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Arotech hires 11 in Ann Arbor, looks to add another 5

Arotech's staff in Ann Arbor has been on the upswing in recent years and is continuing to trend skyward.

The Ann Arbor-based defense firm has grown its staff from 125 people at the end of 2012 to 136 employees a year later. Today it has a staff of 147 employees and a few interns, adding 11 jobs in engineering and technicians. It's also looking to hire another three engineers and two more technicians.

Arotech has enjoyed 20 percent year-over-year revenue growth since 2010, and the company's sales continue to spike. "We did hit a new high-water mark for revenues," says Kurt Flosky, executive vice president of Arotech's Training & Simulation Division.

Arotech provides simulation software to a number of defense and similar organizations, such as raining and use-of-force simulation for municipal law enforcement agencies. It has also completed 26 of the 28 sets of a suite of simulations for the U.S. Army that helps soldiers train to find and disarm improvised explosive devices. It also has started to deliver its first simulations products for a contract with the U.S. Air Force that trains soldiers how to operate mid-flight refueling booms.

"That is the first of 17 boom arm simulators to be delivered," Flosky says.

Source: Kurt Flosky, executive vice president of Arotech Training & Simulation Division
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Ingenex Digital Marketing fills out new office above Arbor Brewing Co

Ingenex Digital Marketing moved into a bigger office in downtown Ann Arbor last summer, bringing a couple of local startups with it.

The digital marketing firm took over the second floor of the Arbor Brewing Co in July. The dramatically bigger office (about 4,000 square feet) was more than enough for its growing staff and a couple of local tech companies subleasing office space, including HealPay and 3.7 Designs.

"It allows us to have a really nice space and have people nearby we can collaborate with," says Derek Mehraban, CEO of Ingenex Digital Marketing.

The 8-year-old company now employes six employees and five summer interns from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. It has hired a content manager (a U-M grad) and a web designer over the last year.

Ingenex Digital Marketing specializes in inbound marketing, doing work for the likes of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan and helping launch and market a mobile app for Campus Commandos, a college-focused marketing firm. That has allowed Ingenex Digital Marketing to continue to grow its revenue, and Mehraban expects to push $1 million in sales.

"Our revenue is trending up, for sure," Mehraban says.

Source: Derek Mehraban, CEO of Ingenex Digital Marketing
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

HeatSpring expands office near Michigan Stadium

HeatSpring has grown its online educational business over the last year thanks to it forming some partnerships with other companies.

The Ann Arbor-based company, which is located next to Michigan Stadium, has signed partnerships with the likes of SolarPro Magazine to create classes oriented on their specialities. For instance, the class for SolarPro Magazine is on megawatt design.

"We went from having two to having 20," says Brian Hayden, president of HeatSpring.

That growth has allowed Heat Spring to hire a new employee, a student advocate, over the last year. It currently has a staff of four employees and is looking to hire a marketing manager.

Hayden wants to continue growing its online course offerings through similar partnerships. It is also aiming to raise an angel round of seed capital worth $1 million by October.

"We have some verbal commitments," Hayden says. "If we do all of that we will be winning."

Source: Brian Hayden, president of HeatSpring
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Language Link Institute helps improve English listening skills

Caroline Wojan has worked in the corporate language training sector for 20 years, and believes her business, Language Link Institute, has developed a way to help improve the listening skills of people who use English as a second language.

For years Wojan believed the ability for foreign nationals to learn to listen effectively to English speakers happened organically overtime. That often meant communications SNAFUs and embarrassed foreign business executives trying to keep up with what is said at important meetings.

"It [being able to listen and understand English] empowers them to feel more confident," Wojan says. "It also saves them time."

The Language Link Institute helps people either learn foreign languages or master English. Think executives from foreign companies for whom English is their second language. The Language Link Institute also offers tutoring services for students, and cultural and language training for foreign nationals in local businesses.

Wojan recently had an idea on how to help these foreign executives struggling to effectively understand English comprehend faster and more effectively. Wojan declines to elaborate on it, saying its a trade secret for her business, but says it has been effective for a broad number of her clients.

"This strategy has been effective even if it’s only practiced 1-2 hours a week," Wojan says. "It's kind of a process."

That has helped Wojan continue to grow the Language Link Institute. She has hired three language instructors in the last year and employs a staff of about a dozen people.

Source: Caroline Wojan, director of Language Link Institute
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

U-M student-led FrostGear develops motorcycle helmet cooling tech

Zachary Hwang has been riding motorcycles for years. The temperature inside his helmet has, well, been less than comfortable.

"Heat has always been a big problem in the summer," Hwang says. "There is no air conditioning."

That inspired the University of Michigan student to launch his own startup, FrostGear. Hwang and two of his fellow Master of Entrepreneurship classmates have been working on a cooling technology for motorcycle helmets. The technology works because it cools the helmet, which in turn helps make the rest of the rider's body cool.

"We can make a smaller device that attaches to the helmet," Hwang says.

The TechArb-based startup is currently working on prototypes of its technology, leveraging resources from Ann Arbor SPARK and the University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship. It has applied for a provisional patent for its technology.

"Ideally by December we will have a Beta product that we can take to trade shows," Hwang says.

Source: Zachary Hwang, CEO of FrostGear
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Mahindra GenZe expands Ann Arbor operations, plans to hire

Mahindra GenZe opened a technical center in Ann Arbor a little more than a year ago, creating a couple dozen white collar jobs. Now the Indian-based scooter manufacturer is opening a manufacturing facility and looking to hire couple dozen blue collar workers.

"We will begin hiring for those soon," says Terence Duncan, head of consumer engagement for Mahindra GenZe.

The division of the multinational company Mahindra and Mahindra is designing and manufacturing a scooter, and is choosing to do so in the Ann Arbor area. It opened its engineering and design center in Ann Arbor and has hired 26 people for it over the last year.

Mahindra GenZe plans to invest up to $2 million in its manufacturing facility, a move that is expected to create 34 new jobs over the next year. Duncan expects that work to begin this spring and go through the summer and early fall.

"We should be up and running, shipping our product by late fall," Duncan says.

Location turned out to be a big factor in Mahindra GenZe’s decision to locate in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor SPARK helped make the deal happen, highlighting the area's strengths and strategic location, among other qualities.

"All of the suppliers we needed are in southeast Michigan and northwestern Ohio," Duncan says. "It's just a great location."

Source: Terence Duncan, head of consumer engagement for Mahindra GenZe
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Logic Solutions expands Showcase Sales app platform, staff

Logic Solutions has enjoyed some significant success thanks to the growth of its products, such as Showcase Sales apps. Now the Ann Arbor-based tech firm is enjoying some awards as part of that success.

The Showcase Sales mobile platform was recently named Technology of the Year at Corp! DiSciTech Awards. Winners of the award are seen as leaders in the digital, technology, and science industries that push the boundaries of their fields through innovation and research.

The Showcase Sales app serves as a catalog, order, and file management system for sales and marketing professionals. Its content management system gives the user total control of their brand, including your product catalog, pricing, and sales collateral. The platform started out as a customized enterprise solution before moving to a SAAS system a year ago. It appeared in the Apple and Andriod app stores last fall.

"There is more functionality," says Angela Kujava, director of innovation at Logic Solutions. "It's more accessible to a broader audience."

Kujava adds that the app has proven popular to sales force with products that lack a little bit on the excitement side. Think manufacturers and industrial firms who have lots of literature about the technical side of their products.

"We would love to be known as one of the top (business-to-business) mobile apps for sales and marketing professionals," Kujava says. "But when we talk about the mission that drives us, we want companies to see Showcase as the trigger point for successfully increasing productivity through mobile technology."

Logic Solutions has hired about 10 people in Ann Arbor over the last year, primarily professionals in marketing and sales. The firm employs 50 people in Ann Arbor and 250 total around the world.

Source: Angela Kujava, director of innovation at Logic Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Qlovi doubles staff as it adds publishing partners

Qlovi is growing in both staff and clientele, as the Ann Arbor-based education startup gains traction after its first full year of operation.

"We have grown as a team and we reach more markets," says Harlyn Pacheco, CEO & co-founder of Qlovi. "We have 20 publishing partners and HarperCollins just came onboard."

Thats up from a half dozen publishing partners a year ago. A trio of University of Michigan graduates launched the startup nearly two years, focusing on creating a suite of literacy instruction and publishing platforms for the K-12 and digital publishing markets. The courses are digital and easy to access from mobile devices.

Qlovi has also been hosting more virtual Q+A sessions between classes and the authors to help create more a connection between the teachers and the students. “That allows us to create an on-going relationship with them,” Pacheco says.

The seven-person staff, up from three people as of September, is working to grow the reach of its product. That means more efforts to grow its clientele and increase the number of publishing partners.

"We want to reach more schools and more districts," Pacheco says. "Doing it in Michigan would be great."

Source: Harlyn Pacheco, CEO & co-founder of Qlovi
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

AlumaBridge brings lighter, sustainable solution to bridge repair

When a bridge collapses, hand-wringing and fear become the rule of the day. And yet attention to infrastructure never seems to be a priority until it’s too late. A new Ann Arbor-based startup is working to get ahead of that problem before the worst happens.

AlumaBridge uses aluminum as its principal material for prefabricated pieces of bridging in order to extend the life of aging bridges. The aluminum bridge deck panels are made using friction stir welding and have a non-skid surface. They can easily be applied to the steel girders on existing bridges, giving many more years of service.

"I would like to address some of the nation's most deficient structures,” says Greg Osberg, president & CEO of AlumaBridge. "It's a matter of getting the technology out there and commercializing it."

Osberg worked at Sopa Extrusions studying new ways to extend the life of the countries aging infrastructure. His work focused on aluminum bridge options and he spun out AlumaBridge last fall. The company is now working to install its first bridge in Quebec and is working on test panels for bridges in Florida. Check out a video describing AlumaBridge’s product and installation here.

"It mirrors the strength of concrete but is one fifth of the weight," Osberg says.

Stories of the country’s aging bridges have grown more numerous in recent years. Last year "an Associated Press analysis of 607,380 bridges in the most recent federal National Bridge Inventory showed that 65,605 were classified as "structurally deficient" and 20,808 as "fracture critical." Of those, 7,795 were both — a combination of red flags that experts say indicate significant disrepair and similar risk of collapse," according to a story in USA Today.

"This (AlumaBridge’s product) offers them an option," Osberg says. "It offers them a longer bridge life with a recyclable product."

Source: Greg Osberg, president & CEO of AlumaBridge
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Blaze Medical Devices aims to begin commercialization in 2015

Blaze Medical Devices is so close to generating its first revenues it can taste them.

The Ann Arbor-based life sciences firm is developing a new technology that helps maximize existing blood supplies in medical uses. The 8-year-old startup is aiming to make its first sales early next year.

"Now we have a fully operational prototype, or a Alpha unit, done," says David Weaver, CEO of Blaze Medical Devices.

Blaze Medical Devices has developed blood transfusion technology that enables medical professionals to optimize blood banking and transfusions through testing. Its tests assess the quality of stored blood and its laboratory instruments help facilitate blood research.

"Our competition for the most part is the status quo," Weaver says. "First in first out, depending on age."

Blaze Medical Devices now employs a team of five people, including three co-founders and two researchers. It has added a new researcher over the last year. Weaver expects to receive initial UL approval for a research iteration of the technology by the end of this year, setting the stage for the company’s first sales in early 2015.

"We're forecasting sales in the first quarter of next year for the R&D device," Weaver says.

Source: David Weaver, CEO of Blaze Medical Devices
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Liquid Web aims to hire 20 for new downtown Ann Arbor office

Liquid Web is building out a new office in downtown Ann Arbor, which the Lansing-based web-hosting firm expects to fill with 20 people as soon as possible.

"As soon as we find qualified candidates we will be hiring them," says Cale Sauter, public relations specialist at Liquid Web.

The 17-year-old firm's new office consists of 4,000 square feet at 315 W Huron St, which is across the railroad tracks from the Ann Arbor YMCA. It is set to open by July. For information on the job openings, click here.

"We have been looking at Ann Arbor for quite a while," Sauter says. "It has grown as a tech hub. there is a lot of talent over there. We have a handful of employees who commute from there."

Liquid Web has opened an office in Pheonix and is opening another office in Europe this spring. The company has hired 75 people over the last year, expanding its staff to 404 employees. Most of the new hires and a vast majority of its staff (384) are based in Michigan.

"We are headquartered here and we will always be headquartered here," Sauter says. "This is where the bulk of our growth will be."

Source: Cale Sauter, public relations specialist at Liquid Web
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Akervall Technologies adds 4, moves to bigger space in Saline

Akervall Technologies is becoming a Saline-based company this week, making the move from Ann Arbor to a bigger space that should allow the mouthguard maker to do more of its own production.

"First, we're going to do packaging," says Sassa Akervall, president & COO of Akervall Technologies. "Eventually we will do manufacturing, which we currently outsource."

The 7-year-old company makes a thin-yet-tough mouthguard made of non-compressible, perforated material, and is 30 percent stronger than conventional mouthguards. The SISU Mouth Guard is the creation of Dr. Jan Akervall, a local ear, nose and throat specialist and Sassa Akervall's husband.

Akervall Technologies has grown its sales by 45 percent last year and is projecting another revenue spike of 50 percent in 2014. It as also hired four people over the last year, expanding its staff to eight employees.

"We're hoping to be at least 15 people by the end of the year," Akervall says.

Akervall Technology’s new facility measures out to 15,000 square feet, but the firm will only occupy 9,000 square feet to start. "We're looking for tenants right now," Akervall says. "Our plan is to fill that space within two years."

Source: Sassa Akervall, president & COO of Akervall Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

WorkForce Software takes big drink from Ann Arbor talent pool

Two years ago, WorkForce Software opened up a satellite office in downtown Ann Arbor with an idea of using it as a talent magnet.

Today it employs 17 people and is moving to a bigger office in the center of Tree Town. It has hired nine people, all software development jobs, over the last year for its Ann Arbor office.

"We've done a very good job of finding talent," says Ken Olson, vice president of product development for WorkForce Software.

WorkForce Software makes management software for large-scale employers. The Livonia-based company added the Ann Arbor office because of the city’s depth of existing talent and the production of new talent that comes from the University of Michigan. The urban atmosphere also opened up the company to a new world of talent it needed to tap.

"It's really important to have an office that is walkable and accessible by buses and bikes," Olson says. "As soon as we opened the downtown Ann Arbor office we got a flood of interest."

WorkForce Software is taking the seventh floor of the Key Bank building at the corner of Main and Huron streets. The 3,400 square feet is roughly double the size of its original downtown Ann Arbor office.

"The view is nice," Olson says. "We have the entire top floor."

Source: Ken Olson, vice president of product development for Workforce Software
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Solartonic lands 3 new clients for solar technology

Solartonic has landed three new partnerships that the Ann Arbor-based solar company expects will help it bring its product, solarap, to new customers in Texas, Africa and the Middle East.

"They're market channels to get us to the customers in those markets," says Brian Tell, managing partner of Solartonic.

The 3-year-old company is commercializing solar panel technology, solarap, that is flexible and able to attach to non-traditional surfaces, such as wrapping around the pole of a street lamp. The idea is to generate power during the day to power the light at night. Solartonic is aiming to install these in places, like in light poles in parking lots, along walking paths and other remote places.

"Places that are inaccessible where it would be too expensive to build out the infrastructure," says Harry Giles, managing partner of Solartonic.

Solartonic employs a team of 10 after adding three people over the last year. That staff is currently working to open new markets in North America, including one in Detroit.

"We're trying to ramp up our sales," Tell says. "We're working on a demonstration project at NextEnergy Detroit we will debut in the fall."

Source: Brian Tell and Harry Giles, managing partners of Solartonic
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Ocunelis invents better way to apply eye drops

David Lorch and Marius Tijunelis were working through an entrepreneurial apprenticeship out of the Medical Innovation Center at the University of Michigan's Kellogg Eye Center, and they knew they wanted to start a business. They just didn’t know what kind.

The pair made a list of potential business that would fill unmet needs and began eliminating the weakest, one by one. At the end of the day they came up with Ocunelis and its eye-drop assist technology called DROPin.

"It's designed to help people aim their eye drops safely and accurately," Lorch says. "It helps you line up the bottle tip with your eyes so it gets the drop in the right part of your eye."

Lorch and Tijunelis launched Ocunelis last July and filed for a patent on their innovation shortly after. The two-person team is now working to ramp up sales starting in their own backyard.

"It can be bought at a few pharmacies in Ann Arbor and on Amazon," Lorch says. "We would like to see it out there helping as many people as we can reach."

Source: David Lorch, CTO of Ocunelis
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
1921 Articles | Page: | Show All
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