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OWN Point of Sale

201 S Division
Suite 420
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Verdi Erel Ergun

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
SPARK BA Resources Program, FastTrack, Product Development & Commercialization Series (through FastTrack), SPARK Bootcamp, Marcel Gani Self-Hosted Internship Program

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
When we first had the idea a year ago we got on the phone and just started calling coffeehouse owners. We asked them how they liked their point of sale system. The response we got to something new and innovative that tied into loyalty was positive, so we kept going from there. But they were all from cold calls.

Where did you find your first employee?
We went through an evaluation period. We just brought on as many people from different areas as we could find: user interface design, graphic design, operating system development -- all interns. What we found within a few months was the classic, throw noodles against the wall and see what sticks. Our first employee came from this batch of interns.

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
This is what I was just mentioning, but so far it's been the only time we've done it. Although we're moving towards a position where we can provide this for additional employees in the coming months and we very well may do so.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
It's all been grants and micro-loans through the popular Ann Arbor institutions, such as Ann Arbor SPARK, Zell-Lurie Institute, the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship. Did I say 'Thanks?' I meant 'Great thanks.' At this point though we're migrating toward seed funding. We're going through a courting process like a lot of other start-ups.

What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
I think leaders need to really get in touch with why they want to change the world. If they're not out to change the world, they need to come to terms with themselves there first. Being able to communicate a world changing vision is what calls to people. Everyone wants to be a part of something big. What I find is a lot of entrepreneurs either 1. Talk about changing the world in too abstract of terms to really attract people, or 2. Don't rise up to the challenge to do meaningful, life-changing work in the first place. Both of these errors are fatal because your team is your company and your team is your product. They're inexorably linked.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business here?
It's a good time and it's a good place. There are a lot of talented people, but before you open a business don't rush into things. Spend some time to do the research and spend some time to write a good business plan. As entrepreneurs we want to make a difference right away, but learn about your industry, go read about how it started, its history, spend some time to get to know people who can help you. Haste is your enemy at the beginning.

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