based tech start-up's employees teach the students how to use cutting edge technology and how to make it work for them, such as applying for job or colleges.

Source: Wendy Thomas, associate regional director for the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Arbor Brewing Co adds 7 to staff as it plans further expansions

Arbor Brewing Co is wrapping up one expansion project, has one in a holding pattern, and is keeping its eye on another.

The microbrewery is in the final stages of various green renovation projects to its downtown Ann Arbor-based brewpub (Arbor Brewing Co) and its Ypsilanti-based production facility (Corner Brewery), which include high-end sustainability upgrades, like solar panels. There are also plans to open a third brewpub in downtown Fenton, while continuing a franchise expansion in India.

All of this growth has added up to seven new jobs at Arbor Brewing Co, growing the entire operation's staff to 75 employees and three interns. The 17-year-old craft brewery's co-founders expect to hire another couple dozen more when their expansion plans come to fruition over the next year or two.

"We are anticipating a good year," says Rene Greff, who co-founded Arbor Brewing Co and Corner Brewery with her husband Matt Greff. "It really feels like we're pulling out of the recession."

Rene Greff adds the Fenton project "is a crazy opportunity" that wasn't on their radar until recently. She believes the Fenton brewpub will be online within the next year. At the same time the India franchise is in "a holding pattern" because of the country's complex bureaucracy and the uniqueness of the venture.

"It's a bureaucratically challenging place in the first place," Rene Greff says. "This is the first wave of brewpubs so no one there knows how to deal with this." She adds she is still hopeful the India brewpub will be able to launch later this year.

Source: Rene Greff, co-founder of Arbor Brewing Co and Corner Brewery
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
144 Ypsilanti Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts