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Runn aims to bring comprehensive delivery to Detroit

A pair of Wayne State University students and one from Central Michigan University are so sick of poor experiences in getting anything delivered in downtown Detroit they are starting their own company, Runn.

"We wanted to get something to eat but didn’t have a car, and delivery fees are pretty outrageous around downtown Detroit," Rodney Gainous, co-founder & CPO of Runn, "That is what inspired us. It was a hassle to get what we wanted at a reasonable price."

The downtown Detroit-based company focuses on delivering a broad range of items while leveraging mobile technology to streamline the experience. Runn is aiming to deliver things college students want in an hour or less by connecting the users smartphone with local merchants and its delivery team. You can check out a video about its software platform here.

"It has a much bigger range than just food," Gainous says. "We are basically a one-stop shop for merchandise and food. We have everything."

The 6-month-old business and its team of three people aims to launch in the Wayne State University area this fall.

Source: Rodney Gainous, co-founder & CPO of Runn
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

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.

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.

CoFoundersLab, U-M partner to create Michigan Founder Finder

A new way to connect entrepreneurs and technical experts to help create more startups has arrived at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

The Zell-Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies partnered with CoFoundersLab to build a co-founder matching portal called Michigan Founder Finder. The online matching platform helps the entrepreneurial communities of the University of Michigan, great Ann Arbor area and beyond with the right people to push their new business venture forward.

"They don't need to reinvent the wheel," says Michael Hughes, vice president of community development of CoFoundersLab. "They can connect entrepreneurs across schools on their own campus. It can also help students and alumni connect with another person who might not have anything to do with the university."

CoFoundersLab, which is based in Maryland, specializes in making online portals that help entrepreneurs make connections with a variety of people they need to get their startup off the ground. Each portal specializes in a specific metropolitan area or, in U-M's case, a university community. Think of it as a dating site for entrepreneurs looking for co-founders.

The Michigan Founder Finder is open to current students, alumni, faculty and staff at U-M.

"We want thousands of people," Hughes says. "It's for University of Michigan students and alumni, the greater U-M community."

CoFoundersLab will be also host a matchup event in downtown Detroit at 6:30 p.m. on Mar 19 in the Grand Circus space in the Broderick Tower. For information, click here.

Source: Michael Hughes, vice president of community development of CoFoundersLab
Writer: Jon Zemke

Michigan Business Challenge sends 113K to student startups

A wide variety of student-led startups scored thousands of dollars in seed capital at the most-recent Michigan Business Challenge.

The annual business-plan competition at the University of Michigan awarded $113,000 from the Michigan Business Challenge and Dare to Dream grant program. The competition awarded money to 16 teams that ranged from $200 to teams that made it past round one to $20,000 for the top placer. Among the winners were clock generator technology for the microprocessor market and a workout water bottle that can be turned inside out so it can be washed.

"When you have that kind of diversity of really smart people all in one place it is unusual if you don’t see that sort of breadth of diversity when these competitions come up," says Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Zell-Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, which organized the competition.

Among the top winners are:

Movellus Circuits won the Pryor-Hale Award for Best Business (worth $20,000) for its patent-pending clock generator technology for the microprocessor market.

Flipsi won the Pryor-Hale runner-up award for best business ($10,000) and the marketing award ($2,500). Flipsi is creating a reusable drinking bottle that flips completely inside out to facilitate easier cleaning.

A group of three U-M graduate students studying engineering ands business won the Erb Institute award for Sustainability ($7,500). The trio is developing an energy system that installs heavy-duty power electronics and battery storage units in commercial buildings for fast-charging services to electric vehicle drivers.

MyDermPortal won the Outstanding Presentation award ($2,000) and the Marketing award ($2,500) for its web-based app for dermatologists to provide follow-up treatment via the Internet for the most common diagnoses in significantly less time than an in-person visit.

Lab Compass won the Most Successful Undergraduate Team award ($2,500) for its cloud-based software enabling more efficient collection, storage and sharing of sensitive healthcare data used in medical research.

Nodify won the Best Written Plan award ($2,000) for its mobile apps that automatically refine a user’s professional network into a manageable group of important contacts and suggests relevant reasons to stay in touch.

"The ones that did emerge at the tip of the heap are the one that showed the most promise," Thornhill says.

Source: Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Zell-Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies
Writer: Jon Zemke

AlertWatch scores FDA clearance for healthcare tech

The Food & Drug Administration recently gave a big green light to AlertWatch, which will get the Ann Arbor-based startup on the trial to cash-flow positive.

AlertWatch is developing patient-monitoring software to hospitals. The platform helps anesthesiologists monitor patients in the operating room, aggregating data from physiological monitors, anesthesia records, lab results and medical history to produce a dynamic real-time display of a patient's condition. The software determines whether things are normal, marginal or abnormal. The FDA gave it clearance earlier this month.

"If we didn't get that we'd be in in a pretty tricky situation," says Justin Adams, CEO of AlertWatch. "It is the major milestone for our product."

The 2-year-old startup has doubled its staff to four employees over the last year, hiring a developer and a technical writer. AlertWatch’s technology is currently being used in three pilot programs, including one that has analyzed more than 17,000 surgeries at the University of Michigan Health System.

"We're starting to get the word out and get some installs going," Adams says. "We're starting to create some revenue."

Source: Justin Adams, CEO of AlertWatch
Writer: Jon Zemke

Campus Commandos moves to First National Building

Like many young, small firms, Campus Commandos spent much of its youth jumping from office to office. It has spent time at TechTown and the Chrysler House, among other places, before settling into a more permanent home in the First National Building last summer. The company moved its staff of four employees (it has hired two people in the last year) and one intern.

"We invested a lot of money into the design," says Adam Grant, CEO of Campus Commandos. "We are an advertising agency and I wanted to work in a place that fosters creativity."

Campus Commandos specializes in marketing for the college environment, creating campaigns for everything from students to university staff. Grant, a Bizdom graduate, got his start in the business while attending Michigan State University in the mid-2000s.

Campus Commandos' client list includes the like of eBay, Nike and Kaplan. It is currently working on a mobile app that helps pair companies with college students to do everyday tasks. Work like that has allowed Campus Commandos to continue growing at a double-digit rate in recent years.

"We have maintained a 50-percent rate of growth," Grant says. "A large part of that is listening to our clients and executing on exactly what we say we’re going to do."

Source: Adam Grant, CEO of Campus Commandos
Writer: Jon Zemke

New $148M manufacturing research institute to open in Canton this spring

A heavy investment in terms of dollars and jobs has been made in a new high-tech lightweight metals research facility.


"The $148-million high-tech manufacturing research institute announced Saturday by the White House is expected to bring 10,000 jobs to the Midwest and is to open this spring in Canton, the University of Michigan announced Sunday.

The American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute will be led by U-M, Ohio-based manufacturing technology nonprofit EWI and Ohio State University.

More than 50 other companies, universities and nonprofits across the U.S. will be involved in the public-private partnership to be headquartered in Canton, with key support in Columbus, Ohio."

More here.

Qstride expands across U.S. with new Ann Arbor, VA offices

Qstride is growing across the eastern half of the U.S. The Troy-based tech firm is opening new offices in downtown Ann Arbor and Virginia. It is also expanding its office in downtown Detroit.

Qstride provides analytics and business intelligence services for a broad range of clients. It now has clients across the country, from New York to California and several states in between. That has allowed the 20-month-old firm to grow its revenue by 135 percent. It now employs 20 people, including eight in Detroit.

"It will probably grow to 15 people," says Shane Gianino, CEO of Qstride. "We don't want to grow too fast."

The Ann Arbor and Virginia offices are still small. Gianino expects them to grow significantly over the next year as they draw from their respective local tech talent pools.

Qstride does a lot of work in data warehousing and business intelligence, such as providing big data services and predictive analytics. It has landed 10 new clients over the last year, including three last week. The clientele includes healthcare, retail, education and financial services businesses.

Source: Shane Gianino, CEO of Qstride
Writer: Jon Zemke

Seelio continues to expand software platform across U.S.

Seelio is starting to grow beyond its humble beginnings in Ann Arbor. The software startup's digital portfolio platform for college students is appearing at more and more universities across the U.S.

Seelio is developing a software platform that allows college students to showcase their portfolio of work. The software enables the students to document how college projects came to fruition and use that to get a start in the professional world, such as for job interviews. Seelio’s software is actively being used at seven universities across the U.S., including the universities of Michigan, Toledo and Texas, among others.

"We have a very strong pipeline of universities," says Moses Lee, CEO of Seelio.

That growth has allowed Seelio to grow in a number of different ways. It raised a $1.5 million seed round last year. It also hired six people (mostly in sales and customer service), expanding its staff to 12 employees. It also moved to new space at Ann Arbor SPARK’s Central Business Incubator in downtown Ann Arbor.

Seelio is looking to continue to grow its product use in more universities across North America. It currently has string footholds in the Midwest, East Coast and South, but would like to partner with more institutions of higher learning in other regions of the country in 2014.

"It's all about growth," Lee says. "We want to provide stellar outcomes and services to university students."

Source: Moses Lee, CEO of Seelio
Writer: Jon Zemke

Qstride expands into Ann Arbor with downtown space

Qstride is expanding its physical presence across the U.S. and the Troy-based firm has its eyes on Ann Arbor.

The software company, which already has a growing office in downtown Detroit, is opening a another office in downtown Ann Arbor and Virginia this winter. The Ann Arbor office has one person right now, but the leadership at Qstride expects that head count to grow.

"We have local people in these locations," says Shane Gianino, CEO of Qstride. "These are hotbeds for new technology."

The 20-month-old firm specializes in analytics and business intelligence software. Qstride has watched its revenue jump 135 percent over the last year, allowing it to expand its staff to 22 people. It has clients across the U.S. including in New York, California, Arizona and Ohio.

Gianino says there are a couple of reasons why Qstride choose Ann Arbor for its newest location. The biggest reason is its proximity to the University of Michigan.

"There is a lot of talent at the University of Michigan," Gianino says. "We need software engineers. Our lead data scientists is out of Ann Arbor and is in charge of that office."

Source: Shane Gianino, CEO of Qstride
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M students create new mobile startup, Tag Contacts

What do you do when you want to launch a new economy startup? Find a new economy pain in the butt and begin working on a solution. It also helps if you can have a tech titan give you a shout out to get things started.

That's what's going on with Tag Contacts. The startup is the brainchild of two University of Michigan undergrads who want to build a better contacts apps for smartphones. The startup also managed to get a bump in interest when Twitter CEO Dick Costolo took notice of Tag Contacts and told the world.

"We're trying to go back to basics," says Chris O'Neil, co-founder of Tag Contacts. "Tag is for play tag on the playground. We’re trying to make it as simple as possible."

O'Neil, who is also president of MPowered, and Billy Irwin are juniors at U-M studying computer science. They became frustrated with a million and one annoyances with traditional contact lists on their smartphones, so they started reinventing the technology. That meant launching Tag Contacts, which is now composed of a team of five people, last October.

Tag Contacts technology, which is in private Beta, aims to make using the contacts list on a smartphone simpler and more intuitive. For instance, it allows users to sort contacts by which ones were recently entered. It also differentiates between contacts found on social media and in real life.

"The people you call and text aren’t necessarily the people you interact with on social media," O'Neil says. "We want to get you through to the people you want to call."

Tag Contacts caught Costolo's eye last week. The Twitter CEO, also a U-M alum, began following Tag Contacts and tweeted the startup, which brought about a world of attention. The startup is now pulling allnighters to get its technology into Apple's App Store by March.

Source: Chris O'Neil, co-founder of Tag Contacts
Writer: Jon Zemke

Bizdomís Cribspot helps connect college students with housing

Tim Jones knows how much of a pain in the ass it is for college students to find off-campus housing. It’s why he and a group of three other undergrads at the University of Michigan started Cribspot, an Internet startup that helps connect students to off-campus rental housing.

"It's archaic (looking for off-campus student housing in Ann Arbor)," Jones says. "It's inefficient for most people. People talk to a friend or walk around in the cold and dial the numbers on the house."

Cribspot's website acts as one central location for landlords and students to offer and find rental housing around universities. Jones launched the startup a little more than a year ago, then called A2cribs, with Evan Dancer, Jason Okrasinski and Alex Gross. The idea of helping Ann Arbor students at U-M. It is now being used at half a dozen campuses across the U.S., including the University of Iowa, Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"Our main goal is to get all of that (housing) data on a map," Jones says.

The quartet of entrepreneurs took Cribspot to Bizdom in downtown Detroit and are working on turning it into a national brand. It wants to create a mobile app for its software and generate revenue from referrals for things like meal plans and furniture sales for students.

"We want to focus on just off-campus housing in college towns," Okrasinski says.

Source: Tim Jones and Jason Okrasinski, co-founders of Cribspot
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M startup takes top prize at Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize

GENOMENON, a startup founded by University of Michigan students, walked away with the top prize at the Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize last week. The win allows the healthcare software startup to pocket $40,000 in seed capital.

GENOMENON's technology is the product of three U-M pathologists. The trio is developing software focused on improving cancer diagnosis and treatment. The company won the top prize at the event and the competition’s health category.

This is the fifth year for the competition, which has changed names and pivoted its focus a couple of times. The Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize is a three-month program that helps innovators find the market for their products. It is organized by U-M's Center for Entrepreneurship and offers $100,000 in seed capital for student-led startups.

Startups from across Michigan’s colleges are eligible to compete. This year it fielded 81 student teams from 16 colleges. Twenty three of those teams made the semifinals and five of those teams walked away with seed capital prizes.

"It's about talent retention through Michigan-based ventures," says Amy Klinke, associate director at University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship. "For us it's a win that these students stay in the state to lead these ventures."

The Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize got its start as a business plan competition at the University of Michigan. It then pivoted to become the Michigan Clean Energy Competition and expanded its reach to include participants from across the Great Lakes State. This year it opened up the competition even further to invite participants from a number of different new economy sectors, such as software.

Source: Amy Klinke, associate director at University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
617 Higher Education Articles | Page: | Show All
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