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Lathrup Village startup Telemetrio bridges tech and sports

Marco Cucco is a serial entrepreneur and a big sports fan. His latest startup, Telemetrio, is quickly becoming the place where his passions intertwine.

"Telemetrio is where my interests are most prevalant," Cucco says. "It bridges technology and sports."

The Lathrup Village-based startup is developing technology it describes as "a computer-vision sports telemetrics and broadcasting system specifically geared to youth sports." This boils down to a software platform that films youth sporting events and sorts out the highlights for the parents. It also auto-analyzes the film and extracts statistics before putting it into a web portal for easy viewing.

Telemetrio's team of five people are still refining the platform. The first pilot is now being extended to multiple installations at Ultimate Soccer Arenas.

"We are expanding the pilot to one more field," Cucco says. "We will then be opening it up so more users can give us feedback."

Telemetrio recently secured $14,000 in Business Accelerator Funds from the Michigan Economic Development Corp with the help of the Macomb-OU INCubator. Telemetrio is a client of the Sterling Heights-based business accelerator’s services.

"It (the $14,000) will be spent on securing our intellectual property," Cucco says.

Source: Marco Cucco, acting CEO of Telemetrio
Writer: Jon Zemke

Gongos growth curve continues with 23 new hires

Gongos is one of those companies that always seems to be growing. 

The Auburn Hills-based market research firm routinely clocks revenue growth, often adding double-digit gains for most of its 20-plus years. Its revenue is up 12.9 percent since 2012. Its non-U.S. revenues are also up 6.9 percent. Gongos has achieved this by increasing its workload with some major companies like Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Chase and Fiat Chrysler.

"We're really growing a lot," says Katherine Ephlin, COO of Gongos. She adds, "there are a lot of new faces around."

The firm has hired 23 people over the last year. It now employs about 135 people and Ephlin expects to keep growing. She recently made the jump from vice president of operations to COO.

Gongos was also recently named a Gold Top 50 U.S. market research organization by Marketing News. Based on its 2013 gross revenues, Gongos ranks as the 43rd organization in the U.S., which is up one spot from the previous year. This is the seventh straight year Gongos has made the list.

"It's by continuing to serve our clients really well," Ephlin says. "Our people are really great at thinking about the business’s problem. ... Our clients really trust us and give us some of their most strategic problems."

Source: Katherine Ephlin, COO of Gongos
Writer: Jon Zemke
 

Imetris adds staff as it eyes double-digit sales increase in 2014

Talent is a key word for Imetris when its hoping to achieve another key word: growth.

The Saline-based IT company has made a handful of replacement hires over the last year and it's currently looking to hire two more tech people.

"Local talent," says Chandru Acharya, president of Imetris. "That's what we're looking for."

Imetris currently offers tech services in IT and data management, specifically managing data storage area devices for large corporations. It has grown its staff to 110 people over its 17 years.

"We have been able to upgrade our talent and existing employees," Acharya says. "That's part of the reason clients come back to us."

Imetris grew its revenue about 6 percent last year through growing its workload with existing clients and adding a few new ones. That number was a bit of a disappointment for Acharya who aims for consistent double-digit revenue growth each year. To Acharya a lack of growth means a business isn’t moving forward. It’s why he expects Imetris to grow 15-20 percent this year.

"That's a reasonable number considering out overhead and increasing costs over time," Acharya says.

Source: Chandru Acharya, president of Imetris
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ann Arbor startup lands on CNN's list of "game changing gadgets"

Ever want to be Jordi from Star Trek? Or Lobot from Star Wars? Have no idea what those references are? Don't worry, not being a geek doesn't mean you can't think these 3D goggles aren't cool.

Excerpt:

"From Michigan-based Avegant, the Glyph headset looks like a chunky set of headphones with a pop-down, "Star Trek"-style visor. (They promise a sleeker look for the final product).

It hooks up to a smartphone, TV, gaming device or laptop and uses a system of 2 million microscopic mirrors to beam the images directly into your retinas."

Read the rest here.
 

EAFocus turns 15 years old, doubles staff

Barbara Fornasiero started EAFocus, a public relations and marketing company, to help take more control of her life. The mother of a young family wanted to stay professionally active and focus on helping raise her young children. Becoming her own boss seemed like a good option to make that happen.

"I wanted the freedom to set my own schedule and pursue the clients that interested me," Fornasiero says.

That was 15 years ago. Today the Rochester-based company has recently hired its first employee and is growing its client list. EAFocus got its start serving professional companies, like consulting and law firms. It now does work for local school districts and municipalities, and a growing variety of clients.

Fornasiero hired Sara Przybylski nearly a year ago. Przybylski had worked as a social media coordinator for an automotive supplier before coming on as a public relations consultant at EAFocus.

"I wanted to expand the business and have a regular schedule," Fornasiero says. "I wanted to grow the business and still be able to take some time off."

Source: Barbara Fornasiero, owner & principal of EAFocus
Writer: Jon Zemke

ENT Biotech Solutions scores $100K from Michigan Pre-Seed Fund

ENT Biotech Solutions recently secured $100,000 in seed capital from the Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0, which is part of a $1 million angel round for the TechTown-based startup.

"We are in the process of closing it," says Andrea Roumell Dickson, CEO of ENT Biotech Solutions.

The two-year-old startup is developing the Elasso, a single-use, disposable device designed as a cost-effective too for reducing the tedious nature of adenoid and tonsil surgery. The one-step tool cuts, cauterizes, and removes tissue, combining the advantages of heating and cutting technologies.

ENT Biotech Solutions is currently waiting for a clearance from the FDA to move ahead with commercialization. That clearance could come as soon as this fall.

"As soon as we receive that we have a green light to manufacture. Our tooling is already cut," Roumell Dickson says. "We are able to very rapidly ramp up for production."

Source: Andrea Roumell Dickson, CEO of ENT Biotech Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

Indratech turns green fiber padding into thriving biz

If you're sitting on a cushioned surface, chances are you're sitting on foam. Indratech wants to change that, and the Troy-based business is off to a good start.

The 10-year-old firm makes the Indura Performance Fiber. The patented fiber padding is marketed as "green, non-toxic, recycled and perfect for use in any bedding and furniture application."

"Anything you can sit or sleep on," says Surendra Khambete, president of Indratech.

The company currently employs about 100 people, including 10 at its headquarters. It has hired two people in Troy (a R&D engineer and an accountant) over the last year to help it keep up with its growth. Revenue has spiked by 15 percent over the last year. The company sees its product as the replacement for foam.

"The good thing about foam is it's really tough," Khambete says. "If you sit on it, it will come right back up when you get up. The bad thing about foam is it's really toxic to produce."

Indratech boasts that Indura Performance Fiber has all of the attributes of foam but without any of the environmental costs.

"We are trying to get our foothold in the crib market, the mattress market, the automotive market," Khambete says.

It is also working with appliance makers to provide Indura Performance Fiber as an insulating material.

"We can make it quieter and warmer," Khambete says.

Source: Surendra Khambete, president of Indratech
Writer: Jon Zemke

M-1 Brew in Ferndale is all Michigan, all the time

Longtime Ferndale business owner and activist Dean Bach has turned a vacant VFW hall into a new business he hopes will appeal to lovers and supporters of Michigan-made and grown food, drink and products.

Bach, the owner of Ferndale mainstay Dino's Lounge, renovated the space into his vision of an Up North cottage.

His new M-Brew at 177 Vester St. in downtown Ferndale is cottage on the outside with a wraparound porch and clapboard siding and Up North gas station on the inside, where "guests can stop by for one thing and leave with much more when they discover an array of Michigan-made product to eat, wear or display at home."

The focus of M-Brew is the M, as in Michigan, and on offering only food, drink and products made across the state.

“We live in a great state with great assets and lots of quality products,” says Bach, who is host of the Rib Burn Off fundraiser for the Blues Festival and chairman of the board for the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority.

“From the beginning we decided that M-Brew was going to be entirely Michigan-based -- from the beer that we pour to the food that we serve.” He adds, “With the stuff our state grows and produces, it was kind of a no-brainer.”

M-Brew will serve at least two kinds of brew, its own privately labeled coffee and root beer, and beers from Michigan breweries such as Shorts, Atwater, Founders, MI, Perrin and Liberty Street. Up to 30 craft beer taps are a part of the cozy feel of M-Brew, which has knotty pine paneling and a stone-clad fireplace. To-go beer growlers are a special feature of M-Brew as is stay-in fun in the basement, where there are pinball machines, video games and shuffleboard.

On the food front, M-Brew will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner from a grab & go display to entrees and snacks for eating in or carrying out. Pinconning Pizza, Bruce Crossing Pasties, Garden Fresh Salsa and chips, Smokin' Butts BBQ, Sanders hot fudge, chips and snacks from Traverse City, and dried cherries represent food made in cities across Michigan.

A still-to-come outdoor fire pit will give off the kick-up-your-feet Up North vibe.

The official opening day is Aug. 1, but a soft opening began about two weeks ago.

"Michigan has great products year round, whether it is something to eat or something cool to own. We will be bringing in more carefully selected items as we get up and running,” Bach says. “Beyond that, supporting Michigan-made means your dollars stay in Michigan and help support our comeback economy. We’ve supported local all along, but as the economy gets better -- especially as it gets better -- we can’t lose sight of continuing to support local. It needs to be what we do.”

Source: Dean Bach, owner M-Brew and Dino's Lounge
Writer: Kim North Shine

Flipsi Bottle pivots with new baby bottle product

Flipsi Bottle is pivoting. Not a lot but noticeably, especially for those who are old enough to drink from their own cup.

The Ann Arbor-based startup got its start with two brothers making a sport bottle that could be turned inside out for easy cleaning. The company prototype is made out of food-grade silicone that is flexible and non-toxic. Now Flipsi Bottle is making a bottle for babies that it plans to market as Flipsi.

"That is virtually done with development," says Jeff Plott, CTO of Flipsi Bottle.

The 1-year-old company and its team of three people plan to take the product to the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas this fall to find a strategic partner. It hopes to begin production early next year.

"We were able to crack the baby bottle first," Plott says. "We also saw that there is a big market for the baby bottle."

Flipsi Bottle has raised about $40,000 in winnings from business plan competitions this year. Among those wins was a second-place showing at the Greenlight Business Model Competition in March, which came with a check for $10,000.

Source: Jeff Plott, CTO of Flipsi Bottle
Writer: Jon Zemke

White Pine Systems converts part-time workers to full-time employees

The staff at White Pine Systems is in transition. Normally that's not a sign of good things, but it is for the Ann Arbor-based company .

The software firm has made a handful of hires from its own ranks in the last year, bringing on a new CTO and a few web developers.

"We've gone from more part-time contributors to full-time people," says Doug Dormer, founder & CEO of White Pine Systems.

The 8-year-old company’s technology specializing in sharing information between health-care providers. The idea is to streamline the healthcare system (primarily in the behavioral health and traditional healthcare) by making closely guarded personal information readily available to the people who need to see it in a timely fashion.

White Pine Systems has been able to bring on more work with existing clients and land a few new ones. It’s adding new modules beyond its normal behavioral health which also is expanding its workload.

"It's a combination of the market is getting good with regulations, our work is being recognized, and our marketing efforts are working," Dormer says.

Source: Doug Dormer, founder & CEO of White Pine Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

Phire Group hires 3 on slow and steady growth trajectory

Slow and steady doesn't just win the race. It also builds a successful company. That's Jim Hume's opinion.

The principal of Phire Group preaches deliberate and modest growth as the smart way to grow a company. It's been the secret sauce for his own full-service marketing firm.

"We have been fortunate to grow at a consistent, steady pace," Hume says. "That's unusual for marketing firms that are usually boom or bust."

The downtown Ann Arbor-based company takes a longterm approach with its clients and avoids churn and burn work. Treating its long-term clients well produces more referral work and increased workload with existing clients. For instance, it started doing project work with MASCO Cabinetry and is now its agency of record for some of its brands.

"That growth has been slow and steady over the years," Hume says.

That enabled Phire Group to hire three people over the last year, including positions in public relations, web development and strategy. It now has a staff of 20 employees and one intern. Hume plans to add a handful more people over the next year. All of it part of the company’s slow and steady growth plan.

Source: Jim Hume, principal of Phire Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

365 Retail Markets hits 1,500-percent sales growth in 3 years

Most companies like to brag about their double-digit revenue growth. Some can even talk about triple-digits; 365 Retail Markets wants to tell you about its quadruple-digit revenue increase.

The Troy-based tech company has grown 1,500 percent in the last three years. In that time it has expanded its staff to 50 people after hiring 15 in the last year, and has become a multi-million-dollar firm.

"We work in an industry that really hasn't innovated much in the last 20 years," says Matthew Caston, chief strategy officer at 365 Retail Markets.

365 Retail Markets describes its platform as "MicroMarket technology" that serves the vending, foodservice and hospitality industries with a goal of fundamentally transforming the way employees view their break room. The company offers a 24/7 unmanned self-checkout system that serves fresh food and beverage alternatives at workplaces across the U.S.

"Higher-end customers want higher-end solutions," Caston says. "Employers want to give their employees more options. The trend of snacking healthily also adds to that."

Caston estimates that 365 Retail Markets has captured less than 1 percent of the market, giving the company a huge ceiling to strive for.

"We're on the tip of the sword here," Caston says. "We are very early in penetrating the entire market."

Source: Matthew Caston, chief strategy officer at 365 Retail Markets
Writer: Jon Zemke

Oakland University receives $500,000 gift of robotics equipment

The emerging field of robotics is a wave of the future for the Great Lakes State.

Excerpt:

"FANUC America Corporation recently presented Oakland with a gift-in-kind donation of robots, software and 2D iRVision equipment representing an industry value of $474,398. The gift promises to enhance the university's academic offerings and boost its impact on the regional economy...

The gift will support development of an Industrial Robotics and Automation program within OU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, which will train engineers for high-demand jobs in the field. Many of those jobs are located in Metro Detroit as the area is home to world-class robotics and automation companies."

More here
 

Detroit Aircraft grows to 12 people, eyes acquisition

There was once a time when Detroit was the center of not only the automotive world, but the aviation world, too. Back in the early 20th century, the Detroit Aircraft Corp produced more aircraft than any other company and owned a number of subsidiaries, including the company that is now Lockheed Martin. The Detroit Aircraft Corp didn’t survive the Great Depression.

"It struck me that if it had survived that time we would have an automotive industry and an aerospace industry," says Jon Rimanelli.

That inspired Rimanelli to launch Detroit Aircraft Corp, the 21st century version of its namesake company specializing in unmanned aircraft (drone) technology and operating out of Detroit City Airport. Rimanelli first started playing with the idea when speaking to NASA officials about how the U.S. aviation and radar systems need to be reformed to accommodate to 21st century technology. Rimanelli believes that such reforms could open up the vast majority of U.S. airports to most of the populace, which currently doesn't have access to them because its members can’t facilitate commercial flights.

"99 percent of the population gets access to one percent of the airports while one percent of then population gets access to the whole system," Rimanelli says.

He launched Detroit Aircraft Corp in 2011 with the idea of enabling that access through unmanned aircraft. He sharpened that vision earlier this year when Detroit Aircraft Corp won a contract with Lockheed Martin to manufacture battery charger stations in Detroit. It is currently looking to lock down another contract with Lockheed Martin to make drones.

That work has allowed Detroit Aircraft Corp to hire seven people over the last year, expanding its staff to 12 people. It is currently looking to acquire A3 Electronics in Livonia as it prepares to begin building hundreds of units and employ several dozen people.

"We'd like to lead the world in aircraft manufacturing not once, not twice, but three times," Rimanelli says.

Source: Jon Rimanelli, founder & CEO of Detroit Aircraft Corp
Writer: Jon Zemke

Beyond Startup expands with second stage marketing work

Catherine Juon launched Beyond Startup with the idea of helping growing businesses make the leap to second stage. Now she is launching a second part of that company focused on second stage marketing using her own name, CatherineJuon.com, as the URL.

"I get the phone call when people have an online marketing problem, and it often turns out to be an second stage thing," Juon says. "The whole marketing SEO thing turns out to be the icing on the cake."

Juon helped grow online marketing firm Pure Visibility in downtown Ann Arbor before striking out on her own with Beyond Startup two years ago. The consulting firm helps its clients grow out of small business mode and into rapidly expanding firms.

Much of her work has also become helping those firms with market discovery and customer discovery. That has transformed into the creation of its own line of business.

"The second stage consulting is really its own thing," Juon says.

Juon is now working with Bud Gibson, a profession at Eastern Michigan University who created the search marketing program at the university. The pair are working on creating a sequence of workshops on solving company sales problems in the digital age.

"Our partnership is gradually growing," Juon says.

Source: Catherine Juon, founder of Beyond Startup
Writer: Jon Zemke
2841 Articles | Page: | Show All
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