| Follow Us:

Innovation & Job News

3038 Articles | Page: | Show All

Innovative Learning Group celebrates 10 years this month

Most businesses don't live to see three years. Many more don't make it to five years. Innovative Learning Group is celebrating birthday No. 10 this month.

The downtown Royal Oak-based firm doesn’t dwell on what has changed over the last decade. Its team of 13 people focus on what has stayed the same in that time: "Our great culture and focus on clients," says Lisa Toenniges, CEO of Innovative Learning Group. "What happened over the last 10 years is we managed to keep pace with technology as it changed."

Innovative Learning Group is a business consultancy that specializes in training and human performance improvement for businesses. It develops learning strategies, curriculum architectures, and implements/evaluates these learning solutions. The firm has done this primarily with digital solutions and it is pivoting its services more toward the mobile realm in 2014.

"What we always care about is steady, profitable growth," Toenniges says. "We aim for 15 percent year over year."

That has allowed Innovative Learning Group to hire two people in January. Those new jobs are in performance consulting and media development.

"Over the coming year we will probably hire several people," 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.

Startgrid online portal to foster entrepreneurial collaboration

Local leaders often talk about the strengths of Metro Detroit's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Everything from local business accelerators to university programs are talking points they love to tick off in speeches. Meet Startgrid, the Detroit Regional Chamber's latest effort to connect those entrepreneurial dots.

Startgrid was announced at last week’s Detroit Policy Conference and is funded in part by the New Economy Initiative. It is an online portal with the purpose of helping local entrepreneurs connect with a wide variety of people who want to work with startups. The platform allows users to create a collaboration page that features their latest venture. Entrepreneurs can flesh out their page over time, growing their social media circle of friends, mentors and industry experts.

"It's a community dedicated toward the entrepreneurial journey," says Peter Gardner, founder & CEO of Startgrid.

The idea is to fill in the gaps of Metro Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The portal plans to complement local resources by working with the likes of Bizdom, TechTown, Detroit Venture Partners, Insyght, Ann Arbor SPARK and Automation Alley, among others. To watch a video about what Startgrid is about, click here.

"Just watch," says Sandy Baraugh, president & CEO of Detroit Regional Chamber. "We're going to do amazing things with this."

Source: Sandy Baraugh, president & CEO of Detroit Regional Chamber and Peter Gardner, founder & CEO of Startgrid
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

CoFoundersLab aims to connect Metro Detroit entrepreneurs

CoFoundersLab is coming to Metro Detroit, hosting a match party at Grand Circus in downtown Detroit and partnering with the University of Michigan.

The Maryland-based firm specializes in making online portals that help entrepreneurs connect with a variety of people that can help them build their startup. Each portal specializes in a specific metropolitan area or a university community. A Metro Detroit version is being launched.

"We build an online matching platform," says Michael Hughes, vice president of community development for CoFoundersLab. Think of it as a dating site for entrepreneurs looking for co-founders.

The firm has already built one of these portals for the Zell-Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies in the U-M Ross School of Business. The Michigan Founder Finder helps students, staff and the overall university community connect to help grow new companies coming out of the University of Michigan.

The matchup event is set for downtown Detroit at 6:30 p.m. on Mar 19 in the Grand Circus space in Broderick Tower. For information, click here.

Source: Michael Hughes, vice president of community development for CoFoundersLab
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Woodward Asset Capital acquires Homesource Realtors

Woodward Asset Capital has acquired Homesource Realtors with the idea of growing not as a real-estate brokerage, but as a technology firm.

The Southfield-based firm has developed a software platform called OfferSubmission that aims to sell properties faster and for maximum value. The seven-year-old company sees Homesource Realtors as the outlet for that platform.

"As the default market has changed we see an opportunity to disrupt the market with our technology," says Ron Jasgur, president of Woodward Asset Capital.

The first step was acquiring the real-estate brokerage. The second was rebranding it as SellerNation. The third, rebuilding the rebranded brokerage around the software platform that focuses on the seller experience.

Seller Nation’s OfferSubmission platform focuses on the seller side of the transaction. The idea is to bring in as many offers as quickly as possible. "It allows us to receive multiple offers and negotiate with them instead of waiting for offers to come in one at a time," Jasgur says.

Homesource made a name for itself as a discount brokerage. Jasgur is moving SellerNation away from that. "It really doesn’t fit into what we do," Jasgur says. He expects to roll out SellerNation across the country over the next 24 months.

Woodward Asset Capital currently employs 11 people. It has hired two more in customer service in the last year, and he sees more job postings in the company’s near future.

"With this acquisition we expect to hire another 6-8 in the next few months," Jasgur says.

Source: Ron Jasgur, president of Woodward Asset Capital
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Evans Distribution Systems adds 60 hires in Michigan

Evans Distribution Systems is growing the size of its workforce in Michigan as the logistics firm continues to move toward a more diversified clientele.

"We will continue to grow in other industries outside of automotive, like wine-and-spirits and electronics," says Derek Byrd, marketing & inside sales manager for Evans Distribution Systems.

The Melvindale-based firm specializes in full service third-party logistics. Among the services it offers are warehousing, transportation and staffing. It is celebrating its 85 birthday this year, and has grown its business to include 30 operations in 10 different states. It employs about 500 people, including about 60 new employees over the last year.

Evans Distribution Systems has watched its warehousing and transportation divisions lead the charge for growth. It recently expanded its Romulus warehouse facility to 200,000 square feet.

The firm has seen its biggest bump from transportation services. That division now makes up 40 percent of the company's bottom line, up from 20 percent in recent years. The firm has achieved that by expanding the number of industries it services, adding more business from the likes of automotive, electronics, recycling and food & beverage industries.

"We will put more emphasis on transportation management," Byrd says. "We really want to grow the transportation side."

Source: Derek Byrd, marketing & inside sales manager for Evans Distribution Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

jacAPPS expands under new COO's leadership

Bob Kernen landed as the new COO of jacAPPS last summer, and has worked to grow the mobile app company since then. But getting him to join the Bingham Farms-based firm didn't happen as quickly.

"I had been talking to Paul and Fred for a year and a half," Kernen says. "What they're doing is really exciting. Their reputations are platinum and they’re great to work with."

So it wasn't that tough of a decision when they approached Kernen, a Metro Detroit native, about coming back to the region to run jacAPPS. Kernen had lived on both coasts and saw the growing tech economy that was changing Metro Detroit and wanted to be part of it.

The 4-year-old company specializes in making mobile apps for a variety of big players in different industries. It makes apps for radio stations, Ford and McLaren Hospitals. That work has allowed jacAPPS to hire three people over the last year, including a software developer, a client services manager and Kernen.

"We're growing like crazy," Kernen says. "It's very exciting."

The company now has a staff of eight employees and one intern. It is looking to add another intern or two soon. The staff recently moved from Southfield to a a 5,000-square-foot office in Bingham Farms.

Source: Bob Kernen, COO of jacAPPS
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Total Quality Logistics opens 13-person office in Troy

Total Quality Logistics opened up its 23rd office in the U.S. earlier this month, adding 13 new jobs in Troy.

The Cincinnati-based firm is one of the largest freight brokerage firms in the country. It employs 2,500 people in 12 states across the U.S. Last year it helped move 815,000 loads of freight and posted sales of more than $1.6 billion. It sees a significant opportunity in Metro Detroit.

"The work we do we can do anywhere," says Kerry Byrne, executive vice president of Total Quality Logistics. "The location is important so we can attract quality talent. It's really the region that attracted us."

Total Quality Logistics doesn’t have a goal for how big it wants to grow the office, but Byrne provides some encouraging examples. Its first office in Chicago opened five years ago and employs more than 100 people today. Its Tampa Bay office opened four years ago and also has over 100 employees.

"It really depends on our ability to attract talented individuals," Byrne says, adding that Total Quality Logistics is looking for driven, competitive sales people. For information on its open positions, click here.

Source: Kerry Byrne, executive vice president of Total Quality Logistics
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Grand Angels sinks seed capital into ProNAi Therapeutics

Grand Angels is reaching across the Great Lakes State to plunk down some serious seed capital for one of Metro Detroit’s promising startups.

The Grand Rapids-based angel investor group has invested in ProNAi Therapeutics. The Plymouth-based biotech startup is developing a novel and proprietary DNAi drug technology platform to help fight cancer. It has enjoyed recent success with safely treating Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma patients in clinical trials.

The group has also invested in Ann Arbor-based Local Orbit, which is developing software that helps connect food producers (think farmers, co-ops and farmers markets) with grocers, restaurants and other eateries.

"Our applicants are roughly split between each side of the state," says Jody Vanderwel, president of Grand Angels. "We even have some from the northern part of the state."

Grand Angels launched a decade ago with the idea of focusing its investment on startups in the Grand Rapids area. Within a few years it expanded that focus to include the entire state of Michigan to enhance its deal flow. It started adding more members after making that decision, and now adds 3-4 new angel investors each year. The current membership stands at 48 high-net-worth individuals.

Source: Jody Vanderwel, president of Grand Angels
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Benzinga adds financial products, 5 new employees

Benzinga is growing in more than just a few ways these days. The Southfield-based startup is adding more products to diversify its revenue, hiring staff and possibly looking for a new home later this year.

Benzinga, which will turn four years-old in May, got its start providing financial news with a twist, adding ideas that stock market day traders and other investors can use to profit from the day's headlines. It quickly locked down $2 million worth of seed capital from Lightbank, the venture capital firm founded by Groupon’s co-founders. That enabled Benzinga to grow its staff and services. It’s not just a publication anymore. Think of it more as a technology company.

"We're a very flat organization," says Jason Raznick, CEO of Benzinga. "I gave a TEDx speech about a madeup word called Doarchy."

Combine the word "do" and "hierarchy" and you’ll have an idea about what Raznick is talking about. Benzinga empowers its employees to turn their passions into businesses and revenue streams. That means today Benzinga's main three revenue streams come from subscriptions to its news service, licensing the software it creates and Marketfy, which is a financial education platform.

"What we're really great at is creating something from nothing," Raznick says. "Marketfy didn’t exist a year ago. Now it’s generating crazy revenue."

Those sorts of innovations come from Benzinga’s staff of 27 employees and five interns. It has hired five people in the last year, including a new COO and software developers. There are four openings for software developers, marketing professionals and UIX designers.

Raznick is also looking to bring in more talent with roots in Michigan who are looking to move back to the Great Lakes State. To help accomplish that he is considering moving his company when the lease to its current home is up this summer. He is thinking about downtown Detroit or downtown Ann Arbor to help make it easier to attract young, technology-inclined talent.

"We're not sure what we’re going to do," Raznick says. "We need a cool environment."

Source: Jason Raznick, CEO of Benzinga
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Basso Design Group doubles work space in Troy

Basso Design Group is moving on up in the world, or at least in Troy.

The 11-year-old digital marketing agency is moving into a new office this week. The 3,000-square-foot space is twice the size of its previous office, which will help accommodate the firm's growing staff.

Basso Design Group has hired three people over the last year: a website developer, sales professional and a creative director. It now employs a staff of 15 people. The agency is looking for summer interns. It is also looking to hire two people now for website development and website design.

"We have landed some pretty significant clients over the last year," says Dan Santonocito, managing partner with Basso Design Group. "Everyone from Michigan State University to Wayne State University to Michigan First Credit Union to Hansons."

The Troy-based firm handles a wide variety of digital marketing services, including website building, social media, search engine optimization and mobile app development. It is looking to get into developing mobile apps and responsive web design this year as it looks to continue growing its revenue at a double-digit clip.

"We steadily grow between 20-30 percent a year," Santonocito says. "Every year has been our best year so far."

Source: Dan Santonocito, managing partner with Basso Design Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

G2 Consulting grows revenue 31%, opens Ann Arbor office

G2 Consulting Group's work hasn't changed, but the way it does it most certainly has. As a result, the Troy-based construction firm has grown in recent years.

G2 Consulting Group specializes in environmental and geotechnical engineering services. Think of it as doing the construction work that takes place below the ground, like soil testing. This has meant generations of paperwork.

When the recession came about in 2008, the 20-year-old company used it as an opportunity to upgrade its technology, turning everything digital. Its field workers now use iPads to input information. There is an in-house project management database. All of the new technology helps streamline the firm’s workflow.

"The workflow is seamless," says Noel Hargrave-Thomas, co-founder & principal of G2 Consulting Group. “Our work hasn’t changed but the way we do it has."

That set the stage for a couple of big years for the firm. G2 Consulting Group watched its revenue spike by 20 percent in 2012 and 31 percent last year. It has hired four people in the last year, including a couple of former interns. It now has 35 employees and is looking to add some more interns this summer.

G2 Consulting Group has also opened up an office in Ann Arbor, which will complement the one it already has in Chicago. The new Ann Arbor office currently employs six people and the firm is looking to add another two engineers there.

Source: Noel Hargrave-Thomas, co-founder & principal of G2 Consulting Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Qstride expands across U.S. with new Ann Arbor, VA offices

Qstride is growing across the eastern half of the U.S. The Troy-based tech firm is opening new offices in downtown Ann Arbor and Virginia. It is also expanding its office in downtown Detroit.

Qstride provides analytics and business intelligence services for a broad range of clients. It now has clients across the country, from New York to California and several states in between. That has allowed the 20-month-old firm to grow its revenue by 135 percent. It now employs 20 people, including eight in Detroit.

"It will probably grow to 15 people," says Shane Gianino, CEO of Qstride. "We don't want to grow too fast."

The Ann Arbor and Virginia offices are still small. Gianino expects them to grow significantly over the next year as they draw from their respective local tech talent pools.

Qstride does a lot of work in data warehousing and business intelligence, such as providing big data services and predictive analytics. It has landed 10 new clients over the last year, including three last week. The clientele includes healthcare, retail, education and financial services businesses.

Source: Shane Gianino, CEO of Qstride
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Technology Solutions aims for 50% revenue increase

Technology Solutions has experienced years of double-digit growth and is preparing for another one in 2014.

The Livonia-based tech firm has grown its revenues by 300 percent since 2009. It is looking forward to another year of 50-percent revenue growth this year.

"We have grown somewhat dramatically," says Steve Futrell, president of Technology Solutions.

Technology Solutions specializes in VOIP work in the voice and data industry. The 19-year-old company rebranded itself as Technology Solutions in 1999. It does business with a number of large companies around the world. It is also expanding into some institutional customers, such as school districts.

"Our solution is ideal for the school-district workplace," Futrell says. "We are giving them a full-blown, feature-rich system on their own campus."

That new bit of business has allowed Technology Solutions to hire two people over the last year, including an engineer and customer advocate. It is also looking to hire another engineer right now. The firm currently employs a staff of a dozen employees and an intern.

Source: Steve Futrell, president of Technology Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Grow Michigan issues $20M in loans to 12 businesses in last year

Grow Michigan is wrapping up its first year of loans, dispersing $20.1 million to a dozen different growing companies in Michigan.

"Both the size and the speed of our loans is accelerating now that more and more people are becoming more aware of it," says Russell Youngdahl, Jr., CEO of Grow Michigan.

Grow Michigan got its start when a number of members of Michigan's banking community and the Michigan Strategic Fund put the $35.7 million fund together. It provides mezzanine loans that are made in conjunction with senior loans from other established lenders. Those loans range in size from $500,000 to $3 million.

"We're speculating that we will do $4 million a quarter (in loans)," Youngdahl says.

Among the recipients of the first round of loans are tier one and tier two automotive suppliers, aerospace manufacturers and hospitality firms.  

The $20.1 million in loans from Grow Michigan were part of a total debt package valued at $141 million. Those businesses employ more than 1,000 workers in the Great Lakes State.

Source: Russell Youngdahl, Jr., CEO of Grow Michigan
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Fred Astaire Dance Studio expands staff in Bloomfield Hills

The Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Bloomfield Hills is on a bit of a hiring binge.

The dance-instruction business has hired four teachers in the last year. It is currently looking to hire another two right now, along with an administrative professional. All of these hires are so the eight-year-old business can keep up with the increasing demand for its services.

"The momentum of ballroom dancing is part of it," says Evan Mountain, co-owner of Fred Astaire Dance Studio. "People want to be more comfortable dancing. Plus, it's probably part of the improving economy."

Evan Mountain owns the business with his wife, Lada Mountain. They oversee a staff of 10 people. The business’ revenue has spiked by 60 percent over the last year and it's seeing even more encouraging results so far this year. Seven weeks into 2014, the company's revenues are up 58 percent compared to the same period last year.

"People are flooding in," Evan Mountain says. "It's incredible to me. We have always led the country in business (the Bloomfield Hills location is part of a national franchise) from this studio but I have never seen students flood in like this."

Source: Evan Mountain, co-owner of Fred Astaire Dance Studio
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
3038 Articles | Page: | Show All
Share this page
0
Email
Print
Signup for Email Alerts