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523 S Main St
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

Jonathan Opdyke

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
HookLogic has been actively involved with the local technology and new media community, particularly when it comes to identifying and hiring talent. In particular, we have forged connections with several groups from the University of Michigan. Those groups include: MPowered Entrepreneurship (job fair and intern programs), HKN -- Computer Engineering Honors Fraternity and the U-M School of Information, including the human-computer interaction (HCI) program.
Beyond this, we try to stay well connected with local professional organizations. We work with Ann Arbor SPARK in particular, but also other groups, like Automation Alley, to help create connections with the professional technology community.

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
HookLogic’s first customer was Expedia. We happened to meet the right people at the right time in 2005, just when the company was getting off the ground. Expedia and HookLogic continue to have a strong and successful partnership.

Where did you find your first employee?
The first employees in our Ann Arbor location had worked with HookLogic's founders back during the dotcom boom at a successful local start-up, Beyond Interactive. From there, we picked up experienced talent that we had worked with at different times in the past, and also started recruiting and hiring talent from U-M (both the main campus in Ann Arbor, as well as from the U-M Dearborn campus).

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
The outstanding universities in the area are a major reason HookLogic opened an office in Ann Arbor. We routinely recruit the best and brightest, and make great use of interns. Whenever we hire one with exceptional talent (which is surprisingly often), we try to bring them on board full-time at graduation. It has only been in the past 1.5 years that we have had the leadership and infrastructure to support a large internship program, but it has been very successful. While we currently have one employee who started as an intern here in Ann Arbor, there are several more who have been with us for multiple semesters and who we hope to see join us full time upon graduation.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
HookLogic was organically funded until September 2011 when we accepted our first round of institutional capital from Bain Capital Ventures, the venture capital arm of legendary private equity firm Bain Capital. HookLogic was profitable and experiencing tremendous organic growth -- this $9.5 million investment is to accelerate even faster.

What do you see in Metro Detroit that other people who live outside the area don't?
Michigan has outstanding educational facilities, and a lot of really intelligent, highly educated people who live here. There is both a thriving technology community -- developers, database architects, project managers, etc. -- but also a very healthy business and new media industry, which includes product managers, analysts, media experts, etc. A big part of HookLogic’s strategy is to tap into this vibrant community, and leverage this exceptional talent.

What is one thing Michigan does better or has going for it that other more successful regional economies don't?
Michigan is in an interesting spot right now -- as with a lot of places, we are witnessing a shift from a manufacturing-based economy to a technology-based economy. So, the challenge is making sure we have the right type of people here to fill the jobs that are opening up. Fortunately, there are a lot of really smart people around, both in the workforce and coming out of the universities. Michigan also has an amazing "expat" community of folks who have moved to major knowledge centers around the country, many of whom would love to come home for the right opportunity -- bringing new skills with them. This combination of new opportunities and great people is pretty exciting, and we see it leading to a positive loop: As more opportunities bring in more good people -- and keep good people from heading to other states -- the companies here have an expanding pool of talent they can leverage to become even more successful. We strongly believe this is both good for us as a technology company and good for the community in general.

Name an idea, policy or mindset from elsewhere that you would like to see this region adopt?
I think what is most important is making sure that the many people who love this area -- either because they were born here, or came here for school and realized how great it is -- understand that despite public perception, there is a lot of really exciting stuff going on. For those who are interested in rolling up their sleeves and being part of this state’s transition to a true 21st century, this is an exciting place to be, and an exciting time to be here. The more the state can do to promote this perception and draw in talent the better -- whether through marketing and/or incentives.

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