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GardenHoard plants future in heirloom seeds

Gardening has been a favorite pastime for Katie Flickinger's family for quite a while, so it's little wonder the fresh Central Michigan University graduate is turning that passion into a business.

Flickinger has recently started GardenHoard, an online company that sells heirloom seeds for a variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs. It offers more than 800 varieties of vegetation.

"It started out as a hobby but became a business," Flickinger says.

She leveraged the help of Blackstone LaunchPad’s entrepreneurial services at Walsh College's Troy campus. That helped her spike GardenHoard's revenues by 250 percent last year. She has already grown her revenues another 100 percent for this growing season.

"Every year we are improving and getting more sales," Flickinger says.

The Livonia resident now utilizes six community gardens across the region to get her stock. She and her husband are now looking to move to a house with five acres so they can bring all of their business under one roof.

Source: Katie Flickinger, owner of GardenHoard
Writer: Jon Zemke

Kalyspo aims to commercialize technology by year-end

Kalyspo, the bio-tech startup and University of Michigan spin out, is well on its way to commercializing its surgical instrument tracking technology.

The Ann Arbor-based company’s technology helps prevent medical professionals from leaving foreign objects (think surgical tools like sponges) in patients during an operation. It accomplishes this by inserting a micro-machined tag that shows up clearly on x-rays and computer software. The technology is so advanced that it scores highly on both the sensitivity and specificity scales for finding these sorts of items.

"This is one of the best (detection rates) I have ever seen," says Dr. Theodore Marentis, co-founder of Kalyspo.

The 1-year-old startup employs a team of four employees, two interns and two independent contractors. It also won the Best of Boot Camp award at the Ann Arbor SPARK Entrepreneur Boot Camp.

Dr. Marentis expects to commercialize this technology before the end of the year. He says the company is in discussion with a couple of hospitals which could become potential customers, and it is looking to create other types of revenue streams.

"We're talking to a number of manufacturers about adding them to their product line," he says.

Source: Dr. Theodore Marentis, co-founder of Kalyspo
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M ranks 8th nationally for international student population

With over 6,800 international students, U-M continues to attract students from around the globe.


"Michigan's first two international students -- one from Mexico, one from Wales -- enrolled in 1847. Now the prestigious Big Ten university hosts the 8th-largest population in the country, 78% of whom come from Asia."

More here.

Draper Triangle Ventures plans to open Ann Arbor office

Draper Triangle Ventures sees an opportunity in Michigan so the Pittsburgh-based venture capital firm has its sights set on Ann Arbor.

The VC plans to make tech startups part of its newest investment fund and is opening satellite offices in Ann Arbor and downtown Detroit in order to be in the middle of Michigan’s most dynamic tech hubs.

"We'll be actively making investments," says Jonathan Murray, managing director of Draper Triangle Ventures. "There is one that is pretty far along already that could be announced within the next couple of months."

Draper Triangle Ventures invests in early stage tech ventures. Think: software and IT startups. It is in the midst of raising a $100 million investment fund with commitments for three quarters of that amount.

Murray will be Draper Triangle Ventures' person on the ground in Michigan, manning the Ann Arbor and Detroit offices. Murray graduated from the University of Michigan with an MBA and serves as an advisor to the Wolverine Venture Fund at the Ross School of Business. He plans to make 1-2 investments in local startups each year. Those investments will be in the area of $1 million.

"Our model is quality over quantity," Murray says. "We tend to be selective."

Source: Jonathan Murray, managing director of Draper Triangle Ventures
Writer: Jon Zemke

Challenge Detroit begins recruiting for 2014 cohort

Challenge Detroit is now taking applications for its third class of fellows, but also has some interesting statistics to show off from its first class.

Challenge Detroit is a talent/retention initiative that pairs recent college graduates with employers. The year-long program also provides the fellows with a housing stipend to live in the city and opportunities to volunteer and become involved in the city.

Challenge Detroit takes in about 30 fellows each year starting with its first class in 2012. Of those fellows in the first class, 90 percent stayed in the region. A vast majority of them also kept working with their host employer after the fellowship was up.

"We're hoping for similar events coming out of year two," says Deirdre Green Grove, executive director of Challenge Detroit. "We're really excited about our first year’s impact."

That first class of fellows has also proven to have some aspiring business people. Five of the fellows from the first class have started their own business or are in the process of doing. Among those ventures are FYOUNK Clothing, which just opened a retail location in downtown Royal Oak, and Zoom Detroit Studios, a videography and animation firm.

"We weren't trying to start an entrepreneur incubator but we definitely had some entrepreneurial individuals," Green Grove says.

Applications for the 2014 class of Challenge Detroit fellows can be found here. Applications are due by March 9. The new class of fellows will launch in September.

Source: Deirdre Green Grove, executive director of Challenge Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke

3D Biomatrix expands product portfolio, sales

The University of Michigan spun out 3D Biomatrix three years ago but the bio-tech startup is starting to show some significant gains for its expanding product portfolio.

"We have a lot of repeat customers around the world," says Laura Schrader, CEO of 3D Biomatrix. "That's a good indicator of a viable product."

The Ann Arbor-based company, it calls U-M’s Venture Accelerator home, develops 3D cell culture Hanging Drop Plates for lab research in cancer treatments or stem cells. These plates allow cells to grow in 3D like they do in the body. Most current methods offer flat surfaces, similar to slides or petri dishes. The 96-well plates sell well for users using manual lab methods. The 384-well plates are growing in use as they work well with automated lab equipment, spiking sales for it and the firm’s revenues.

"We're not only adding new products to our portfolio but our products are becoming more widespread," Schrader says.

3D Biomatrix
and its team of four employees and the occasional intern are looking at expanding the startup’s product portfolio further with more testing equipment for personalized medicine uses.

"That's a space that has great possibilities," Schrader says.

Source: Laura Schrader, CEO of 3D Biomatrix
Writer: Jon Zemke

As campus life builds, new $11.6M dorm goes up at LTU

Construction on a third dorm at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield begins this spring, making room for the growing number of students coming for the education and the campus life.

The 47,545-square-foot, two-story building will house 160 students and face Lawrence Tech's largest parking lot. The building will also house university mechanical systems and storage in a 4,000-square-foot basement .

The $11.6-million project is an investment in students and in a changing university that is less of a commuter school as more fraternity life, varsity sports, student activities and other aspects of campus life are making on-campus living more attractive.

The new residence hall will be ready for move-in for the fall 2015 semester, and it will be arranged in five pods of 16 double-occupancy units. Each pod will have its own lounge, fireplace and kitchenette. There will be  dorm cafe and retail spaces as well as game rooms and meeting rooms and laundry facilities.

“The building is designed to encourage students to be out of their rooms with plenty of space for interaction and collaboration. One of the goals is to get new students involved in campus life by fostering collegiality on a regular basis,” LTU President Virinder Moudgil says.

Two residence halls, North, which opened in 1977, and South, which opened in 2002, have room for 600 students.

LTU was largely a commuter school until 1977, says spokesman Eric Pope, and it's slowly turned less so since. Students from 32 states and 46 countries attend LTU, and Michigan residents make up 66 percent of all students.

Source: Eric Pope, managing editor, University New Bureau, Lawrence Technological University
Writer: Kim North Shine

U-M Kellog Eye Center implants first bionic eye

<Insert Bionic Man sound effects here> Last month surgeons at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center implanted the very first bionic eye in patients with  late stage Retinitis Pigmentosa.
"The device is implanted in one eye. The patient wears glasses with a camera that converts images into electrical pulses that go to the retina.
It won't completely restore a person's vision, but it's giving people who can't see some hope."
Read or watch the rest here.


Come to D:hive's LiveWorkDetroit! event this Friday

Are you looking for a job in a city filled with opportunity? With high-tech startups, cutting-edge medical researchers, creative entrepreneurs, unrivaled restaurants, world-renowned museums, and affordable places to live, Detroit is that city. Join us Feb. 7 for a LiveWorkDetroit. one-day Detroit experience where you will network with award winning employers, meet students from around the state and get a first-hand look at the best places to live, work and play. 
Registration required ($15 after Jan 31) and includes food, transportation, and entertainment. Register here.

Event features: Employer Networking, 2-4 p.m.; Insider Tour by D:hive, 4-6 p.m.; Dinner and Panel Discussion, 6-8 p.m.

It's this Friday Feb. 7, 2-8 p.m. at the Westin Book Cadillac, 1114 Washington Blvd., downtown Detroit.
Got any questions? call 313-962-4590 or go to [email protected].

Q'vive grows revenue with online course sales

Q'vive is a one-man operation, so the key is to create new revenue streams to grow the Wixom-based consulting business. Eric van der Meulen believes he found another one this year: online courses.

The 5-year-old firm specializes in offering consulting services in project management. Van der Meulen also teaches courses in project management at Schoolcraft College.

He started selling these courses online last year. Sales tripled in that time, turning it into another revenue stream that helped spike the company’s growth by 50 percent in 2013.

"Last year was the best we have had so far," van der Meulen says. "It far exceeded our previous years."

He is now entering his 10th semester teaching project management at Schoolcraft and estimates he has helped educate about 250 students in that time. "Participation is strong," van der Meulen says. "It has actually been strengthening over the last few semesters."

Q'vive is looking to grow more revenue streams in 2014 by creating strategic partnerships with other local consultants and educators. "That's what I plan to do for the foreseeable future," van der Meulen says.

Source: Eric van der Meulen, president & owner of Q’vive
Writer: Jon Zemke

6th Man Apps brings analytics to sports with mobile tech

Luke and Matt Geiger have been big basketball fans for about as long as the two young men have been alive.

The brothers weren't able to play organized ball much beyond high school and recreation leagues, so they built a mobile app dedicated to the sport they love.

"It's the next best thing," says Luke Geiger, CEO of 6th Man Apps. "Basketball is something we love to do."

Luke Geiger was one of the first developers with UpTo, a up-and-coming startup in the [email protected] Building. He and his brother are looking to set up 6th Man Apps' 4-month-old shop in the Grand Circus co-working space. Its first app, HoopMetrics, uses advanced statistics and analytics to help coaches and teams maximize their lineups.

The startup describes the app that "identifies the players that don’t necessarily light up the stat sheet but when they are on the floor, good things happen." It breaks down "player performance beyond basic statistics" so it can pinpoint the team’s highest scorer and its most efficient scorer.

"We got a lot more in-depth with our statistics," Geiger says.

6th Man Apps launched HoopMetrics last summer, selling it for $60 a pop. It now claims about 750 teams using the app, including teams like the University of Detroit Mercy. The startup and its four-person team is now looking at expanding to other sports later this year, such as baseball.

Source: Luke Geiger, CEO of 6th Man Apps
Writer: Jon Zemke

FlexSys adds to staff to develop new tech in Ann Arbor

FlexSys thinks it can save as much as 5 percent on your plane's jet fuel with its new technology.

The Ann Arbor-based tech firm is launching its FlexFoil, a variable geometry airfoil. That technology would replace the wing flaps on a jet by making the wings one piece of metal. FlexFoil is a deformable, seamless surface that changes shape for optimized performance throughout the flight regime saving jet fuel. You can watch a video about the technology here.

"We can get at least 5 percent fuel savings," says Sridhar Kota, founder of FlexSys. "It is easy to implement and you can have a payback (in jet fuel savings) in two years."

Kota is a professor of engineering at the University of Michigan. He started FlexSys in 2001 after noticing how many man-made objects are strong and rigid, but how most things in nature are strong and flexible.

FlexSys' products have included from helicopters windshield wipers blades and wind turbine technology. FlexSys currently employs a dozen people. It hired a University of Michigan engineering graduate last year to help round out its staff.

Source: Sridhar Kota, founder of FlexSys
Writer: Jon Zemke

HealPay partners with Commercial Legal Software

HealPay, a software startup focused on improving debt collections, has brokered a partnership with one of the leading software firm’s in its industry, Commercial Legal Software.

The downtown Ann Arbor-based startup and its team of five people hope to tap into Commercial Legal Software’s vast customer base to expand its own business in 2014.

"Our goal is to double our business this year in terms of revenue," says Erick Bzovi, co-founder & CEO of HealPay.

The 3-year-old startup got its start creating its Settlement App, which helps people collect what is owed them. Last year HealPay, debuted its Rent Roll App, which helps landlords collect monthly rent checks. HealPay is paid per transaction. Its Settlement App still brings in the lion’s share of revenue.

"It has been growing nicely," Bzovi says. "The Rent Roll App is something we have used to diversify."

HealPay plans to market Rent Roll App more aggressively in 2014 while it works to bring more customers online with its Settlement App.

Source: Erick Bzovi, co-founder & CEO of HealPay
Writer: Jon Zemke

LTU College of Architecture & Design to break ground in prime Midtown spot

Very nice to see renderings of this project in Curbed Detroit (which re-ran part of piece first reported in Crain's). We like this a lot. Read an excerpt:

The development on Woodward and Willis is scheduled to break ground this week. The $7M building will be three stories, with almost half of its 30,000 square feet devoted to Lawrence Tech's College of Architecture and Design. Surprisingly, there's no residential space in this structure, nor any certainty of retail space. The ground floor will mostly be gallery space for LTU, though an unnamed restaurant might occupy a spot in the corner. Midtown Inc expects LTU to move in by October 2014.

See more here.

TerraYebo aims to license technology to larger clients

Phase 1 for TerraYebo consisted of getting its fundraising software on the market. The second phase is about licensing it.

"We are in Phase 2," says Michele Favoretto, founder & CEO of TerraYebo. "We have launched the technology and we are preparing to license it to larger-scale clients."

The Madison Heights-based startup's principal product is MyInchofTheEarth.com, a micro-funding platform for nonprofits. Users of the software can claim a virtual inch of the earth or ocean. The platform allows the user to share why that place is important and choose a nonprofit that supports the preservation or enhancement of that place. That way the giver's life experience at a certain place, like a university or park, inspires them to give to that institution.

TerraYebo has landed a number of larger nonprofits on its client roster, including Autism Speaks, the National Park Foundation, and The Pink Fund, among others. The startup and its team of five, up one from earlier this year, has steadily been enhancing the software to make it more dynamic for users.

"That allowed us to bring on these larger nonprofits this year," Favoretto says. "We are rolling out new features every two weeks."

TerraYebo has also received another investment from Automation Alley worth $75,000. The startup has raised $650,000 in seed capital, with half of that coming from the Troy-based business accelerator.

Source: Michele Favoretto, founder & CEO of TerraYebo
Writer: Jon Zemke
617 Higher Education Articles | Page: | Show All
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