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Damian Farrell Design Group adds to staff in Ann Arbor

Damian Farrell Design Group is riding the rebound of the architecture sector as the company attract more and more projects.

The Ann Arbor-based firm has experienced an increase in both commercial and residential projects, spiking its revenue by 20 percent The commercial projects have trended toward new construction while the residential projects are more renovations.

"It's all local right now," says Damian Farrell, owner of Damian Farrell Design Group. "We have one project in Pennsylvania but otherwise it’s all local."

That has allowed Damian Farrell Design Group to make a new hire over the last year. The new studio manager brings the firm's staff to four employees and one intern. Farrell expects his company to continue growing as more and more projects come up in 2014.

"People are getting more confident," Farrell says. "Money is a little bit more available right now."

Source: Damian Farrell, owner of Damian Farrell Design Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Coliant forms partnership with Harley-Davidson

Coliant, a local startup, is forming a partnership with a name-brand corporation, Harley Davidson, to produce the next big thing in motorcycle gear: microclimate technology.

The Warren-based startup’s newly-developed personal climate-control technology, i.e. Smart Clothing system, works to keep users warm while riding motorcycles and other similar vehicles, like ATVs. Coliant plans to ship its first units to Harley Davidson late next year.

"We're trying to set the standard in this industry, open-cabin vehicles," says John Swiatek, CEO of Coliant.

The 10-year-old company has been producing accessory technology for outdoors vehicles for years. Its Powerlet brand is an electrical accessory in the powersport industry that allows users of motorcycles and ATVs to plug their gadgets into the vehicle. Coliant won the $25,000 prize in the Next Generation Manufacturing category at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition last fall for its technological innovations.

"The technology has advanced," Swiatek says. "Our customers are evolving."

Which has meant the company has shaken up its staff. It hired two new executives over the last year, including a president and head of business development. Right now the team is focused on its microclimate technology for clothing.

"This is the largest project we're undertaking at the moment," Swiatek says.

Source: John Swiatek, CEO of Coliant
Writer: Jon Zemke

Realtime Technologies moves to bigger office in Royal Oak

Realtime Technologies has a new home in downtown Royal Oak. The company ended up there a little faster than expected for an unlikely reason: fire.

The simulation firm was planning to move to new offices last year, and then a fire hit its offices late last summer. That accelerated the company’s plans, prompting it to move early that fall to a bigger, nicer facility.

The company, a subsidiary of Ann Arbor-based AroTech, now employs a dozen people in Royal Oak after adding a new software developer. It is also looking to make another hire or two this spring if the right candidate comes around.

"We're always looking for good talent," says Clayne Woodbury, national sales director for Realtime Technologies. The company also hired another person outside of Michigan that was a former employee, he says. "We have added some significant talent in the last year."

Realtime Technologies makes simulation technology and offers custom software design and engineering services. The technical description involves real-time, multi-body vehicle dynamics, and graphical simulation and modeling. Among its projects are a simulation technology for autonomous vehicles, railroads and hospitals.

"One of the things we're doing more and more of as we become more involved with the commercial side of the business is rail," Woodbury says. "We're building a simulator for a light-rail system in Toronto."

Source: Clayne Woodbury, national sales director for Realtime Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

UpTo relaunches calendar app with richer content offerings

UpTo is relaunching its mobile calendar app with more built-in content that won't drown users.

UpTo's team is working to turn its new mobile app into a replacement for smartphone calendars. The app combines a users existing calendar and adds in extra information about things they like based on their location, such as concerts, friends' parties, and athletic events.

"It's truly innovative," says Greg Schwartz, co-founder & CEO of UpTo. "It's never been done before. We feel calendars will be the next place for disruption and we want to be that disruptor."

The top-layer of the app is filled with a user's normal calendar. The user can pinch or tap a time block and another layer of upcoming events will appear. Users can also connect privately with friends to share upcoming events to the back layer of a friend’s UpTo calendar. Check out a video about the app here.

UpTo got its start two years ago by launching a software platform that opens up its users' calendars to social media. The idea was to connect the user with friends and family by alerting them where the user expects to be in the near future. The 3-year-old startup abandoned that concept to go with its current version this spring.

"This is the first time UpTo is a total calendar replacement," Schwartz says. He adds that "it's really hard to grow with one foot in both (social and calendar) worlds."

UpTo has raised $3 million in venture capital since its launch in 2011. It has grown its team to 15 employees after hiring five people in the last year. Those new hires include software developers and one marketing professional. UpT also plans to add three interns this summer.

Source: Greg Schwartz, co-founder & CEO of UpTo
Writer: Jon Zemke

DetroitFlags turns city of Detroit flags into growing biz

Necessity is the mother of invention. It's also often the inspiration for new businesses. That's the case with DetroitFlags.

Woodbridge resident and IT professional Jon Franchi started the company a year ago when he noticed how difficult it was to find a copy of the official flag of the city of Detroit.

"You really didn't see it anywhere," Franchi says. "It was really prevalent (on downtown buildings and hotels) and I kept looking and looking (for a company that sold them). I got fed up and thought, 'I will go ahead and make these myself.'"

This proved to be about as difficult as finding a seller. The city's flag is detailed and has several colors. It’s far more intricate than the flags of other cities, such as Chicago’s, which features two stripes and four stars.

Franchi did eventually find a local source for the flags, but they were expensive, costing close to $100. Franchi commissioned a flag maker to produce a cheaper nylon version that would work as a simple porch flag. Users can now order a 18-inch-by-30-inch nylon flag for $20 or a 3-foot-by-5-foot nylon flag for $35. Franchi even offers bicycle delivery to local customers, weather permitting.

"I cancel the shipping fees and just take it over there on my bike," Franchi says.

Franchi says much of his clientele is based outside of the city limits. He often gets orders from the suburbs. About a third of his orders come from former Detroiters living out of state.

"There are a lot of ex-patriots who want to have a piece of Detroit history," Franchi says.

Source: Jon Franchi, owner of DetroitFlags
Writer: Jon Zemke

University of Michigan, Virginia profs team up to create PsiKick

Professors from the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia have spun out technology from their respective universities to create a new venture-backed startup, PsiKick.

Startups pulling technologies from a number of different universities isn't unheard of. However, fledgling companies taking technology from premier research institutions doesn’t happen often.

"It might be more rare that it's this equal (the standing of the research universities supplying the technology)," says Mark Maynard, marketing manager for the Office of Technology Transfer at the University of Michigan. He adds that the contribution of each university's technology is "pretty right down the middle."

David Wentzloff and Benton Calhoun met while attending graduate school at MIT. After graduate school they went back to their respective alma maters to start teaching careers. Wentzloff is an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at U-M and Calhoun is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UVa.

The friends came together in 2012 to launch PsiKick, which now has offices in Ann Arbor and Virginia. PsiKick is developing an ultra-low-power wireless sensor that is capable of operating on 1/100th to 1/1000th of the power budget of other low-power integrated circuit platforms. That enables the chip to be powered without the help of a battery, instead relying on vibration, thermal gradients, solar, radio frequency or piezo actuation for energy sources.

PsiKick's chip conducted continuous EKG monitoring and detection of atrial fibrillation. Wireless updates each second were sent by radio, all operating continuously and powered by body heat using a small thermoelectric generator on a body with no battery at all in the system. The lack of a battery means the chip can be used in a number of harsh environments.

"The implications could be enormous for several industries," Maynard says.

PsiKick recently closed on a Series A round of funding to help further develop the technology. The investment was led by New Enterprise Associates. Other investors include MINTS, a U-M venture fund, and Osage University Partners.

Source: Mark Maynard, marketing manager for the Office of Tech Transfer at the University of Michigan
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Dimensional Control Systems adds more staff, service offerings

Now that domestic manufacturing is on the rise, companies like Dimensional Control Systems are reaping some of the benefits, such as adding service offerings and staff.

The Troy-based quality assurance company has carved out its niche over 20 years helping manufacturers streamline their operations and introduce new technology that makes the building process leaner. The company now has a staff of 75 employees and two interns handling this work. It has hired three people over the last year, including two software developers and one sales professional.

"We like to hire people we know," says Ben Reese, marketing specialist for Dimensional Control Systems. "We hire a lot of people through referrals."

Dimensional Control Systems got its start in consulting for local manufacturers and eventually moved into the tech side of the business. Now it's expanding into more work in end-of-the-line manufacturing and managing big data for local auto suppliers.

"It's a whole new side of our business," Reese says.

Source: Ben Reese, marketing specialist for Dimensional Control Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

Adams Fellowship accepting applications for new class of entrepreneurs

The Adams Entrepreneur Fellowship Program is taking applications for this year's cohort of fellows.

The year-long program, which is run out of Automation Alley, places up-and-coming businesspeople (think recent college grads) with equally promising local start-ups. The aspiring entrepreneurs, four in each class, also receive a $60,000 annual stipend to support themselves while they help grow the startups they are working for.

"We have had some real superstars coming through here," says Terry Cross, executive director of the Adams Entrepreneur Fellowship Program. "I have three right now that are knocking the cover off the ball."

Adams Fellows will become engrained in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem through participating in business development/leadership events and many programs already in existence in Southeast Michigan. Applicants can be Metro Detroit residents or people looking to move back to the region and start a business or work with a startup.

"We have a list of potential companies that are candidates for our fellows," Cross says.

Applications for the program are now being accepted. For information click here.

Source: Terry Cross, executive director of the Adams Entrepreneur Fellowship Program
Writer: Jon Zemke

Saline Lectronics hires 18 on surging business

A number of key numbers are spiking at Saline Lectronics. Think revenue and staffing levels.

The Saline-based electronics manufacturer has watched its revenue rise 30 percent over the last year. It is coming off a record first quarter so far this year and it is set to exceed its revenue growth this year.

"We have experienced a lot of continued growth with our existing customers," says Davina McDonnell, director of marketing for Saline Lectronics.

Saline Lectronics does circuit board manufacturing and most other manufacturing functions in the electronic field. Some of its larger customers include the likes of Boeing and NASA. The growing business from them has allowed the 12-year-old company to hire 18 people over the last year, expanding its staff to 162 employees. It currently has three open positions for technicians and account managers.

"We're definitely on track to continue our hiring streak, and keep training new staff," McDonnell says. She expects Saline Lectronics to hire up to another 20 people this year.

Source: Davina McDonnell, director of marketing for Saline Lectronics
Writer: Jon Zemke

Stout Systems rounds out big growth year with more hires

2013 turned out to be a banner year for Stout Systems as the technology consulting and staffing firm hit records for revenue and expanded its staff numbers.

"Last year was our best year ever in terms of revenue," says John W. Stout, CEO of Stout Systems. "That includes our best quarter ever."

Stout Systems specializes in providing consulting services in the software and IT sectors, along with staffing services for those places. The 21-year-old company helped fill 48 positions in other firms over the last year. Stout expects to repeat that stat again in 2014.

"We'd like to stay consistent at that 40-50 level of workers each year," Stout says.  "That is a good level for us."

That spike in business has allowed the company to has hired two people to its core team, specifically two senior business analysts. It expects to continue adding to that core team to keep up with its revenue increases.

"We have had a lot of good referral business," Stout says.

Source: John W. Stout, CEO of Stout Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

The Floyd Leg leverages $256K in crowdfunding to start biz

We all encounter ideas that are so simple and intuitive we can't help but say, 'Why didn't I think of that?' The Floyd Leg has come up with one of those ideas.

The Floyd Leg's namesake product consists of four steel table legs that can attach to just about any flat surface of the user’s desire. Each leg, which is fabricated in Metro Detroit at a local manufacturer, comes with a clamp that allows it to firmly attach to a flat surface and form a table for light-to-medium use -- think makeshift coffee tables, end tables, desks, and the like. Check out a video on it here.

"It allows you to go out and find the surface you want, whether it’s an old door or reclaimed wood," says Kyle Hoff, who co-founded The Floyd Leg with Alex O’Dell.

A wildly successful crowdfunding campaign has helped this accelerate the start of this 3-month-old company. Hoff and O’Dell launched the campaign with a goal of raising $18,000. They raised $256,273 from 1,395 backers.

"It was amazing," Hoff says. "We were blown away."

The Floyd Leg is based in North Corktown at Practice Space (2801 14th Street). It is working with Reclaim Detroit and Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit to help pair reclaimed materials with its table legs. The partners behind The Floyd Leg plan to spend this spring and summer working on new products and filling orders.

"We're looking to produce more inventory so people can purchase it online and we can ship it that day," Hoff says.

Source: Kyle Hoff, co-founder of The Floyd Leg
Writer: Jon Zemke

Canvas Watch Co launches crowdfunding campaign

Shaun Reinhold found himself working as a buyer of interior parts for Tesla Motors as his second job out of college. He was ready for a different challenge, which turned into Canvas Watch Co.

"I wanted to move back to Michigan and start a business," Reinhold says. "That was the start of it."

Canvas Watch Co
is now one of the startups working out of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center’s Creative Ventures program in New Center. The firm uses premium components to create watches with unique aesthetics. Each watch is illustrated by an independent designer and made-to-order in the U.S.

"There isn't one right watch for everyone," Reinhold says. "I was fascinated by the idea that I wouldn’t have to make one right watch to sell to everyone."

Canvas Watch Co is launching a 30-day crowdfunding campaign this week with the hopes of raising $40,000 in startup funds. Check out the crowdfunding campaign here.

Source: Shaun Reinhold, founder of Canvas Watch Co
Writer: Jon Zemke

Slows aims to fill up to 50 jobs at hiring fair

The Slows empire wants you to come work for it, and it's hoping you take the first step by coming to its hiring fair on Monday, April 7.

The Corktown-based restaurant and its Midtown-based catering service, Slows To Go, are looking to fill up to 50 positions. The leadership team behind Slows hopes the hiring fair will serve as the right kickoff to fill those positions this spring/summer as the company enters catering season.

"It's more the season we're entering that necessitates it," says Terry Perrone, managing partner of Slows and Slows To Go. "Plus we need the occasional labor for banquet and festival work."

The hiring fair will start at 2 p.m. on Monday, April 7 at Slows' main restaurant, 2138 Michigan Ave., in the shadow of the Michigan Central Station. Types of open jobs include line cook, server, bartender, social media coordinator and catering operator, among others. You can check out the whole list for Slows here and for Slows To Go here.

Slows and Slows To Go currently employ more than 200 people. "I could see an increase of 50-60 people over the summer, including occasional workers," Perrone says.

Source: Terry Perrone, managing partner of Slows and Slows To Go
Writer: Jon Zemke

ACA leads to increased business and staff for Clarity Quest Marketing

Clarity Quest Marketing is enjoying a banner year, and one thing stands out as a reason why: the Affordable Care Act.

"This year in Q1 we have had our best quarter ever in the company," says Christine Slocumb, president of Clarity Quest Marketing. "We are on track to have our best revenue ever this year."

The Ann Arbor-based firm has traditionally served the marketing needs of tech firms over many of its 13 years. It started to take on more and more work from healthcare firms, such as Vocollect Health Systems, the Pittsburgh-based business is the maker of AccuNurse. A few years ago the company’s portfolio was split evenly between tech and healthcare firms. Now about 75 percent of Clarity Quest Marketing's clients are healthcare based.

"That whole industry is booming," Slocumb says. "A  lot of it is being done by the Affordable Care Act."

That has allowed Clarity Quest Marketing to hire two people (senior-level consultants) in the last year, expanding its staff to 17 employees and two interns. Slocumb expects to hire more as Clarity Quest Marketing increases its visibility in the healthcare sector.

"We're working a lot on visibility," Slocumb says. "We are working with a lot of thought leaders in this space."

Source: Christine Slocumb, president of Clarity Quest Marketing
Writer: Jon Zemke

LevelSet Solutions adds 4 jobs, maximizes existing customer base

LevelSet Solutions is growing its bottom line not by focusing on new clients, but making the most of the work it does with its existing clientele.

The downtown Royal Oak-based firm, which specializes in digital marketing and tech consulting, has grown its revenue and staff significantly in the last year by solidly executing for its customers and helping them complete a deep dive to streamline and maximize their own businesses.

"We find clients who are looking for complete solutions instead of one-off projects," says Steve Swanson, president of LevelSet Solutions.

That has allowed the 5-year-old company to hire four people over the past year, expanding its staff to 17 employees, a handful of consultants and one summer intern. The newly created jobs include positions in Internet marketing, software development and business analysis.

"We're always looking (to hire)," Swanson says. "We never stop looking because it takes us a while to find the right candidate with the right skill set."

Source: Steve Swanson, president of LevelSet Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke
2445 Articles | Page: | Show All
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