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Telemus Capital makes transition to national financial management firm

Telemus Capital is working to turn itself into a national financial management firm, and it’s making a few key hires to pull that off.

The Southfield-based company recently hired Lloyd A. Perlmutter as the firm’s new COO. Perlmutter previously served for seven years as president of Gap, Inc. in Canada. The executive team at Telemus Capital created the COO role for Perlmutter so the experienced manager can oversee the firm's day-to-day management and execution of its strategic initiatives.

"We're evolving it from running it like a practice to running it like a business," Perlmutter says. "We want to make it to the $10 billion mark. It's going to need some more full-time managers doing what they do best."

For Telemus Capital that means letting the firm's partners focus on growing the clientele of high-net-worth individuals and expanding the firm's assets under management. The strategy is paying off. Assets under management are up 25 percent over the last year.

"We need someone to run the day-to-day of the business," says Lyle Wolberg, managing partner of Telemus Capital.

Telemus Capital has offices in Ann Arbor and Los Angeles. The latter is a result of Telemus Capital's acquistion of Concentratic Capital in Los Angeles earlier this year. The firm has hired six people over the last year, expanding its headcount to 38 people. It is currently looking to hire a director of marketing and communications and a high-potential advisor.

Source: Lloyd A. Perlmutter, COO of Telemus Capital, and Lyle Wolberg, managing partner of Telemus Capital
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Local startups score at Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

Sixty thousand dollars in prizes went to nearly a dozen socially entrepreneurial startups competing in the Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. Most of that money went to companies and entrepreneurs from Metro Detroit addressing chronic unemployment and at-risk youth unemployment.

The prize money went out in four-figure chunks to the start-ups, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Often that sort of cash injection can mean the difference between mission focus and chaos for a fledgling startup.

"It helps the entrepreneur take their mind off the short-term cash-flow issues and onto longterm planning," says Elizabeth Garlow, executive director of Michigan Corps, which organized the business plan competition.

Among the Metro Detroit-based winners were City Girls Soap, which won the Women Rock prize. City Girls Soap makes hand-crafted body soap, lotion and laundry flakes from goats milk, taking advantage of the urban farming communities in Detroit and Pontiac. City Girls Soap plans to provide jobs for young people in Pontiac, starting off with summer employment.

The two-person operation is currently moving its production from Berkley to Pontiac. The company plans to hire 1-2 people (primarily youth in urban communities) before the end of this year. It plans to invest the $2,500 it won at the Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge in equipment to increase production.

"We're going to use it to build out our production facility, like buy a freezer," says Amy McIntire, co-founder of City Girls Soap.

The Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge aims to help foster social entrepreneurship across Michigan. It culminated with the Social Entrepreneurship Showcase last week, which went out of its way to help cultivate impact investors. Impact investors are high-net-worth individuals who make investments with the idea of creating a social impact and a profit.

Source: Elizabeth Garlow, executive director of Michigan Corps and Amy McIntire, co-founder of City Girls Soap
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Plex scores $50M in private-equity funding

Plex finds itself $50 million richer this summer after landing big financing investments from T. Rowe Price and Accel Partners.

The Troy-based company makes cloud-based ERP software for manufacturers. Plex describes its software platform as built from the plant floor up, enabling users to increase productivity and profitability at existing facilities by streamlining the manufacturing process.

The 19-year-old tech company was acquired in 2012 by Francisco Partners, a private-equity firm based in Silicon Valley. Plex also received a $30 million investment in 2012 from Accel Partners, a venture capital firm also located in Silicon Valley. The new $50 million capital infusion is considered an equity investment.

Plex plans to use its new round of seed capital to grow the sales and marketing efforts of its software platform. It is also planning to put some of that money into research and development of new technology.

"We have been working on a new user-interface over the last year," says Katy Teer, a corporate communications manager for Plex.

Plex has a staff of close to 400 employees and 20 interns. It has hired 156 people since January of last year. It also has 27 openings for everything from sales to senior technical writers right now. More information on those jobs is here.

"We're in an aggressive hiring plan right now," Teer says, adding she was employee No. 220 when she started at Plex two years ago. The firm expects to cross the 400-employee threshold later this year. "We're a really fast-growing tech company here in Metro Detroit."

Source: Katy Teer, corporate communications manager for Plex
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Michigan Corps cultivates socially conscious "Impact Investors"

Local leaders are working to establish a new type of angel investor in Michigan, the impact investor.

An impact investor is a high-net-worth individual (read wealthy) who wants to invest in fledgling small businesses that are both socially entrepreneurial and with the potential of sizable returns.

"They want to make a capital investment that will have some sort of social return while also getting their money back," says Elizabeth Garlow, executive director of Michigan Corps.

Impact investors will be a significant part of the upcoming Social Entrepreneurship Showcase, a half-day conference that will highlight the participants of the Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. The June 20th event will help grow the local socially-focused entrepreneurial community. This year, 280 entrepreneurs and companies are participating from across the state. Most of them hail from Metro Detroit.

Michigan Corps is organizing the event and challenge. It's not only looking to cultivate socially conscious entrepreneurs, but investors who want to diversify their portfolio. That's where the idea of impact investors comes in.

"That is the theme of the showcase, to step into the shoes of an impact investor," Garlow says.

Source: Elizabeth Garlow, executive director of Michigan Corps
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Rockbridge Growth Equity acquires Gas Station TV

Rockbridge Growth Equity has acquired GSTV, aka Gas Station TV, in a deal aimed at growing the downtown Birmingham-based startup rapidly.

GSTV got its start in 2006 by putting TVs on top of gas pumps showing news and advertisements. The idea is to catch drivers at a natural pause in the person’s day where their attention can easily be captured. It now has a network across North America with a monthly viewership of 50 million people.

"David (Leider, GSTV’s CEO) and his team developed a new industry that is growing very, very quickly," says Kevin Prokop, managing director of Rockbridge Growth Equity. "It's a very nascent industry. It has really developed over the last eight years."

The downtown Detroit-based private equity firm (part of the Quicken Loans family of companies) plans to keep GSTV at its home in downtown Birmingham while it focuses on growing the business. Prokop says a decision on a permanent home could be made within the next year, (many Quicken Loans-related businesses have moved to downtown Detroit in recent years) but he knows it will stay in Metro Detroit.

"We have a lease here," Leider says. "We're focused on working with Rockbridge on the business now."

GSTV employs a staff of 65 people, the bulk of which are based in downtown Birmingham. It has hired 10 people over the last year and has four open positions right now. More information on those here.

Source: David Leider, CEO of GSTV, and Kevin Prokop, managing director of Rockbridge Growth Equity
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Walsh College scores $100K investment fund for students

Business students at Walsh College in Troy have six figures to play with now that a former member of the school’s faculty has started a new investment fund there.

Leon LaBrecque, a former professor and department chair of finance and economics at Walsh College and managing partner and founder of LJPR, is giving $100,000 to start the Michigan Alpha Project. The student-run investment portfolio will focus on investing in publicly traded companies based in Michigan. LeBrecque says he choose to donate $100,000 at first because “it seemed like enough to make the students interested,” and he is helping raise more money to expand the fund.

"We're trying to shoot for $1 million by the end of the year," LaBrecque says.

The Michigan Alpha Project will be run by two student teams per quarter. One team will make the investments and manage the fund while a second team manages a shadow fund. The results from both teams are compared each quarter. The teams can range in size from five to nine students.

The students will use Walsh College’s newly created finance lab to analyze markets and make investment choices. The 1,400 square-foot space features 24 work stations, 12 Bloomberg terminals, lab projectors, a white board, and an interactive market wall with live feeds for market indexes, global currency movements, current commodity prices, bond prices and NASDAQ, NYSE and Watchlist feeds.

"It gives the students enough to get their fingernails dirty," says John Moore, professor of finance and economics at Walsh College. "It's different when you are investing real money."

Source: John Moore, professor of finance and economics at Walsh College and Leon LaBrecque, managing partner and founder of LJPR
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Oakland Energy & Water Ventures fund launches in Farmington Hills

A new second-stage investment fund is launching in Farmington Hills. Oakland Energy & Water Ventures will specialize in making investments in the clean energy and water spaces.

"We look at opportunities up to $100 million," says Chris Brower, managing director of Oakland Energy & Water Ventures.

Brower adds that the fund, which is made up of three partners, is flexible when it comes to what type of deals it is looking to do. Among them are joint ventures, partnerships, license agreements, and collaborations. The main things Oakland Energy & Water Ventures is looking for are patented technologies that are ready to scale.

"We're a bit more simplistic," Brower says. "We're looking for proof-of-concept technologies. That is our focus."

Brower says there are a couple of potential deals in the works but the firm isn’t ready to make an announcement yet. He adds that the company is focusing on clean energy and water plays because of global macro trends that are spiking demand for both clean energy and water to accommodate the growing world population.

Source: Chris Brower, managing director of Oakland Energy & Water Ventures
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.

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.

Macomb-OU INCubator startups score seed funding

A handful of startups leveraging the Macomb-OU INCubator have scored a nice round of seed funding.

Three startups received a total of $78,000 from the Michigan Pre-Seed Microloan and the Business Accelerator funds. The winners include Splash350 ($15,000), Mobile Data Holdings ($38,000) and Coupon Wallet ($25,000).

"It's a big chunk of change for them when they are starting out," says Julie Gustafson, executive director of the Macomb-OU INCubator. "It helps propel them forward."

Splash360 is developing a software platform that allows customers to create, manage, customize and deliver brand-building marketing content. The Business Accelerator Fund money will help it launch and market the product.

"We think it’s a pretty exciting product," Gustafson says.

Mobile Data Holdings
has created a black box for data collection and verification that can be used in the seats of automobiles. The Business Accelerator Fund money will help Mobile Data Holdings test its Mobile Digital Video Recorder system.

Coupon Wallet received money from the Michigan Pre-Seed Microloan fund. Coupon Wallet's technology is digitizing paper coupons. Its microloan will help it integrate the technology with business loyalty programs.

Source: Julie Gustafson, executive director of the Macomb-OU INCubator
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Draper Triangle Ventures expands into Metro Detroit with new VC fund

More venture capital is coming to Metro Detroit now that a Pittsburgh-based venture capital firm is planting a flag in southeast Michigan.

Draper Triangle Ventures plans to sink a significant part of its newest investment fund in Michigan. To execute on that vision, the firm is setting up offices in Ann Arbor and downtown Detroit, and moving a managing director to the region to scout out new investments.

"Michigan is attractive for venture capital for a number of reasons," says Jonathan Murray, managing director of Draper Triangle Ventures. "There is a lot of good deal flow in Ann Arbor and Detroit. There is a lot of national exposure in Michigan."

Draper Triangle Investments specializes in early-stage investments in tech startups. Think software and IT companies that are creating products that could span a number of different sectors.

The venture capital firm has raised $75 million for its third fund. The goal for the fund is $100 million. That capital will be focused on tech startups based in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. Investments will range between $1 million and $2 million. Murray expects to make 1-2 investments each year. He says one potential investment is already in the works and could come to fruition within the next few months.

Source: Jonathan Murray, managing director of Draper Triangle Ventures
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

AutoBike sales hit six figures in first summer season

AutoBike began selling its first bicycles this year, and it has hit some significant milestones in that time.

The Troy-based startup manufactures a bicycle with an automatic shifter meant to make a ride smoother for recreational and casual bike riders. It moved into a 7,000-square-foot warehouse and production facility last spring and began making sales in time for the summer riding season.

"We topped $100,000 in revenue in our first six months," says Sean Simpson, CEO of AutoBike.

The 2-year-old company was launched by a group of automotive industry veterans who applied their expertise to creating AutoBike's automatic shifter. The idea is the shifter will automatically change the bike’s gear to the optimal one for its rider.

AutoBike is composed of a team of eight people, which is up one person from the company's staff in 2012. It has raised $610,000 in seed capital, including the $25,000 prize from winning the Next Generation Manufacturing category at last week’s Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.

Source: Sean Simpson, CEO of AutoBike
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Accelerate Michigan helps bring more biz into tech scene

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition has traditionally been about growing Michigan's new economy. This year, the fourth for the competition, it's also about integrating traditional businesses with the local tech scene.

The emphasis is part of a wider effort to make Michigan’s new economy more inclusive. That includes making it welcoming to women, minorities, immigrants and a wider range of traditional businesses that normally don’t work in the tech community.

"It's very much about integrating different types of technology into small businesses," says Lauren Bigelow, executive director of Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. "That can give them a competitive edge or the opportunity to compete."

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is a business plan competition that awards $1 million in prizes, including a $500,000 first-place prize. The catch is the competing startups need to be based in Michigan or plan to move to the Great Lakes State to claim a prize.

The competition is held each November. This year the competition will be held in downtown Detroit, primarily in the Westin Book-Cadillac Hotel, on Nov. 12-14. For information on the event, click here.

Source: Lauren Bigelow, executive director of Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Ford acquires Internet radio startup Livio

Ford has acquired Livio, the tech startup based in Ferndale. The terms of the deal were not released.

Livio, formerly Livio Radio, got its start making Internet radios. It has since evolved to make software that enhances in-car connectivity between the vehicle and the electronics its passengers use. Ford plans to allow the startup to keep traveling down its current path, leaving its staff intact at its home in Ferndale.

"It's a win not just for our staff but for entrepreneurs all over southeast Michigan," says Jake Sigal, CEO of Livio.

He adds that his startup's "plans haven't changed" after the acquisition, which includes continuing its hiring. It currently has four positions open for software developers (more info on those positions here) on top of its staff of 11 employees, four independent contractors and a few interns.

Livio also plans to continue working to set the bar in its sector by developing new intellectual property and products. "I can guarantee we will always come out with new stuff," Sigal says.

Source: Jake Sigal, CEO of Livio
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Delphinus Medical Technologies scores $11M in Series B funding round

Delphinus Medical Technologies has raised a Series B round of seed capital worth $11 million in equity and debt financing as it prepares to commercialize its SoftVue platform next year.

The 4-year-old start-up describes SoftVue as a “whole breast ultrasound tomography system” that will help diagnose breast cancer. Delphinus Medical Technologies filed for clearance for the technology with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, which should be one of the final steps it needs to take before it begins making its first sales.

“We hope to get the clearance by the end of the year,” says Bill Greenway, CEO of Delphinus Medical Technologies. He adds that will open the door to start sales through a dealer-distribution network in early- to mid-2014.

SoftVue originated in the labs of Wayne State University and the Karmanos Cancer Institute. It spun out of those institutions in 2009 and moved to Plymouth. It raised $12 million in a Series A round in the spring of 2010. The Series B round was co-led by Arboretum Ventures in Ann Arbor and Beringea in Farmington Hills. North Coast Technology Investors also participated in the Series B.

Delphinus Medical Technologies
has hired three people over the last year. Those hires included an electronics technician, a sales professional and a vice president of marketing. It currently has a staff of 20 employees and the occasional intern. The company is also looking to hire three people right now, primarily scientists and engineers.

Source: Bill Greenway, CEO of Delphinus Medical Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

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