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SmallOfficeSearch.com carves out niche in local real-estate

Finding 100,000 square feet of office space to lease in Metro Detroit is no problem. There is no shortage of commercial real-estate agents who would show that sort of square footage to a large company interested in moving. Finding 1,000 square feet for a small business carving out its niche in the marketplace, not so easy.

That's why Guy Scavone II created SmallOfficeSearch.com a year ago. The Royal Oak-based start-up specializes in helping pair small offices spaces between 100 square feet and 3,000 square feet with people who only want a little work area away from home and their favorite coffee shop.

The website launched six months ago and has helped sign at least 50 leases so far, according to Scavone. "We're signing up new people to 200 square feet to 2,900 square feet," he says. "Not a day goes by when we don't find someone new."

He adds that the people signing these leases run the gamut of small business, start-ups, attorneys, artists, and a wide variety of professionals looking to get out of their home office and local coffee shop. All of these leases have been in Oakland County, but Scavone and his team of three people are working to spread the small office love to the rest of Metro Detroit.

"We're pushing Washtenaw and Wayne counties, too, but everything has been in Oakland County so far," Scavone says. He adds that he is aiming to make SmallOfficeSearch.com a household name in real-estate circles across the state within the next year.

Scavone has also convinced one of his landlord clients to offer free office space on a short-term basis. The idea is to help spread the word about both the website and the commercial space. "This is going to help us, the building and the people in the buildng," Scavone says. "Maybe in six months this person's business makes it to the next level and he can pay now."

Source: Guy Scavone II, founder & CEO of SmallOfficeSearch.com
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Healthy-living firm Wellco creates 5 new jobs in Royal Oak

Overnight success stories are the sort of things entrepreneurs snicker at when they hear the term. One in particular, Scott Foster of healthy-living firm Wellco, knowns building a healthy business is a lot like maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Both are something that take years to do.

"Wellco is a 15 year overnight success story," says Foster, tongue planted firmly in his cheek.

The Royal Oak-based business develops software and programs for companies to document and track the health of their employees. The idea is to create a healthier, more productive workforce that ultimately saves significant sums of money in medical costs, both in the short- and long-term.

That business model has allowed Wellco to grow its revenue by 20-25 percent in each of the last three years and its on track to notch another 25-percent growth year in 2012. That has allowed it to add three people over the last year, expanding its staff to 15. It also has a job opening for a software developer and another position for health educator.

Driving a lot of that growth are small-to-medium sized business that are struggling with health-insurance premium costs and slackening productivity. "Just under 70 percent of our clients are in Michigan," Foster says. "The remainder are spread across the country."

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

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

Liberty Center One preps for big expansion thanks to continued growth

Liberty Center One made a large investment in its data processing facility four years ago in Royal Oak and is starting to see a significant return on that investment.

"Business has grown exponentially over the last 2-3 years," says Tim Mullahy, managing director of Liberty Center One. "The last 18 months to two years have been very strong."

The 15-year-old company is close to filling up the first of its 4,000-square-foot data floor and expects to expand into another 4,000 square foot floor soon. The tier 3 public data center offers a full range of technology solutions, including colocation, managed,  virtual, dedicated and shared hosting services.  It can deliver more than 15kW of power to customer racks and the redundant infrastructure is designed to keep computing equipment running without interruption.

Mullahy says there has been a steadily increasing demand for these sorts of data processing services and that demand is expected to continue to grow as more aspects of business become electronically based.

"We think that trend will continue and more and more companies will look for our type of facilities," Mullahy says.

That growth has allowed Liberty Center One to reach a staff of 25 people. It is current looking to add interns.

Source: Tim Mullahy, managing director of Liberty Center One
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Tall United carves out online clothing retail niche for tall people

Finding clothes as a tall person isn't the easiest thing to do, and it's often not as cheap as shopping for average-sized clothes. It's a staple of being tall that has inspired Justin Thompson to launch his own Internet start-up, Tall United.

"When people ask tall people where they get their clothing, that is a tough question for them to answer," says Thompson, who is 6 feet 8 inches tall.

Tall United is an online platform for retailers to sell clothing. Thompson is reaching out to both well-known and specialty retailers so the Royal Oak-based start-up can offer a variety of clothing for tall people at competitive prices.

"Ultimately we want to be a group-buying platform so retailers can recognize the power of our market and offer more clothing at lower prices," Thompson says.

The one-person start-up got its start last September and launched its website earlier this month.

Source: Justin Thompson, founder of Tall United
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Unique Solutions of Advanced Tech doubles in size in Royal Oak

Conventional wisdom dictates that business people and techies clash, often because of a lack of quality communication. Unique Solutions of Advanced Technologies is growing its business rapidly by remedying that dynamic.

The Royal Oak-based business specializes in providing IT solutions to businesses. It's niche is finding ways to bridge the communication divide between its customers (businesses) and its staff (techies).

"They don't talk to each other in the same language," says Sreedhar Kaluva, president of Unique Solutions of Advanced Technologies, who has more than 20 years experience working as an IT consultant. "I serve as the catalyst between the two entities."

That business model has allowed the 6-year-old company to double, not only its revenue but workforce, over the last year. The increases are due to a growing customer base that includes companies from a broad range of industries, including publishing, transportation and manufacturing.

Unique Solutions of Advanced Technologies now employs 10 people and is looking at adding interns this year. Kaluva expects to keep hiring this yea to make sure his company can keep up with the demand for its services.

"I am very optimistic that 2012 is going to be much more positive than even 2011," Kaluva says.

Source: Sreedhar Kaluva, president of Unique Solutions of Advanced Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Entrepreneurial trio create marketing biz with Half Human Studios

Three friends are working toward their entrepreneurial dreams with their own company, Half Human Studios.

The three young men work in the property management, food-service and printing industries for their day jobs but have been growing their Royal Oak-based creative agency for the last 18 months.

"We decided to start something creative in marketing and use it to help small businesses use marketing tools," says Brandon Nalband, principal of Half Human Studios.

That usually means helping small businesses build websites or teaching them how best to utilize social media platforms. Half Human Studios has grown beyond its first few customers and has attracted enough word-of-mouth business to bring on a College of Creative Studies graphic design graduate to the team. Nalband and his co-founder aspire to turn this into their full-time jobs within the next year.

"There is a very high demand," Nalband says. "There are a lot of new companies that need websites and social media."

Source: Brandon Nalband, principal of Half Human Studios
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

RTT USA adds 28 to payroll in Royal Oak as it expands client list

RTT USA has expanded the scope of its work while expanding the amount of business and the size of its workforce in downtown Royal Oak.

The 13-year-old company has traditionally focused on creating high-end 3-D visualization for the automotive industry. It now includes work in the transportation and manufacturing industries, along with some forays into consumer markets.

It has allowed the company to increase its sales sharply and grow its staff (99 employees and few independent contractors and intern) with 28 new hires so far this year. That's an increase from just 25 people four years ago.

"We have grown tremendously," says Erik Kornmiller, director of content creation for RTT USA. "It's a matter of increasing our business by getting more and more projects and expanding projects we already have."

Kornmiller believes that sort of strategy will allow RTT USA to continue its growth spurt for the rest of this year.

"We continue to find ways to make things better and easier for our clients," says Erik Kornmiller, director of content creation for RTT USA. "That allows us to expand our project scope."

Source: Erik Kornmiller, director of content creation for RTT USA
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Gamer Saloon hires 3 as it moves to downtown Royal Oak

Gamer Saloon recently moved its headquarters from Southfield to downtown Royal Oak, a move that should facilitate significant growth for the video-game networking company.

The six-year-old firm recently hired three people, expanding its staff to eight employees and four interns. Its new office has plenty of square footage to accommodate more new employees to meet its needs.

"We just finished our first full year of being cash-flow positive," says Ari Dolgin, chief marketing officer for Gamer Saloon. "Last year we had a net revenue of $3 million."

Gamer Saloon organizes and host online video game tournaments where participants have an opportunity to win cash prizes. It has more than 440,000 members and has hosted more than 63,000 tournaments. The company is now looking to expand its cash-prize business model to fantasy sports and even incorporating professional athletes into the gaming experience.

"You could be playing a certain athlete in Madden via webcam for a cash prize," Dolgin says.

Source: Ari Dolgin, chief marketing officer for Gamer Saloon
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Metro Detroit start-ups turn smartphones into biz apportunities

The app economy is here and growing in Metro Detroit. A broad range of start-ups and businesses are finding creative ways to boost their bottom lines by developing custom and original apps. Some are even basing their entire business plan around it and growing like crazy.

Texts From Last Night: A Q&A with Ben and Phillip Bator

Mobiata adds 10 jobs, moves to bigger space in Ann Arbor's Nickels Arcade

Future Help Designs sets up shop in downtown Pontiac

Metro Detroit start-ups dominate Accelerate Michigan

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

Innovative Learning Group snags new clients, hires

The Innovative Learning Group growth machine continues to chug along at a steady pace. The downtown Royal Oak-based company has hired two people over the last year, expanding its staff to a dozen employees and a handful of independent contractors. It expects to hire another 2-3 people in 2012.

"As we continues to grow I would be real happy with 10-15 percent growth each year,"  says Lisa Toenniges, CEO of Innovative Learning Group.

What's driving growth? The addition of new clients. The company, which creates a curriculum for firms to teach employees to be more productive and efficient, has recently added three new clients, such as Wolverine Worldwide.

Innovative Learning Group is on pace to hits its revenue growth goal of 20 percent this year. The firm has consistently hit double-digit growth goals and expects that continue as it does it again this year.

"We'll easily hit that target if not exceed it," 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.

Brain injury creates $1.4M Collegiate Bead Company

The Collegiate Bead Company got its start when David Schowalter wasn’t feeling his best, to put it nicely.

The Royal Oak resident was recovering from a brain tumor in 2008, teaching himself to walk and talk again, when a friend asked about finding sorority beads for the popular Pandora bracelets. Schowalter took it upon himself to not only find it (it didn’t exist) but to go about making the bracelets.

That turned into Collegiate Bead Company and three employees, 11 independent contractors, a few summer interns and $1.4 million in revenue. The 18-month-old company received its big break when Michigan State University and the University of Michigan decided to license out their brands so Collegiate Bead Company could make themed bracelets for them.

“That created a domino effect,” Schowalter says. “It helped us get other licenses when those two schools stepped up.”

The Royal Oak-based company has since teamed with a firm in Grand Rapids to create the collegiate-themed bracelets, ensuring they are entirely made in Michigan. Schowalter expects his firm to triple its revenue over the next year as it expands further into fashionable jewelry and starts to include pro sports teams.

Source: David Schowalter, president of Collegiate Bead Company
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Premier Communications Group focuses on startups, adds new hires

For most of its 29 years, Premier Communications Group relied on work from the automotive industry, preparing press kits for the like of General Motors and Visteon.

That dynamic changed in 2008 when the economy tanked and GM and Chrysler went bankrupt. Since then the downtown Royal Oak-based PR firm has reinvented itself through its client base, taking on more and more start-ups.

"The trend for the next year or two is going to be with new start-ups that are tapping us for our experience," says Randy Fossano, president of Premier Communications Group. "That's just the overall trend of the economy."

One of those new start-up clients is Swagger Bids, an online bidding firm based in Royal Oak. Premier Communications Group has worked to build the start-up's brand and make it more of a household name. New clients like this have allowed the firm to hire three people over the last year, expanding its staff to seven employees and the occasional independent contractor.

Fossano expects to continue to build his company through new, local start-ups for the time being as the automotive industry continues to recover. For him, it's a growing part of the economy that's strong enough to support some new jobs at his firm.

Source: Randy Fossano, president of Premier Communications Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Royal Oak's SmallOfficeSearch targets mini office market

Entrepreneurs and small businesses looking for small office spaces in Metro Detroit traditionally have received the short end of the stick from commercial realtors. A start-up out of downtown Royal Oak, SmallOfficeSearch.com, believes it can change that dynamic.

"These are the people who typically get no service because we would spend the same amount of time with them as we did with people who were looking for 10,000 or 30,000 square feet," says Guy Scavone, commercial real-estate broker and president and founder of SmallOfficeSearch.com.

SmallOfficeSearch.com allows landlords with small office spaces or businesses looking to sublease a small section of their office to professionally list them on the Internet in a manner more professional than the simplicity of Craigslist. Landlords pay a $29 per month fee to list their properties on the site, knowing the audience is targeted for the niche of small spaces.

The firm lists office space, executive suites and flex space under 3,000 square feet in Metro Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint and Grand Rapids. It plans to launch into more markets across the U.S. over the next year. The four-person firm has signed half a dozen leases since it launched three months ago.

Source: Guy Scavone, president & founder of SmallOfficeSearch.com
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Pleasant Ridge's Gravy Network launches mobile billboard app MOBIBO

Brothers Zachary and Josh Ball have a vision for changing the mobile advertising game, and they're working to make that happen with their new mobile app, MOBIBO.

The brothers started Gravy Network in January, with the idea of launching MOBIBO later this year. The Pleasant Ridge-based company is made up of the Ball duo and draws upon the half-dozen employees of Zachary's other firm, web developer Mercury Studio.

MOBIBO is a free, downloadable smartphone app that serves as a mobile billboard that advertisers can rent for a small fee. Advertisers only pay for the ads consumers see. The consumer is paid 25 cents through PayPal for viewing each ad. The app alerts/ads come up when the consumer is near the advertiser's place of business, telling them to view a special discount or promotional offer at a store close-by.

"I'd like to see MOBIBO being used throughout the nation," says Zachary, president and co-owner of Gravy Network. "We think we can shift the advertising paradigm to this model."

The Ball brothers are working to establish the MOBIBO brand this year, with an aim of broad adoption within the next year. They expect to significantly add to Gravy Network's staff when that happens.

"We'd like to keep the team as lean as possible," Zachary says. "What does that mean? Hopefully, less than 25 people."

Source: Zachary Ball, president and co-owner of MOBIBO
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Ignite Pages start-up aims to become Facebook for real-estate listings

Trevor Fitzgerald recently left his job as a computer programmer for Business Internet Solutions to start his own firm, Ignite Pages.

The downtown Royal Oak-based start-up has just launched a real-estate-oriented app that allows realtors and other property professionals to stand out in an Internet world dominated by Craigslist. Think of it as a Facebook for real-estate listings.

"It's a tool for real-estate agents to create their web pages for their own individual property," Fitzgerald says. "It allows them to stand out with their online presence."

Fitzgerald, 24, interned for a real-estate firm a few years ago and knows that professionals often have a hard time managing their online presence. Ignite Pages hopes to make that online presence more noticeable while making it simpler for real-estate agents to use the software.

So far Fitzgerald has signed up a number of local real-estate agents and a used-car dealership. "The pages are generic enough that they can use them for multiple projects," Fitzgerald says. He hopes to take this product national within the next year and hire an employee or two to accommodate that growth.

Source: Trevor Fitzgerald, founder of Ignite Pages
Writer: Jon Zemke

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