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Founders

Company

Ubi Video

Washington Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226

James Norman

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
No program in particular, primarily leveraged University of Michigan connections as alumni. I also attend student career fairs, working with the entrepreneur leadership groups on campus and working with the alumni office.

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
Our customers come from brand awareness and product engagements. As a consumer Internet product, the best way to build loyal initial users has been through social media dialogue as well as event appearances. If there is a cheap event to attend, Ubi Video will always be there because it yields results.

Where did you find your first customer?
Our first user was actually our angel investor, so I'm sure it wasn't hard for him to find the site.

Where did you find your first employee?
He was a longtime friend who had recently ventured off into his own business that was in a parallel industry of entertainment. Due to the recession there were some trouble moving forward with his event projects but in the end it worked out that he fell into working with Ubi Video full-time.

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
One of our summer interns will be going into employee status next summer. For right now he's a part-time asset, continuing to work through the school year enthusiastically. This was our first year doing interns and first time working to make that transition.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
We turned to some old friends from college that are based in Mexico. They have been very supportive and have given us an early perspective on our potential to scale to various international marketplaces

If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
Support for what I now call "late-early stage" companies. Those that have angel funding, have nearly built (or have built) a product and need help moving forward to the next step, which in most cases in a series A round of funding. We are working with our support group Motown Initiative to build a community of businesses that are in the same stage so we can help each other gain the traction and early revenues needed to attract venture capital. For Michigan to become the hot bed for tech innovation, we need more start-ups reaching national scale.

Name an idea, policy or mindset from elsewhere that you would like to see this region adopt?
I don't have a particular policy in mind, but as far as ideas go I'm a fan of the on going conversation and consultation that VCs on the coast offer. When a VC is interested in a company, unless the entrepreneur has a track record they're not likely to plop down millions after a meeting; they generally like to carry conversation over months, see progress and then evaluate risk/opportunity. The consultation and feedback that these VCs offer in a timely manner is valuable to young start-ups. It's inspiring, motivating and useful in everyday business.

What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
Provide a connection to the outside world of start-ups/funding in New York, Boston, Boulder and San Francisco. Michigan has great resources when it comes to clean-tech, bio-tech and medical, however, we need to actively reach outside of the state to attract additional mentors/supporters in the realm of consumer tech. Furthermore, great forums like Detroit NewTech and A2 NewTech need to continue to grow. These networking/presentation events help build community.
Detroit has a lot of small scale chatter going on, but if start-ups were to actively work together to make noise we could really hold a share of voice on a more national scale. The stories about Detroit rebuilding won't go on forever, the community needs to seize the opportunity that is there today to really show people Detroit is the place to be for young entrepreneurs.

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