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Royal Oak's Visual IMPACT! reinvents customer base

Visual IMPACT! used to do a lot of marketing work for advertising agencies, so much so that all that work for a few agencies turned into the bread and butter of the downtown Royal Oak-based firm. That is until the recession hit and that work largely evaporated.

Today Visual IMPACT! still does a lot of marketing work, but for more customers (mostly small businesses) working on small projects. Those projects now include production studio work, Internet marketing and creating mobile applications.

"In 1991 we were one of the first 1,000 websites on the Internet," says Mark Besh, president of Visual IMPACT!. "But we're a multi-media company. We do all media, even a little print."

Reinventing Visual IMPACT!'s customer base allowed it to hold its own during the economic downturn, maintaining a staff of six employees, an intern and 12 independent contractors. The company expects to hire another 2-5 people and 6-12 independent contractors in 2011 on the strength of tripling its customer base or better.

Source: Mark Besh, president of Visual IMPACT!
Writer: Jon Zemke

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


ArtfulVision links art sales to non-profit funding

Maxine Gardner is an artist, one who couldn't work a few years ago because of an injury. That prompted the Huntington Woods resident to add "entrepreneur" to her resume this year, creating an Internet startup that connects local artist sales to fundraising for non-profits.

ArtfulVision sells the work of artists all across the U.S., including dozens from Michigan, over the Internet. A 20 percent cut of each sale goes to one of a dozen non-profits participating in the program, and Artful Vision keeps a small slice for itself. The idea is to expose art to more people, putting money into the pockets of artists and non-profits.

"As we become better known I can provide the artists an audience that isn't looking at the same 15 pieces," Gardner says.

ArtfulVision launched in August and has 75 artists from across the U.S. participating. She hopes to bump that number to 500 by the end of 2011, along with attracting more non-profits.

Source: Maxine Gardner, founder artist of ArtfulVision
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

MatchRX creates online market for indie pharmacists

MatchRX is one of those start-ups that proves new technologies shouldn't just be aimed at big corporate behemoths looking for both sales and acquisitions.

The Troy-based firm has created a Web marketplace for pharmacists to sell and buy overstocked medications. Think of it as an eBay for independent pharmacists. The company now operates in 28 states and has 600 members across the U.S. It plans to go international in 2011 and expand to 1,500-2,000 customers.

The company launched in February with three people and now employs nine and a handful of independent contractors. It has a couple of job openings right now and expects more in 2011.

"I expect we will be adding people in the foreseeable future," says John Kello, CEO of MatchRX. "They will be in IT, marketing, and compliance."

MatchRX recently made the semi-finals of the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition in Ann Arbor. The $1 million contest among startups will announce the finalists just before the event takes place on the weekend of Dec. 11 during the Big Chill hockey game at Michigan Stadium.

Source: John Kello, CEO of MatchRX
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

HBR Labs scores $2M in capital, expands Farmington Hills office

HBR Labs is using its millions in newly found seed capital to ready a product launch and expand its Farmington Hills office.

The 3-year-old Internet company raised $2 million from private equity investors. That money will mostly go toward the commercialization of its two new multi-media products: ShowDocument and VeriShow. Both are set to launch next year.

ShowDocument is designed for individual users and small businesses to share documents and use whiteboards on the Internet. VeriShow's tool kit aims to improve web-based sales, service, and training, including integrated text, voice, video, document sharing and co-editing, joint form completion and electronic signature, interactive white boards, and more. For example, a sales representative can use the technology to show off a 3-dimensional model of a product to potential customers.

The launch of these two products should allow the 10-person company to expand its Metro Detroit office. It conducts research and development at its Israel office and handles sales and marketing in Farmington Hills.

Yuval Moed, CEO and president of HBR Labs, plans to hire a few more people next year. The former MBA student at the University of Michigan is married to a Huntington Woods native.

"I felt there was an opportunity here," Moed says. "There is a lot of manpower and brainpower here."

Source: Yuval Moed, CEO and president of HBR Labs
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

W Bloomfield man capitalizes on Internet clips with videoburst

For David Mayer, the sign that an Internet video company was viable came with the debut of YouTube. He knew it was time to start such a company, videoburst, when YouTube's popularity shot through the roof.

"Broadband reached enough people that most people watch video on the Internet now," Mayer says. "YouTube has 30 billion views per month. There wasn't even a YouTube five years ago."

That sort of success has allowed the 2-year-old videoburst to go from Mayer alone to a staff of three employees and four independent contractors. He expects to have a staff of 15 people within the next year as websites demand ever more video material.

The West Bloomfield-based company continues to fill that need, making videos for doctors, cosmetic dentists, plastic surgeons, and industrial companies. Mayer plans to hire an in-house acting troupe to create funnier, improv-style material for its clients who want to attract more traffic to their sights.

"Businesses are recognizing how video can help them enable growth," Mayer says. "It's not just cool to have a video on your website. You can use video to draw people to your website. Video is a huge distinguishing feature for a website. It increases the chances people will stay longer."

Source: David Mayer, owner of videoburst
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Fanaroo allows fans to put their mark on stadiums

Ever wanted to see your name in lights at a major athletic venue? Fanaroo plans to make that happen for the Joe Sixpack sports fan soon.

Steve Chapman, Giri Gondi, and Jack Nissley plan to launch the website for the 1-year-old startup in December. That website will enable people to put their name or a message into the background of a stadium, such as in the ice at Joe Louis Arena or the end zone at Spartan Stadium.

"The end product is a poster or a picture or a calendar or a personalized notebook for kids," says Chapman, vice president of sales for Fanaroo.

The Beverly Hills-based company recently became one of the 50 semifinalists in the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. Fanaroo has worked out licensing deals with 52 sports organizations, including a number of minor league hockey leagues and Michigan State University. Fanaroo now employs four people and expects to hire another six by this time next year, when it hits $1 million in sales.

Source: Steve Chapman, co-founder and vice president of sales for Fanaroo
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Search Ad Marketing adds clients, to add jobs

Meaghan McCann worked in advertising for a big company until she decided to start a family. Then the soon-to-be-mother decided to take over AdWords and social media responsibilities for the company on a part-time basis, a move that led to the creation of her own company, Search Ad Marketing.

That was four years ago. About the same time, McCann's husband was laid off from his automotive job. Luckily, Search Ad Marketing's services were rising in demand to help offset the hardship.

"It just made more sense to put more time into this to make it a full-time thing instead of looking for a job," McCann says.

Today the downtown Plymouth-based company employs McCann, an intern, and a few independent contractors who handle search engine optimization, Internet marketing, and social media. McCann just signed three new clients and hopes to continue growing, adding up to five people over the next year.

She also recently started the PayPerClick Club, which serves as a primer for people and companies that are just dipping their toes into Internet marketing and AdWords. McCann expects to turn that into a pipeline for new business down the road.

Source: Meaghan McCann, owner of Search Ad Marketing
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

123.net's Wi-Fi sales propel growth

A dozen years ago, a handful of engineers got together and created a company to provide the latest fad in communication - dial-up Internet connections. Today that company, 123.net, is still providing the latest in connectivity services.

"We offer everything from T1 on our fiber networks to Wi-Fi services," says Dave Curran, channel sales manager for 123.net. The latest of these offerings is a blanket of 4G Wimax in downtown Ann Arbor.

The Southfield-based business has parlayed sales of services like this into a staff of a dozen employees, a couple of summer interns, and dozens of independent contractors who handle sales. It has hired three people over the last year and expects to add another 3-5 jobs in 2011 as it continues its trend of growing 10-30 percent each year, even in the recent downturn.

"Wireless is a very fast-growing product for us," Curran says. "It will bring in a lot of revenue for us over the next year."

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

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

Vision Fuel Media lands partnership with Ticket Master, grows

Jason T. Ryan likes to refer to himself as a serial entrepreneur and Vision Fuel Media is his latest startup offering after working nearly 20 years in corporate and technology sales.

The Rochester-based Internet marketing firm has managed to get its feet underneath it and find some firm footing in its first two years. Ryan's expertise in social media and entrepreneurship has helped him grow his team to a handful of independent contractors and interns.

"It's been great," Ryan says. "We have clients of all shapes and sizes."

Among Vision Fuel Media's clients are law practices and other small businesses. The company's business has doubled in recent months and its biggest coup de client is a partnership with Ticket Master to do social media for the new NFL Ticket Exchange for this season and Super Bowl XLV. Ryan expects Vision Fuel Media to increase its manpower in 2011 as it continues to move toward bigger social media campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses.

"I see more social media public speaking and boot camp opportunities coming up," Ryan says. "A lot of organizations are hungry to teach their members why these things are important."

Source: Jason T. Ryan, president & CEO of Vision Fuel Media
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Auto engineer's hobby morphs into job-creating business

Kevin VanDette's new career started as a hobby earlier this decade. The automotive engineer liked to build websites and started doing it for his son's sports teams and his band. The demand for his services began peaking about the same time the automotive engineering field started faltering, allowing him to start Affordable Website Specialists.

"I kept getting more and more requests," says VanDette. "I thought I might as well make it a business."

That was four yeas ago. Today the Rochester-based firm employs three people, an intern, and an independent contractor after adding another position this year. The company's consistent growth, doubling in size each year, has occurred despite the trials and tribulations of the local economy and automotive firms.

"We're on a pretty steady growth pattern even in a bad economy," VanDette says.

Most of Affordable Website Specialists' clients come from referrals and are local small- to medium-sized businesses. The company's roots are in website building but it has spread to search engine optimization. VanDetter expects his business to double its revenue next year and hopes to add 1-2 more positions as well.

Source: Kevin VanDette, owner of Affordable Website Specialists
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

hiredMYway employs a web dating-service model for job hunters and employers

When we last checked in with hiredMYway, the downtown Birmingham-based startup was just getting its feet underneath itself by preparing to hold its first job fair. A few months later the company has locked down an outside investor, held a couple of job fairs, and is launching its website this week.

"It's really growing quick," says Matt Mosher, CEO and co-founder of hiredMYway. So is its staff. It went from half a dozen this summer to nine employees, five independent contractors, and two interns today. It's also looking to hire a sales associate and plans to add a handful of new hires over the next year.

The website for hiredMYway features technology that uses a dating-service model on the Web to help people find jobs. It basically pairs employers and job seekers with matching needs and skills in the same way a dating service would. The company also plans to hold a job fair today to accompany the launch of the new site.

Its job expos have helped put 300 Michigan residents back to work, and similar results are expected over the next year. Mosher expects the website to attract 10,000 new people per month looking for work.

Source: Matt Mosher, CEO and co-founder of hiredMYway
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

BizNet rides on 30% growth in digital marketing services

Want anymore evidence that the digital marketing revolution is well underway? Take a look at BizNet Internet Solutions.

The Wixom-based Internet marketing firm has goosed its revenues by 30 percent over the last year, allowing it to hire five new people in that time. The company expects to hire five more over the next year to augment its staff of 14 employees and a couple of independent contractors and interns.

"The awareness of digital media marketing solutions is significantly greater today than what it was a year ago," says Kevin Krason, CEO of BizNet Internet Solutions. "I credit the evolution of social media for that. Today 75 percent of American adults have a social media outlet."

Krason says this trend has transformed into a full-blown marketing paradigm shift from traditional print advertising to more interactive, web-based outreach efforts that are specifically tailored for consumers. Today, BizNet Internet Solutions helps solve its customers' problems by building websites and establish blogs for them. The demand for those services is growing.

"We're waiting for cash to catch up with demand right now," Krason says.

Source: Kevin Krason, CEO of BizNet Internet Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Outside Hub plans to hire 6-10 in next year

It should come as no surprise that the people at Outside Hub Media are big fans of the outdoors. So much so that the leadership team asked if we could do the interview for this story a few days later so they could finish a bow-hunting trip. But don't be too shocked that the members of the growing startup's staff are all big fans of hunting, fishing, camping, and the like.

"It's not a prerequisite to work here," says Stephen Dooley, president of Outside Hub Media. "We just attract like-minded souls. We believe in what we're doing."

The Southfield-based company started out as a broker specializing in Internet advertising for outdoors-related sites, mainly selling banner ads. Four years later it has grown into a full-service media company, offering marketing and media services of all shapes and sizes for websites and brands associated with the outdoors.

"It is an underserved market with a large demand," says David Farbman, CEO of Outside Hub Media.

So much so that the company has grown from an initial staff of three to 22 employees and about eight independent contractors and interns today. It has hired half a dozen people over the last six months and expects to hire another 6-10 over the next year.

Source: David Farbman, CEO of Outside Hub Media and Stephen Dooley, president of Outside Hub Media
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Troy-based Billhighway posts big growth in revenues and staff

Troy-based Billhighway is continuing on its streak of 80-100 percent annual revenue growth.

The 11-year-old company has historically provided services that allow small organizations to figure out who owes what for items such as dues or dinner costs or any other miscellaneous expense. Today those small organizations include social clubs, athletic leagues, and even non-profit groups like scouting troops.

"It's really come to encompass much more than the social groups we had in the past," says Jeff Jorge, director of business development and marketing for Billhighway.

The company has hired about 10 people over the last year to create a staff of 40 employees and a couple of interns and independent contractors. It also has three open customer-relation positions and expects to continue, at minimum, the same rate of hiring. "We would probably outpace that again considering our growth," Jorge says.

Source: Jeff Jorge, director of business development and marketing for Billhighway
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Verde Lifestyles focuses on best-selling green products

For Verde Lifestyles, less is more, as in less product and more profits.

The Royal Oak-based startup specializes in selling green products online. Upon its launch a year ago the company planned to spotlight a new item everyday. Today, the company has created efficiencies by narrowing its product offerings to its three best sellers: bamboo rugs, wood furniture, and organic pillows.

"We cut out a lot of work for ourselves," says Danielle Brycz, co-owner of Verde Lifestyles. "We have simplified and made it as simple as possible."

Brycz created the website with Ryan Forest while the two focused on their day jobs. It now creates part-time work for both co-founders and two interns. The partners hope a more focused inventory will allow the hiring of another intern to help with its search engine optimization and marketing work.

Source: Danielle Brycz, co-owner of Verde Lifestyles
Writer: Jon Zemke

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