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Adaptive Materials, Inc

5500 S State St
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Michelle Crumm

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
I'm an active participant in several organizations, including Women In Defense, Women Impacting Public Policy and Women Presidents Organization. The networking and business support through these organizations keeps me connected to a smart, inspiring group of peers who share ideas and resources. As a business, we've benefited from working with Ann Arbor SPARK and MichiganWorks!, both of which have supported our talent shift as the company moved away from solely engineering into product development and manufacturing.

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
Adaptive Materials' first client was DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and is still a client. We were initially contracted to complete fuel cell research for DARPA that would demonstrate the viability of an alternative energy source for portable soldier electronics. Since that initial project, our work has expanded to include delivery of those fuel cells for use by soldiers in the field as well as fuel cells for unmanned ground and aerial vehicles.

Where did you find your first employee?
Well, technically, my husband Aaron, who co-founded Adaptive Materials with Dr. John Holloran, was the company's first employee. Soon after that we used Kelly Services and Friends of Friends to fill our early positions.

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
Over the last three years, we've had four people that have started as an intern and been promoted into a full-time role. We just had one this week, in fact. We hired a University of Michigan graduate who we brought on as a post-graduation intern, and is now a mechanical engineer.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
The capital to build our company has and continues to come from military sources. DARPA, the Air Force, Marines, Army and Navy are all supporting the development of fuel cells for soldier applications on the battlefield.

What do you see in Metro Detroit that other people who live outside the area don't?
There is an absolute wealth of support for entrepreneurs. We live in an innovative, creative community, where a widely-varied entrepreneurial culture is thriving. That surprises people who associate us with automotive, as if Michigan is a one-tricky pony. When you think about it, our automotive heritage is a proud one that foreshadowed our current successes. Henry Ford believed that accepting the status quo wasn't good enough, and went on to transform the entire world of transportation. That inspires me think beyond, and to reach for making what's needed in an ideal world to what's reality in our current world. Michigan has always been a place where innovation happens, and continues to be a place where innovation happens.

If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
Winter. I'd be good with snow on the ground Christmas to Valentine's day. A longer fall and spring would be great.

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