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Troy-based Grid opens Denver, Hawaii offices, hires 8 people

Grid is wrapping up quite a year of growth in 2014.

The Troy-based technology consulting company has practically doubled in size, hiring eight people in software and strategy. It also opened up two more offices in Denver and Hawaii. It now has four offices across the U.S. after launching in 2008.

"We have been doubling every year so far," says Paul Tibbert, CEO of Grid. "We have seen steady growth even through the downturn."

Grid is a technology and design firm that specializes in integrating new innovations in the work space. Over the last year it has expanded its work with big multi-national corporations like Chrysler and smaller local firms, like Northville-based Institute for Multi-Sensory Education.

That has allowed it to hire eight people, expanding its staff to 30 employees and five interns. It is also looking to add a few more jobs now.

"We're always looking for software and graphic designers," Tibbert says. "There is always an open door to anyone with that talent."

Grid also runs an internship program with Kettering University. The program brings a handful of students into the company’s offices each year, and Grid is looking to expand that to include more local universities in 2015.

"Schools like Kettering are producing really talented people," Tibbert says.

Source: Paul Tibbert, CEO of Grid
Writer: Jon Zemke

Results at Hand Software doubles in size on demand for event apps

Results at Hand Software has made a name for itself in event-focused mobile apps during its first four years.

The Waterford-based startup has found a significant amount of success with its ConferenceBeat app. The event app is used by businesses or associations throwing events, providing them with a direct line of communication to attendees that enables them to strengthen their relationship.

"Everyone has come back and said, 'We love the app,'" says Kim Harwood, president of Results at Hand Software, and "'oh, by the way, can you provide more features and functionality?'"

Sales at the 4-year-old company are up 100 percent over the last year. That has enabled it to hire three people (a software developer and sales professionals) over the last year. It now has a staff of seven employees and one intern. It plans to add two more interns in January.

Results at Hand Software is preparing to have another big year in 2015. Harwood expects to hit triple-digit revenue growth again as her company continues to attract more customers.

"Every customer tends to turn into a longterm customer," Harwood says.

Source: Kim Harwood, president of Results at Hand Software
Writer: Jon Zemke

Detroit Labs hires 30, launches mobile app for Detroit Police Dept.

The Detroit Police Department is launching a new app today aimed at helping it better communicate and interact with the people living and working in the Motor City.

The DPD Connect app (available for Andriod and iPhone) will provide streamlined pathways for users to report tips to police, a phone directory for the city’s public safety agencies, links to the police departments social media channels, and news/crime statistics. Users will be able to leave anonymous tips (delivered through an independent third-party service to ensure anonymity) and also access local public safety numbers, such as community officers and neighborhood precincts.

"The whole theme is to better connect people to the police department," says Will McDowell, a business analyst with Detroit Labs, which built the app.

The Detroit Police Department approached the downtown Detroit-based software firm to create the mobile app earlier this year. McDowell oversaw the construction of the app, which was worked on by a large team from Detroit Labs including five of the company’s interns.

Detroit Labs has hired 30 people over the last year, expanding its staff to 75 people. It recently moved from the M@dison Building into a bigger office in the M@dison Building (1520 Woodward) earlier this year. Many of its new hires come from the company's apprentice program, which trains software developers and paves the way for full-time employment at the company. The firm is also looking to hire established software developers.

"We're always looking for good developers," says Bill Camp, who works in planning and development at Detroit Labs.

Source: Bill Camp and Will McDowell, Detroit Labs
Writer: Jon Zemke

Slow's Bar-B-Q to expand to downtown Pontiac

Detroit's celebrated Slows Bar-B-Q, which hit restaurant gold in Detroit years before today's restaurant boom rolled in, will open a location in downtown Pontiac, where reinvestment and rebirth are once again becoming part of the local lexicon.

The Pontiac Slows will be connected to the Strand Theatre for the Performing Arts, a $20-million redevelopment of a historic building that will bring national shows and live theater and stage acts back to the city.

With Slows as its exclusive partner, the theater will offer the unusual combo of arts and culture and barbecue joint.

Slows Pontiac, on Saginaw St., will be 6,500 square feet and have a street-side entrance for the public and a theater entrance for show-goers. Slows will also cater events at the theater, which will be run by the nonprofit Encore Performing Arts Center and Bill Lee, former vice president of Celebrity Events Group and vice president of sales and marketing at Olympia Entertainment, Inc.

Construction will begin in early 2015. Opening date will coincide with the theater opening in late 2015.

Slows has an exclusivity agreement with the theater so that it will be the only Slows location in Oakland County, says Kyle Westberg, CEO of West Construction Services, one of Pontiac's main developers with projects such as the at-capacity Lafayette Place Lofts and Lafayette Market.

Slow's owners want to be a part of a Pontiac's comeback. They see it, as they did their first restaurant in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood, as a way to run a business and also help the community.

“We chose Pontiac as the site of our first metro Detroit expansion for the same reasons we chose Corktown. It’s an underserved community with a defined identity and potential for an exciting evolution,” Slows Bar-B-Q co-owner Phil Cooley says. “We are excited to become part of the neighborhood and serve up great tasting Slows Bar-B-Q to the folks who live, work in, and visit Pontiac.”

Westberg says Slows, along with numerous large and small projects, from the opening of small tech businesses to multi-million-dollar improvements by GM and St. Joseph's Hospital, may be the tipping point to making downtown Pontiac become a destination again.

"I've been watching Slows's business model for quite a few years, and what was fascinating to me was their thought processes on economic development and working with the community and helping the community prosper and move forward," Westberg says. "That philosophy meets right up with the philosophies we have here in Pontiac."

Source: Kyle Westberg, CEO, West Construction Services; Phil Cooley, Slows Bar-B-Q co-owner
Writer: Kim North Shine

Spider9 creates 4 jobs, commercializes clean technology

Spider9 recently received a key certification that should help make installing its energy storage technology easier as it looks to ramp up sales in 2015.

The Northville-based startup recently received certification to UL 1741 standards for the company's advanced energy storage and controls technology. The certification, given by TÜV SÜD America, represents a first for a system featuring Spider9's technology.

"It's a great step forward," says Michelle Chitambar, chief technology featurist for Spider9. "Some people don't want to put systems in their building unless it’s certified."

The 3-year-old company is commercializing technology that helps make alternative energy generation and storage more efficient. Spider9 has deployed some of its first units over the last year and is setting the stage to do it much more often in 2015.

"We expect to ramp up considerably now that we have certification," Chitambar says.

Spider9 currently employs 14 people and is in the process of hiring another staffer specializing in sales and technology. It has hired three people over the last year.

Source: Michelle Chitambar, chief technology featurist for Spider9
Writer: Jon Zemke

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.
 

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

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

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.

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

 

Birmingham's Griffin Claw Brewing adds bottle spirit sales

Griffin Claw Brewing Company is now in the business of selling bottled vodka, gin and rum from its taproom in Birmingham.

Earlier this year the brewery, which has made its name in craft beer, added liquors to the menu. Bottled sales were the next step.

The lineup: Griffin Claw Grain Vodka, Griffin Claw Potato Vodka, Griffin Claw Botanical Gin and Griffin Claw Black Strap Rum sell for $20 each and can be purchased inside the taproom. The brewery will also be releasing KRUPNIK, a polish style honey liqueur in a 750ml bottle, for $20, for the holiday season as well as its popular Oblivious Wheat Wine in a 22-oz. wax-dipped bomber bottle for $17.

Griffin Claw biergarten and taproom are at 575 S. Eton St. The 12,000-square-foot operation in the city's Rail District includes a brewing system, distillery, and distribution operation.

Source, Jaclyn Robinson, JT Marketing Group
Writer: Kim North Shine

BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting expands to 29 states

BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting isn't known as a company that is big on hiring.

The life sciences consulting firm hasn't hired or fired anyone over the last year, and doesn't plan to in the near future. It just stays steady at seven employees. In fact, when it moved to a new office last summer it went to a smaller space.

"That building was bigger than what we needed all along so we sold it," says Lisa Kurek, managing partner of BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting.

What it is doing is growing its footprint. The Ann Arbor-based firm is now doing work in 29 states, up about five from its mark last year. That means it is helping life sciences startups snare non-dilutive government funding to develop their technologies. Kurek hopes to expand the firm's reputation and prowess even more in 2015.

"I'd like to see us in 39 states next year," Kurek says.

BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting has built up a steadfast reputation as one of a boutique consulting firm with a deep expertise in helping startups capture six figures or more in government research funding. If you’re a region looking to build a life sciences startup scene, you want a BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting in your backyard, or for it at least to have a presence there. More and more states are coming around to that idea, bringing BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting into their regions.

"We're in a very niche area of expertise," Kurek says. "It (the firm's growth) is a combination of referrals and presence at national conferences. Our web and social media presence helps, too."

Source: Lisa Kurek, managing partner of BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting
Writer: Jon Zemke

Oxford Companies aims at residential, commercial market expansion

Oxford Companies is positioning itself to become the property management company in Ann Arbor, strengthening its holdings in both residential and commercial areas.

The Ann Arbor-based company acquired the Northeast Corporate Center this year, a 220,000-square-foot commercial space near Plymouth and Green roads.

"It is the largest acquisition ever for our company," says Andrew Selinger, investment analyst for Oxford Companies. "It also made us the largest commercial property manager in Ann Arbor."

The 16-year-old, full-service real-estate firm also recently expanded into the residential market. It purchased the Arch Realty portfolio of off-campus student housing near the University of Michigan in 2012. It has since folded the properties into its operations, upgrading the buildings and improving relations with tenants. The Michigan Daily, U-M's student newspaper, named Oxford Management Services (Oxford Companies residential arm) the best landlord this year.

"It's going very well," says Deborah Pearson, marketing director of Oxford Companies. "We have integrated it into our company and opened up a whole new market. We have come a long away with our residential portfolio."

Oxford Companies currently has a staff of 50 employees and three interns. It has hired eight people over the last year, including maintenance workers, construction tradespeople, property managers, and a COO. The company is looking to hire two more people right now. The hiring is helping the firm keep up with its growth and prepare for more in 2015.

"We are still in a growth mode working on acquisitions," Pearson says. "We're working on an acquisition right now."

Source: Deborah Pearson, marketing director of Oxford Companies; and Andrew Selinger, investment analyst for Oxford Companies
Writer: Jon Zemke
2996 Articles | Page: | Show All
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