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Get Up and Go expands caffeinated food sales

Get Up and Go is on the move in Michigan, carving out space for its caffeinated goodies on store shelves across the Great Lakes State.

The Ann Arbor-based company makes a variety of baked goods infused with natural caffeine. The goodies include muffins, cookies, brownies and granola. Consumers can find Get Up and Go's wares in about a dozen stores in Ann Arbor, Lansing and a few supermarkets.

"We're just getting off the ground," says Chris Bogdan, CEO of Get Up and Go.

The one-year-old company started selling its baked goods in stores six months ago. Bogdan is currently a one-man-show, baking the goods in his home. He is working to move production to a food manufacturer so he can scale the concept into as many as 1,000 stores across Michigan this year.

"I am focusing on Michigan first, building it out and getting into specialty food stores," Bogdan says. "Specialty stores support a lot of Michigan-made products."

Source: Chris Bogdan, CEO of Get Up and Go
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M students make fashion statement with OverTheFly belts

Andrew Jacob and Andre Najmolhoda went to high school in West Bloomfield and college in Ann Arbor together, so it’s not a surprise the two friend are starting their own company together.

The University of Michigan students launched a custom belt company called OverTheFly a year ago and are starting to make a fashion statement or two with it.

"We noticed there is always a trend in shoes, shirts and hats but never belts," says Andrew Jacob, co-founder of OverTheFly. "We want to start trends with belts."

OverTheFly offers plastic belts and buckles of different colors and styles, allowing buyers to customize their own belt with a few clicks of a computer mouse. The company describes its belts as "waterproof, durable, 100% recyclable, animal-friendly, and one size fits all."

"You can pretty much create your own belt," Jacob says. He adds, "We are also the first company we know of that created a belt with Detroit’s skyline on it."

OverTheFly's products can be bought online or at 17 stores in Michigan and Florida. Jacob and Najmolholda plan to continue finding more retail outlets for its belts and hope to scale across the U.S.

Source: Andrew Jacob, co-founder of OverTheFly
Writer: Jon Zemke

Tanner Friedman PR firm grows on recurring client work

Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications is one of those companies that doesn't measure its success by the number of new clients it attracts, but by the clients it keeps in its fold.

The Farmington Hills-based public relations agency has enjoyed double-digit revenue growth over the last year thanks primarily to increased work from existing clients.

"That's where we prefer growth to come from." says Matt Friedman, partner at Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications. "We like new clients and are happy to add them. But it’s the best testament to our work and our growth when a client says, 'We want you to do more work for us.'"

The agency enjoyed a small spike in its crisis communications work in the fourth quarter of last year, but its bread and butter came down to three core industries: privately owned businesses, professional services and non-profits. Those three areas have allowed the firm to triple in size since its launch seven years ago.

"These are the types of clients that really need us," Friedman says. "We are closer to a need-to-have than a nice-to-have with them."

Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications has added another person to its staff, rounding it out to eight employees. The hire, a former intern, is an account coordinator. The firm also has six independent contractors and plans to bring on two interns this summer.

"We grow when it makes sense," Friedman says. "We want to add people when we have the work to justify it."

Source: Matt Friedman, partner at Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M Credit Union merges with EMU Credit Union

The credit unions at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University are now one institution after consummating a merger earlier this year.

Eastern Michigan University Credit Union officially became a part of University of Michigan Credit Union in January. EMU’s Credit Union will now be known as Eastern Michigan University Financial. U-M Credit Union will keep its branding. Members of both will now have full access to all of the newly combined credit union's branches in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Dearborn.

"It's not a growth strategy," says Jeff Schillag, vice president of marketing at University of Michigan Credit Union. "It's truly a collaboration."

The newly merged credit union will have $545 million in assets and 59,342 members. All of those members will have equal access to affordable financial services, mobile banking, and instant issue debit and credit cards.

Eastern Michigan University Financial will maintain its branch at 761 Jenness St. in Ypsilanti with its current staff. It will continue to employ its namesake university's brand in its name as a point of pride for the EMU community.

"We intend to keep the branding there to better serve that community," Schillag says.

Source: Jeff Schillag, vice president of marketing at University of Michigan Credit Union
Writer: Jon Zemke

DASI Solutions adds 8 jobs, moves into new downtown Pontiac HQ

DASI Solutions underwent some big changes in the last year, expanding its staff with a number of hires, moving into a new home in downtown Pontiac, and preparing to offer some new cutting-edge services.

The engineering/tech firm executed its move to a newly renovated building in downtown Pontiac last summer. The company also hired eight people over the last year, expanding its headcount to 45. The new employees are primarily engineering and business development professionals. It also has two openings for application engineers and is planning on adding a couple of summer interns this year.

DASI Solutions is also getting ready to launch a 3-D printing-on-demand service later this month. The company plans to make 3-D printing much more affordable and accessible.

"We will be accepting models from our customers online," says David Darbyshire, co-owner of DASI Solutions. "We will give them an instant quote."

The 18-year-old company has also been expanding its market share geographically. It recently entered into the Cleveland market. The new Cleveland office joins a handful of the firm’s offices across the Midwest.

DASI Solutions has also been doing a lot of work with the state of Michigan's MAT2 (Michigan Advanced Technician Training) program, which helps steer high school students or recent graduates toward tech careers. Think of it as helping guide kids in high school robotics programs who might not be cut out for engineering degrees toward careers in robotics through an apprenticeship program.

"The best way to describe it is an internship on steroids," Darbyshire says.

DASI Solutions will be participating in a MAT2 company fair for careers in mechatronics and design visualization on March 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The fair will take place at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills campus in Building F, 2900 Featherstone Road.

Source: David Darbyshire, co-owner of DASI Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

Complete Data Products makes 6 hires, expands customer base

Neal Doshi and his brother, Nyrav Doshi, purchased Complete Data Products two years ago with the idea of turning the software firm into something bigger. A few software product launches later, the Troy-based business is realizing that dream for its owners.

"From a numbers standpoint we expect our company to grow 20 percent, top-line, by the end of the year," Neal Doshi says.

Complete Data Products specializes in paperless document management software. If there is some sort of business function that requires using paper, Complete Data Products is coming up with ways to do it digitally.

For instance, the firm launched its financial receipt product last year, which allowed users to send sales receipts through email. It also recently launched an electronic signature application, and upgraded its financial receipt product to utilize text message technology.

"There were a lot of people who pushed that out," Neal Doshi says. "There was a lot of growth in that vertical."

The customer base of this technology has grown from credit unions to include banks and law firms. That has allowed Complete Data Products to hire six people, primarily in tech support and marketing, over the last year. It now employs 28 people.

Source: Neal Doshi, managing partner of Complete Data Products
Writer: Jon Zemke

Rebel Nell exceeds expectations in 1st sales season

The women behind Rebel Nell planned to start their jewelry-making business slowly and build it steadily last year. They ended up growing and hiring their Woodbridge-based business faster than they expected.

Rebel Nell is a low-profit limited liability company that makes jewelry from the paint chips that flake off of graffiti murals. It aims to also create jobs that empower and educate disadvantaged women in Detroit. The 1-year-old business mainly goes through COTS Detroit to find its employees, which it did for the first time last fall.

"At the time we were only going to hire one because we were cautious," says Amy Peterson, who co-founded Rebel Nell with Diana Russell. "Diana and I fell in love with three of them and hired them. We said we were going to find a way to make it work."

Rebel Nell hired all three of them and went to work at its space at the Grand River Creative Corridor's 4731 building. Sales of the firm’s jewelry fought to keep up with demand during the holiday season.

"It far exceeded our expectations," Peterson says. "It got to the point we sold the pieces off our necks there was so much demand."

Rebel Nell plans to continue its growth curve in 2014. Peterson and Russell hope to find space for their jewelry in more local stores and add more employees.

"Our goal is to have two more women by the end of the year," Peterson says.

Source: Amy Peterson, co-founder of Rebel Nell
Writer: Jon Zemke

Architecture firm Hamilton Anderson celebrates 20 years with new developments, hires

Detroit-based architecture firm Hamilton Anderson is ramping up for a busy year with seven new hires and a search for several more. The firm, which is celebrating its 20th year, has an immediate need for two architects, a designer, and one or two project managers. The firm is involved in a number of projects that will alter the landscape of downtown, the riverfront, and Midtown. A recent conversation with principal, president, co-founder, and CEO Rainy Hamilton reveals updates on some of their more high profile projects.

The firm is working on Orleans Landing, the five block development along the east riverfront. Hamilton Anderson is applying more industrial design influences to the previously released illustrations. Townhomes are planned for the blocks facing the Dequindre Cut. The rest of the development will consist of mid-rise lofts featuring mixed-use and residential units.

Hamilton and co-founder Kent Anderson spent the early part of their careers in an office in Rivertown, making their involvement in the Orleans Landing development extra special to them. "For us to be involved in the first new development in the east riverfront, it's really quite an honor and a thrill," says Hamilton.

Hamilton Anderson has been selected by New York-based SHoP Architects as the local architects to collaborate with on the Hudson's site building. Hamilton says a concept has been presented to Bedrock Real Estate Services and was well-received.

The firm is the design architect and architect of record for the adaptive re-use of the old Strathmore Hotel in Midtown. Hamilton says that an original light well is going to be preserved and that developers are hoping that a new parking structure will be built nearby.

It's looking like Radio One, a national broadcasting company, will move into the Queen Lillian Woodward Office Building at Stimson and Woodward Ave. once completed, says Hamilton.

Source: Rainy Hamilton, president, co-founder, and CEO of Hamilton Anderson
Writer: MJ Galbraith

WSU-based DragAroundMe places at Michigan Innovation competition

DargAroundMe took third place at the recent Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize competition, setting the stage for the startup to score a run of business plan competition wins.

The 7-month-old startup, which is made up of Wayne State University students, is creating software that enables people to quickly share documents with others in their immediate vicinity. It won the Web/IT prize at the Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize, giving it a few thousand dollars in seed capital and some valuable experience.

"It was a journey for us," says Kun Wang, co-founder of DragAroundMe. "We learned a lot from the program."

The team of five people learned how to grow DragAroundMe through landing customers, validating adoptions and keeping customers. It also gave the team a platform to present the latest additions to its technology.

"We added quite a few features," Wang says. "We're making sure it’s compatible with all of the different platforms."

Source: Kun Wang, co-founder of DragAroundMe
Writer: Jon Zemke

Oakland Energy & Water Ventures fund launches in Farmington Hills

A new second-stage investment fund is launching in Farmington Hills. Oakland Energy & Water Ventures will specialize in making investments in the clean energy and water spaces.

"We look at opportunities up to $100 million," says Chris Brower, managing director of Oakland Energy & Water Ventures.

Brower adds that the fund, which is made up of three partners, is flexible when it comes to what type of deals it is looking to do. Among them are joint ventures, partnerships, license agreements, and collaborations. The main things Oakland Energy & Water Ventures is looking for are patented technologies that are ready to scale.

"We're a bit more simplistic," Brower says. "We're looking for proof-of-concept technologies. That is our focus."

Brower says there are a couple of potential deals in the works but the firm isn’t ready to make an announcement yet. He adds that the company is focusing on clean energy and water plays because of global macro trends that are spiking demand for both clean energy and water to accommodate the growing world population.

Source: Chris Brower, managing director of Oakland Energy & Water Ventures
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M student showcased in Academy Award's "Team Oscar"

Just one of five (out of 5000) student filmmakers, Bronx native and U-M student Zaineb Abdul-Nabi's short film was honored by the Academy Awards. Abdul-Nabi was then invited to hand out Oscar statuettes to the presenters at Sunday night's 86th annual Academy Awards.
“I’m a Gonzo cinematographer siezing the richness of the everyday, searching for the infinite forms of strength and tenacity that make us all extraordinary humans,” says the budding auteur in a voice-over during her winning short, which lovingly features images of graffiti-strewn Bronx buildings and street scenes in Ann Arbor, where the 22-year-old senior attends the University of Michigan."
Read the rest here.

Startgrid brings more collaboration in local new economy

The Detroit Regional Chamber launched Startgrid, an online platform to encourage more collaboration between entrepreneurs, last week at the Detroit Policy Conference in North Corktown.

"Changing the world is no small feat," says Peter Gardner, founder & CEO of Startgrid. "No one can do it alone."

The Startgrid platform enables entrepreneurs to create a collaboration page that fleshes out their idea or business plan. The users can incrementally expand their page to their circle of friends, mentors and industry experts throughout Metro Detroit. The idea is to create an environment where people help each build their business in southeast Michigan.

Startgrid plans to complement the region's existing assets in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. It will work with the likes of Bizdom, TechTown, Detroit Venture Partners, Insyght, Ann Arbor SPARK and Automation Alley, among others.

"We have one of the most mature and well-built entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world," says Dave Egner, executive director of the New Economy Initiative, which is helping fund the creation of Startgrid. "What happened is we have been fragmented. There are gaps."

Startgrid wants to fill those gaps to accelerate the formation and growth of local businesses. To watch a video about what Startgrid is about, click here.

Source: Peter Gardner, founder & CEO of Startgrid, and Dave Egner, executive director of the New Economy Initiative
Writer: Jon Zemke

Revolver restaurant in Hamtramck thrives on revolving chef concept

The owners of revolver saw promise in melding the concept of table d'hôte -- a set, pre-selected menu at a fixed price - with up-and-coming chefs, a belief in using locally sourced food and a desire to build a community around it all. And in just under six months, they are seeing their vision catch on.

Tunde Wey, who with Peter Dalinowski opened revolver at 9737 Joseph Campau in Hamtramck in September, says revolver will be adding to its list of revolving chefs and opening more days for its reservation-only seatings.

Instead of serving dinner only on Fridays and every other Saturday, revolver will also be open every Saturday and some Sundays.

"We want to grow with demand naturally as opposed to trying to force it,"  says Wey, who describes revolver and the chefs he and Dalinowski select to prepare the day's meal as "artisanal fare, handmade, farm-to-table with attention to detail. Typically the food is new American, he says, but guest chefs have also served Japanese sushi and Indonesian food.

"We're open to all kinds of food genres. But we want food that's approachable and comfortable," says Wey, who like Dalinowski is a self-taught chef and entrepreneur.

The pair wanted to go into the restaurant business and do it in a way that it spoke to things they care about: nurturing the cooking community, bringing people who love different food experiences together and operating in a socially responsible way.

"We've gotten tons of requests from chefs recently and we sell out our dinners," Wey says. "There are so many talented chefs and caterers here waiting to be discovered, and so many people out there who want to try their food first."

The restaurant has room for 36 guests per seating, but can go up to 40. Tables -- the four six-tops and one 12-top -- are seated so that guests often make new acquaintances in their dining companions.

"We have people making friends, getting phone numbers," says Wey. "We're hoping to facilitate a marriage one day."

Want to hear more thoughts from Wey on revolver? Check out his November 2013 blog post on Metromode's sister publication, Model D.

Source: Tunde Wey, revolver
Writer: Kim North Shine

Innovative Learning Group celebrates 10 years this month

Most businesses don't live to see three years. Many more don't make it to five years. Innovative Learning Group is celebrating birthday No. 10 this month.

The downtown Royal Oak-based firm doesn’t dwell on what has changed over the last decade. Its team of 13 people focus on what has stayed the same in that time: "Our great culture and focus on clients," says Lisa Toenniges, CEO of Innovative Learning Group. "What happened over the last 10 years is we managed to keep pace with technology as it changed."

Innovative Learning Group is a business consultancy that specializes in training and human performance improvement for businesses. It develops learning strategies, curriculum architectures, and implements/evaluates these learning solutions. The firm has done this primarily with digital solutions and it is pivoting its services more toward the mobile realm in 2014.

"What we always care about is steady, profitable growth," Toenniges says. "We aim for 15 percent year over year."

That has allowed Innovative Learning Group to hire two people in January. Those new jobs are in performance consulting and media development.

"Over the coming year we will probably hire several people," Toenniges says.

Source: Lisa Toenniges, CEO of Innovative Learning Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M developing solar cells with an aesthetic edge

Researchers at U-M are working on see-through solar cells that could be used as decorations and even stained-glass windows.
"The cells, believed to be the first semi-transparent, colored photovoltaics, have the potential to vastly broaden the use of the energy source, says Jay Guo, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, mechanical engineering, and macromolecular science and engineering at U-M. Guo is lead author of a paper about the work newly published online in Scientific Reports."
Read the rest here.
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