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PishPosh expands studio downtown to make room for new shows

PishPosh is growing its presence in the virtual world and the real world.

The 3-year-old podcasting and video production startup is growing its portfolio of shows and expanding its office space in downtown Detroit. Its studio space in the Department of Alternatives (the downtown Detroit-based entrepreneurial collective) will grow from a few hundred to more than 1,000 square feet.

The new space includes a moveable light grid system and a cyc wall, which is shadowless because it has no corners, to enable better green screen work. The increase in space enables the PishPosh team of three people (all co-founders) to tackle a broader diversity of projects.

"We might be building out beyond that if we need it," says Ben Duell Fraser, co-founder of PishPosh.

PishPosh is also expanding its portfolio of shows. Over the last year, the company made its name with "Slash Detroit," a video roundup of the local news with the sharpest sense of humor in local media right now. Viewers will recognize Duell Fraser as the main anchor from the broadcast that comes out each Friday.

PishPosh is also experimenting with new shows, such as "Detroit Media Zone" (also known as DMZ), which Duell Fraser describes as friendly paparazzi focused on finding fun with local celebrities, politicos, and everyday people. Check out the pilot broadcast of DMZ here.

"If we can find enough celebrities and politicians, we'll keep doing it," Duell Fraser says.

He and his team are also looking at creating round table shows for the service industry ("The 86 List") and a "Real Time with Bill Maher"-style politics show that focuses on Detroit issues, both local and national.

"Detroit is the epicenter and it radiates out from there," Duell Fraser says.

PishPosh is also working to create some sponsored content, such as creating niche shows promoting civic hacking (making public information easier to access through new technology). The idea is to build on the success of Slash Detroit (which will stay an independent-minded pet project) with a broader range of sponsored content production.

You can sign up for Slash Detroit and the rest of PishPosh's productions here. Check out more about Slash Detroit's shenanigans here.

Source: Ben Duell Fraser, co-founder of PishPosh
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Rockbridge Growth Equity acquires Gas Station TV

Rockbridge Growth Equity has acquired GSTV, aka Gas Station TV, in a deal aimed at growing the downtown Birmingham-based startup rapidly.

GSTV got its start in 2006 by putting TVs on top of gas pumps showing news and advertisements. The idea is to catch drivers at a natural pause in the person’s day where their attention can easily be captured. It now has a network across North America with a monthly viewership of 50 million people.

"David (Leider, GSTV’s CEO) and his team developed a new industry that is growing very, very quickly," says Kevin Prokop, managing director of Rockbridge Growth Equity. "It's a very nascent industry. It has really developed over the last eight years."

The downtown Detroit-based private equity firm (part of the Quicken Loans family of companies) plans to keep GSTV at its home in downtown Birmingham while it focuses on growing the business. Prokop says a decision on a permanent home could be made within the next year, (many Quicken Loans-related businesses have moved to downtown Detroit in recent years) but he knows it will stay in Metro Detroit.

"We have a lease here," Leider says. "We're focused on working with Rockbridge on the business now."

GSTV employs a staff of 65 people, the bulk of which are based in downtown Birmingham. It has hired 10 people over the last year and has four open positions right now. More information on those here.

Source: David Leider, CEO of GSTV, and Kevin Prokop, managing director of Rockbridge Growth Equity
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Brogan & Partners adds 4 jobs as it locks down more long-term clients

A little more than a year ago, the leadership at Brogan & Partners sat down and figured out what types of clients it worked best with, what sort of projects it excelled at, and what its strengths and weaknesses were. This was all in the name of refining its business model and building a better business.

That led to the downtown Birmingham-based digital marketing firm to make a transition. The 30-year-old firm characterizes itself as a company that “creates and converges advertising, social media and mobile media with an emphasis on brand engagement and a specialty in marketing to women.” It moved to taking on more long-term clients instead of short-term projects. That prompted a significant sales spurt over the last year.

"Between this time last year and now we have about seven additional ongoing accounts," says Ellyn Davidson, managing partner with Brogan & Partners. "Last year we had more projects. Now we have more long-term accounts."

Some of those new clients include Frankenmuth Insurance and Michigan First Credit Union. The company's revenue jumped by double digits last year, and it's aiming for 13-14 percent revenue increases this year, much of it thanks to its new focus.

"It was a very deliberate new business strategy," Davidson says.

Brogan & Partners has added new employees over the last year, including four new hires in the last month alone. Those new jobs include writers, media buyers and metrics specialists. The company currently has a staff of about 40 employees and an intern.

Source: Ellyn Davidson, managing partner with Brogan & Partners
Writer: Jon Zemke

Grand Circus Media establishes itself in local music scene

Joe Choma found himself working in the financial investment sector after college, but not for too long. The long-time music fan decided to pursue his passion and ended up starting his own company, Grand Circus Media.

The Grosse Pointe-based business specializes in management, booking, and promotions of live music acts. Among its projects are the Dark Star Orchestra show at the Majestic and the Rag Birds show at the Magic Bag.

"We typically work with an electronic theme," Choma says. "We also work in folk, bluegrass, or jam-band indie rock."

Choma got his start interning for Paxahau, working with its street team promotion. He now does artist relations and marketing for Paxahau’s biggest events.

"I wear a couple of different hats," Choma says. "I like doing it. I started doing work at Movement five years ago doing artist check-in. My role has grown since then."

Choma plans to keep increasing the number of events Grand Circus Media puts on. He also wants to help grow the local bluegrass music scene.

"It's interesting because I work in one realm at a far end of the spectrum, and then on another form at the end of the music spectrum," Choma says.

Source: Joe Choma, owner of Grand Circus Media
Writer: Jon Zemke

PR firm merger creates new, bigger company called Alchemy

A couple of friends/former coworkers with their own public relations firms merged them together last fall, a move that allowed them to add more clients and double their staff.

Brent Eastman and Tom Nixon both worked at Identity (a public relations firm based in Bingham Farms) before setting out on their own a few years ago. Eastman started Alchemy Group and Nixon launched LV8 Communications. Last September they merged the two companies and rebranded the new firm as Alchemy.

"Tom and I have known each other for a number of years and have worked on a number of projects," Eastman says. "We looked at the future and thought it would be a good idea to team up and merge companies."

At the time of the merger, the two companies employed three people. Today they employ six people at a 1,500-square-foot office in Troy.

"We have complementary skill sets and distinct skill sets," Nixon says. "Brent is from a creative background. I have a more traditional marketing and PR background."

Alchemy has added 18 new clients since the merger, mainly charities and manufacturers.

"We are on track to more than double our business," Nixon says.

Source: Brent Eastman and Tom Nixon, partners at Alchemy
Writer: Jon Zemke

Identity hires 4, adds 17 new clients in last year

Maturation is becoming an increasingly important word at Identity. It applies to the public relations firm’s client list, business model and staff.

The Bingham Farms-based firm has added 17 new clients over the last year. Those new clients include some larger-and-growing firms like Atlas Oil Company and Carbon Media Group. Taylor-based Atlas Oil Company (a national fuel supply, logistics and services firm) hired Identity for media relations, marketing and social media work. Bingham Farms-based Carbon Media Group (a digital content producer for outdoors enthusiasts) retained Identity for media relations and marketing services.

"We are seeing more sophisticated and larger clients," says Mark Winter, partner at Identity. "I think it's a sign of the maturing of our agency. We’re growing up."

The larger customer base accompanies Identity's own recent efforts to refine and streamline its business model. "Our focus in the last year and a half has been on efficiency and profitability," Winter says.

This has allowed Identity to add to its staff. The 15-year-old company has hired four people over the last year, two for its creative department and two for its media relations department. It currently has a staff of 23 employees and an intern. It is currently looking to hire two people for assistant account executives, and expects to promote more people from within for higher-up positions.

"We grow from within," Winter says. "We are constantly working on growing our own leaders."

Source: Mark Winter, partner at Identity
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

McConnell Communications celebrates 10 years in downtown

Things like digital marketing were just hitting the mainstream and social media wasn't even close to ubiquitous when McConnell Communications launched a decade ago. Today the downtown Detroit-based firm is going strong because it bridged that divide.

"The key is being able to marry old media with new media," says Darci McConnell, president of McConnell Communications.

McConnell worked as a reporter at both the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News before launching her own boutique public relations firm at the encouragement of the late Don Barden. Today McConnell Communications employs a staff of three people at its offices in Greektown.

McConnell Communications' core clientele includes a number of the large labor unions in Detroit, such as Service Employees International Union Healthcare Michigan, along with the likes of the Fort-Shelby Hotel. McConnell Communications is also one of the 32 local firms participating in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative.

"We want to continue our growth in the city," McConnell says.

Source: Darci McConnell, president of McConnell Communications
Writer: Jon Zemke

Paxahau aims to return downtown, bigger and more Detroit-focused

It's May and that means it's Movement month for the team at Paxahau.

The Movement Electronic Music Festival, Paxahau's flagship downtown music event, features world-class electronic music acts and attracts tens of thousands of people to Detroit each year. This year Paxahau will grow its staff from a dozen permanent employees (it hired two of its interns to the permanent staff over the last year) to a team of 250 people to pull off the festival over Memorial Day weekend.
What's different this year is that Paxahau is no longer based in Detroit’s central business district, where it was founded nearly two decades ago. In 2012, the electronic music/music festival production company moved to Ferndale from an office in the third floor of Greektown's Cornice & Slate Co. building.

"We had no intention of moving for five years," says Jason Huvaere, president of Paxahau.

But it didn't work out that way. Huvaere got a call from the Cornice & Slate Co. Building's new owner a day after last year's Movement Electronic Music Festival and was told that Paxahau had to find a new home. It moved back to its old office in Ferndale by last fall (the company has moved back and forth between Detroit and Ferndale several times since its founding). Huvaere and his team have been searching for a new home in downtown Detroit ever since, and they are optimistic they will be able to find it by the end of this year.

"Any time we're out of the city we feel like we’re not at home," Huvaere says. He adds, "we're definitely moving back downtown."

Paxahau didn't miss a beat. It hosted 17 shows since last year's Movement. It has focused on small shows (with the exception of Detroit Jazz Festival) in the city. It also organized the Moogfest event in Asheville, North Carolina, last year.

"We brought about 50 people from Detroit to Asheville to do production management," Huvaere says. "It went very, very well."

Source: Jason Huvaere, president of Paxahau
Writer: Jon Zemke

Southfield-based PublicCity PR continues adding to clientele

Michigan-based is an important word in the world of PublicCity PR. The boutique public relations firm got its start doing work for small businesses in the Great Lakes State, and continues to grow because of those same sorts of clients.

PublicCity PR has landed a handful of new clients, all based in Michigan, over the last three months. Some of those firms include construction company Barton Malow (Southfield), Medical Weight Loss Clinic (Southfield), and the new Life Time Athletic in Bloomfield Township.

"These are recognizable brands, Michigan-based companies that are reaching out to us," says Jason Brown, principal of PublicCity PR. "This is all word of mouth organic growth."

This has allowed the 5-year-old business to grow out of Brown's kitchen table and into its own office. It also added a new employee to its team over the last year, expanding its staff to four people.

PublicCity PR has also been able to grow its practice to a level of comfort where Brown doesn't have to chase down every lead for new business or say yes to every opportunity to keep the lights on now.

"We take it as it comes," Brown says. "We are at a good level of clients."

Source: Jason Brown, principal of PublicCity PR
Writer: Jon Zemke

Splash360 increases staffing to 14 since last year's launch

The co-founders behind Splash360 all worked in business marketing and began to see the same thing in recent years: digital marketing was all over the place. That inspired them to launch Splash360.

"They weren't unified. There was data all over the place," says Robert Standwick, CEO of Splash360. "That's when we saw the need to create a unified system."

The Sterling Heights-based startup housed in the Macomb-OU INCubator launched a software platform a year ago for use in both digital and traditional marketing. It enables customers to create, manage, customize and deliver brand-building marketing content, utilizing features like contact management, email marketing, print marketing, social media and lead acquisition.

Since Splash360's launch last year, its team of 14 people have been building up clientele, focusing on small- and medium-sized business like grocery stores.

"We're sending out more than 1 million emails a month," Standwick says.

Splash360 is now focusing on making its emails and website more mobile compatible. "If you're not mobile then you're not in the game," Standwick says.

Source: Robert Standwick, CEO of Splash360
Writer: Jon Zemke

PWB Marketing Communications keeps growth streak going

PWB Marketing Communications isn't measuring its growth over the last year in terms of new hires. It is looking at how much it has built out its network of partners and independent contractors.

"I'm cautious about that (hiring)," says Sean Hickey, COO of PWB Marketing Communications. "We have a core group of (six) people that are pretty flexible and knowledgeable."

The Ann Arbor-based firm now has a dependable stable of contractors it can tap for the growing number of projects its handling. The network of partners handles everything from market research to salesforce automation. The network allows PWB Marketing Communications to stay flexible and ready to take on more work.

"The nature of what clients want us to do is evolving," Hickey says. "I want to be able to say yes to that."

Hickey adds that most of the firm's work has turned digital over the last few years. It's reached the point that customers that want brochures only want them for emerging markets. They don't even take them to make pitches in the First World.

"Even the traditional work is done with an eye toward digital," Hickey says. "We don't do six-page brochures anymore because how are you going to fit six pages into a PDF?"

Source: Sean Hickey, COO of PWB Marketing Communications
Writer: Jon Zemke

UpTo relaunches calendar app with richer content offerings

UpTo is relaunching its mobile calendar app with more built-in content that won't drown users.

UpTo's team is working to turn its new mobile app into a replacement for smartphone calendars. The app combines a users existing calendar and adds in extra information about things they like based on their location, such as concerts, friends' parties, and athletic events.

"It's truly innovative," says Greg Schwartz, co-founder & CEO of UpTo. "It's never been done before. We feel calendars will be the next place for disruption and we want to be that disruptor."

The top-layer of the app is filled with a user's normal calendar. The user can pinch or tap a time block and another layer of upcoming events will appear. Users can also connect privately with friends to share upcoming events to the back layer of a friend’s UpTo calendar. Check out a video about the app here.

UpTo got its start two years ago by launching a software platform that opens up its users' calendars to social media. The idea was to connect the user with friends and family by alerting them where the user expects to be in the near future. The 3-year-old startup abandoned that concept to go with its current version this spring.

"This is the first time UpTo is a total calendar replacement," Schwartz says. He adds that "it's really hard to grow with one foot in both (social and calendar) worlds."

UpTo has raised $3 million in venture capital since its launch in 2011. It has grown its team to 15 employees after hiring five people in the last year. Those new hires include software developers and one marketing professional. UpT also plans to add three interns this summer.

Source: Greg Schwartz, co-founder & CEO of UpTo
Writer: Jon Zemke

ACA leads to increased business and staff for Clarity Quest Marketing

Clarity Quest Marketing is enjoying a banner year, and one thing stands out as a reason why: the Affordable Care Act.

"This year in Q1 we have had our best quarter ever in the company," says Christine Slocumb, president of Clarity Quest Marketing. "We are on track to have our best revenue ever this year."

The Ann Arbor-based firm has traditionally served the marketing needs of tech firms over many of its 13 years. It started to take on more and more work from healthcare firms, such as Vocollect Health Systems, the Pittsburgh-based business is the maker of AccuNurse. A few years ago the company’s portfolio was split evenly between tech and healthcare firms. Now about 75 percent of Clarity Quest Marketing's clients are healthcare based.

"That whole industry is booming," Slocumb says. "A  lot of it is being done by the Affordable Care Act."

That has allowed Clarity Quest Marketing to hire two people (senior-level consultants) in the last year, expanding its staff to 17 employees and two interns. Slocumb expects to hire more as Clarity Quest Marketing increases its visibility in the healthcare sector.

"We're working a lot on visibility," Slocumb says. "We are working with a lot of thought leaders in this space."

Source: Christine Slocumb, president of Clarity Quest Marketing
Writer: Jon Zemke
955 Marketing / Media Articles | Page: | Show All
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