| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter

emerging technology : News

958 emerging technology Articles | Page: | Show All

New president pushes Fusion Coolant Systems forward

Fusion Coolant Systems executed a pivot in its business plan from new leadership in the clean-tech startup over the last year, which is setting the stage for growth later this year.

The 5-year-old startup, which calls Focus: HOPE's job training campus home, makes an environmentally friendly cutting fluid for industrial uses that help improve performance while reducing the wear. The technology aims to eliminate the toxic cutting fluids that are standard today in sectors like aerospace and automotive. The firm is also looking to focus on machining parts made of exotic materials, such as titanium.

"We have a lot of changes going on right now," says Brad Darr, president of Fusion Coolant Systems. "More specifically we have begun to focus on the end user. Before we were focused on machine tooling. We realized no one is going to sell our product like us."

One of those changes is Darr. He came on to lead the startup last June and now oversees a team of four. He hopes to add another 2-3 people later this year to help accommodate the company’s expected sales growth. Focusing on end users is the leverage Darr and his team hope to take advantage of soon.

"We are at the point where 75 percent of our focus is on this type of customer," Darr says.

Fusion Coolant Systems is also looking to raise a Series A round of venture capital later this year. It is aiming to lock down $1 million that Darr hopes will expedite the company’s growth.

"We're looking to get traction early in the year," Darr says. "We're looking to scale midway through the year."

Source: Brad Darr, president of Fusion Coolant Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

The Dobrusin Law Firm pivots to focus on IP law practice

The Dobrusin Law Firm is growing after pivoting its business plan and focusing solely on intellectual property creation.

The downtown Pontiac-based practice focused on both intellectual property creation and litigation since its creation in 1999. A shakeup in the firm's leadership a year ago allowed it to drop the litigation aspect and focus on helping companies and entrepreneurs patent, trademark and copyright their innovations.

The Dobrusin Law Firm now helps these ventures file for the patent, handle the back-and-forth bureaucracy and land the rights to their intellectual property. That new business strategy has allowed the practice to hire two people over the last year to expand its staff to 20 employees.

The firm services a wide range of clientele. It started out serving primarily automotive and manufacturing firms but it is now handling work for companies across the country working on medical devices, packaging and chemicals.

"We want to broaden our client base in the chemical and medical device areas," says Kristen Pursley, managing partner of The Dobrusin Law Firm. "We think these sectors have a lot of room for growth."

Source: Kristen Pursley, managing partner of The Dobrusin Law Firm
Writer: Jon Zemke

AIM Computer Solutions expands clientele through referrals

AIM Computer Solutions has watched its business grow over the last year primarily through referrals, a phenomena the 18-year-old firm’s leadership credits to its inclusive business model.

The Fraser-based business develops ERP software for small- to medium-sized manufacturers. Creating that software means AIM Computer Solutions needs a lot of continuous input from its customers.

"We run our business almost like a cooperative," says Jerry Czernel, vice president of operations for AIM Computer Solutions. "Users have direct input into how we develop our applications. They are the owner/operator of our software."

That has allowed AIM Computer Solutions to pickup another three customers over the last year.

"That for us is a lot," Czernel says. "We look for one to...four new customers each year."

AIM Computer Solutions has hired one person for customer support over the last year. The firm now has a staff of 17 employees, and another 25 people in its extended staff. It is also looking for an intern. Czernel is optimistic that the firm’s continued growth will allow it to continue hiring in 2014.

"It's looking very rosy," Czernel says. "We immediately replenished the new business we got with double that amount in the pipeline."

Source: Jerry Czernel, vice president of operations for AIM Computer Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

Draper Triangle Ventures aims to open Detroit office

Draper Triangle Ventures is expanding its investment strategy to including Michigan and the Pittsburgh-based VC has its eyes set squarely on downtown Detroit.

The venture capital firm specializes in making early stage investments in tech startups, think young software and IT companies. It sees a number of its future targets coming from the emerging technology hub in downtown Detroit, specifically the [email protected] Block, and plans to open an office there to be close to the action.

"There are a dozen companies, maybe more, that are very interesting and worth taking a look at," says Jonathan Murray, managing director of Draper Triangle Ventures.

Draper Triangle Ventures plans to open two small satellite offices in Michigan, one in downtown Detroit and the other in Ann Arbor. Murray will serve as the man on the ground in Michigan manning those two offices. He says Draper Triangle Ventures focused on those two areas because they both target rich environments for technology investors.

"Technology deal flow tends to originate in large metropolitan areas," Murray says.

Draper Triangle Ventures is raising a $100 million investment fund, of which it has commitments for $75 million. The firm plans to make 1-2 investments in a startup each year. Those investments are expected to be in the $1 million range. The firm is also deep into doing due diligence into one local startup and Murray is optimistic that an investment announcement could be made within the next few months.

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

Portal Architects leverages cloud tech to create 5 jobs

To the folks behind Portal Architects the cloud is a destination. But getting businesses and organizations to it is where the money is.

The Ann Arbor-based company’s software, SkySync, helps companies connect their IT to the cloud through a Windows app. That technology enables organizations to synchronize and move files across storage systems including most cloud storage services.

"It's right in our wheelhouse," says Mark Brazeau, co-founder of Portal Architects. "We saw the explosion of the cloud and we saw the need for companies to get to the cloud."

This isn't Brazeau's first trip to the tech startup rodeo. The serial entrepreneur has helped grow four software companies over the years. His last one, Blue Thread Technologies, was acquired by a venture capital firm. After that happened, he and his co-founders saw a golden opportunity in creating a startup that connects businesses to the cloud.

"It's in my nature I guess," Brazeau says.

Brazeau and his co-founders started Portal Architects two years ago. The launched SkySync last summer and have worked to flesh out the technology after that. Portal Architects has hired five people over the last year (primarily software developers) and is looking to hire another four today. The company currently employs 11 people and Brazeau expects to keep it up so his firm can keep up with the demand for SkySync.

"The market need for our product is there," Brazeau says.

Source: Mark Brazeau, co-founder of Portal Architects
Writer: Jon Zemke

Anonymous incubator space quietly makes a name for itself

Mark Smith never intended to start a small business incubator focused on growing new economy startups. The idea is still foreign enough to him that he hasn’t even named the one he grew by accident over the last decade.

Smith ended up with an commercial building at 333 Parkland Plaza, just off Jackson Road on Ann Arbor's west side, after a bio-tech company he invested in went belly up in the early 2000s. Since an empty building is a rarely a profitable one, he did something about.

"We had extra space so we brought in other companies," Smith says.

Smith brought in biotech and medical device firms. He made the rental rate all-inclusive and kept overhead expenses low. He also offered mentoring and other professional services to help grow the firms. More importantly he brought together startups from the drug discovery, alternative energy and life sciences, among others, under the same roof to solve problems.

"We see people come together from totally different sectors and out of it comes solutions and new intellectual property," Smith says.

Today, seven companies occupy the 7,500-square-foot building and its wet- and dry-lab spaces. Some of those firms who have called it home and are currently doing business there include Evigia, ePack and AVAcore Technologies. Smith is looking at adding a couple of off-site facilities to help enable the startups to do small manufacturing and other functions. That’s take a priority over finding a name.

"We have been trying to keep a low-profile," Smith says. "Ann Arbor SPARK has been generous in sending people to us."

Source: Mark Smith, owner of 333 Parkland Plaza
Writer: Jon Zemke

TM3 Systems scores Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund cash

TM3 Systems is raising seed capital to start scaling its microgrid technology. It's off to a good start, landing six figures' worth of funding from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund. The 1-year-old firm is currently looking to close on the seed capital by the end of the first quarter this year.

The Royal Oak-based company is designing microgrid technology (think generators) that can be used in remote locations by both military and commercial customers. The idea is to create power sources that help meet the power and logistical needs of the personnel using them.

"We feel the way it's done today ends up wasting a lot of fuel and downtime," says Nate Lowery, CEO of TM3 Systems. "We're looking to solve these problems."

TM3 Systems microgrid products, developed in partnership with Detroit-based NextEnergy, are designed to meter, control and condition power in remote locations. The technology provides users with grid monitoring and automatic generation and demand control with an eye for optimizing off-grid power assets. Currently, most of these users need to haul diesel generators to remote locations, with the generators often not meeting the needs for the situations.

"You end up with generators that are too large or too small for the application," Lowery says. "If it's too large it wastes fuel. If it's too small it doesn’t provide enough electricity."

TM3 Systems and its team of three people recently started selling its three units. The company is aiming at both military customers and commercial clients, such as remote mining interests.

Source: Nate Lowery, CEO of TM3 Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

TechTown takes applications for 2014 startup programs

Aspiring entrepreneurs looking for their place in Detroit's emerging startup ecosystem have a chance to claim it in TechTown this year. The small business accelerator is taking applications for its Labs Venture Accelerator and DTX Launch Detroit program for 2014.

"There are all kinds of programs right now," says Leslie Smith, president & CEO of TechTown.

The DTX Launch Detroit program is more of a talent-retention program, focused on college students and recent grads. The 10-week program helps young adults (two-or-three-person teams) take their ideas for a startup to actual launch. Each participant receives a $2,500 stipend.

The Venture Accelerator program is a bit more advanced, taking early stage tech startups and turning them into a market-ready business. The 12-week program also provides a pathway for the participating startups to enter into full-time incubation at TechTown.

The two programs expect to take about 50 startups team this year. The deadline for applying for each of these programs is early March. More information about DTX Launch Detroit can be found here and information on the Venture Accelerator can be found here.

These two programs are each 1-year-old. It has already had some measurable success, such as Sentinl. The startup is developing a high-tech gun control technology. It showed well at last year’s Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.

"That has really made some extraordinary strides," Smith says. "It's about to close on some seed funding."

TechTown has also launched its own co-working space, Junction 440, this year. It also plans to host a number of individual events to help build local startups this year.

Source: Leslie Smith, president & CEO of TechTown
Writer: Jon Zemke

ePrize becomes HelloWorld, hires 50 people

What was once ePrize is now HelloWorld. It's the same tech firm based in Pleasant Ridge, just bigger and looking to grow more.

"It's a culmination of the last few years," says Matt Wise, CEO of HelloWorld. "We started to pivot the business three years ago; ePrize was a great name when it was just a promotions company."
Catterton Partners, a private-equity firm, acquired what is now HelloWorld three years ago. The acquisition was the culmination to what became the poster child of local startup success stories. The firm's founder, Josh Linkner, went on to co-found the high-profile Detroit Venture Partners with Dan Gilbert while the now 15-year-old firm continued to grow.

Wise explains that HelloWorld is a more fitting name for the company as it currently stands. The firm got its start as a digital promotions firm. Today its software platform is more comprehensive and focuses on enabling brands to connect with consumers through a variety of different experiences. Among those new avenues are mobile marketing, live-event activation, in-store activation and loyalty programs.

"We build software applications that help people connect with the brand," Wise says.

HelloWorld has also been growing rapidly. The firm has hired 50 people over the last year, mostly software developers, operations and sales personnel. It now employs 440 people and is looking to hire another 12 people in sales, operations and software development.

Source: Matt Wise, CEO of HelloWorld
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

Telecommunications company moves from suburbs to city

Telecommunications company GTS Direct has moved from St. Clair Shores to Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. The company bought the former Archdiocese of Detroit print shop at 1501 Sixth Street. Friday Jan. 10 was their first day of business in the city.

The move is an expansion for the company as it goes from a 1,500 to 10,000 square foot facility. CEO Mark Stackpoole identifies a number of factors that went into the re-location, from distinct competitive advantages to a desire to be a part of the new downtown business community.

The company started its re-location search in the downtown rental market. Stymied after encountering what he calls a rigidly-priced rental scene, Mark turned his attention from renting to buying.

"For what we saw in rental prices at 3,000 square feet, we could purchase this building with minor repairs and come out at an advantage from a budget standpoint," Stackpoole says. GTS Direct bought the building at Sixth and Labrosse from the Archdiocese of Detroit for $210,000.

Stackpoole is looking to quickly become a part of Corktown and invites neighbors to stop by and see what's happening inside. The company is already philanthropically involved with a number of organizations -- including YouthVille Detroit, City Year, and Racquet Up Detroit -- and is hoping to do more within the neighborhood.

One reason for neighbors to stop by 1501 Sixth Street is the still-in-progress interior décor. Stackpoole enlisted the help of Derek Weaver, Managing Director of 4731 Gallery in Woodbridge, to organize a graffiti competition. Eleven artists from around Detroit, including Sintex, FEL3000ft, and TEAD, came in and painted murals in the GTS Direct offices.

Source: Mark Stackpoole, CEO of GTS Direct
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Insight Technologies grows revenue on strongest year yet

Michael Wade spent 20 years helping manage communication networks and data centers for large companies. Then he decided to take things into his own hands and start his own business, Insight Technologies.

"I thought there has to be a better way to do this," Wade says. "What I mean by a better way is higher quality for the customer."

Insight Technologies provides turn-key solutions for advanced corporate communications networks and data center systems. The Shelby Township-based firm did everything it could to stay afloat when it first launched four years ago. Wade describes working in those first few years as "survival mode."

Insight Technologies survived. Then it, like many other companies that were able to make it through the recession, thrived. Its revenue spiked 23 percent in 2013.

"Last year was our strongest year yet," Wade says.

He credits Insight Technologies' rise in business to an improving economy that has more businesses spending on updating their technology. Those firms that cut back on technology upgrades during the downturn now see the need to improve their IT infrastructure.

Wade always wanted to run his own business and is living that dream now. Currently he is his only employee, and he expects Insight Technologies to stay that way.

"I just enjoy doing it the way it is," Wade says.

Source: Michael Wade, principal of Insight Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ann Arbor app developer makes Forbes' "30 Under 30"

Jesse Vollmar is the co-founder and CEO of Ann Arbor-based FarmLogs, software that helps farmers with risk management by monitoring crops, weather and business variables. Its product is used in every state of the U.S. and over 120 countries worldwide. He's one of Forbes entrepreneurs to watch.
"Vollmar grew up on his family's fifth-generation farm in Michigan and started a successful IT consulting business with classmate Brad Koch while still in high school. "
Check it out here.

Foreign sales spur growth at kSpace Associates

Sales at kSpace Associates were nothing to write home about in 2013. But the Dexter-based tech firm is already off to a fast start this year with new sales and job openings.

"Our sales backlog for the first quarter of 2014 looks like it's going to be a great year," says Darryl Barlett, CEO of kSpace Associates. "2014 looks like it’s going to be a great year."

The 22-year-old firm develops and manufacturers diagnostic tools for the semi-conductor industry. Its sales last year were flat but they have spiked so far this year, with rising orders from solar projects and Chinese firms. The foreign sales are largely centered around kSpace Associates' Ultrascan System, which measures the curvature and bow of semi-conductor wafer.

"We have a large amount of sales going to China," Barlett says. "Larger than we typically see."

That has spurred kSpace Associates to create a couple of job openings. The firm is looking to hire an engineer and a sales associates. The company currently has a staff of 24 employees and the occasional summer intern. Barlett expects those staffing numbers to continue to grow as his company keeps on its current growth streak.

"It looks like it’s going to be a good year," Barlett says. "It looks like foreign sales are going to be a big part of that."

Source: Darryl Barlett, CEO of kSpace Associates
Writer: Jon Zemke

[email protected] Block, Batching Brewing headline 2013 news

The top business headlines in Detroit in 2013 often involved new businesses filling vacancies in old buildings across the Motor City.

The biggest example of that is the expansion of the [email protected] Building entrepreneurial hub in downtown Detroit to include most of the buildings on that block, creating the [email protected] Block. Growing tech startups and creative firms started to fill newly renovated spaces in the block overlooking Grand Circus Park, including taking space in the Broderick Tower and mid-size commercial buildings along Woodward Avenue and Broadway Street.

Those new economy companies include mobile app firm Detroit Labs moving from the [email protected] Building into two floors of 1520 Woodward and Grand Circus taking a floor of the Broderick Tower. Hudson Editorial and Nueman/Smith Architecture moved into the Wright Kay building at 1500 Woodward. TVS Communications Solutions took the upper floors of the Detroit Beer Co’s building on Broadway Street.

Batch Brewing Company
also took the Motor City's business community by storm. The craft brewery is working to open the first nano-brewery in Detroit, taking over a long-vacant storefront on Michigan Avenue in Corktown. First it raised $25,000 from a crowd-funding campaign. Second, it has been working all year to renovate 1444 Michigan Ave, which it hopes to open next year. Third, it won the Hatch Detroit contest.

Last year's Hatch Detroit winner, La Feria, opened in the newly remodeled retail space at 4130 Cass in Midtown this fall. The Spanish Tapas restaurant is the latest new business to open in a long-vacant commercial building. New retail businesses have also opened in The Villages and along the Avenue of Fashion in the University District.

Writer: Jon Zemke
958 emerging technology Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts