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Start-up cureLauncher aims to become Wikipedia of clinical trials

Last year David Fuehrer and Stephen Goldner didn't know where to go to find new or experimental treatments for illness so they decided to do something about it. The started a business in Bloomfield Hills last summer called cureLauncher.

The Internet start-up now serves as a one-stop source for all new treatments and developments. It launched last fall and is now working to become the Wikipedia of clinical trials for new drugs and treatments.

"We have every enrolling breast cancer trial in the U.S.," says David Fuehrer, vice president & co-founder of cureLauncher. "It's 400 trials at 7,500 locations. Users can stroll through that list and see what is right for them."

The company is also working to help tackle the clinical trial enrollment problem. It cites that there are 50,000 clinical trials in the U.S. every year, and each one is delayed by 4.6 months due to enrollment issues. The firm hopes to help close that gap by connecting sick people with envelope-pushing treatments that could help them.

Fuehrer and Goldner's start-up recently made the finals of this winter's ACE business plan competition. The self-funded firm and its team of eight people is now applying for some seed-funding sources, such as financing from the Michigan Microloan Fund.

Source: David Fuehrer, vice president & co-founder of cureLauncher
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Billhighway continues growth streak in Troy with new hires

Billhighway's expansion continued through 2012 as the Troy-based tech firm hired more than a dozen people and continued to add more employees in the first month of this year.

The 13-year-old company hired 15 people in 2012 for a broad range of jobs, including software development, sales and accounting. It recently hired a new sales engineer and a company team player that handles things like event coordination. Sources declined to name a specific number of employees but said the total number is between 50-100 people.

"We continue to hire people," says John Schelske, COO of Billhighway. "We have brought people in from a couple of different areas. It's a pretty diverse range."

Billhighway got its start when its founder, Vince Thomas, was trying to divide bills between himself and friends while attending Eastern Michigan University. He created software that now helps organizations allocate expenses for everything from dues to dinner costs.

"We have grown through both organic growth through existing clients and some new clients as well," Schelske says.

One of the drivers of that growth is a product that includes payment processing, online banking and financial accounting. It has proven to be popular with non-profits and membership organizations, Schelske adds.

Source: John Schelske, COO of Billhighway
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

123.net looks to add 100,000 sq ft of data storage space

123.net is adding to both its staff and its business capacity.

The Southfield-based Internet firm has hired three people in 2012, expanding its office to 25 employees. It has also added 11,500 square feet of data storage space to its infrastructure with plans to expand much more rapidly in 2013.

"We have experienced quite a bit of growth," says Dave Curran, channel sales manager of 123.net. "Over the last two years we have experienced 66 percent growth. We will probably add 5-10 new employees over the next year."

123.net added 8,000 square feet of data storage space to its Southfield operations and another 3,500 square feet to its Grand Rapids-based facility. It plans to add yet another 100,000 square feet of data storage space in Southfield in 2013 for a total investment of $15 million. The addition would take place at 20,000 square feet at a time.

"That would more than double our current capacity," Curran says.

Source: Dave Curran, channel sales manager of 123.net
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Intellimins channels Matrix movie for business platform

The co-founders behind Intellimins, Maureen and Mike Foresman, like to reference the movie The Matrix when it comes describing the inspiration behind their Troy-based start-up.

Specifically, they point to a scene where Trinity and Neo are faced with needing the knowledge to fly a helicopter and immediately are able to download the skills needed. Intellimins likes to advertise itself as a website that provides "business intelligence in minutes" (Ie. short educational videos).

"As a business person you're facing a lot of dynamic challenges these days," Maureen Foresman says. "The availability of instantaneous, credible information is not always there."

Intellimins leverages cloud-based technology that offers these sorts of online learning solutions, including certificate courses, for business, government and education. The videos are available on PC’s, tablets and smartphones on a 24/7 basis.

"Everything on our site is done by experts that work for Fortune 100 companies," Maureen Foresman says. "You're getting field-proven techniques."

Maureen and Mike Foresman started the company a year ago and launched it earlier this year. They are working to make Intellimins the go-to source for this sort of information across the country.

Source: Maureen Foresman, co-founder of Intellimins
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Royal Oaker goes from corporate to start-up with BuyMichLocal

Michael Sacha spent the start of his career working in corporatelandia, learning the ropes of big business marketing over four years. He saw a lot of customers needs go unmet and knew he had to do something about it, launch BuyMichLocal.

"I left the corporate word to start doing this full-time and promoting Michigan brands," Sacha says.

The downtown Royal Oak-based business specializes in Internet marketing solutions for Michigan-based companies. His company's website serves as a platform for connecting businesses from the Great Lakes State with local customers who want to patronize local businesses.

The BuyMichLocal website features a comprehensive real time news feed and numerous daily articles targeting Michigan's small- to medium-sized business class. It also offers a value-added loyalty card that can be found on the CardStar app through your mobile device. This allows consumers to redeem active deals on the go at their favorite businesses, while offering businesses to engage with their customers.

"There is a lot of opportunity to establish a business now," Sacha says. "There is a lot of opportunity here and to grow a company in Michigan."

Source: Michael Sacha, founder & CEO of BuyMichLocal
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

LookInTheAttic moves into new Romulus facility

Ypsilanti-based LookInTheAttic has moved the bulk of its operations to a new facility in Romulus, creating jobs with plans to hire more.

LookInTheAttic sells antique reproduction hardware and housewares and also owns Silver & Gold, an online jewelry store. The 15-year-old firm has traditionally sold its products both at its downtown Ypsilanti storefront and online. However, the company's recent rapid growth forced it to find a bigger home close to its original home.

That's when LookInTheAttic CEO John Coleman found the new facility in Romulus. The 13,000 square-foot building has enough spare room to accommodate LookInTheAttic's expected growth for the next few years. It also features a large warehouse, conference space and a training room.

"It's really nice," Coleman says.

For now, LookInTheAttic has moved its 14 employees to the new space in Romulus, including four recent hires. The company is also in the process of hiring eight more sales people. The workforce will remained centered in Romulus while the firm renovates its downtown Ypsilanti space into a design center.

Source: John Coleman, CEO of LookInTheAttic
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Web start-up backstitch launches out of Plymouth

Jordan and Stefanie Warzecha know a thing or two about creating software. Jordan managed a software development department at a local business while Stefanie helps create accounting software. With this background, the logical next step for the Plymouth couple is to launch their own start-up, backstitch, with Jordan leaving his job to focus on his new business full-time.

The 6-month-old company is creating an application that serves as a personalized content aggregator. That basically means it will take your favorite news sites, daily deal sites and other websites and make them much more accessible for you.

"We noticed that everyone seems to have a daily Internet routine," Jordan says. "Everyone has to set up their newsites, check their email. Over the years this has become more complex."

Backstitch looks to simplify those habits. It launched its public Beta version last week. The Warzechas made it a minimal product with the idea of adding other features later that will tailor to users' demands.

"We put them together into a consistent user experience," Jordan says.

Source: Jordan Warzecha, co-founder of backstitch
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Waveform grows through new fiber optic project

Waveform Technology has grown its staff, customer base, and footprint in Troy over the last year.

The 20-year-old data center firm has hired two people over the last year, expanding its staff to five employees and the occasional summer intern. It has also grown its customer base from a number of Michigan-based firms to companies across the U.S. That has prompted the company to take on another facility in Troy this year.

"Essentially, we have out-grown our current facility," says Rich Tota, sales manager for Waveform Technology. "We're going to keep the building we're at and branch out into a second one, which is three times the size of our current building."

Waveform Technology's geographically diverse and growing customer base gave Tota and Waveform Technology's team the confidence to undertake the expansion. However, is the home-grown growth that was the most encouraging sign in recent months.

"Michigan's economy is starting to come up," Tota says. "That's something we noticed right off the bat."

Source: Rich Tota, sales manager for Waveform Technology
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Formcode Design Group adds 4 jobs as it diversifies client base

Formcode Design Group got its start in 2000 like so many other businesses in Metro Detroit, working primarily in the automotive sector. The Royal Oak-based web-design firm did a lot of work with General Motors and its Saturn brand.

Then the automotive industry began to falter a few years later and Formcode Design Group's co-founders, Jim and Nicole Worth, moved into doing more work for homebuilders. Then the real-estate market collapsed and the husband-and-wife duo decided they needed a broader range of clients for stability.

"After that we diversified a lot," Nicole Worth says. "We still work with homebuilders and medical and automotive and retail. We have our hands in a bunch of different things."

It has also taken on work from non-profits, like Challenge Detroit. That diversified customer-base philosophy has allowed Formcode Design Group to enjoy two straight years of growth. It has expanded to eight employees and an intern after making four hires over the last year. Those new jobs include a graphic designer and web developers.

Formcode Design Group plans to continue diversifying its client list and continue expanding into new areas, such as mobile media development and social media marketing.

"We would love to continue to grow and add a few more people," Nicole Worth says.

Source: Jim and Nicole Worth, co-founders of Formcode Design Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Start-up Own The Key helps home-buyers improve credit, save money

Last fall, Chris Forte began a business centered on helping people achieve the American Dream of home ownership.

Own The Key
specializes in providing services that help potential homebuyers improve their credit score and save money for a down payment. It works with a lot of traditional lenders and mortgage companies to deepen the home-buying pool.

"We basically coach them through the whole process," Forte says. "We get a lot of customers through mortgage lenders and our own brand awareness."

It's working so far. The Keego Harbor-based company has grown to six people and is working to establish itself as a national brand. It currently has a variety of national clients but wants to widen that reach and make itself a strong presence in Metro Detroit.

"We are going to be a national player," Forte says.

Source: Chris Forte, founder & CEO of Own The Key
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Biznet Internet Solutions hires 4 as it looks to raise a round of VC

Biznet Internet Solutions does business in a sector that is constantly changing and evolving, so the Wixom-based digital marketing business is always "trying to be on top of things," according to Kevin Krason, CEO & ROI fanatic at Biznet Internet Solutions.

That has meant working to get in early on new trends like social media and mobile. Today the 18-year-old business is revamping its business model again, introducing a performance-based marketing system called Sprout.

"Our customers only pay us for the quality leads we send them," says Krason, explaining how the system will work.

Biznet Internet Solutions has hired four people this year, bringing its staff to a dozen employees and a couple of interns. He expects to double that number next year as his company looks to score a seed capital investment round that will allow it to scale its business.

"We're talking to venture capital and private equity firms looking to nail down a $500,000 investment by the end of this year," Krason says.

Source: Kevin Krason, CEO & ROI fanatic at Biznet Internet Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Metro Detroit software developers launch firm, Ambr Detroit

The entrepreneurial duo that brought you flipfrog has launched its own custom application business, Ambr Detroit.

"We're a web start-up that uses web standards to create awesome things," says Anthony Montalbano, co-founder of Ambr Detroit.

Montalbano and Brian Ritter started the company three months ago, creating custom mobile and Internet applications for businesses. The pair left their day jobs (software developers for Domino's) a year ago to launch flipfrog, a mobile app that allows users to share their calendars. The friends are still working on growing flipfrog but are also looking to stretch their entrepreneurial legs a bit more with Ambr Detroit.

"We want to have the flexibility to do what we want," Montalbano says. "We want to be in control of what we're doing. We have very high web standards."

The pair are currently working virtually from their homes in Rochester and Ann Arbor for now. Montalbano says they are currently looking to set up their first office in Detroit. Ambr Detroit has been so busy from the get-go that they are seeking a software developer now and want to grow to a staff of as many as half a dozen within its first year of operation. The partners are also open to striking up partnerships with clients who have a promising idea for a mobile or web app.

"If a good idea comes along we will offer a reduced rate for equity," Montalbano says. "That has already happened once."

Source: Anthony Montalbano, co-founder of Ambr Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Camelot Ventures invests in Farmington Hills start-up

Camelot Ventures made an undisclosed investment in Want Technologies, a social media/e-commerce start-up in 2010. Since then the Farmington Hills-based company has made its software plug-in, the Want Button, a staple of more than 1,000 e-commerce websites.

"We knew there was a need within the e-commerce world for retailers to have a better way to engage their browsers and turn them into browsers," says Greg Links, vice president of business development for Want Technologies.

Want Technologies' the Want Button is a social media plug-in for e-commerce websites that is reminiscent of the Facebook's Like Button. Users can click on the Want Button next to a product they are interested in buying and have that page bookmarked to a universal wish list on their Facebook page.

Today the Want Button is on more than 1,000 e-commerce sites, including Edible Arrangements and Sharper Image. Links expects the Want Button to be on a minimum of 2,000 sites by the end of this year and be ubiquitous on e-commerce sites in the near future. Want Technologies has a staff of 15 employees and an intern working to make that happen.

Source: Greg Links, vice president of business development for Want Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Billhighway creates 30 jobs this year as it scales business in Troy

Billhighway is starting to significantly scale its business, passing milestones and hiring dozens of new people in Troy.

The 13-year-old financial technology company hit its goal of processing $1.5 billion in transactions last year and is on track to surpass its goal of $3 billion in transactions in 2012.

"We have found that the business is scaling well," says Vince Thomas, founder & CEO of Billhighway. "There is a need to hire many people but not as many as we thought. We will probably add more people by the end of the year so we can keep pushing the pedal to the floor for our growth."

That has allowed the firm to hire 20 people so far this year, rounding out its staff to 60 people. It also has job openings for another 10 positions. Most of those new jobs are in software development, sales and marketing.

"We are hiring in a lot of different areas," Thomas says. "I don't see that stopping."

Billhighway's technology helps organizations allocate expenses for items such as dues or dinner costs or any other miscellaneous costs. The inspiration came from Thomas trying to divide bills between himself and his fellow roommates at Eastern Michigan University in the late 1990s. Much of its recent growth has come from doing more business with the non-profit sector.

"That has been working well for us," Thomas says. "We have stayed focused on that."

Source: Vince Thomas, founder & CEO of Billhighway
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Curve Detroit launches FavRiot as hot-or-not website for brands

Charlie Wollborg knows at least two things, and both are key components to his latest tech start-up, FavRiot.com.

"It gamifies the shopping experience," says Wollborg, chief troublemaker at FavRiot.com. "We know that casual games do really well and that no one pays attention during conference calls."

The Pontiac-based start-up is at its core, a hot-or-not game for consumer products. For instance, users are shown two pictures of different cars and asked to choose which one they prefer. The cars are what's for sale at a local automotive dealership and the service is sold to that dealership as a tool to get people to casually walk through its online dealership showroom.

"There are a lot of industries we are thinking about for this," Wollborg says. "Right now it's just automotive." He adds other popular consumer brands for things like alcohol or clothing could be added soon.

FavRiot.com and its team of five people got its start in May, launching out of a side project from Curve Detroit. The FavRiot.com website went live earlier this month.

Source: Charlie Wollborg, chief troublemaker at FavRiot.com
Writer: Jon Zemke

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