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CRESIT Energy expands alternative energy workload

Robert Kulick had a bit of a non-traditional introduction to alternative energy. The downriver resident first explored solar energy while serving in the military and looking for a quiet power source for forward units.

That led to his putzing around with solar panels after his service ended, and eventually to the creation of CRESIT Energy eight years ago.

"It started with me experimenting with batteries, inverters and cords," says Robert Kulick, president of CRESIT Energy. "My daughter said, 'Nobody lives like this.' But I saw energy costs going up so that is what got me started."

The Wyandotte-based business has established itself since then, helping put together alternative energy projects for local municipalities and residents. Among its portfolio of projects is installing a wind turbine at Heritage Park in Taylor and solar panels at police stations in Southgate. It now employs a staff of four people, including a recent hire handling marketing.

Kulick is proud of the foothold he has established in the local energy market. He and his team have helped put downriver on the map when it comes to sustainability and alternative energy, making it a leader in Metro Detroit. He is also trying to remain positive about the future of his business if the federal government doesn’t renew its renewable energy tax credits.

"It's grown but it's tougher," Kulick says. "It's already hard selling with a 30-percent tax credit. I wonder how hard it will be in two years when those tax credits run out."

Source: Robert Kulick, president of CRESIT Energy
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Smart Lighting Solutions brings on new LED product lines

Ralph Petty was working in property management in 2009 when the economy was falling apart. He and a friend who worked at Ford looked at the job landscape and decided to make their own by starting Smart Lighting Solutions.

"Energy efficiency is something that intrigued both of us," Petty says.

The Shelby Township-based firm specializes in helping businesses improve their energy efficiencies, usually through replacing light with more efficient options.

"The big push is starting to go towards LED (lights)," Petty says. "We're installing at a bowling center on the east side of Detroit that will be all LED."

Smart Lighting Solutions is also bringing new products to its lineup by adding Juganu Lighting's LED lighting products. The LEDs allow for energy savings of up to 80 percent over traditional lighting, such as metal halide fixtures.
 
The company now has a staff of three people after hiring a sales professional in the last year. Petty expects his company to continue to grow as the firm focuses more of its efforts on outdoor facilities.

"Our biggest goal is to work with outdoor facilities like parking lots and parking structures," Petty says.

Source: Ralph Petty, principal of Smart Lighting Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Information Systems Resources hires 6 in Dearborn

Information Systems Resouces has hired six people in the last year as the Dearborn-based firm grows its service offerings into every sector of the IT world.

The 25-year-old company now has a staff of 53 people, including new hires for executive assistants, business development director, and electronics recyclers. That employee base now handles services that range from hardware sales to IT support to electronics recycling.

"We try to be responsive to the industry and our customer base," says Avery Tabron, director of business development for Information Systems Resources.

Information Systems Resources helps large corporations conform to federal regulations, such as HIPPA requirements and Department of Defense standards. It has also deployed a mobile tracking system that helps track the status of IT services to the minute.

Electronics recycling is one of the biggest areas of expansion for Information Systems Resources. The recycling division specializes in remanufacturing of electronics like desktop computers, taking out the precious metals and recycling the rest. That way when a school upgrades its computer labs the old workstations don’t end up in a landfill.

"That has had significant growth to this point," Tabron says. "We have hired two additional people on that team."

Source: Avery Tabron, director of business development for Information Systems Resources
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Rave Computer pushes STEM education with RAVE CAVE

Rave Computer is making a push into local education with the establishment of the Center for Automated Virtual Environments, commonly known as RAVE CAVE.

Rave Computer, the anchor tenant of the Macomb-OU INCubator, works in modeling, simulation and visualization software. The 26-year-old firm has made three replacement hires over the last year and is looking to add another three people to its staff of 35 employees. It launched RAVE CAVE last year, taking a 3-D immersion cave out of storage at TARDEC and repurposing it as an educational tool to get more local students interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

"I really enjoy STEM and being involved in the community," says Rick Darter, founder & CEO of Rave Computer. "I thought this is a great way to give back."

RAVE CAVE is a Reconfigurable, Automated, Virtual Environment, powered by a five-system cluster that was configured, built and installed by Rave Computer engineers. The system enables the users to experience visualization software and how it is used in the creation and design of new products.

"There are a lot of teaching tools that you can use to demonstrate why math is important. Why (information technology) is important," says Art Adlam, president of RAVE CAVE.

RAVE CAVE has hosted close to 500 local students, ranging from grade school to college students, with the bulk of the number coming from local high schools. The non-profit gives tours of the technology and also hosts workshops. It hopes to ramp up its usage over the next year, adding things like college courses and summer camps.

"We'd like to (host) as many (students) as possible," Adlam says.

Source: Rick Darter, founder & CEO of Rave Computer, and Art Adlam, president of RAVE CAVE
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Splash360 increases staffing to 14 since last year's launch

The co-founders behind Splash360 all worked in business marketing and began to see the same thing in recent years: digital marketing was all over the place. That inspired them to launch Splash360.

"They weren't unified. There was data all over the place," says Robert Standwick, CEO of Splash360. "That's when we saw the need to create a unified system."

The Sterling Heights-based startup housed in the Macomb-OU INCubator launched a software platform a year ago for use in both digital and traditional marketing. It enables customers to create, manage, customize and deliver brand-building marketing content, utilizing features like contact management, email marketing, print marketing, social media and lead acquisition.

Since Splash360's launch last year, its team of 14 people have been building up clientele, focusing on small- and medium-sized business like grocery stores.

"We're sending out more than 1 million emails a month," Standwick says.

Splash360 is now focusing on making its emails and website more mobile compatible. "If you're not mobile then you're not in the game," Standwick says.

Source: Robert Standwick, CEO of Splash360
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Southfield-based PublicCity PR continues adding to clientele

Michigan-based is an important word in the world of PublicCity PR. The boutique public relations firm got its start doing work for small businesses in the Great Lakes State, and continues to grow because of those same sorts of clients.

PublicCity PR has landed a handful of new clients, all based in Michigan, over the last three months. Some of those firms include construction company Barton Malow (Southfield), Medical Weight Loss Clinic (Southfield), and the new Life Time Athletic in Bloomfield Township.

"These are recognizable brands, Michigan-based companies that are reaching out to us," says Jason Brown, principal of PublicCity PR. "This is all word of mouth organic growth."

This has allowed the 5-year-old business to grow out of Brown's kitchen table and into its own office. It also added a new employee to its team over the last year, expanding its staff to four people.

PublicCity PR has also been able to grow its practice to a level of comfort where Brown doesn't have to chase down every lead for new business or say yes to every opportunity to keep the lights on now.

"We take it as it comes," Brown says. "We are at a good level of clients."

Source: Jason Brown, principal of PublicCity PR
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Saphran Solutions launches CapacityBase software platform

Data is everywhere. Often it's in random places, jumbled together in a slop of 1s and 0s that doesn't make much sense to the casual observer. Saphran Solutions is creating software that puts all of that data into proper perspective.

The Franklin-based business creates software platforms that help automotive suppliers and other manufacturers achieve efficiencies by narrowing the gap between business planning and performance.

Its newest proprietary software program, CapacityBase, does that by simulating and evaluating multiple product-demand scenarios to map out the user's short- and long-term capital investment plans to maximize returns. Think of it as a system that enables manufacturers to more effectively manage assets, avoid future risk and reduce costs.

"Essentially we connect the information the company already has and use it to streamline its operations to meet capacity," says Don Stilwell, vice president of sales & business development for Saphran Solutions.

The 10-year-old company employs 20 people. That team will work to aggressively market this new software platform to manufacturers.

"We are looking at adding additional people as we ramp up," Stilwell says.

Source: Don Stilwell, vice president of sales & business development for Saphran Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Blackstone LaunchPad grows Make It Better competition

The Make It Better business competition enjoyed its broadest participation yet, attracting high school students from across the state.

The Walsh College Blackstone LaunchPad event encourages students to redesign an existing product or service or develop a new one. This year it doubled the number of participants, attracting students from Frankenmuth High School, Troy High School and Lakeview High School in St. Clair Shores.

"We needed to get the work out to the high schools, and the right people at the high schools, before they developed their curriculum for the year," says Carol Glynn, director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Walsh College.

This is the third Make it Better competition, which is held on an annual basis. Winners received as much as $500 for their ideas to help improve the quality of people’s lives or make their community a better place to live.

Among the winners were a Frankenmuth High School student who took first place for her idea of a Furry Friend Finder that tracks pets and reports on their location and physical condition. Second place went to a Troy High School student for a mobile application programmed to find recipes based on existing home food supplies.

"They're already asking us if we are doing this again next year," Glynn says. She adds, "I am hoping to get the funding next year so we can do it."

Source: Carol Glynn, director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Walsh College
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

ProNAi Therapeutics lands $59.5M in Series D funding

ProNAi Therapeutics isn't exactly hurting for money these days thanks to a $59.5 million Series D financing round it announced this week.

The biotech startup is developing a cancer-fighting drug called PNT2258. The drug is currently in clinical trials, which should take 3-5 years to get FDA approval.

"We're going to be using the majority of our funds for clinical trials," says Mina Sooch, co-founder & CEO of ProNAi Therapeutics. "We hope to treat many patients with the funds, probably a few hundred."

The Plymouth-based startup, which also has an office in Kalamazoo, describes PNT2258 as a drug that utilizes a proprietary DNA interference technology to block a key oncogene BCL2 that then signals cancer cells to die. It is currently in the midst of Phase II clinical studies of patients with relapsed or treatment refractory non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, including those with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, Richter’s transformation, and follicular lymphoma.

ProNAi Therapeutics is 10 years old and employs a staff of nine employees and one intern. It has hired three people over the last year, including professionals in research & development, finance and administration. Proceeds from the Series D round will be used to continue to build out the company's team, along with supporting drug manufacturing and advancing development of preclinical drug candidates in ProNAi Therapeutics' portfolio.

Source: Mina Sooch, co-founder & CEO of ProNAi Therapeutics
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

iDashboards hires 18, looks to add 6 more positions

Troy-based iDashboards has been a growing business on the move in recent years. The software firm moved to a new 20,000-square-foot office last summer and is expanding its space by another 7,500 square feet.

"We have moved three times since I have been here," says Jenna Ryberg, human resources manager for iDashboards. "Now we're in a space where we can expand quickly."

Which means more hires. Lots of hires. The 10-year-old company has hired 18 people over the last year, expanding its staff to 67 employees. Four more employees are set to come onboard in early May and the firm has six open positions right now.

"We want to continue adding people," Ryberg says, continuing, "by the end of the year we should have 100 employees at the Troy location."

IDashboards creates real-time interactive computer dashboards for businesses. The personalized dashboards analyze, track and organize a wealth of data into critical informational tidbits for companies.

The firm's cloud and enterprise divisions have spearheaded its overall growth of 15 percent in the last year. It is aiming for a 25-percent revenue increase this year.

Source: Jenna Ryberg, human resources manager for iDashboards
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Mango Languages adds 12 jobs, looks to expand into new sectors

Mango Languages is taking on new sectors after it cornered the first market it aimed for, meaning more hires at the Farmington Hills-based business.

The 7-year-old business develops language education courses. It started out making sales to libraries and became a leader in that space over the last year. It now has a catalogue of products that teach 60 languages, ranging from Spanish to Biblical Hebrew to Pirate.

"Pirate is genius," says Roberto Valdez, marketing director of Mango Languages. "It gets kids excited about learning a second language."

The company has hired a dozen people over the last year, including professionals in marketing, human resources, computer programing and product development. It currently employs 50 people and has three open positions in entry-level marketing and customer advocacy.

"We're growing exponentially now," Valdez says. "We are hiring quite a bit. We are averaging a hire a month."

And Mango Languages is working to expand into new sectors, such as higher education and corporate education.

"It's a very exciting time," Valdez says. "We have had a good amount of success in the library sector and now we’re looking for some new areas to grow."

Source: Roberto Valdez, marketing director of Mango Languages
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Molina Healthcare to invest $20M to expand, create 462 jobs

Oakland County's economy is more than diverse these days, especially after Molina Healthcare announced a multi-million-dollar investment in Troy.

The healthcare services company plans to invest $20.3 million over the next few years to expand its operations in Troy and Detroit, creating an expected 462 new jobs in the process. The Troy facility will receive $16 million of that investment, which is projected to create 337 jobs.

"It's a great win," says Irene Spanos, director of economic development & community affairs for Oakland County. "We have been very successful in getting small- and medium-sized life sciences companies to move to Oakland County. To get a big company like Molina Healthcare to create hundreds of jobs here is a big win."

Spanos adds that Oakland County’s Medical Main Street program, which markets Oakland County to healthcare, life science research and medical device manufacturing companies, has helped create 5,400 jobs in the last four years. More than 100,000 people are employed by firms that fit under the Medical Main Street umbrella.

Molina Healthcare, which is based in California, provides health services to individuals and families who receive their health care through Medicaid, Medicare and other government funded programs. The firm set up a subsidiary in Michigan, Molina Healthcare of Michigan, in Troy in 2000. For information on openings at Molina Healthcare, click here.

Source: Irene Spanos, director of economic development & community affairs for Oakland County
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Design Source Media moves to bigger space in Warren

Design Source Media is moving from Sterling Heights to a bigger space in Warren, which will help accommodate its growing staff.

The website design firm has hired two people over the last year, a copy writer and technology consultant. It’s also looking to hire a new web designer. The 2-year-old firm currently employs nine people.

Prompting that expansion is the firm’s growth into creating websites for new industries. It has traditionally done work for landscaping and construction firms. It is now aiming to do more work for athletes, sports teams and manufacturers.

"We want to understand that industry (manufacturing) better," says David Lee, president of Design Source Media.

The firm has also spent the last year refining its business practices, making them more customer-friendly.

"The client knows exactly what phase we're at in the web-development process," Lee says, "and what steps need to be taken next."

Source: David Lee, president of Design Source Media
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Computer Networking Center shifts to corporate tech education

Computer Networking Center has made a shift with the economy in the last few years, which has allowed it to attract new customers and add staff.

The Livonia-based company has specialized in IT education since 1998. In recent years it has made its money with grant-based education programs from government agencies, focused on helping retrain workers for jobs. In the last two years it has migrated over to more corporate education.

"A lot more people are back to work these days, which is good," says Sunil Ajwani, manager at Computer Networking Center.

The firm is leveraging a partnership with Automation Alley's Technical Talent Development Program that helps bring more tech education to local companies looking to expand. Hewlett Packard's office in Pontiac was one of the first companies to take advantage of it last year.

"That was the first major company to come to us from Automation Alley," Ajwani says. "They liked us so much they asked us to teach the class there."

Computer Networking Center is now working with 24 companies through Automation Alley's Technical Talent Development Program. That allowed the firm to hire another educator, growing its staff to five employees.

Source: Sunil Ajwani, manager at Computer Networking Center
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Eberspaecher Exhaust Technology adding 100 jobs in Brighton

Eberspaecher Exhaust Technology plans to hire hundreds of people in Metro Detroit, starting with a 100-person expansion of its Brighton facility.

"They're being hired right now," says Doug Swick, president of Eberspaecher Exhaust Technology. "We're well into the hiring phase."

The Novi-based company has filled a majority of those 100 new positions in Brighton. It has also hired 125 people at its Novi facility in the last two months. The global Tier 1 automotive manufacturer is sinking $122 million into expanding its Metro Detroit operations. The investment is expected to create 545 jobs over the next five years.

The company specializes in the development and manufacturing of exhaust systems. It is currently working to expand its Brighton operations, tripling the square footage to 110,000, as part of an expansion brokered by the Michigan Economic Development Corp and Ann Arbor SPARK.

"It will be a one-stop shop for commercial vehicle exhaust design," Swick says.

Eberspaecher Exhaust Technology is also evaluating potential locations for a new manufacturing facility in Michigan. Swick expects his firm to make that determination within the next 60-90 days.

"We are also looking at consolidating two facilities into one facility in Michigan," Swick says.

Source: Doug Swick, president of Eberspaecher Exhaust Technology
Writer: Jon Zemke

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