| Follow Us: Facebook RSS Feed

Innovation & Job News

1932 Articles | Page: | Show All

MyoAlert develops tech for early detection of cardiac problems

Tragedy inspired Kabir Maiga to launch MyoAlert, a startup that produces technology that helps people self-diagnose potential cardiac arrest.

A close friend of Maiga's died of a heart attack last year while at work. The friend had felt symptoms but didn’t seek medical help for a few hours, missing a crucial window to help save his life.

"He delayed three hours before calling for help," Maiga says. "That was the difference between life or death for him."

This February, Maiga (a masters of entrepreneurship student at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business) formed a team of four people to create MyoAlert. The TechArb-based startup is creating an undershirt with built-in sensors that can help people at risk of cardiac problems determine whether they are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or just everyday annoyances like heartburn.

"It gives people at high risk of a heart attack a tool they can use for detection," Maiga says.

MyoAlert has developed a pre-Alpha prototype of the technolog and is currently working on alpha prototypes. It has already raised a few thousand dollars from U-M's Center for Entrepreneurship and Ann Arbor SPARK to fund the initial development.

"Our hope is this July we will begin a clinical study," Maiga says.

Source: Kabir Maiga, founder of MyoAlert
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Energy Alliance Group of Michigan expands Ann Arbor office

Revenue at Energy Alliance Group of Michigan made a big leap forward in its first year. The Ann Arbor-based sustainability company launched early last year with $50,000 in revenue booked. Today it clocks more than $1 million in sales.

"It was a lot of work," says Scott Ringlein, founder & president of Energy Alliance Group of Michigan. "We went out there and publicize who we are and what we offer. I am also a huge networker."

Energy Alliance Group of Michigan is a division of the Energy Alliance Group of North America. The Michigan-based firm, it also has an office in Grand Rapids, focuses on helping companies and organizations find energy-efficient solutions through new technologies and practices. For instance, Energy Alliance Group of Michigan has formed a partnership with Novi-based Srinergy to provide solar energy installations.

Energy Alliance Group of Michigan currently has a staff of seven employees and eight independent contractors. It has hired four employees over the last year, including a director of corporate communications, a social media professional and two account managers. It is also looking to hire two more account managers.

Energy Alliance Group of Michigan has also extensively leveraged entry-level talent through its internship program. The firm has facilitated 15 interns through the last year, including five in the last year. Its interns have come from places like the University of Michigan and the Michigan Shifting Gears program.

Ringlein plans to continue cementing his company’s presence in Michigan over the next year. It has also started to take work outside of the Great Lakes State, which he hopes to do more of in the near future.

"We want to continue publicizing who we are and what we do," Ringlein says.

Source: Scott Ringlein, founder & president of Energy Alliance Group of Michigan
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

MGCS, Duo Security headline Ann Arbor entrepreneurial roundup

It's been a busy week for Ann Arbor's new economy. Here is a quick roundup of stories that appeared recently and a big event about to come back to Washtenaw County.

The Michigan Growth Capital Symposium makes it return for its 32nd-annual conference. The event will be held at the Marriott Resort at Eaglecrest in Ypsilanti on June 17-18th. The Michigan Growth Capital Symposium is known as the best of the midwest conferences when it comes to showcasing startups with high-growth potential. The list of companies presenting this year was just released and can be found here.

Duo Security plans to move to 123 N Ashley St. The tech startup that specializes in duel-factor authentication got its start in the Tech Brewery in 2009 before moving to its current office in Kerrytown. The company has been hiring at such a steady clip (it currently has nine openings that can be found here) that is needs to find a bigger home to accommodate the growth. It plans to take 14,000 square feet in downtown to make that happen.

Seelio, a startup launched by University of Michigan students, has been acquired by PlattForm, which is based in Kansas City. Ann Arbor-based Seelio is a service-based student portfolio solution for higher education institutions while PlattForm specializes in marketing and enrollment management for institutions of higher learning. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Ann Arbor SPARK, Washtenaw County, A2Y Chamber of Commerce, and New Zealand-based QLBS are launching the Virtual Business Advisor. The self-assessment tool assists entrepreneurs and early stage businesses work toward their next stage of growth. Virtual Business Advisor identifies the strengths and weakness of personal and company while benchmarking them against other companies in the region.

Writer: Jon Zemke

Mobile startup Larky closes on $1.76M Series A round

Larky, a discount mobile app startup, has secured $1.76 million in a Series A round of seed capital.

A mix of venture capitalists and angel investors have invested in the downtown Ann Arbor-based startup. Leading the round was North Coast Technology Investors. Also participating were the Michigan Angel Fund, the BlueWater Angels, and the Pure Michigan Venture Match. Larky raised an additional $650,000 in a seed round last year.

Larky's mobile app helps user maximize the discounts and savings available to them. So it a member of an alumni association can get 10 percent off on their car insurance by using a certain carrier, Larky’s app will them. The 2-year-old startup has already roped in a number of large clients, including the Detroit Regional Chamber and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

"The value for end users is still there," says Gregg Hammerman, co-founder of Larky. "The average Larky's still have nine discounts stored into one space."

Larky plans to use its new round of seed capital to continue to develop it’s technology and advance its marketing. It is also growing its team. The company employs eight people after hiring five staff in software development and sales over the last year. It is also looking to hire another two people.

"We need to get out to more of our customers and continue to evolve our product," Hammerman says.

Source: Gregg Hammerman, co-founder of Larky
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Aysling moves to former Borders HQ to accommodate growth

The digital publishing company currently known as Aysling has a brand new home in Ann Arbor.

The firm has taken 12,500 square feet in the former Borders headquarters, giving it more room to grow. Aysling has added half a dozen people over the last year, and another two in the last week, rounding out its staff to 32 employees. The new location for its headquarters is expected to accommodate that easily.

"We anticipate doubling in size over the next 12-24 months," says Patrick Becker, CEO of Aysling. "Possibly sooner than that."

The 9-year-old firm, formerly known as Aysling Digital Media Solutions, provides Adobe and WoodWing digital publishing software solutions and digital media production services for publishers, retailers, and corporations. Rebranding as just Aysling made sense from a streamlining point of view.

"We have grown well beyond digital media solutions," Becker says. "While rebranding we thought it made sense to drop it."

Becker adds that the company's growth has previously been constrained by the smallness of its previous offices. Its last space was 6,000 square feet. The former Borders headquarters has several hundred thousand square feet, which should provide plenty of room for Aysling to grow and stay in Ann Arbor.

"We feel like this is where we want to build our team," Becker says.

Source: Patrick Becker, CEO of Aysling
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

SAMSA moves into bigger office in downtown Ypsilanti

A little more than a year ago, tech firm SAMSA opened an office in downtown Ypsilanti. This spring it’s moving to bigger office at 7 S Washington to accommodate its growth.

The Saginaw-based software firm choose to open its southeast Michigan satellite office in Ypsilanti because of it offered a vibrant urban area at a low price point. It is also in a central location of the region’s tech hubs in Ann Arbor and downtown Detroit.

"I like Ypsilanti because it's strategically between Ann Arbor and Detroit," says Mike Stackhouse, president of SAMSA. "It just feels good."

The 25-year-old company employs 20 people, including two in Ypsilanti. It is currently looking to add two more software and computer technology professionals to its Ypsilanti office.

SAMSA is also looking to do more marketing in southeast Michigan to drum up more business for its software services. It will be aimed at more mid-sized clients as the company takes a measured approach to its future growth.

"We're already quite busy," Stackhouse says. "We're taking an approach where we’re not looking for fast growth at all costs."

Source: Mike Stackhouse, president of SAMSA
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

TurtleCell launches iPhone case with retractable headphones

Every time I take my cell phone out of my pocket, I usually have to untangle a small web of earbuds. It’s the type of frustrating process that makes me wonder why I even want to use earbuds to begin with.

The team at TurtleCell believes it has an answer to this problem. The Ann Arbor-based startup is launching a new product, a cell phone case with retractable earphones. It’s not the first time the fledgling startup has tried this. Last year is started floating the idea for the product, even launching an ill-fated crowd-funding campaign.

Then it went back to the drawing board. The actual drawing board. The three-man team redesigned their product, upgraded the headphones, streamlined its business approach. They created a cell phone case (for iPhone 5 and above) they are excited to use every time they take it out of their pocket.

"Every aspect has been improved," says Nick Turnbull, director of business development for TurtleCell.

TurtleCell started taking pre-orders for its first run of products this week. Buyers can get the product for $39.95 (which includes $10 off the full retail price) and expect to have it delivered in October. The company expects to make tens of thousands of its cell phone case in time for the holiday shopping season.

"It's somewhat up in the air but it will be more than 100,000," Turnbull says.

Making all this possible is a successful seed capital round. The company has raised $250,000 from angel investors, allowing it to bypass another crowd funding campaign and just move forward with production.

"We raised almost all of it over the last month," Turnbull says.

Source: Nick Turnbull, director of business development for TurtleCell
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Elegus Technologies develops advanced battery tech

A group of three Masters of Entrepreneurship students, one PhD student, and one professor from the University of Michigan believe they have come up with a better cell phone battery, or at least a piece of technology that will help these batteries last longer.

Elegus Technologies is commercializing a battery separator membrane that keeps battery electrodes from touching and short circuiting. It's thinner, less expensive, and more heat resistant than current option on the market. It's applications range from helping prolong cell phone battery life to jets to electric vehicles.

"We saw a lot of potential for growth not only with lithium-ion batteries but with other applications," says John Hennessy, co-founder of Elegus Technologies.

The team at Elegus Technologies has raised $23,000 in seed capital from grants and business plan competition wins. They hope to raise $150,000 by the end of summer. That money will help validate the technology. It is working on testing it through the rest of this year.

"Once we get that testing done we can get samples out to customers who are interested in it," Hennessy says.

Hennessy is one of three masters of entrepreneurship students at U-M’s Ross School of Business and a U-M PhD student who decided to take on the technology and turn it into a startup. Elegus Technologies was recently named the Entrepreneurs of the Year by the U-M Center for Entrepreneurship. Hennessy and his team are currently working with the professor at U-M that originally developed the technology.

"We thought it had the best potential out of all of them so we stuck with it," Hennessy says.

Source: John Hennessy, co-founder of Elegus Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

PriceLocal aims to divert more Internet sales to local retailers

PriceLocal thinks has a way to help local retailers take back some of the sales they have lost to e-commerce over the last decade.

The Ann Arbor-based web service givers local stores the opportunity to match the online price for a product when shoppers are searching Amazon. The idea is to harness the momentum of the shop-local movement and pair it with savings consumers traditionally have only gotten online.

"Local stores have an advantage over Amazon no matter how many drones they say they are going to fly," says Matt Chosid, founder & CEO PriceLocal. "The local store can put a book in your hand today."

Chosid knows a thing or two about that. He worked on the litigation team at Borders from the 1990s until it closed. He saw the good years and bad ones. He saw how consumers increasingly used Borders as a showroom for their online purchases.

"They would take a book and say I can get this cheaper at Amazon," Chosid says. "They would walk out of the store and buy the book on Amazon. I am not saying that is the only reason for Borders' demise, but we didn’t have a response for that."

PriceLocal is that response. Chosid and the tech team at Alfa Jango created a web-browser plug-in that consumers can download at getpricelocal.com. Once its installed, shoppers can click on the PriceLocal button and send a price request to local stores to see if they will match it. If a local store has the item and can match the online price, shoppers get a coupon for the item at the Amazon price.

PriceLocal is launching with more than a dozen Ann Arbor retail partners. It has received requests from retailers ranging from Royal Oak to California.

Source: Matt Chosid, founder & CEO PriceLocal
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Huron River Ventures builds startup ecosystem in Kerrytown

Huron River Ventures isn't just a venture capital firm looking to build a portfolio of startups and investors. It’s working to build its own little entrepreneurial ecosystem in Kerrytown.

The 4-year-old VC, which specializes in early stage investment, opened up its first office this spring in Kerrytown. It is sharing the space with a handful of other venture capital firms and a few startups, including Local Orbit and TurtleCell. The idea is to create a concentration of techies and investors in a cool space in one of Ann Arbor's most cosmopolitan neighborhoods.

"We wanted to see if we could create a little space with some critical mass," says Ryan Waddington, partner of Huron River Ventures. "We wanted to create a space where people could bump into each other more frequently."

Huron River Ventures renovated the old Ann Arbor Observer space on the 1st floor of the Market Place building at 303 Detroit St. Arboretum Ventures already occupies the third floor of the building. Huron River Ventures was also able to recruit the Ann Arbor offices of a number of VCs, including Draper Triangle, Cultivian Sandbox, Arsenal Venture Partners, and Detroit Innovate.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense to build out a big office when you're a staff of one," Waddington says.

Huron River Ventures, which has a core staff of two people, closed on a $11 million investment fund (its first) in 2011. It has made 11 investments, has 10 portfolio companies, and has recorded one exit. It currently has one term sheet out for another investment and is looking to make three more investments by the end of this year.

Source: Ryan Waddington, partner of Huron River Ventures
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Online Tech acquires new data center, renovates 2 more

Online Tech's data management empire took a big step forward this spring when the Ann Arbor-based company added its first data center outside of Michigan.

The 20-year-old company acquired a data center in Indianapolis, and is in the process of refurbishing two of its data centers in Flint and Westland. Online Tech got its start building out four data centers in Michigan, and has been targeting other Midwestern markets in recent years.

"We wanted to have a commanding presence in Michigan first, which was not easy to do," says Yan Ness, co-CEO of Online Tech.

The new Indianapolis data center is a purpose-built corporate facility that will deliver secure, compliant cloud and colocation services for healthcare, financial services, retail, and other companies in the region. Online Tech plans to make a total investment of $10 million in the facility and the surrounding Indianapolis metro area.

"It's a great business community," Ness says. "We love the people down there. There are a lot of healthcare and financial firms down there. We think what we have to offer is well-suited for them."

Online Tech is also renovating two of its data centers in Michigan, including a former Nextel data center is acquired in Westland. Both are set to come online by the end of the summer or early in the fall.

The expansion comes after Online Tech has gone on a bit of a hiring binge. The company has added 22 people over the last 18 months, expanding its staff to 52 employees. It also has four open positions in sales, marketing, and client services. Ness expects the hiring to continue as the company targets more Midwestern markets.

"We have about a dozen or so markets on our radar," Ness says. "We don't talk about what they are because lots of people are looking at the Midwestern white space."

Source: Yan Ness, co-CEO of Online Tech
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

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.
1932 Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts