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(EO)2 Fastener creates streamlined car-top transport system

Richard Rayos had a stroke of inspiration the fall of 2009. The metro Detroit resident worked in robotics and the automotive industries, but his true passion was for the outdoors.

Rayos was heading out on a trip with one of those large carriers full of gear strapped to the top of his car. They carrier was convenient as far as size and staying attached to his car, but not much else.

"You don't want to take it on or off because it’s a pain in the ass," says Rayos, president & CEO of (EO)2 Fastener. "I thought there had to be a better way."

That led to the creation of (EO)2 Fastener, a snaptop rail and carrier made to securely attach to your car and easily come off when you want it. The carriers come in both large sizes and sizes small enough to use as a backpack on a hiking trip. Check out a video on (EO)2 Fasteners here.

(EO)2 Fastener has been working with automakers and automotive suppliers, selling 120,000 units last year. It's looking to increase sales this year as it targets both regular consumers and commercial uses, such as military customers looking to use the system to better attach equipment to vehicles.

"It can be used for everything from camping gear to putting a battery on a tank," Rayos says. "As you need it you can snap it on the vehicle and travel 100 mph in the rain and it won't come off."

The Sterling Heights-based firm currently calls the Velocity Incubator home. It employs a staff two people and Rayos is currently looking to hire an administrative assistant.

Source: Richard Rayos, president & CEO of (EO)2 Fastener
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Highway Mediaís online video work spurs firmís growth

In recent years, online video work has become an essential part of Highway Media's revenue stream.

The video-production firm got its start making videos for commercial users and recently did work for DVDs before transitioning to online videos. Last year, Highway Media reached a major milestone in its online video work, producing more than 100 online videos. It’s on pace to do more than 150 this year and aiming for 200 in 2016.

"Most companies are realizing the necessity of having a video on their website," says Mark Salloum, president & owner of Highway Media. "It does so many things for a website."

The Canton-based firm is also trying out more innovative ways to create those videos. It's experimenting with drones to bring a broader variety of camera angles to its videos.

"They're becoming a great tool for us to use when we're filming, say, an industrial video, and you want to see a birds-eye view," Salloum says.

Highway Media currently employs a core team of seven people and a large stable of freelancers. It has hired two people over the last year (an editor and a business development manager) and expects to add more in the future as demand for its online videos continues to rise.

Source: Mark Salloum, president & owner of Highway Media
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

APAG Elektronik, Promac open U.S. offices in Oakland County

Oakland County is now the destination for two global manufacturers looking to land in the U.S. this year.

APAG Elektronik AG and Promac plan to establish offices in Oakland County, according to county officials. Leadership from the companies met with county officials at the recent SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington D.C., which prompted both firms to look as Troy as a new home for their new offices.

"These companies have seen what a thousand others who came before them saw – that Oakland County is the best market for international investment," Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said in a press release.

Italian-based Promac is an automotive supplier that produces parts for many industries, including aviation, aerospace, energy, precision prototypes, and complex machining. It plans to open its first North American facility in Troy.

Switzerland-based APAG Elektronik AG is an electronics design and manufacturing firm. It plans to open a sales office in Troy this summer. It's also looking at opening an electronics manufacturing facility in 2016. It is currently using space in the Automation Alley International Business Center.

Source: Oakland County
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

123Net acquires Holland-based Internet firm, T2 Communications

Southfield-based 123Net is expanding across Michigan, acquiring another telecommunications company in Holland, T2 Communications.

"It will give us better and more robust connectivity throughout Holland," says Steve Hazel, agent manager for 123Net. "It will also give us a more robust customer support system."

The 20-year-old firm is one of Michigan’s largest telecommunications and Internet service providers. It has been active in West Michigan since 2000 and has partnered with T2 Communications for years. 123Net has also invested significantly in its Grand Rapids fiber ring, wireless PoP sites, and its Grand Rapids/Byron Center data center.

123Net serves thousands of businesses across Michigan with a network that includes over 2,500 route miles of fiber, more than 70 high speed fixed wireless towers, and four world-class data centers. It has grown significantly over the last six months, hiring five people in positions like marketing and project management. It currently employs a staff of 43 and is looking to hire three more.

The T2 Communications acquisition is 123Net's third merger over the last year. Although there aren't any more acquisition candidates in 123Net's pipeline right now, that doesn't mean there won’t be another one before the end of the year.

"There is always the possibility," Hazel says. "We seem to acquire firms at a steady pace of a couple at a time."

Source: Steve Hazel, agent manager for 123Net
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

UV Angel closes on 7-figure seed round for infection-fighting tech

UV Angel has just closed on a angel round of seed capital worth at least $1 million to help further develop its infection-fighting technology.

The Livonia-based firm makes an innovative disinfection technology for hospitals and clinics. The idea is to prevent healthcare-associated infections, which can include nasty superbugs like H1N1 and MRSA. Such infections kill more than 75,000 people each year.

"We have had more healthcare-associated infection fatalities in the last year than there were deaths in Vietnam and the War on Terror combined," says Michael Armstrong, vice president of UV Angel.

UV Angel's platform continuously monitors device interactions and employs an automated disinfection process to create a safe working environment in medical centers. Each interaction between a medical professional and a piece of equipment (think computer keyboard or mice) initiates or pauses a cleaning cycle.

"We go after the high-touch surfaces and kill whatever is there," Armstrong says.

"Everything we do we record," he adds. "Nobody else does that."

UV Angel currently has pilot studies of its technology underway, which have shown that they consistently eliminate superbugs. Today a team of about 10 people at UV Angel are working on the technology and commercializing it. The firm recently hired three sales reps.

Source: Michael Armstrong, vice president of UV Angel
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

MagWerks LED develops cutting edge light technology

LED lights have a reputation as being lean, mean, and ultra-energy-efficient. The reality is, however, that the less energy they use, the heavier they become. It's a challenge that's keeping LED lights from reaching their full potential.

"It's a largely unknown subject but an important one," says Michael Pickholz, CEO of MagWerks LED.

The Oxford-based startup believes it has an answer for that dilemma. The LED lighting design and engineering firm’s technology aims to make high-powered LED lights smaller, lighter, and cooler. The first target market is automotive lights. MagWerks technology leverages the structural properties of magnesium, which is 20 times stronger than plastics.

"It brings a vast improvement in performance," Pickholz says. "It makes it lighter and brighter."

The 3-person firm has recently joined Automation Alley's 7Cs program, which helps new companies leverage advanced manufacturing practices to grow their business.

"There is a need," Pickholz says. "How can you grow a company fast enough to satisfy that need?"

Source: Michael Pickholz, CEO of MagWerks LED
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Transitions Legal partners with Vezina Law in downtown Birmingham

Working together is often the sort of business strategy that not only brings firms together but helps them become more successful. Those benefits are why two small law firms in downtown Birmingham are collaborating.

Transitions Legal and its principal attorney, Alisa Peskin-Shepherd, are now of counsel with Vezina Law. The idea is that each firm’s expertise will help complement the other’s strengths.

"We each have something that adds to our respective firms," Peskin-Shepherd says.

Transitions Legal specializes in family law and mediation. Peskin-Shepherd has grown to a staff of two people. Vezina Law focuses on business, healthcare, and employment law. It has offices in Michigan and Louisiana.

"They have been referring cases to us for two years," Peskin-Shepherd says. "We wanted to formalize that relationship."

Source: Alisa Peskin-Shepherd, principal of Transitions Legal
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

CulturecliQ's software helps employers make the right hires via company culture

Hiring people isn't as easy as it sounds. Companies spends lots of time, money, and resources finding the right people that will fit into their operation. CulturecliQ thinks it has found a more efficient way to help them make the right hires.

The Livonia-based startup has developed a software platform (with the help of eyeWyre Software Studios in downtown Mt. Clemens) that matches companies and candidates based on whether the candidate would fit in with the company's culture.

"It's an easy-to-use tool to find candidates without sifting through thousands of resumes," says Joe Walker, COO of CulturecliQ.

Walker started CulturecliQ with Colleen Albright about a year ago. The pair used to work at Plunkett & Cooney where he was a partner and she worked in human resources, and then worked together at R. L. Polk & Co. Albright had the idea for the company a couple of years ago and the two decided to leave the corporate world for the startup world.

The system uses specifically targeted questions for the companies and candidates. The idea is to help both parties learn more about each other by providing them with more information than would be in a resume or on a company's website. CulturecliQ's software then sorts the different data points about the people to find the best fit for the job.

"With today’s talent shortage, people are hiring on soft skills because the hard skills can be taught," Walker says.

CulturecliQ went live in January. It currently has 40 companies and 500 job candidates using it. The company plans to do a wider release this spring across southeast Michigan and then beyond.

"We're ready to do a hard launch by May 1st," Walker says.

Source: Joe Walker, COO of CulturecliQ
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Oakland University spins out first tech startup, Fulcrum Engineering

The first startup to spin out of Oakland University wants to make your vehicle safer by making its parts disengage during catastrophic accidents.

Fulcrum Engineering is developing technology that enables structural joints in a vehicles to decouple during big accidents. The idea is the force of the accident is displaced to better protect the motorists.

"We have shown we can reduce the force that is felt by the occupants of the vehicle by 60 percent," says Michael Latcha, president of Fulcrum Engineering.

Latcha is also an associate professor at Oakland University. He discovered the idea for the technology when trying to figure out ways to protect military vehicles from IED explosions. He found that if things like the engine or transmission were able to decouple during an explosion, then the force of the blast would also be displaced and better protect the people inside the vehicle.

"All your left with is the shell of the vehicle protecting the occupants," Latcha says.

Fulcrum Engineering is trying to commercialize that technology for use in everyday vehicles like sedans and work trucks. The idea is that only major accidents would enable the decoupling of the structural joints, not fender benders.

The Rochester-based startup launched last November. It made the finals of the Global Automotive Innovation Challenge and is currently working to license its technology to automotive suppliers.

Source: Michael Latcha, president of Fulcrum Engineering
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Crazy Diamond Performance aims to commercialize natural gas tech

Kevin Fern made a career as two things: a serial entrepreneur and a veteran of the alternative fuel vehicle industry. He is using both to build up his new firm, Crazy Diamond Performance.

The Shelby Township-based startup specializes in natural gas technology for automobiles. It is working to help transition more vehicles away from relying on gasoline for power to using compressed natural gas.

"We see a lot of merit in natural gas-powered vehicles," says Steven Bridson, business development manager of Crazy Diamond Performance. "It is beneficial to the U.S. because there is a lot of natural gas here."

The 3-year-old firm is utilizing compressed natural gas (a clear, odorless, and non-corrosive fuel) in its products. When combusted in a vehicle, it produces lower exhaust emissions, reducing carbon dioxide by 25 percent, and there are almost no evaporative emissions. With 120-octane and nearly the same energy content as gasoline, current generation compressed natural gas engines are just as powerful as their gasoline counterparts.

Crazy Diamond Performance currently has a team of four people working on its technology. It recently hired two people and is planning to hire more soon.

"We expect to bring on more people as the project we are working on are approved and funded," Bridson says.

Crazy Diamond Performance recently joined Automation Alley's 7Cs program, which helps small companies learn the basics of manufacturing and how to turn it to their advantage when growing their business.

"We think the 7Cs program will help us get the Crazy Diamond Performance message out to the industry," Bridson says.

Source: Steven Bridson, business development manager of Crazy Diamond Performance
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Insert Catchy Headlines marks 10 years as an independent, woman-owned business

Josephine Dries' life changed 10 years ago. That was the time she started her own public relations firm, Insert Catchy Headlines. In a way, it was her method for declaring her own independence.

Dries worked in a family business for years. It was a situation where the men of the family took leading roles. Dries felt limited. She wanted to be in a situation where she could excel and occupy an equal role to everyone else. That meant striking out on her own.

"I said, 'OK, that’s good for you. Why can't I do it?'" Dries says. "If I can’t do it under your umbrella, then I will stand on my own two feet and do it on my own."

She never looked back. Today her Rochester Hills-based business is not only her full-time job, but Dries has been so successful that she raised her firm's prices. She plans to hire her first employee over the next year, and even attract a major local corporation as a client. Today Insert Catchy Headlines serves primarily small and medium-sized businesses.

"I went from one monthly client (when the business launched) to four monthly clients," Dries says.

Source: Josephine Dries, founder of Insert Catchy Headlines
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

TelNet Worldwide opens Southfield data center

TelNet Worldwide is opening a new data center in Southfield, transforming a several-year-old building that had never been occupied into a state-of-the-art tech hub.

The Troy-based business opened a Tier III data center, renovating an existing building that was built in a tech park. "It was a brand-new building that has been empty for five years," says Mark Iannuzzi, president of TelNet Worldwide.

The 40,000-square-foot  facility is designed, equipped, and operated to standards ensuring high availability of mission-critical data and applications in a secure environment for industries such as health care, finance, manufacturing, and government. That makes the facility a Tier III data center, one level below the top-of-the-line (Tier IV) data centers.

TelNet Worldwide choose to put the data center in Southfield because of its proximity to numerous businesses, among other reasons.

"There is a very rich vein of fiber going through that area for a number of reasons," Iannuzzi says.

TelNet Worldwide has hired 30 people over the last year, expanding the company’s workforce to 135 employees and an intern. It is also looking to hire six new people right now, including technicians, support, engineers, and sales. Two of those positions are for the new data center.

Source: Mark Iannuzzi, president of TelNet Worldwide
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Mt. Clemens-based eyeWyre Software Studios adds staff

2015 is turning out to be a very good year for eyeWyre Software Studios. The downtown Mt. Clemens-based firm has watched the volume of its work spike by 25 percent in the first quarter.

That has allowed eyeWyre Software Studios to hire a project manager, expanding its staff to a dozen employees and a dozen interns from Macomb Community College and a high school intern from Utica Community Schools. The company is also looking to hire a couple of software engineers.

"The first quarter of this year has been incredible for us," says Matt Chartier, president of eyeWyre Software Studios. "There has been a huge volume of activity."

One of its major projects is launching this spring -- an online recruiting system for culturecliQ. EyeWyre Software Studios designed and developed the software platform with a patent-pending algorithm that assesses and matches a company’s culture and needs to candidate’s employment requirements.

"The systems is pre-screening the candidate to fit the culture," Chartier says. "It's also doing the same for the candidate."

The idea is that there is a simpler way to find the right culture fit for an open position that doesn't require reading thousands of words from resumes and work samples. The hope is that the technology leads to better workplace matches with more longevity. It launched earlier this spring and Chartier expects it to gain traction through the rest of this year.

"It's a whole new way to think about recruiting," Chartier says.

Source: Matt Chartier, president of eyeWyre Software Studios
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Berylline Corp. builds three-wheeled hybrid scooter that gets 100 mpg

When people think of hybrid vehicles, they usually picture cars -- maybe heavy trucks and buses. Berylline Corp. wants you to think of its three-wheeled scooters.

"We saw there was a void in the (hybrid vehicle) market for a scooter, a three-wheeled trike," says Dennis Dresser, president of Berylline Corp.

The Troy-based company has created a three-wheeled vehicle called the Berylline F2A hybrid scooter. The scooter has two wheels in the front and one in the rear. It weighs about 300 pounds and gets 100 mpg thanks to its hybrid system that includes a lithium-ion battery.

"You can drive it exclusively in electric mode or exclusively in gas mode or any combination," Dresser says.

The Berylline F2A hybrid scooter comes with a six-pound lithium-ion battery that is removable from the main body of the vehicle. The idea is to enable users to bring it inside their home and charge when they are not riding the bike.

"We wanted to make it as accessible as possible," Dresser says.

Berylline's team of seven people is currently showing off the scooter with the idea of raising money for production. Dresser hopes to raise $5 million in seed capital this year with an eye for selling the scooters next year.

Source: Dennis Dresser, president of Berylline Corp
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Turbo-Teck launches new electronics website, Cablecables.com

Turbo-Teck is launching a new website, Cablecables.com, with the idea of providing electronics hardware odds and ends at a competitive price.

"Pricing is becoming quite a bit of an issue in the electronics industry," says Jay Askerow, CEO of Turbo-Teck. "People got away with high margins for years, but now with China in the picture, everything is much more price sensitive."

The Southfield-based business will sell high performance HDMI cables featuring RedMere technology, television wall mounts, and frameless in-wall, in-ceiling and invisible speakers among other items. The idea is to offer products at low prices that come with online sales and ship from a central location in the Midwest.

The 1-year-old company currently employs three people and is looking to hire two more in sales and operations. That team is working to make Turbo-Teck the least expensive option for home entertainment center accessory hardware in North America.

"We have quite a few people who buy from us nationally," Askerow says. "We have consumers and installers."

Source: Jay Askerow, CEO of Turbo-Teck
Writer: Jon Zemke

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