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U-M helps entrepreneurs develop a better eye dropper

With an assist from UM3D Lab’s Cube printers, Dr. David Lorch and Dr. Marius Tijunelis developed a clever eye dropper guide. 

Excerpt:

"During a fellowship at the University of Michigan Medial Center, David Lorch and his partners searched for problems that patients regularly face.

The fellowship was designed to teach the entrepreneurial process along the way, leading towards the invention of DROPin, a new and easier way for patients to distribute eye drops."

Read the rest here.
 

Quinn Law Group diversifies clientele, adds 6 positions

Quinn Law Group has experienced a lot of growth in the last few years, attracting more customers and adding new employees at the intellectual property law firm. The reason why can be summed up in one sentence.

"It has been through diversification," says Chris Quinn, president of Quinn Law Group.

The Novi-based law firm got its start in 2002 with Chris handling work for one automotive industry firm. That work helped Quinn Law Group grow in its early years but Quinn knew it needed more.

Today it has grown to handle work for a number of companies around the world from a wide variety of industries. For instance, Quinn Law Group does intellectual property work for Nike’s golf line. It is also doing an increasing amount of work for tech firms, including automotive engineering firms. That has prompted Quinn Law Group to add to its staff and upgrade its software systems.

"We are continually positioning ourselves for growth because we seem to have a steady growth of clients," Quinn says.

Quinn Law Group has hired five people over the last year, expanding its staff to 25 people. Its new hires include two attorneys and three support staff. It is also looking to hire another patent attorney right now. Quinn expects to hire 4-7 people in 2015 to keep up with demand for his firm’s services.

He attributes a big part of Quinn Law Firm's success to not relying on billable hours to get a job done. The firm deals instead with quality of work, a feature he believes sets it apart.

"Our only requirement of our staff is to do high-quality work," Quinn says.

Source: Chris Quinn, president of Quinn Law Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Detroit Manufacturing Systems aims to hire 200

Detroit Manufacturing Systems is in the process of hiring 200 people for its new manufacturing facility near Brightmoor.

The company specializes in making automotive interior systems and employs about 750 people. It took over an older plant in 2012 to build the new aluminum body for the Ford F-150 pickup.

"The facility, the former Massey Ferguson plant, was ideal for manufacturing and is located near Brightmoor, one of Detroit's most underserved communities," Andra M. Rush, chair and CEO of Detroit Manufacturing Systems, wrote in an email.

Detroit Manufacturing Systems recently held two job fairs in November to begin filling the 200 positions. Those jobs are mostly entry-level positions that are full-time and come with benefits. The firm expects to fill them by January. Click here for more information on the positions.

"We're always looking for talented people," Rush wrote in an email.

Source: Andra M. Rush, chair and CEO of Detroit Manufacturing Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

Brooklyn's famed Galapagos Art Space to move into nine Detroit buildings

Detroit will get a new center for burlesque, visual, and other performing arts when a (soon to be former) Brooklyn institution, Galapagos Art Space, moves into rehabbed buildings, including an old power plant, in Corktown. (The new lake planned for the property should make a big splash.)

Excerpt:

"The Galapagos Art Space, a performance center and cultural staple in Brooklyn for nearly 20 years, will close this month, another casualty of rising rental prices that its founder says are making it difficult for independent arts organizations to survive in New York...

Although the last night of programming is likely to be Dec. 18, the center will have a second life — more than 600 miles away, in Detroit. Over the past year, Mr. Elmes and his wife, Philippa Kaye, have bought nine buildings totaling about 600,000 square feet in that city’s Corktown neighborhood and in neighboring Highland Park, paying what he described as the price of “a small apartment in New York City” for the properties....

One of the places where “young artists and thinkers” appeared to be gravitating, he said, was Detroit."

More here.

That being said, while luxury Detroit apartment rents are nowhere near those in NYC, is the Brooklynization of Detroit coming? Check out this report in the Detroit Free Press

 

University tech transfer offices bridge gap between academia and commerce

In Michigan's growing tech economy, there's no doubt that many of the innovators are coming from the halls and labs of academia. But how to get from concept to commercialization?

Excerpt:

"Coming up with a technological breakthrough is a feather in a university researcher's cap. 

But taking that brilliant notion, and forming a profitable business, involves another degree of difficulty. So professors and other researchers who want to turn their intellectual gifts into gold will probably need a little help along the way. 

"It takes more than a great idea," said Paul Riser Jr., managing director of technology-based entrepreneurship for Detroit business incubator  TechTown. "Professors sometimes are great technologists or great engineers and sometimes they don't have the know-how, from a business perspective."

The place to start may be the university's technology transfer office."

More here.

Wayne State, Fontinalis Partners launch investment programs

A pair of new but different investment vehicles are debuting in Detroit this year. One is a small fund managed by college students and the second is a special venture fund of one of the largest venture capital firms in city.

Wayne State University's School of Business recently received a $100,000 gift from Fifth Third Bank to open a student-managed investment fund. The fund will give the students access to a pool of money, giving them direct experience in stock portfolio management. The program mimics the structure of an asset management team, similar to those at Fidelity or Vanguard.

"We hope to raise more money for it," says Bob Forsythe, dean of the School of Business at Wayne State University.

The class that manages the fund will start in January. Forsythe hopes to expand the fund’s size to seven figures within the next few years through donations and returns on investments.

Fontinalis Partners, the venture capital firm co-founded by Bill Ford focused on next-generation mobility, is launching a Special Venture Partner program. There are five new members of the downtown Detroit-based VC's special venture partner program who will work to support Fontinalis' portfolio companies' efforts to reach new markets and advise their leadership teams.

Source: Bob Forsythe, dean of the School of Business at Wayne State University
Writer: Jon Zemke

PHASIQ aims to ramp up production in Plymouth

PHASIQ is gearing up to make a number of steps toward commercializing its research lab technology in 2015.
"The technology has progressed a lot since last fall," says Shuichi Takayama, co-founder of PHASIQ. "We're currently working on scaling up our production."

The University of Michigan spinout provides a diagnostic platform for detecting protein biomarkers in biological samples. Its custom arrays can be used by pharmaceutical companies for drug and biomarker discovery, and advancing personalized medicine. You can check out a video describing the technology here.

The Plymouth-based startup that calls the Michigan Life Science and Innovation Center home has expanded its core team to three people after adding a technical support person. They have leveraged a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to further develop the technology, which is currently being used by researchers at the University of Michigan.

"It's much more user friendly with fewer steps," Takayama says.

PHASIQ is currently going for a few more SBIR grants to further development. The team hopes to begin ramping up production of its lab equipment in 2015.

Source: Shuichi Takayama, co-founder of PHASIQ
Writer: Jon Zemke

Eagle Ottawa invests $10M into Rochester Hills tech center

Eagle Ottawa is investing $10 million in expanding its tech center in Rochester Hills.

The Auburn Hills-based automotive supplier employs 150 at its headquarters and another 160 people at its tech center. That number will rise at its tech center after the expansion project is complete.

"We see growth in the employment there," says Brad Jackson, spokesman for Eagle Ottawa. "We are making room for 50 more employees."

Eagle Ottawa is an automotive supplier that specializes in leather work. It is 150 years old and has grown its revenue by 18 percent over the last year. It has had a 25-percent compounded annual growth rate since 2011.

The firm has invested $75 million in global innovation initiatives and resources including design, R&D and marketing. Its $10 million expansion in Rochester Hills is part of that. The project will expand the building to 16,500 square feet to accommodate more prototyping and validation work. There will also be a new customer co-creation center aimed at empowering customers to ideate, prototype and validate their inspirations.

"Eagle Ottawa is committed to research and development and continually investing in its development," Jackson says.

Source: Brad Jackson, spokesman for Eagle Ottawa
Writer: Jon Zemke

Massage Mechanics expands footprint, adds five new workers in Depot Town

Make no mistake, Massage Mechanics is not a spa. And that is working for them. The Depot Town business has been operating since 2011, and during that time it has grown from a 225 square foot space employing only the two owners to a 1,000 square foot operation with seven massage therapists. 

"Our big tagline is, 'We are not a spa.' We don't have the extras or do the fluff an buff massage," says Andrea Gruber, who owns Massage Mechanics with partner Becky Smith. "We're here to provide excellent quality therapeutic work to our area. We really want to help people and be a staple, not a luxury item. 

That means they can keep their prices affordable to those they feel need massage the most — working class people who are often on their feet or sitting at desks all day. That attitude has served them well. They moved from their original location more than two years ago into a larger space across Cross St., and this spring, expanded that 700 square foot space to accommodate even more growth. Since that time, they've added five additional massage contractors to their business. 

Smith and Gruber plan to continue the growth of Massage Mechanics with the same philosophy that had led to their current success: listening to the needs of the community. 

"Ultimately we want to keep growing as the customer base allows," Gruber says. "Every so often we look at the world around us to see that it needs."

Source: Andrea Gruber and Becky Smith, Massage Mechanics
Writer: Natalie Burg

Wayne State grad/musician starts music production firm, J IV Media

Alton James has long dreamed of working in music. So much so that he even recently worked as an independent contractor for larger firms on the coast, providing musical scores for a variety of broadcast productions.

Now the Wayne State University graduate is doing it on his own with his new company, J IV Media.

"Why should I just be a subcontractor?" James says. "Why not start my own business?"

James worked with the Blackstone LaunchPad program at Wayne State to set up the basics of his business. He recently got engaged and opened his own studio in his new house in Chesterfield Township.

"We love the homes and the community out here," James says.

J IV Media is currently working on providing musical work for two documentaries. One has a Detroit-rebound focus and is locally based. The second is out of New York City and focuses on the for-profit prison system. James is also working with a number of University of Michigan film students on their projects.

"I would love to do some commercials for local businesses," James says.

Source: Alton James, owner of J IV Media
Writer: Jon Zemke

FreeStride Therapeutics scores win at Accelerate Michigan, adds positions

FreeStride Therapeutics won the Life Sciences category at last month's Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.

The win came with a check for $25,000. The Ann Arbor-based startup, which is repurposing a human drug for veterinary purposes, made a number of connections with investors and fellow entrepreneurs at the four-day business plan competition in downtown Detroit.

"It was a generally rewarding and a literally rewarding experience," says Michael Long, CEO of FreeStride Therapeutics.

FreeStride Therapeutics is developing a drug that relieves and even prevents shin pain for racing horses. It even has implications for companion animals, like dogs and cats, suffering from arthritis. The startup is working on raising $1 million in a Series A to complete the final two studies necessary to bring it to market. The $25,000 from Accelerate Michigan will go toward that effort.

"We'll probably be able to close on that by the end of the year or early next year," Long says.

The three-person company plans to raise a Series B after it starts to generate revenue for its technology. That money will go toward overcoming the final hurdles on the way to FDA approval.

"We'll have a very good understanding of what the market wants from us," Long says.

Source: Michael Long, CEO of FreeStride Therapeutics
Writer: Jon Zemke

The Huntington Co. acquires, consolidates dry cleaning businesses

A conglomerate of growing dry-cleaning companies are consolidating under a new name, The Huntington Co.

The Berkley-based business is made up of Huntington Cleaners & Shirt Laundry, Huntington Window Fashions, Wesch Cleaners, 1-800-DryClean, bizziebox, Pressed 4 Time, Martinizing, Dry Cleaning Station, and Certified Restoration Drycleaning Network. The combined companies employ 200 people after hiring five in the last year.

"We wanted to have a common reference point for people to look at," says Wayne Wudyka, CEO of The Huntington Co.

Wudyka launched the Certified Restoration Drycleaning Network (also known as CRDN) in 2001, restoring clothing damaged by things like fire and smoke. It now has hundreds of franchises across the U.S. What is now the Huntington Co. launched bizziebox last year, integrating mobile technology into dry cleaning with locker-based pickup and delivery service for offices and apartment buildings.

"We see great opportunities to expand in this space," Wudyka says.

The Huntington Co. also acquired Pressed4Time, a door-to-door pick-up and delivery service, in May. Earlier this fall it also acquired Martinizing, the largest U.S.-based franchise dry cleaning brand with 422 locations in eight countries. Martinizing has been a brand name in the dry cleaning industry for decades with its founder becoming a co-owner of the Cincinnati Reds.

"We think we can add value to these companies," Wudyka says. "The economy is getting better so that’s good for the dry cleaning business."

The Huntington Co. plans to bring efficiencies to these businesses through improved and coordinated IT, marketing and operations services. The next year will be spent drilling down on the newly expanded family of businesses and improving them.

"I want to be operating at a very efficient level," Wudyka says.

Source: Wayne Wudyka, CEO of The Huntington Co.
Writer: Jon Zemke

Benzinga creates jobs with its move to downtown Detroit

When Model D first spoke with Jason Raznick, he talked about hiring, specifically about how his startup Benzinga needed software developers. He said he would give Tigers playoff tickets as a finder fee for a connection that led to the hiring of a software developer.

That was a little more than three years ago. Benzinga was gearing up to move into his fledgling financial news company into its new offices in Southfield to accommodate its growth. At the time the company employed 15 people -- about one for each month of its age -- and was hiring.

Today Benzinga is more than double that size (35 people) and is planning to move to downtown Detroit. Over the last year, Benzinga has hired a dozen people (mostly software developers and journalists) and currently is looking to hire another five people. In fact, look up Raznick's LinkedIn page and his job is listed as "CEO - We're hiring!"

Those new jobs are coming to the Campus Martuis area of downtown next spring. While the firm hopes to contribute to efforts to rebuild the Motor City by relocating downtown, an even bigger reason for the move is so the company can grow by leveraging the urban core and downtown Detroit’s emerging tech scene to attract talent.

"We think we can have a big impact on Detroit," Raznick says. "And Detroit can have a big impact on us."

Benzinga is known as a online financial news publication in the vein of Bloomberg, selling information to stock traders toiling on websites. It makes its money from one of three sources: Benzinga Pro (its premium subscription service), selling data, and traditional advertising. Each new employee is given the freedom to come up with new ideas to generate revenue for the company. It’s part of a company culture Raznick likes to call a Doarchy. Check out a TED Talk he gave about it here.

"We're not one business," Raznick says. "We're opportunists."

Others have taken notice. Benzinga received a nearly $2 million seed capital round led by Lightbank, the Chicago-based venture capital firm started by Groupon's co-founders. Raznick has entertained offers for further investment that would require him to move the company to a different big city, such as New York, but he turned them down.

Despite refusing those offers, Benzinga has doubled its revenue several times, and Raznick thinks his startup is at the base of its hockey stick growth spurt.

"We're getting some serious revenue right now," Raznick says. "I don't think there is a limit to our revenue growth right now."

Source: Jason Raznick, CEO of Benzinga
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ornicept looks to hire 3 as it aims to quintuple in size

Ornicept is on the precipice of a big growth year. The Ann Arbor data-collection startup has already enjoyed a nice growth spurt over the last year but now has it sights set on even bigger things 2015.

Ornicept is projecting to grow four or five times its current size over the next year. The company currently stands at a staff of 10 employees after making two hires in business development and software. It also looking to hire another three people for senior positions right now.

"We're growing really fast," says Russell Conard, CEO of Ornicept. "I'm lucky to work with a really good team."

The 3-year-old company’s software platform that helps field workers log and manage data. That means everyone from wildlife biologists to infrastructure inspectors can input information into a mobile device and have it processed in a central computing source.

The technology was good enough to allow it to take first place in the IT category of last month's Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition in downtown Detroit. The $25,000 in prize money will be put toward Ornicept's Series A round, which will be worth seven figures and close on by next year.

"The round is going really well," Conard says.

Ornicept's current platform is full operational and being used by some large companies across the U.S.

"We have some of the biggest companies in the world relying on our platform," Conard says.

Source: Russell Conard, CEO of Ornicept
Writer: Jon Zemke

InfoReady hits 800 percent growth in three years

InfoReady recently won one of Ann Arbor SPARK's FastTrack Business Awards, which recognizes local companies with 20 percent annual average growth over three years. Except the Ann Arbor tech startup's growth numbers are much bigger.

The 4-year-old firm has closed 800 percent revenue growth over the last years. Sales of its research grant writing and management software continue to take off as the company grows beyond Michigan.

"Most of that growth has come from more than 50 clients now," says Bhushan Kulkarni, CEO of InfoReady. "We're getting a real national footprint. We have clients in 25 states."

The GDI Infotech spin-off's software platform helps researchers find and apply for the best grant opportunities and then review and track progress of the project. It also had features that matches researchers with other research projects. Most of its client so far have been in the medical sciences and engineering areas of research & development.

InfoReady raised $2 million in seed capital shortly after it launched. It plans to begin raising a Series A round late next year or early 2016. It has hired eight people over the last year, expanding its staff to 25 employees. It also is looking to hire another six people now to help accommodate its growth next year.

"We expect to double in size in 2015," Kulkarni says.

Source: Bhushan Kulkarni, CEO of InfoReady
Writer: Jon Zemke
3099 Articles | Page: | Show All
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