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Integral Technologies opens tech center in Canton

Integral Technologies opened a research and development tech center in Canton late last year and is working toward staffing it up in 2014.

"We will be expanding it early this year," says Doug Bathauer, CEO of Integral Technologies. "It will be focused on the engineering side of things."

The Washington-based company and its subsidiary, ElectriPlast, develop and make hybrid conductive plastics. ElectriPlast is a non-corrosive, electrically conductive resin-based material engineered to replace traditional metals such as steel or aluminum. It can be used for electrical and magnetic shielding applications in such industries as automotive, aerospace, consumer electronics, cable and alternative energy. Using ElectriPlast reduces the components' weight by 40-60 percent.

Integral Technologies has signed up a number of large automotive suppliers for ElectriPlast, including Delphi and BASF. Proximity to customers like that played a significant role in the decision to open the R&D tech center in Canton.

"It's really central to a lot of what we're doing," Bathauer says. "Our material, Electriplast, is very well suited for the transportation industry, particularly automotive."

Integral Technologies' Canton office is currently staffed by two full-time employees and 1-2 part-timers. Bathauer expects to hire a couple more people, primarily engineers, as the year goes on and demand for ElectriPlast increases. The tech center will serve as hub for potential customers to design ways to incorporate the material into their products.

"We want it to be an all-inclusive, one-stop-shop for applications of our material," Bathauer says.

Source: Doug Bathauer, CEO of Integral Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

RedViking merges with SuperiorControls, hires 48

To say 2013 has been a growth year for RedViking might be a bit of an understatement.

The Plymouth-based testing firm has hired 48 people over the last year. It now has a staff of 190 employees and a handful of interns. Most of its hires were engineers, and it's looking for another 15 people (mostly engineers) now.

"It's been an active year," says Randy Brodzik, president & CEO of RedViking. "And we're still looking for more."

RedViking also recently merged with SuperiorControls, the company that spun out RedViking in 2010. The two firms are roughly the same size, specializing in similar sorts of testing

RedViking designs, builds, installs and supports highly engineered aerospace and ground-vehicle powertrain test systems for large commercial and military organizations. SuperiorControls specializes in designing and building custom machines, software, automation and conveyance systems for manufacturers, primarily in automotive. But at the end of the day, the two companies share more things in common than not.

"When you look at the organization we're a bunch of engineers that like the challenge of new products," Brodzik says.

Source: Randy Brodzik, president & CEO of RedViking
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Yottabyte adds 5 to staff as it hits double-digit growth

Yottabyte is a 3-year-old software startup in transition, the type of transition it has been planning since its start.

"Now we're shifting from development to go-to-market," says Duane Tursi, principal of Yottabyte.

Yottabyte focuses on creating software that simplifies and automates IT infrastructure. Its two principal products, yStor and yCenter, specialize in different aspects of data storage. The yStor software creates an elastic and distributed storage platform that automatically adjusts when new resources are added. The system helps consolidate data storage functions.

The yCenter product creates a software-defined datacenter that enables the deployment of applications, the provision of virtual data center environments, and reconfiguring IT infrastructure in minutes. Yottabyte promotes it as an advanced software product for data centers. It is optimistic both of these systems will gain traction quickly in 2014.

"There is a readiness in the marketplace," Tursi says. "There is a consolidation going on in our space, so the rate at which our customers would adopt a non-name-brand product is pretty high."

To accommodate that, the Bloomfield Township-based firm has hired five people over the last year, including software programers and IT engineers. It currently employs a staff of 25 employees and one intern.

Source: Duane Tursi, principal of Yottabyte
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

VioPoint doubles space and adds jobs in Auburn Hills

If timing is everything, then the leadership team at VioPoint thinks it has the right ingredients for a significant growth spurt.

"We have the right people and the right services and we're going at the market at the right time," says Wolfgang Goerlich, vice president of consulting at VioPoint.

The 7-year-old firm creates cyber security solutions and provides IT security consulting for other businesses. Its team monitor activity for potential cyber attacks. They also identify and close vulnerabilities in IT systems.

VioPoint has built up its headquarters in Auburn Hills to accommodate the growing demand for its services. Its staff of a dozen employees now has double the square footage after hiring six people over the last year. The company has attracted a number of new clients in a variety of industries, such as healthcare and finance.

"There has been a growing awareness of the importance of cyber security," Goerlich says.

Source: Wolfgang Goerlich, vice president of consulting at VioPoint
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

FIRSTsense Medical aims to launch product next summer

It's been a long time coming, but FIRSTsense Medical is getting ready to begin selling its new breast cancer screening platform.

The Pontiac-based firm's breast cancer test uses robotics and software that emulates a manual test. FIRSTsense Medical claims that its technology achieves a 95-percent detection rate and has been validated in a 2,000-person trial.

"We hope to be in the market in June," says Paul Angott, president and founder of FIRSTsense Medical.

The 5-year-old firm has hired four people (software and mechanical engineers) over the last year to help get the technology to this point. The team of a dozen people helped FIRSTsense Medical make the semifinals of last month's Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.

FIRSTsense Medical has raised $5 million in seed capital and is in the midst of raising another $5 million in a Series B round. It is also working with a contract sales company to make sales directly to hospitals and medical centers.

Source: Paul Angott, president & founder of FIRSTsense Medical
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Commercial Progression grows in new downtown Northville HQ

Alex Fisher worked at a startup when the economy crashed five years ago. That's when he got laid off and found himself at a crossroads in life.

"It was the first chance to do whatever I wanted," Fisher says. So he gave being his own boss a chance, taking on a few software and digital marketing projects. That turned into the start of his current firm, Commercial Progression.

"I figured I would keep doing that until I crashed and burned," Fisher says. "That hasn't happened yet," he laughs.

In fact, Commercial Progression has flourished. It went from a virtual company to establishing its own office in downtown Northville a year ago. It has also hired four people over the last year, filling out its new space with a total core team of nine workers and two interns.

"We have doubled in size over the last year," Fisher says.

The firm has done that primarily by handling software and Drupal web-design projects for manufacturers and technology firms. Now that Commercial Progression has landed those clients, it is looking to capitalize on them in the new year.

"Two-thousand-fourteen is going to be about cultivating relationships with these companies," Fisher says.

Source: Alex Fisher, founder of Commercial Progression
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Vectorform sets sights on new HQ in downtown Royal Oak

Vectorform is preparing to make a big investment in downtown Royal Oak, moving the software firm's headquarters to the city’s center and hiring another 75 people to fill out the new space.

Vectorform specializes in creating software for a number of different platforms, ranging from mobile to experimenting with Google Glass. It employs about 65 people at its current space in Royal Oak after hiring 25 new employees over the last year. It currently has 14 open positions.

The company expects to keep growing rapidly and is looking for a new headquarters that can accommodate that growth and help attract talent. It plans to take the second floor of what is now the Barnes & Noble in downtown Royal Oak sometime next year. That move will allow the firm to hire another 75 people, such as designers, software programers and project managers.

Vectorform took a survey of its current staff to find the best options for its new space. The results pointed straight at downtown Royal Oak.

"It appeared to be the best option from the survey," says Jason Vazzano, CEO of Vectorform. "It has a vibrant and diverse downtown area."

Source: Jason Vazzano, CEO of Vectorform
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

TerraYebo aims to license technology to larger clients

Phase 1 for TerraYebo consisted of getting its fundraising software on the market. The second phase is about licensing it.

"We are in Phase 2," says Michele Favoretto, founder & CEO of TerraYebo. "We have launched the technology and we are preparing to license it to larger-scale clients."

The Madison Heights-based startup's principal product is MyInchofTheEarth.com, a micro-funding platform for nonprofits. Users of the software can claim a virtual inch of the earth or ocean. The platform allows the user to share why that place is important and choose a nonprofit that supports the preservation or enhancement of that place. That way the giver's life experience at a certain place, like a university or park, inspires them to give to that institution.

TerraYebo has landed a number of larger nonprofits on its client roster, including Autism Speaks, the National Park Foundation, and The Pink Fund, among others. The startup and its team of five, up one from earlier this year, has steadily been enhancing the software to make it more dynamic for users.

"That allowed us to bring on these larger nonprofits this year," Favoretto says. "We are rolling out new features every two weeks."

TerraYebo has also received another investment from Automation Alley worth $75,000. The startup has raised $650,000 in seed capital, with half of that coming from the Troy-based business accelerator.

Source: Michele Favoretto, founder & CEO of TerraYebo
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Mobile app Nowza brings buying power to events

Ever go to a concert, buy the band’s tour t-shirt early to make sure you get one and then lament having to lug it around the entire time? To Ed Cantrell, that experience is a mobile app startup in the making.

Nowza bills itself as "a mobile app that delivers what you want from a live event." It provides a platform for people attending an event, such as a concert, to buy paraphernalia. So instead of waiting in a vendor line and toting a poster around for most of the time, users can order the same item online and have it delivered to their home.

"When you're at the event it lets you know there is a virtual store there," Cantrell says.

It also opens the door for more sales for the performers and venue, which is a vital part of the event’s business plan.

"You want to sell your stuff while people are there," Cantrell says. "The best time to sell your goods, which is a major part of your income, is at the venue."

The Harper Woods-based startup uses Amazon and iTunes as part of the sales process. "That way they don't have to start an account," Cantrell says. "They can start buying products right away."

Nowza and its team of three people recently made the semifinals of the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition in downtown Detroit last month. Cantrell says the experience helped his company solidify its business plan and push forward on its marketing campaign that it intends to ramp up in 2014.

"It was quite an education," Cantrell says. "There was some stiff competition."

Source: Ed Cantrell, CEO of Nowza
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Brooks Kushman adds staff to keep up with IP work spike

Brooks Kushman has experienced a hiring spike over the last year as the economy has rebounded.

The Southfield-based intellectual-property law firm has hired 17 people over the last year, including 12 new attorneys and five support staff. It has expanded its office space by 7,000 square feet to accommodate the growth. It now has a staff of 177 people, a vast majority of which are housed in 2.5 floors in 1000 Town Center, overlooking the Lodge Freeway.

"As the economy is getting a little better our clients are sending us more work and we need to hire more people to handle it," says Mark Cantor, president of Brooks Kushman.

What makes that statement unique is that intellectual property is pretty steady regardless of the ups and downs of the economy. Cantor says local companies are looking to expand on more intellectual property. While a majority of that work is automotive, it is not just new designs for brakes or gears. Since so much of a vehicle is dependent on software, a lot of that work revolves around new technology, which is making Cantor optimistic for next year.

"I think 2014 will be our best year," Cantor says. "The stars seems to be aligning for us."

Source: Mark Cantor, president of Brooks Kushman
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

BioSavita expands executive team in Plymouth

BioSavita has doubled its staff to four people in the last year by adding two executives to its leadership team, including a new CEO.

The Plymouth-based firm, formerly ApoLife, is an early stage bio-tech company. It made a name for itself developing technology from yeast strains, which it has licensed to major pharmaceutical companies. The company is now looking at raising a round of seed capital to develop more technology.

"We're trying to make the decision on whether to raise equity capital or continue to do licensing," says James Kuo, chairman & CEO of BioSavita. "We'd like to make it as soon as possible."

Kuo adds that BioSavita has recently taken on Roger Newton, the driving force behind Esperion Therapeutics, as an advisor. BioSavita made the semifinals of the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition in downtown Detroit last month. It also took the top prize, worth $100,000, at the Great Lakes Entrepreneur's Quest business plan competition last summer.

"Many, many things validate what we’re doing," Kuo says. "I think these awards are part of it."

Source: James Kuo, chairman & CEO of BioSavita and Nalini Motwani, president & CTO of BioSavita
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Ourtunez mobile app mixes mainstream, indie music

Finding music on the Internet is pretty easy these days. Whether it's mainstream hits or independent artists toiling underground, there is no shortage of services that specialize in bringing a certain type of music to your computer.

Ourtunez, a Macomb Township-based software startup, thinks it can carve out its own niche by exposing people to all sorts of contemporary music, ranging from mainstream to independent musicians.

"Our main differentiator is indie music," says Chris Ciaramitaro, co-founder of Ourtunez. "While we have all of the mainstream music, we have all of the great independent artists from across the nation."

Ciaramitaro and his co-founder, Sam Munaco, loved to search out new bands in high school. As free time became more sparse as they got older, they found less and less time to do it. So the friends decided to make their own easy-to-use, web-streaming service that mixes both mainstream music and independent artists.

"We started out grassrootsing it," Munaco says. "We found them on Facebook, told them about our product and went from there."

Ourtunez has attracted a number of bands from across the U.S., including Taddy Porter (Oklahoma), New Hollow (Ohio) and Kaleido (Detroit). The team of five people launched the service in September. It now has 200 independent bands and  10,000 users.

"If we continue to have the numbers we had last month, we'll double in December," Ciaramitaro says.

Source: Sam Munaco & Chris Ciaramitaro, co-founders of Ourtunez
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

EasyG technology looks to minimize lag time in ECG testing

Inspiration struck Tom Evans when he was going to school at Marquette University and working as an EMT in Milwaukee. He saw that there had to be a better way to apply electrocardiogram, commonly known as ECG, equipment to cardiac victims in their time of need.

"Time is muscle when it comes to heart conditions and heart attacks," Evans says. "I thought there was a better way to apply ECG equipment to patients."

So Evans came up with EasyG, a sensor that allows ECG equipment to work through clothing. Today medical professionals have to remove clothing to apply traditional ECG equipment. Sometimes they have to shave hair off chests or deal with sweat that can cause the sensors to come off.

The Beverly Hills-based startup is currently testing its product and working toward FDA approval. "Commercialization is our next goal," Evans says.

The startup and its team of two people recently made the semifinals of the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. It is currently looking to target ambulance companies and healthcare systems as its first customers. It is also considering military firms and home-healthcare companies as clients further down the line.

Source: Tom Evans, CEO of EasyG
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

CureLauncher grows to 18 people in Bloomfield Hills

CureLauncher, the self-described Wikipedia of clinical trials, is starting to enjoy its first growth streak one year after launching.

The Bloomfield Hills-based startup has grown to 18 employees and three summer interns. Those jobs include everything from the executive team to the relationship managers that help sick people find clinical trials for new treatments.

CureLauncher has created a software platform that serves as a one-stop shop for people looking to participate in clinical trials. There are tens of thousands of clinical trials held in the U.S. each year and they are often delayed by several months, on average, because of enrollment issues. CureLauncher’s database looks to make what could be life-saving connections between sick people and cutting-edge treatments. All the prospective patients need to do is call CureLauncher’s hotline to find a prospective clinical trial to take part in.

"We think of ourselves as Match.com for clinical trials," says David Fuehrer, president of CureLauncher. "Our mission is to help people with access to and understanding of their new treatment options."

CureLauncher's service went national last summer. It now takes inquiries from an average of 350 stroke survivors per month looking for new experimental treatments to be a part of.

"We have had a couple of thousand people contact us," Fuehrer says.

CureLauncher has raised $600,000 in seed capital over the last year, including $25,000 in cash for winning the Life Science award at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition last month. Fuehrer plans to use that money to establish its brand nationally in 2014. He expects that expansion will mean CureLauncher has to hire more relationship managers next year.

Source: David Fuehrer, president of CureLauncher
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Corrigan Moving Systems continues growth for 4th generation

Most new businesses use awards as a way to validate their business plans. Corrigan Moving Systems can point to four generations of family ownership for that. For the Farmington Hills-based company, awards are more a point of pride.

That's the case with its recent winning of the United Van Lines' 2013 President's Quality Award, which recognizes the top company in the United Van Lines system. The 85-year-old company won the initial offering of this award in 1995 and has been aiming to repeat that success ever since.

"It has been something we have been striving for for a long time," says Kevin Corrigan, general manager of Corrigan Moving Systems. "It's great to reach this peak."

It also recognizes the company's growth. The firm now has 12 locations in four states across the Midwest, including nine in Michigan. Corrigan Moving Systems has grown its revenue by 5 percent this year, including a 10 percent jump in revenue in southeast Michigan. It has also hired 200 people over the last year, including 30 full-time employees.

Corrigan Moving Systems has achieved that growth by incorporating more technology into its traditional business model. For instance, the firm has enabled its drivers and other workers to use iPads to handle deliveries and inventory.

"People see moving as an old business," Corrigan says. "We have been using technology to help streamline our business."

Source: Kevin Corrigan, general manager of Corrigan Moving Systems.
Writer: Jon Zemke

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