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242 Royal Oak Articles | Page: | Show All

Estoreify aims to create comprehensive e-commerce platform

Last year Michael Mikhjian launched My eStore App, an e-commerce platform focused on helping small businesses facilitate online sales. Now the Royal Oak-based startup is beefing up that platform and rebranding it as Estoreify.

The e-commerce software works directly on client sites so customers aren't redirected to other support sites. Mikhjian wants to make it simple to install and maintain for small business owners who would rather spend their time focusing on their core business. Now Estoreify aims to offer a more comprehensive system that maintains its user-friendliness.

"I feel like our systems are simpler and easier to use," Mikhjian says. "You can manage it from your mobile phone."

The three-person team has gotten to the product to a public beta-testing stage with a few dozen shops using it. Mikhjian wants to expand that number to 100 shops within the next year and focus on giving each one a personal experience so they feel the software is tailored to their store’s needs.

"Any industry should be able to use this," Mikhjian says. "It's open to multiple products."

Source: Michael Mikhjian, founder of Estoreify
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Retrofit Studio doubles business, looks for bigger space

To say Brad Goodstein is passionate about exercise might be an understatement. The personal trainer has been in the industry for 10 years and recently started his own workout business called Retrofit Studio.

The downtown Royal Oak-based business specializes in personal training because it's what Goodstein believes is the best way to help people live healthy lives by making small, manageable changes.

"I know it works," Goodstein says. "I have had clients who have lost 100 pounds. I had a guy lost 160 pounds."

It's not all about weight loss. Retrodfit Studio's clients also include people who are overcoming injuries or looking to strengthen joints so they can do everyday things with ease, such as climb stairs or get out of bed.

"It's not always about losing weight," Goodstein says. "It’s about feeling better and having more energy."

Retrofit Studio has grown to a staff of five people. It has doubled its customer base over the last year, which has led Goodstein to look for a bigger space to accommodate its new clientele, expand its service offerings and add more staff.

"I surround myself with really good people," Goodstein says. "People who are passionate about fitness."

Source: Brad Goodstein, owner of Retrofit Studio
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Unique Solutions of Advanced Technologies' revenue jumps 30%

Sreedhar Kaluva started his business, Unique Solutions of Advanced Technologies, because he wanted to destroy a myth or two about small businesses and the technology they can employ.

"I want to help remove the myth that they need deep pockets to have help with IT technology," Kaluva says.

Unique Solutions of Advanced Technologies has made a name for itself as an IT and software firm that services small businesses, creating customer software for them in a few cases, since its launch in 2006. Its business is up 30 percent, which has allowed the company to hire a new employee, a project coordinator. It now employs a staff of four people in Royal Oak.

"There has been a wave of customers that came on board through word-of-mouth references from our customers," Kaluva says.

Unique Solutions of Advanced Technologies is also working on a new IT process/software program called Grad Sourcing. The idea is to better organize the IT services paradigm so it can better serve companies while creating more jobs in the U.S. He hopes to launch the service later this year.

"We're trying to bridge the gap between the supply and demand with an innovative new resource," Kaluva says.

Source: Sreedhar Kaluva, founder & CEO of Unique Solutions of Advanced Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Engineer leaves cubicle to start Mercury Studio tech firm

Zachary Ball isn't the sort of person who works well in a cubicle for a big company. It's a big reason why he now runs his own software company, Mercury Studio.

The mechanical engineer took a job at a major local automaker out of college in the late 1990s. After a few months he helped the company create some significant savings. The thanks he received was a piece of paper expressing the automaker's gratitude. It wasn’t a check.

"The cubicle life wasn't for me," Ball says. "I wanted to create an environment for my employees that will reward them for going above and beyond."

A few months later he started his own company. That evolved into the creation of Mercury Studio, a mobile app firm that recently moved to a bigger office in downtown Royal Oak. The 4-year-old firm has worked extensively in digital advertising and is now making custom apps for advertising agencies working in the automotive industry. That client list includes the likes of Jackson Dawson Communications in Dearborn. However, Ball would like to add some variety to his company’s client list.

"We want to expand all of our relationships with more marketing agencies out there," Ball says. "We would like to focus on non-automotive to show Metro Detroit isn't all about automotive."

Mercury Studio currently employs eight people and is looking for an intern. It has hired two people over the last year and is currently looking to hire a software developer.

Source: Zachary Ball, president & owner of Mercury Studio
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Ex-auto worker transitions to app economy with Marvel Apps

Michael Antaran has succeeded where so many local leaders would like former auto workers to succeed -- at moving on from working for the Big 3 and setting up his own tech firm, Marvel Apps.

Antaran worked for Chrysler and started experimenting with making mobile apps on the side in 2007. He took a buyout in 2008 and then took a year off, launching Marvel Apps as a side project. He then worked for GM for three years before making the downtown Royal Oak-based start-up his full-time job last year.

“I have always had a passion for Apple products,” Antaran says. “That’s why the mobile app movement encapsulated me.”

Marvel Apps does both custom app work for other businesses and makes its own apps for sale in the Apple App Store. Among its customers are Coleman (think lanterns and camping gear) and a few of the major local automakers.

It also makes its own apps, including those for fantasy football. One of them has even made the Top 5 in downloads for fantasy football apps in the App Store. Selling to consumers has become a growing part of the business, which now brings in 15 percent of the company’s revenue. Marvel Apps’ revenue is now up by 25 percent overall.

The company now has a staff of four employees. It is looking to add two interns this fall and hire one full-time graphic artist.

Source: Michael Antaran, founder of Marvel Apps
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Innovative Learning Group leverages diverse client base for growth

Innovative Learning Group has added 12 new clients over the last year, but the value in that news comes from when you take a deep look at the list of customers.

The new customers include the likes of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan and Ford. The business consultancy’s client list spans a number of different industries, ranging from IT to medical devices to healthcare to pharmaceutical.

“We have always had quite a mix,” says Lisa Toenniges, CEO of Innovative Learning Group. “It’s great from a diversification standpoint. It’s also interesting for our consultants. It’s also nice to share things across industries and it’s not a competitive problem.”

That growth has allowed Innovative Learning Group to hire one person over the last year, a business development executive. It now employs 13 people. The 10-year-old company, which is based in downtown Royal Oak, has been doing more work in mobile strategic projects, such as how best to streamline mobile apps into the everyday work routine of a sales professional.

“How does it integrate into the way they do their jobs?” Toenniges says.

Source: Lisa Toenniges, CEO of Innovative Learning Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

TruReview fights negative SEO with verified online reviews

Dwight Zahringer has owned a web development agency for the last decade, specializing in search engine optimization. He got so deep into SEO that he encountered negative SEO, a practice where businesses will work to lower the SEO of their competitors to gain an advantage, such as posting anonymous bad reviews online.

A year ago Zahringer launched a start-up to combat negative SEO. TruReview specializes in providing a platform that enables real reviews to be posted by real customers. The start-up wants to provide a validation tool that gets rid of nefarious Internet anonymity so businesses can maximize online customer feedback.

"It's helping the business know how it's impacting the customers," Zahringer says.

TruReview's team of four people launched the platform last spring and is currently focusing on signing up local businesses in Metro Detroit as its first customers. Zahringer hopes it becomes a 21st-century version of the Better Business Bureau.

"Let's get back to the point of basic business principles where you could talk to the business owners and give real feedback," Zahringer says.

Source: Dwight Zahringer, CEO of TruReview
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

TM3 Systems scores Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund investment

TM3 Systems is spinning out technology developed at NextEnergy that is expected to make energy use in remote locations much more efficient.

The Royal Oak-based start-up's product meters, controls and conditions power usage in remote locations. The technology's grid monitoring and automatic generation and demand control optimizes off-grid power use.

"We see an incredible opportunity to increase the efficiency of power distribution in off-grid power applications that saves fuel and increases the effectiveness of those systems," says Nate Lowery, CEO of TM3 Systems.

The 8-month-old start-up and its team of three people have raised $750,000 in seed capital, including $250,000 from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund. It is aiming to raise more than $1 million in a seed capital round later this year. That money has allowed the company to build its prototypes, of which it has already sold six units.

"We are in the process of signing contracts as we speak," Lowery says.

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

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

Realtime Technologies continues steady expansion in Royal Oak

Growth is one of those words that is becoming synonymous with Realtime Technologies. The simulation technology firm's Royal Oak office has watched both its workload and staff increase over the last year.

"We're always growing," says Clayne Woodbury, national sales director for Realtime Technologies.

Realtime Technologies has hired two people at its Royal Oak office over the last year. It now employs 11 people and an intern there.

The company, which was acquired by Ann Arbor-based AroTech Corp five years ago, specializes in real-time, multi-body vehicle dynamics, and graphical simulation and modeling. It offers simulation software applications, consulting, custom engineering, software, and hardware development.

It has done work with a number of big-name clients, including Ohio State University, Honda, Stanford University and a VA Hospital in New Jersey. It is currently putting the finishing touches on a rail simulator program for the Toronto Transportation Commission.

"We think we are the company of choice for people doing research and want to integrate innovation solutions," Woodbury says.

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

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

U-M Dearborn grad launches Traffic, grows it to 13 people

Jacob Zuppke is not only one of the first graduates from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a bachelors degree in digital marketing, but he graduated last year with employment options.

He had job offers from a number of large local creative agencies, and he turned them all down. Instead he started his own company with the director of U-M Dearborn's Digital Marketing program. Traffic Digital Agency started out with one customer last spring. Today it has 38 clients, ranging from Cottage Inn Pizza to 1-800-LAW-FIRM, 13 employees and eight interns in downtown Royal Oak.

"It (the initial growth) is significantly faster (than what I expected)," Zuppke says. "We didn't anticipate to have this many members on our team by now." He adds that at the current rate of growth, his business will have a staff of 35 people by next year.

Traffic Digital Agency works out of Venture Park, a new co-working space on the outskirts of downtown Royal Oak. Zuppke and his partner, Jeremy Sutton, built it as not only the home for their company but as a hub for other creatives and entrepreneurs that will help grow everybody's business.

"We want creative people that are willing to inspire each other every single day," Zuppke says.

Source: Jacob Zuppke, co-founder of Traffic Digital Agency
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Howard & Howard Attorneys hires 20 in downtown Royal Oak

Howard & Howard Attorneys is expanding its practice, adding about 20 people to its staff over the last year.

The 150-year-old law firm has offices in Chicago, Ann Arbor, Peoria, and Las Vegas, but its headquarters in downtown Royal Oak is the main beneficiary of its growth. Its office at Fourth and Lafayette streets now houses 140 of the practice's 250 employees.

"We like downtown Royal Oak because of all of its amenities, its cost structure, its central location," says Mark Davis, president & CEO of Howard & Howard Attorneys. He adds the location also helps the firm with its recruiting efforts of fresh law school graduates.

Howard & Howard Attorneys focuses primarily on business law, such as business-to-business dealings and business ownership. It serves a global clientele that occupies a wide variety of sectors ranging from automotive to medical devices.

The law practice has doubled in size (both revenue and head count) over the last five years. It has accomplished that with about 15 percent year-over-year annual growth. Over the last year, Howard & Howard Attorneys has focused on expanding the legal skill sets it can offer. For example, it recently brought on a tax specialist that can help manufacturers best manage tax credits.

"Our goal is to provide all of the legal services a business would require," Davis says.

Source: Mark Davis, president & CEO of Howard & Howard Attorneys
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Vectorform hires 20 in Royal Oak, stays ahead of tech curve

Vectorform is recovering nicely from the worst of the economic downturn, expanding its staff and experimenting with new technologies.

The Royal Oak-based tech firm has hired 20 people over the last year, expanding its employee count to 100. Those hires were made possible by 20-percent revenue growth in the last year and similar gains since 2009. It now services 20 Fortune 500 companies, among its growing clientele.

"We have doubled our staff since 2009," says Trevor Anulewicz, director of creative & content strategy for Vectorform.

Vectorform also has a half dozen interns. The company has made a habit of turning its interns into employees. An average of 80 percent of its interns are promoted to full-time employees. "That's a great opportunity," Anulewicz says. "We try to have these folks come in and make an impact and stay."

The 14-year-old company's leaders attribute the company's current growth trend to staying ahead of the tech curve. It has carved out a nice niche creating mobile apps and mastering new software platforms, such as Windows 8. It is also one of the early tech firms to get its hands on Google Glass.

"We will be procuring the device in the coming weeks and we have six great ideas we will be employing with it," says Kevin Foreman, director of product vision for Vectorform.

Source: Trevor Anulewicz, director of creative & content strategy for Vectorform and Kevin Foreman, director of product vision for Vectorform
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Wellco keeps up healthy hiring habit in Royal Oak

The challenge for Wellco these days isn't convincing companies to adopt a health-and-wellness program. It's making the ones that exist work. That makes the Royal Oak-based business more a fixer of these programs instead of an establisher of them.

"The three biggest pitfalls include a lack of employees participating, a lack of leadership support and a lack of return on investment," says Scott Foster, president of Wellco.  "Wellco achieves all three of them."

The 17-year-old business sells software and programs it has developed that allows companies to document and track the health of their employees. That has allowed it to grow to 16 employees and the occasional intern. It has hired two people over the last year and plans to add another five employees over the next 12 months.

Driving this growth is acceptance and employment of health-and-wellness programs to help lower the overall bottom line by trimming health-care costs and improving productivity. The institutions of things like Obamacare have helped make them more popular in recent years.

Wellco has watched its revenue jump by 30 percent over the last year. Foster says a majority of that business is from companies that are looking to maximize near-dormant health-and-wellness program to help improve their overall profit margins.

"We're finding a tremendous need from employers to provide dependable results," Foster says.

Source: Scott Foster, president of Wellco
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

LevelSet Solutions' staffing jumps 50% in Royal Oak

LevelSet Solutions has watched its revenue jump 30 percent over the last year, allowing the Internet marketing firm to expand its staff to 14 people and a few interns.

The 4-year-old firm based in Royal Oak has hired two people (a technical business analyst and a project manager) in recent weeks. The company has hired four people over the last year and has an opening for a software engineer right now.

LevelSet Solutions has seen its workload with existing clients grow as it has added more work from new clients. One of its biggest recent projects has been the reworking of Crittenton Hospital's website.

"We rebuilt the whole website," says Steve Swanson, president of LevelSet Solutions. "We slimmed it down from 500 pages to 250-300 pages and put it in a traditional content management system."

LevelSet Solutions won an "Outstanding Website" award for that project from the Interactive Advertising Competition. Those awards are produced by the Web Marketing Association to "honor excellence in online advertising as well as recognize the individuals and organizations responsible."

Source: Steve Swanson, president of LevelSet Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

MIT grad returns home to launch Vitamin start-up, SunDaily

When local leaders talk about retaining talent, they probably have someone like Adam Leeb in mind.

The Metro Detroit native graduated from MIT with a degree in mechanical engineering and went to work for a private equity firm in New York City in the late 2000s. After watching a number of his colleagues lose their jobs in the economic downturn and a few other not-so-flattering things about the finance industry, he decided he wanted to move back home.

"I knew it wasn't something I wanted to make my career," Leeb says.

That was last year, roughly the same time he started working on his own company, SunDaily. The Royal Oak-based start-up is working to create a premium brand of vitamins and supplements. It's a hole in what Leeb sees as a crowded market.

"I saw a lot of different formulas and a lot of confusion on the consumers' end," Leeb says.

SunDaily and its team of four people began its soft Beta launch earlier this month and plans to go public with it this week. The new brand of vitamins offers traditional staples like a multi-vitamin, Vitamin D and a fish oil supplement. As many as a dozen different products are expected to be launched this year. Leeb plans to create some market separation with high-quality products that are easy to understand and come in aesthetically pleasing packaging.

Source: Adam Leeb, founder of SunDaily
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
242 Royal Oak Articles | Page: | Show All
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