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Visual Compass expands into mobile app development

For most of its 17 years Visual Compass has been a side project for Vince Chmielewski. The technology firm started out of Chmielewski's University of Michigan dorm room in the 1990s where he put together websites for family and friends. It has incrementally grown since, going through a range of names, such as VC Web Designs, VC Web Services, Visual Compass Web Design, and now Visual Compass.

But it had always been a side project for Chmielewski while he worked a full-time job at U-M. Even when the tech firm was graduating from Ann Arbor SPARK's East Incubator, hiring a handful of people, and moving into new offices in Ypsilanti, Chmielewski still pulled double time, managing the firm and commuting to his job in Ann Arbor.

That changed about a year ago. Chmielewski finally left the security of his full-time job to focus on running Visual Compass the right way.

"Things were growing pretty quickly," Chmielewski says. "I needed to hire somebody to do the day-to-day management duties or do it myself. The time was right."

Visual Compass isn’t missing a beat. The company hired a new graphic designer a couple months ago and now has a staff of eight employees and handful of 1099s in its new office space in Depot Town. The company moved into the space a little more than a year ago to accommodate its growth and give it more room to do more creative things for digital marketing. It even has a photo studio that the company occasionally subleases out to freelance photographers.

"It's not full yet but some days it seems pretty crowded," Chmielewski says.

Visual Compass has traditionally stuck to website design but is now expanding into other areas of digital marketing and technology. It has started doing more custom mobile app creation for customers and is gearing up to release its own app later this year.

"It's a Pinterest recipe app," Chmielewski says.

All of that work adds up to some solid growth for the firm. Its revenue has jumped 40 percent over the last year as it adds more customers and more work from existing customers.

"We are doing more stuff with the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University," Chmielewski says. "We also picked up some big industrial clients."

Source: Vince Chmielewski, president of Visual Compass
Writer: Jon Zemke
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