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The most interesting billionaire in metro Detroit you've probably never heard of

Manoj Bhargava is the 62-year-old, ex-ashram monk creator and founder of 5-Hour Energy, a company headquartered in Farmington Hills. 5-Hour Energy's 2-oz. bottles, now ubiquitous at party stores and gas stations around the country, revolutionized the energy drink market and made Bhargava a very rich man (he estimates his fortune at $4 billion).
But what's most interesting about Bhargava, however, is what he plans to do with his wealth. In addition to pledging to give 90 percent of it away to charity, he also runs a $100-million private equity fund called Stage 2 Innovations, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, is "dedicated to advances in water and energy technology."
Read about Bhargava's investments, as well as his daily routine, in this recent profile in the Wall Street Journal.

How are the kids in Kidpreneur doing one year later?

About a year and a half ago Metromode wrote about Kidpreneur, a company dedicated to teaching tweens and teens about technology and entrepreneurship. Other publications soon caught on as well, writing up their own coverage. One, Xconomy, checks back in with the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Thanh Tran to see how things are going.


"Kidpreneur recently began offering online classes over Skype, Sunday classes, and all-girl classes. In December, it participated in Hour of Code, a global initiative to teach kids coding basics; 400 kids from 10 schools in metro Detroit joined in the fun. Seidman says Kidpreneur is also working to find sponsors for interested students who can’t afford to attend classes, and the company is reaching out to schools and libraries to gauge interest in after-school programs taught by Kidpreneur in person or over Skype."

Read the rest here.

Check out these techs. Google Demo investors will.

Three Detroit-area tech startups have won a chance to pitch their companies to investors lined up by Google and looking for business ideas to put their money behind.
After competing last week in the Grand Circus Detroit Google Demo Day competition, the founders of AdAdapted, GENOMENON and LevelEleven, are hoping to be picked to visit Google’s California HQ in April and spill to investors what’s promising about their companies. One or two will make the cut to make the trip to Mountainview, Calif.

“We’re very impressed by the talented entrepreneurs and innovative companies in the Detroit area. Google for Entrepreneurs partners with organizations like Grand Circus to help these local communities of entrepreneurs grow and thrive,” said John Lyman, head of partnerships and marketing for Google for Entrepreneurs.

Read more about these little companies that could here.

McClary Bros. delivers on new taste for craft vinegar

Vinegar is much more than the standard base of garden-variety salad dressings, or even balsamic. Here's an artisan maker that's using fruits and vegetables to craft gourmet, drinkable vinegars, soon to be found in stores around the country.


"While craft beers and spirits are gaining much of the buzz, craft cocktails are also seeing a rise in consumer interest. With bars like  Sugar House  and  Punch Bowl Social  in Detroit and  The Oakland  in Ferndale wowing their customers with craft cocktails, there is also a DIY movement for those looking to change up their at-home imbibing. 

That’s where  McClary Bros.  drinking vinegars come in.

Farmington-based McClary Bros. uses locally grown fruits and vegetables to create drinking/culinary vinegars. These vinegars are not like the ones you use to clean out the coffeepot. These are considered “colonial-era drink mixers” in that these recipes are formulated using unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with added natural ingredients...

A semifinalist in the 2014  Comerica Hatch Detroit  business competition, McClary Bros. expects to have distribution for its infused vinegars in 13 or 14 states soon, thanks to word-of-mouth among high-end retailers operating in several states."

More here.

University tech transfer offices bridge gap between academia and commerce

In Michigan's growing tech economy, there's no doubt that many of the innovators are coming from the halls and labs of academia. But how to get from concept to commercialization?


"Coming up with a technological breakthrough is a feather in a university researcher's cap. 

But taking that brilliant notion, and forming a profitable business, involves another degree of difficulty. So professors and other researchers who want to turn their intellectual gifts into gold will probably need a little help along the way. 

"It takes more than a great idea," said Paul Riser Jr., managing director of technology-based entrepreneurship for Detroit business incubator  TechTown. "Professors sometimes are great technologists or great engineers and sometimes they don't have the know-how, from a business perspective."

The place to start may be the university's technology transfer office."

More here.

A call for unifying Michigan's "three economies"

Three different types of businesses tend to congregate in different regions of Michigan, leading to lost opportunities and uneven economic growth. A U-M professor suggests a solution.


"When it comes to economic growth in  Michigan, one size does not fit all. Take a look at the varying scope and scale of companies here and you’ll find a general pattern of three different types of businesses associated with different regions:   large multinational corporations in Southeast Michigan, small high-tech start-ups in Ann Arbor, and family-owned, mid-size companies in Western Michigan...

In an ideal world, these three different economies would be interconnected like concentric circles with the large companies at the center, encouraging the growth of adjacent mid-size companies, in turn promoting the development of surrounding smaller companies.

The problem is that these three economies simply don’t sync up. They are so disconnected from each other, both ideologically and economically, that we don’t benefit from the rewards of their potential synergistic relationships. It’s time to bridge the gaps between these three regions."

More here

Michigan should invest in Detroit's recovery, survey says

A recent Crain's survey of 300 business owners and executives revealed their sentiments on priority areas for state spending, the state of the economy, and other important concerns heading into 2015.


"Optimism about Michigan's economy continued to soar, with 78 percent saying they were satisfied with how it affected business, compared with 70 percent in May...

"I used to meet folks out of town about adding new retail markets, and people would almost immediately tell me, "Michigan's near the bottom of our list.' But now it's become fashionable to become associated with projects in Detroit or at least in metropolitan Detroit," said Cindy Ciura, principal of  CC Consulting LLC  in Bloomfield Hills.

"Some of the coverage and national attention to our bankruptcy is turning a negative into a positive. People are seeing, I think, that now it's working to our advantage. It's almost an impetus to get people talking about the comeback."

More here.

Shinola watch company to add retail outlet in Washington, D.C.

Shinola, a manufacturer and retailer of watches and other high-end goods, is putting the shine on with its latest retail store.


"Detroit-based Shinola continues to expand its retail presence beyond the Motor City, with a permanent, brick-and-mortar outlet reportedly in the works for the nation's capital.

The company, which makes watches in Detroit, in addition to crafting bikes, journals and leather goods at a variety of mostly-American locations, last month said it was opening shops in London, Los Angeles and Chicago...

Shinola had previously said it will have six brick-and-mortar stores once the Chicago one comes online in the Wicker Park-Bucktown neighborhood. Shinola’s flagship Detroit location is at 441 W. Canfield in Midtown, and the company also has stores in Manhattan and Minneapolis.

It also has a presence in Paris' ultra-trendy Colette shop and in the Abu Dhabi airport."

More here.

Detroit region's economy most high-powered in Michigan

Despite past setbacks, southeast Michigan is still the state's significant economic engine – and that's not likely to change.


“The southeast side is going to be the center for economic activity for many years,” said George Erickcek, an analyst for the Kalamazoo-based Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. “It is going to be a long time before the west side of the state matches the east side of the state....

The Detroit region’s share of the state economy has dropped, however, from 54.7 percent in 2001 to 52 percent in 2013. And the area’s GDP last year is 8 percent below its peak in 2005. But the Detroit-area’s most critical business sectors are gradually clawing back, with health care emerging as a vital new area of growth."

More here.

Nation to soon enjoy a piece of Achatz pie

The rest of the country will soon be treated to one of Michigan's famous desserts: Achatz fruit pies. The company is known for sourcing most of its ingredients from local farms.


"The Achatz Handmade Pie Co. has sold its franchise rights to a Florida firm, which expects to establish 150 locations across the United States in the next five years.
The much-loved brand, founded 21 years ago in Armada, makes its natural desserts in Chesterfield Township...

The award-winning pies have been showcased on "The Rachael Ray Show," "The Today Show" and "Good Morning America Weekend as well as in "Bon Appétit" and "Food & Wine" magazines."

More here

Seven area startups to receive Best of MichBusiness awards

A host of interesting new businesses in the tech, tourism, entertainment, and lifestyle industries just may become the newest set of darlings in the Detroit area startup community.


"Seven ventures from Walsh College’s Blackstone LaunchPad business initiative have been named Best of MichBusiness by
the Michigan Business & Professional Association (MBPA)...

Selected by MBPA as Best of Hatched™ - companies that made it through start-up and are on the way up are: Steve Johnson of Motor City Brew Tours, conducting educational bus, bicycle and walking tours of Michigan-based breweries showcasing the intricate process of beer production..."

More here

OU medical student invents new surgical device utilizing Google Glass technology

A medical student's promising new technology device means surgeons will be able to keep their eyes trained on their patients.


"Florence Doo, a second-year medical student at  Oakland University, has her hands full.

Not with school, although that certainly keeps her busy, but with starting and growing a medical device company that plans to use Google Glass to deliver heads-up displays to surgeons. 

The benefit? Surgeons don't have to take their eyes off their patients during procedures to look around at video screens scattered around the operating room displaying the information they need. 

Surgeons can pull up important images such as CAT scans — and even transmit images of the operation in progress for teaching purposes — all while keeping their eyes on the task at hand."

More here.

Detroit magnate Dan Gilbert is the new Forbes cover story

In its new cover feature, Forbes magazine has coined downtown Detroit "Gilbertville," a place that's now attracting the coveted Millenial generation to work downtown. This story on Dan Gilbert and his city empire makes for a fascinating read.


"As you’ve likely heard, over the past four years Gilbert has become one of Detroit’s single-largest commercial landowners, renovating the city with the energy and impact of a modern-day Robert Moses, albeit bankrolled with his own money. He’s purchased and updated more than 60 properties downtown, at a total cost of $1.3 billion. He moved his own employees into many of them–12,000 in all, including 6,500 new hires–and cajoled other companies such as Chrysler, Microsoft and Twitter to follow. He recruited 140 tenants, though most are tiny startups and other entrepreneurs his venture firm helped finance.

His empire rests on luring the kind of young, educated, technologically savvy employees that every employer in the nation craves. To get them he must compete with the golden glow of places like Palo Alto and Manhattan. Gilbert’s genius is to see Detroit–the most dilapidated, forlorn urban environment in North America–not as a hindrance but rather as a unique opportunity to build the kind of place that Millennial workers crave: authentic, inspiring, edgy and cheap.

And it’s working. “We turned down 21,000 kids who raised their hands and said, ‘I want to work in downtown Detroit,’ ” says Gilbert, who got 22,000 résumés for 1,300 internships this summer. “ They were from everywhere. Of all the metrics you’re looking at, that’s the one that makes me the most optimistic."

More here.

Rainbow Loom founder introduces travel-size Finger Loom bracelet maker

The founder of the surprise hit Rainbow Loom continues to keep his hands busy with his latest invention.


"Cheong Choon Ng was trying to make rubber-band bracelets with his daughters four years ago when he realized his fingers were too big to manipulate the bands.

So, the automotive crash-test engineer set about creating a tool that would help him do the job — the Rainbow Loom.

Ng is aware the toy business is fickle and that the popularity of the Rainbow Loom could fade, which is why he’s introducing new products, such as the travel-size Finger Loom, which comes out Wednesday."

More here.

Gourmet food-truck bandwagon rolls in Metro Detroit

From gourmet chicken fingers served in a waffle cone to "umami-bomb" BBQ brisket in Ferndale, metro Detroit is catching up to the rest of the nation's cities in terms of gourmet options on wheels.


"We know, we know. Food trucks are so 2012, right? Tell that to the intrepid souls who decided this year to put meals on wheels, hoping against hope that mobile cuisine hasn't yet jumped the Detroit shark. Based on the entries we've encountered, there's no danger in that happening. After all, the trucks might be new, but the chefs behind them are, for the most part, veterans who understand the power of a good business plan and a full stomach.

Conveniently, although the calendar says that it's officially autumn, the climate has remained cooperative for those who like to dine al fresco. Whatever the weather, here are five new food trucks and trailers that you won't want to miss."

More here

"Homecoming" event spotlights Detroit's economic progress to the nation

Detroit showed itself off to advantage at a recent event attended by the nation's movers and shakers.


"In May, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. said the bank would invest $100 million over the next five years in the city. Other companies, foundations and the state of Michigan pledged more than $800 million over 20 years to help protect the city-owned Detroit Institute of Arts from possible sale...

Residential vacancy in the city's downtown and midtown neighborhoods is low as office space has begun to fill up, driven in large measure by dozens of buildings acquired and renovated by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert. As part of the event Thursday, premium grocer  Whole Foods  said it was searching for a second location in the city after opening its first store last year.

"It's much better after the bankruptcy than before," investor  Warren Buffett  told an invitation-only crowd.

Last year, the chairman and chief executive of Omaha, Neb.-based  Berkshire Hathaway  said Detroit had huge potential for investors, saying he would be open to buying business in the city. On Thursday, he said in a staged conversation with Mr. Gilbert that he once considered buying the Ambassador Bridge that connects Detroit across its namesake river to Canada and wouldn't rule out future investments in the city."

More here.

Macomb Comm. College to manage $2.7M Innovation Fund for entrepreneurs, start-ups

The funding pie is growing larger for Detroit-area entrepreneurs, especially those who agree to take on community-college students as interns.


"Up to $100,000 will be made available to startup and emerging businesses in the Detroit area through the $2.7 million  Innovation Fund, part of  J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s  $100 million investment in the region.

According to a release from  Macomb Community College, which will manage the fund, grants of $25,000, which don't have to be repaid, will be awarded to startups "that are taking the initial steps to get their very early stage idea ready for market introduction."

In other cases, up to $100,000 will be made available to "advance the progress of emerging companies toward larger-scale equity funding." Those awards would have to be matched 100 percent by the company...

Companies that receive funding will be required to provide employment opportunities to MCC students through internships."

More here

"The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation" show to premiere on CBS

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation show featuring thinkers and doers is set to premiere on CBS's Saturday morning lineup, beginning Sept. 27.


"Hosted by Mo Rocca of CBS' "Sunday  Morning," will be a weekly celebration of the inventor’s spirit - from historic scientific pioneers throughout past centuries to the forward-looking visionaries of today. Each episode tells the dramatic stories behind the world’s greatest inventions - and the perseverance, passion and price required to bring them to life. Featuring the "what if it never happened," "the innovation by accident" and a strong focus on "junior geniuses" who are changing the face of technology, this series will appeal to young viewers and their families.

More here

Michigan tops in employment recovery post-recession; promising economic future ahead

Michigan has regained much of the ground it lost since the recession's nadir in 2009, and its future bodes well, according to a recent national report.


"Results of the Business Facilities annual report rank Michigan among the top states in employment recovery since the end of the Great Recession, automotive jobs and automotive manufacturing strength. Further, the report lists Detroit and Grand Rapids as among the top regions in the country for economic growth...

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in Michigan has plummeted from a five year high of 14.2 percent to the current 7.7 percent. The 6.5 drop in percentage points is more than any other state. Michigan’s unemployment rate in June of 2009 stood at 7.2 percent."

More here and here

Local inventor's trash bag hanger to be sold at Wal-Mart, manufactured in Ferndale

If you're picking up trash and don't have a trash can handy, this cool new gizmo keeps your bag open, eliminating the need to bend down to stuff trash in your limp sock of a bag.


"Wal-Mart agreed last month to sell theportable, reusable trash holder invented by a Michigan man online and in stores nationwide.

John Cundy, a 49-year-old clay sculptor for General Motors, came up with the idea for the inventionabout three years ago when he was helping cleaning up a mess left behind at a high school track meet. Walking around toting a garbage bag, he said he realized there had to be a better way...

The Trash-Ease, which is being manufactured in Ferndale and Traverse City, has gone through six iterations. It hangs a 13-gallon trash bag just about anywhere, on bleachers, picnic tables, even kitchen counters."

More here.

Detroit Custom Coach outfits food trucks, vans, and limos with new interiors

Here's a company on a roll outfitting coaches with luxe new interior swag.


"As the owner of  Detroit Custom Coach LLC, he knows a few things about building out food trucks. For the past four years, he's been fabricating custom food trucks — such as the newly finished  Eskimo Jacks  ice cream sandwich mobile — as well as turning limos and vans into rolling dens of luxury...

It's a good line of work that allowed Ramos to turn former competitors into clients. His first business was a shuttle service called  Night Moves Transportation. But when Ramos realized he could charge more to rent a party bus, he decided to build one...

Recently a client hired DCC to turn a van into a rolling humidor, complete with high-end TVs and sound system. And while that was a big job, the most extravagant vehicle in DCC's portfolio is a custom project for  Jim Beam.The bourbon distiller wanted the passenger shuttle running at its distillery in Clermont, Ky., to look like an old 1930s truck delivering barrels."

More here.

Register soon for Michigan Shifting Gears career transition program

If you're looking to get back into the job market or change careers, this program may give you an in.


"Michigan Shifting Gears, an intensive career transition initiative sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, kicks off its next three-month session on  Wednesday, September 3, 2014.  Registration for the  Fall 2014 session, taking place in Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City is open now through  Friday, August 22.

The program is designed to help experienced professionals, returning veterans, stay-at-home parents and others facing a career crossroads fine-tune their skills to fit the needs of small businesses, entrepreneurial start-ups, and non-profits.  Launched in 2009 by Ann Arbor SPARK and Sensei Change Associates, Michigan Shifting Gears is a unique opportunity for seasoned professionals and other transitioning job seekers to learn how to put their talent and experience to work in "new economy" career opportunities."

Click here for more information and to register.

Michigan is "Most Improved State" in national pro-business states report

Michigan is gaining a business-friendly reputation, an important aspect of attracting entrepreneurs and investment from other states and around the globe.


"The American Economic Development Institute and Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Inc. today named Michigan the Most Improved State for 2014 in their annual Top 10 Pro-Business States report. Overall, Michigan ranked no. 3 among the nation’s top 10 most populous states and no. 2 among the eight Great Lakes states...

The state’s improved rank pushed it ahead of other top population states, including Georgia (ranked 22), Ohio (23), Texas (27), New York (30), Pennsylvania (39), Illinois (49) and California (50). Only N. Carolina and Florida finished ahead of Michigan at no. 11 and 15, respectively.

Michigan advanced 21 spots in this year’s Pro-Business States report, up to no. 18 from no. 39 in 2012."

More here

U.S. Treasury Dept. says Michigan leads nation in optimizing federal funds for small business growth

Second only to California in the amount of federal funds received via the State Small Business Credit Act, Michigan is parlaying this cash infusion into industry diversification and job creation at a commendable rate.


"Since 2011, Michigan has distributed $79.4 million from the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), a federal program established a year earlier in the aftermath of the Great Recession and modeled after a state of Michigan program to bolster the collateral position of manufacturing companies. Federal funds dispersed to small business and local lenders have been used to finance more than $420 million in new private investment and create 4,600 jobs in Michigan, according to MEDC estimates."

More here.

Contests become launchpads for Detroit startups

In the last few years, entrepreneurs are increasingly making pitch and business plan competitions part of their game plans. And more than ever, nationally televised contests are filming in Detroit. 


"A number of competitions mirroring the style of hit TV show "Shark Tank" have sprung up in Detroit,  where a downtown start-up tech scene  has taken root...

Mark Kiel's company, which developed software to interpret data about gene mutations in DNA sequencing, was founded two months ago, but he has already raised $47,000 in capital.Kiel, 37, won his money from MiQuest, the Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize and Greenlight Best Overall Pitch.

Ann Arbor-based Genomenon has won three business-pitch competitions — allowing Kiel to bypass the traditional route of hitting up family and friends or wooing an angel from a venture capital firm."

More here.

Rockbridge Growth Equity fills Gas Station TV with new investment

In an e-world, consumers can now get their fill of TV at the gas station, all brought to them by Birmingham-based Gas Station TV.


"Rockbridge Growth Equity pumped new capital into Gas Station TV, a company that provides pretty much exactly what you would think -television at gas pumps.

Consumers have likely seen Gas Station TV network without even realizing it. It’s currently in 42 states, and at more than 2,600 stations, featuring content from AccuWeather, Bloomberg TV, ESPN and CNN."

More here.

Failure is in the eyes of the beholder at Failure: Lab events

In a refreshing twist on the arguably cliched "failure breeds success" stories told at conferences around the country, at Failure: Lab events, entrepreneur presenters leave it up to the audience to make what it will of their failure stories.


An entrepreneur told a Detroit audience about how he had failed as a father, husband and businessman.

In the crowd sat a riveted Jordan O'Neil. At least until the speaker intoned in the inevitable "but," followed by his tale of second-chance success.

"He basically told a story that grabbed the full attention of the 800 people in the crowd because it was so different," O'Neil said. "What if he had dropped the mic and walked off the stage — just left it there?"

Thus was born the idea for Failure: Lab. He gathered three friends and developed what would become an event featuring six speakers sharing 10-minute failures — straight with no "lessons learned" chaser. The audience is left to glean the meaning and encouraged to share its thoughts on social media as well as notecards that are collected afterward.

It's working, at least in O'Neil's home state of Michigan. During the past year, Failure: Lab has come to theaters in Grand Rapids, East Lansing and Detroit, and its return Friday to Grand Rapids is sold out. Now, his team believes stumbling self-help for the 21st century can succeed beyond its comfy confines — they're planning shows in New Orleans, Mexico City, Brooklyn, New York, and possibly Baghdad."

More here.

Business-friendly Ferndale experiences boom in new enterprise

New businesses are flocking to Ferndale, and existing ones are expanding. This boomlet is in no small part because of the city's treatment of businesses as customers, according to Ferndale Mayor David Coulter.


"Three years after Michelle Lewis opened her first  Painting with a Twist  franchise in downtown Ferndale, business was so good that she needed to double the studio's size to 5,000 square feet on West Nine Mile Road. 

Lewis' story isn't an aberration downtown, where 14 businesses have expanded into larger space during the last two years or are opening this year, according to Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director of theFerndale Downtown Development Authority.

In 2000, vacancy in downtown Ferndale was well over 30 percent, she said. Today, the core downtown is just 2 percent vacant, and the outskirts of the downtown are just 4 percent vacant."

More here.

Calling all tinkerers: Entries open for Maker Faire Detroit

Apply now if you want to get your invention / pet project into the hands of visitors at the next annual Maker Faire at The Henry Ford Museum, July 26-27.


"We particularly encourage exhibits that are interactive and that highlight the process of making things. Here are just a few of things we'd like to see at Maker Faire Detroit:
  • Student projects
  • Robotics
  • Arduino projects
  • Raspberry Pi
  • Space projects
  • Conductive materials projects
  • Kit makers
  • Interactive art projects
  • Textile Arts and Crafts
  • Rockets and RC Toys
  • Green Tech
  • Radios, Vintage Computers and Game Systems
  • Electronics
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Puppets
  • Bicycles
  • Shelter (Tents, Domes, etc.)
  • Unusual Tools or Machines"
More here.

Southeast Michigan population, business investment on the rise

Southeast Michigan's economy is trending upward, as shown by the most recent population and business investment increases.


"Southeast Michigan's population grew in 2013, while investment in Oakland County small business tripled, according to statistics released by regional leaders Monday.

Banks approved $22,719,100 in traditional loans for established small businesses last year, according to Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson's office. That's more than three times the amount loaned in 2012: $7,050,195.

And the Oakland County Business Center helped 19 startups gather $39,159,531 in capital in 2013, an increase of more than 286 percent from 2012 when 12 new businesses accessed $13,669,878 in capital formation."

More here.

Detroit companies get brand exposure at SXSW festival

It's too early to say yet, but the brand exposure for Metro Detroit companies, plus the MEDC's booth at SXSW, could pay big dividends in terms of sales and attracting more young professionals to Michigan.


"The crush of people, brands and bands at the  South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, creates brand exposure, and this year Detroit companies, musicians, attorneys and advertising agencies were there to capitalize on the opportunity...

Joe McClure, co-owner of Detroit-based  McClure's Pickles, said he was asked by San Francisco-based Internet lodging site  Airbnb  to provide a palette, 60 cases, of its Bloody Mary mix to serve during SXSW for free....

Leslie Hornung, senior vice president of marketing, communications  and public relations for the  Michigan Economic Development Corp., said the MEDC spent about $200,000 from its business attraction campaign to have a booth on the conference floor during the technology-focused days at SXSW. 

Hornung said more than 1,000 young professionals visited the MEDC exhibit, many of whom were interested in learning about working in Detroit."

More here.

Students, recent grads invited to Live.Work.Detroit career event on March 28

The Live.Work.Detroit career event on Friday, March 28 looks to be a promising lead for students and new grads looking to pump up their job prospects. It's from 2:00-8:00 p.m.  at the Garden Theater in Detroit.


"The  March 28  event is being co-hosted by D:hive and MEDC. Participating students will have the opportunity to network with a wide range of Detroit employers including Detroit Medical Center, Playworks, Quicken Loans, American Axle, and Shinola, among others. The event will include keynote speaker Marlowe Stoudamire from the Skillman Foundation, a panel discussion with some of Detroit’s young leaders from Detroit Young Professionals, Challenge Detroit and ChalkFly, networking, and a tour of some of the exciting small businesses, restaurants, museums, and affordable places to live.

Registration is required; cost is $15. The registration fee covers all activities including transportation, dinner and the tour of the city."

For more info and to register, click here.

Local breweries and meaderies get in on the next hot drink: Iced cider

After an icy cold winter, is ice cider the next magic elixir for Metro Detroit brewers and cider makers?


"If there's anything most of us are tired of this winter, it's bone-chilling cold. It's enough to drive you to drink. 

Literally. Because frigid weather is just what some enterprising artisans need to make a dessert wine that has been showing up on trendy tables and menus...

...Maine,  New York,  Michigan, and  Washington  are starting to ride the ice cider wave, too. The question is not whether they have enough apples. The real test will be whether they have enough ice."

More here.

Click here for the full Michigan list, which includes Ferndale's B. Nektar Meadery, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. in Warren, Motor City Brewing Works in Detroit, and the Northville Winery in Northville.

Inc. magazine recognizes firm that bucked downward trend in Michigan real-estate

A local title agency focused on the principle that small service is better service, and Inc. magazine took note.


"Monte Reinert is in the real estate business. What's more, he's in the real estate business in Michigan, where home prices have fallen about 60 percent since 2006. Yet his company,Transnation Title Agency of Michigan, has more than doubled its workforce in the last five years, grown revenues to $13 million, and continues to poach customers from big-name competitors."

More here.

Sign up for the 2014 Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

If you're an entrepreneur geared towards forming your business to serve a good cause, take heed and register for the Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. 


"The  Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge  invites individuals and teams to submit plans for an emerging idea or existing venture with a sustainable solution to a clearly defined social problem in areas including, but not limited to, chronic unemployment, health and nutrition, the environment, urban revitalization, and education. Participants will compete for more than $60,000 in prizes. Competition finalists will be granted admission to Michigan Corps’ Impact Investment Fellowship, a four-month training institute to ready top social entrepreneurs for investment at and above the $50,000 level.

...Applicants will be eligible to attend online classes, neighborhood tours, and networking events to support the development of their submission before the  May 30, 2014  deadline. A statewide Social Entrepreneurship Showcase & Summit Event will take place in June to announce winners and celebrate social innovation across Michigan."

Click here for more info and to register.

Wallet Hub says Detroit is tops in nation for home-buying power & industrial variety

Detroit ranked 38th best out of America's 60 largest cities to find a job, beating out heavies like Chicago and New York. While there's plenty of room to keep powering up the job prospects, Detroit took the top spots in the categories of annual home-buying power and most industrial variety. 


"More than 100 million people have moved within the past five years, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and 48% of unemployed individuals have picked up their roots in search of a job over that timeframe.   This societal mobility stands to be a major asset for job seekers as the economy improves.   In fact, 2014 is expected to be a strong year for hiring, with 27% of employers planning to hire, according to the  National Association for Business Economics, and a projected 8% bump in the number of recent college graduates who land jobs, per the  National Association for Colleges and Employers."

More here.

MEDC to showcase Michigan's appeal for entrepreneurs, creatives at SxSW trade show

If you're an entrepreneur or creative, the annual SxSW festival is where it's at. The MEDC and other Michigan universities and organizations will be there in a bid to attract talent to relocate the Great Lakes State.


"This is a timely and dynamic opportunity to meet and talk face-to-face with entrepreneurs and talented, creative people from around the world and persuade them to locate to Michigan to work and start a business," said Michael Finney, president of MEDC, the state's marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, including fostering tourism, film production, and digital-media projects and overall economic growth...

"Our goal at 'South by Southwest' is to elevate Michigan in the minds of the preeminent players redefining the business prospects derived from the confluence of media, technology, creators and consumer trends," said Finney. "And, of course, the 'Pure Michigan' brand creates a positive impression about quality of life in our state."

More here

New Economy Initiative receives $33M in funding for new entrepreneurial, workforce programs

A new round of funding is set to go towards entrepreneurial and workforce re-training efforts in the Detroit area.


"The New Economy Initiative's goal is to return greater Detroit to global prominence in innovation and entrepreneurship, and the effort's organizers said Monday it is moving closer to accomplishing what it set out to do, with the help of $33.25 million in new funding from 10 foundations.

The NEI, a project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, announced Monday that the funding will help support its efforts over the next three years, after awarding $76 million in grants in its first round of funding. That money helped fuel the work of some 35,000 entrepreneurs, who created more than 675 new companies and 8,000 new jobs in southeast Michigan, according to NEI organizers."

More here

Warren-based Warrior Sports to outfit Olympic men's hockey players

Warrior Sports is fast becoming athletic outfitter to the world's sports stars. Players from a dozen national teams at the Olympics will be facing off in the hockey rink with Warrior sticks, gloves, helmets and masks.


"When the men's ice hockey competition begins at the Winter Olympics next week in Russia, nearly a hundred players — including  Detroit Red Wings  Henrik Zetterberg, playing for Sweden, and Jimmy Howard, playing for the United States — will be using equipment from Warren-based  Warrior Sports Inc....

The company — launched in founder David Morrow's  Princeton University  dorm room in 1992 as a manufacturer of handmade titanium lacrosse sticks — has grown into a retailer of equipment, footwear and apparel for lacrosse, soccer, ice hockey and general lifestyle wear...

...Warrior made its first major move into global branding in 2011 when it signed a six-year contract to provide uniforms — known as kits — for the  English Premier League  soccer club  Liverpool FCbeginning in 2012. Warrior replaced German sporting goods giant  Adidas AG."

More here

How do you build an innovative, entrepreneurial community?

Anchor institutions are good. A well-developed community of small startups with young entrepreneurs is also good. A healthy mix of both seems to be best. But the devil is the details.
"The study essentially argues that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to creating an innovative tech economy. Though civic boosters love to tout single-solution policies — by focusing on attracting one major tech firm, or by bolstering their start-up ecology — a mix of both approaches may be far more effective and prudent."
Read the rest here.

Crowdfunding = More opportunities to invest locally

The Senate's recent passage of crowdfunding legislation opens up a whole new pool of potential funding for entrepreneurs, a vital component to the expansion of Michigan's economy.


"HB 4996, a creative approach to economic development, will allow the sales of securities to an unlimited number of non-accredited investors, provided the issuer registers with the State of Michigan.   Any Michiganders who do not fit the federal definition of an accredited investor are given the opportunity to support their local entrepreneurs, existing small businesses, and real estate investments."

More here.

Michigan Shifting Gears program taking applications for job seekers looking to retool

The Michigan Shifting Gears program is seeking applicants for its three-month career transition program beginning on January 21. Sessions will take place in Ann Arbor and the Great Lakes Bay region. Registration for the Winter 2014 session is open now through  Friday, January 10. 


"The program is designed to help experienced professionals, returning veterans, stay-at-home parents and others facing a career crossroads fine-tune their skills to fit the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups...

Participants in Michigan Shifting Gears receive a professional career assessment and career coaching, attend eight days of workshops, participate in networking events, and take part in a three-day small business simulation.  Participants are paired with volunteer mentors from the entrepreneurial community who work one-on-one to review their resumes, provide career advice, and help with their career transition....

Michigan Shifting Gears has an impressive rate of success, with 51 percent of graduates landing new jobs within three months of completing the program. Sixty-five percent of graduates land positions within six months, and 84 percent find work within nine or more months...."

For more info and to learn about the prerequisites for registering, click here.

Immigrant entrepreneur finds dream at the end of the rainbow

Which young teen doesn't have a handful of those colorful rubber band bracelets? A Metro Detroit immigrant has created a new craze.


"MY model American entrepreneur of the moment is Cheong Choon Ng. He has not attracted a $3 billion bid from Facebook, like the young inventors of the photo-sharing service Snapchat. Wall Street is not cooking up an I.P.O. But Ng is a star in my household. He is the creator of the  Rainbow Loom, which in the middle-schooler market is the hottest device not called iSomething. If you have noticed that half the children in America — and a fair number of adults — seem to be sporting bracelets that are braids of brightly colored rubber bands, then you have seen the fruits of the Rainbow Loom....

He is a cheerful advertisement for the American dream. "The longer you stay, the more you see the opportunity," Ng told me from his home in Michigan, where he is working on a loom upgrade and his next invention. "Whatever you work for, you can own."

More here.

Detroit watchmaker Shinola makes the big time

Will a Detroit-made Shinola become the new Rolex? Time will tell.


"Three years ago, in autumn 2010, a small group of businessmen, consisting of watch industry stalwarts from Swiss movement manufacturer Ronda and strategic developers from Dallas-based  Bedrock Brands, came together to discuss the possibility of regenerating the long-defunct U.S. watch industry. What emerged was the Shinola watch factory, which established itself on the fifth floor of Detroit's College for Creative Studies.

According to its CEO, Steve Bock: "We are not doing this out of philanthropy, we chose to come to Detroit for practical business reasons. It is a city of heritage and of global recognition—just look at what has come out of Detroit—the motor industry, World War II manufacturing, and music. Craftsmanship and a first-rate work ethic emanate from the city."

More here.

Local turkey farmers have full plates of business this Thanksgiving

Detroit-area turkey farms see demand for local, organic as something to be thankful for this year.


"Christine Roperti, owner of Roperti's Turkey Farm in Livonia, is gearing up for Thanksgiving.
"People are always thanking me for being here," she said. "They say, 'I don't care if it's $5 a pound. You can't beat your turkeys.' I love doing it."...

Mike Liabenow, manager of meat and seafood at Joe's Produce in Livonia, said his department began carrying organic turkeys raised in Michigan for the first time this year.

"It's something that's been on the rise a couple years in the  business," he said. "Everyone wants to keep everything in Michigan."

More here.

U-M Dearborn's eCities study recognizes Sterling Heights for supporting entrepreneurs

U-M Dearborn's iLabs has selected Sterling Heights as one of eight cities statewide that goes above and beyond to foster entrepreneurship.


“These communities are being recognized for the best practices they utilize, which include the right mix of tools and resources for their business community,” said Tim Davis, director, iLabs. “They listen to companies, help them with governmental processes,  connect  them with other companies and listen to what both new and  existing  businesses are saying. They are the definition of partners in the process and not just a service provider.”

More here.

Superfly Kids finds flyaway success with superhero capes business

What started as a sewing hobby has achieved liftoff for a pair of intrepid entrepreneurs in Livonia.


"...one Michigan company is moving faster than a speeding bullet — by  selling superhero capes.

Livonia-based Superfly Kids makes and sells capes — custom capes, to be exact — for kids and a few adults. And their sales have taken off like, well, Superman.

From 2010 to this year, the company, owned by Holly Bartman and Justin Draplin, has seen its revenues leap from about $260,000 to an estimated $2.4 million. They are expected to double next year."

More here.

Big Bang Detroit production company gets shout-out from NY Times

A Detroit and Clawson-based producer is getting national notice for its coverage of entrepreneurs around the country. Along with the cofounders of Priceline.com and Angie's List, Detroit's McClure's Pickles has been featured on this nationally-televised show.


"Gary Bredow has always been curious about how the businesses he patronizes started, whether it’s a local bakery, a pizza place or a hardware store. "I always wondered about how they got their inventory, how they leased the store or where they got the idea in the first place," Mr. Bredow said.

He gets his answers, and more, in "Start Up," a new television "docu-series" he created for PBS that, in its first season, tells the stories of entrepreneurs in eight cities across the United States. Mr. Bredow hosts the series, which was directed by Per Franchell, Mr. Bredow’s partner in a production company,  Big Bang Detroit."

More here.

Schramms Mead sweetens Ferndale's bar scene

The Metro Times (Ferndale's newest media resident) has a terrific profile of mead connoisseur  Ken Schramm and his newly open tasting room.
"Now, at 54, Schramm is finally getting into the production game. With laughing candor, he says, “I’ve had the books out for 10 years, and now I’m finally getting into the business when other people have had a five-year head start — and I’ve told them all my tricks! What kind of a businessman goes out and teaches everybody everything they need to know to be more successful than you are? Apparently that’s me.”"
Read the rest here.

Detroit-based Chalkfly makes national list of "Best Young Companies to Work For"

Chalk it up to giving customers and employees what they want. Chalkfly, a start-up e-commerce office- and school-supply company in Detroit that returns 5% of sales back to teachers, is one of 15 companies nationwide that garnered a new award.


"What sets ‘Best Young Companies to Work for' apart from the countless other listings out there is that there were no self-nominations," said Peter Cappelli, Wharton professor of management and director of the Center for Human Resources.

The companies were nominated by industry leaders and peers, partners, customers or other professionals who witnessed their success in building a place where everyone wants to work."

More here.

Detroit-area women digging up second careers as farmers

A new crop of farming careers is rising in Southeast Michigan, and women are filling many of these new positions.


"No longer a safety engineer in the insurance industry after a 2009 layoff, Joannee DeBruhl asked herself, "Now what?"

She volunteered at a community garden, helped harvest 2,100 pounds of produce and had "the best summer of my life."

Now the 51-year-old is a full-time farmer at a certified organic farm in Brighton, which she co-owns with 24-year-old Shannon Rau and Rau's father, Tom Rau. The two women tend to 48 crops — from corn and cilantro to red mung beans and radishes — while providing fresh produce to 100 farm members and area markets."

More here.

Forbes browses Glocal's online community forums

It takes a lot of time to sift through info-blasts worldwide. But now a start-up is helping to tailor your interests to your own backyard. 


"Launched in 2011, Detroit's  Glocal  offers users a tailored local experience via online community forums. It aims to counter a loss of connection with local community that many see as a negative effect of the global hyper-connectedness driven by social media. Techonomy spoke with Glocal President Lincoln Cavalieri about the importance of zooming in on what's happening in your own neck of the woods.

How does Glocal work?

It's a hyper-local community forum for over 150 cities around the world. Members of a local community create categories and forums, write articles,   post videos, and link to local deals, restaurants, events, and such. We also have classifieds, so you can sell your bike and your boat. The community defines what's important to it, and moderators make sure all content is appropriate."

More here

Building a better apple-picker

It's peak apple harvesting and cider mill season in Southeast Michigan, a Grand Rapids man thinks he's got a faster, more efficient way for Michigan fruitgrowers to pick their 30 million bushels of apples.


"The owner of Phil Brown Welding Corp. of Conklin has developed a self-propelled machine that replaces ladders with hydraulically operated picking platforms that crawl through an orchard while a vacuum system gently collects the apples and sends them directly into a bin, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Not only is it safer for the pickers and the apples, the five pickers who work on the machine can gather 20 percent more apples, says Brown, a 66-year-old inventor who has been creating fruit-related machines at his shop since he was 18 years old."

More here

Eleven Michigan residents make Forbes 400 list of richest Americans

Michigan's fortunes are turning for the better, with 11 of its residents among the very fortunate.


"The combined wealth of theForbes'  2013 ranking of the richest people in America is $2 trillion, up from $1.7 trillion in 2012 and the highest ever, due in part to the strength of both the U.S. stock and real estate markets.   The average net worth of a Forbes 400 member is a staggering $5 billion, the highest to date, up from $4.2 billion last year...

The top three industries are:
  • Investments – 96
  • Technology – 48
  • Food and Beverage – 29 "

See the full list here

LevelEleven founder tells Forbes why he keeps his start-up in Detroit

Detroit start-up LevelEleven, which could conceivably have gone anywhere else but Detroit, has stayed rooted in the area. Here's why.


"By the time my company LevelEleven launched last fall after being incubated within Pleasant Ridge’s ePrize, I had already planned our business strategy and next steps. And it never crossed my mind to move out of Detroit to build LevelEleven in a more obvious startup market. Why? In part, because this is home. But Detroit also has many characteristics that make it a great place to launch a technology startup."

More here.

The Detroit region's new landscape: Urban farming?

As the old prospecting cliché goes, "There's gold in them thar hills!" Or in the Detroit region's case, in the dirt. The Chicago Tribune has a good piece on how vacant dirt is being turned over to cropland in Detroit and its neighboring cities.


"So-called retail agriculture, which includes direct-to- consumer, organic and local-foods sales, had revenue of $8 billion in the U.S. farm census in 2007, compared with $7 billion combined for cotton and rice, according to a 2010 study done by Local Food Strategies for the Farm Credit Council, the trade group representing small-town credit unions and other rural banks...

The vision is drawing attention from landowners ranging from Willerer, who is making enough money from farming to give up a teaching job and is snapping up vacant lots, to John Hantz, a financial services professional and entrepreneur who has pledged to buy blighted properties to create the world's biggest urban tree farm.

By selling at farmers markets, local restaurants and a community-supported agriculture project that sells his goods directly to consumers, Willerer said he can make $20,000 to $30,000 per acre in a year. In addition to the acre he farms on vacant lots, Willerer cultivates another three acres outside the city and is preparing to start a fourth.

Michigan has the fourth-biggest number of farmers markets, trailing California, New York and Illinois, according to a USDA report this week. Among its attempts to nurture small-scale agriculture and the businesses that arise from it, the state is home to 140 craft breweries, sixth-most in the nation. Grand Rapids, the state's second-largest city, was named Beer City USA 2013 by Examiner.com."

More here.

Macomb-OU Incubator launches blog for entrepreneurs

Add this to your reading list: The Macomb-OU incubator is spawning not only new business, but a new communications forum. For the word on all things entrepreneurial, check in (and chime in!) to this new blog.

An excerpt from the first post:

"Are you familiar with the saying “The squeaky wheel gets the grease?” The basic idea is that the loudest or most noticeable problems get solved first. The first time I heard this was from my parents at age 15. I was applying for jobs, and whenever I wouldn’t get a response, they would recommend I follow up with a phone call.

While it seemed pushy at the time, I now embrace this concept. What I used to consider brash, I now consider assertive. Whether it is applying for jobs or seeking capital, do not be timid of reminding others of who you are and what you are trying to accomplish. Remember, you are not their first priority.

I put this advice into action most recently when creating a promotional video for my business. I needed legal rights to a song, but after emailing and calling the artist’s management and even the record label, I received no response. The next week, the artist happened to be performing in a nearby city. My partners and I arrived at the concert venue an hour early and managed to give the artist our t-shirt and business card. The next day, we received an apologetic call from his manager, and eventually we received the rights."

More here.

Bye Bye Brooklyn, Hello Detroit

Business-minded couples getting squeezed out of Brooklyn are taking the combo of affordable rents and the supportive arts-minded communities of Detroit and its close-in city cousins.


When Sandi Bache Heaselgrave and Andy Heaselgrave made the well-worn migration from New York City to Detroit, they didn't realize they'd be starting a trend...

But when the couple, who worked in the photography industry, decided to leave in 2010, they were the first of what would become six couples (and counting) relocating from the tiny enclave of Red Hook, Brooklyn, with entrepreneurial pursuits in mind....

So when Ann St. Peter, owner of  Pinwheel Bakery,  offered to let them open in the front half of her shop in Ferndale, the couple jumped. Bache Heaselgrave had planned to sell Pinwheel pastries anyway. 

She spent $35,000 renovating the space, buying her equipment and giving the shop an airy feel. She also took over responsibility for sales so St. Peter could focus on pastries instead of running a retail location. Bache Heaselgrave increased prices and improved the coffee, becoming the only café in the Detroit area to sell Portland, Ore.-based  Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

More here.

How a company purchased for $25K yields $20M in sales

After the great housing collapse, Marketplace Homes put some liquidity into a weak housing market.


"Around 2006 Kalis noticed a lot of potential clients telling him that they wanted to buy a home, but they couldn’t get rid of their other home.   At Pulte, Kalis put together a program that helped people get out of their other homes using a method known as “solution-based selling.”   This meant that if you helped solve someone’s problem, they would likely become a customer.    The company sold around 20 homes with this solution.

Dick Chelten founded Marketplace Homes in 2002.   Chelten become one of Kalis’ biggest investors and is a mentor to him.   Kalis felt like this solution-based program could be much bigger so he bought the business from Chelten for $25,000.   The company grew to 100 homes sold in Metro Detroit shortly after that, which is around the same time that the housing market fell 90%.   Marketplace Homes is expected to do around $20 million in revenues this year.

...While many banks were telling people to foreclose on their properties, Marketplace Homes said that people should keep their homes and try to save their credit.   Marketplace Homes allows people to buy a new construction home, while listing their old home for 1%.   You can lease your home for up to 6 years."

More here.

The new CSA: Community-Supported Art

For consumers, it's believing before seeing. Farmers started selling shares of their harvest through community-supported agriculture programs, and now, artists are banding together to sell shares of their portfolios through community-supported art groups.

An excerpt:

"For years, Barbara Johnstone, a professor of linguistics at Carnegie Mellon University here, bought shares in a C.S.A. — a community-supported agriculture program — and picked up her occasional bags of tubers or tomatoes or whatever the member farms were harvesting.

Her farm shares eventually lapsed. (“Too much kale,” she said.) But on a recent summer evening, she showed up at a C.S.A. pickup location downtown and walked out carrying a brown paper bag filled with a completely different kind of produce. It was no good for eating, but it was just as homegrown and sustainable as what she used to get: contemporary art, fresh out of local studios....

Prices range from $450 for a share in  Miami  to as low as $50 a share in a  craft-art program in Flint, Mich."

More here.

Rainbow Loom bracelet kit is nation's hot craze this summer

Metro Detroit inventor Cheong-Choon Ng has a hit on his hands. Youth across the country are keeping their hands busy with this new bracelet kit.


"First there were slap bracelets, then friendship wristlets and Silly Bandz, and now comes the newest youth accessory obsession, the Rainbow Loom. It differs from its predecessors in that kids can express their creativity by forming the colorful rubber-band bracelets themselves. 

"We are selling the Rainbow Loom like crazy!" says Christine Gorham, owner of Cherry Hill's Sweet & Sassy. The summer obsession, also sold at Learning Express, Michaels, Hallmark, and various independently owned toy stores as well as online, is flying off shelves so quickly that stores can't keep them in stock for long..."

More here

At Maker Faire, anything flies

A Cloud Bean, an X-Wing, and a dining-table sized version of the Operation game were just a few of the don't-miss attractions at last weekend's Maker Faire at the Henry Ford. But if you did miss it, check out these cool images.

Detroit Kitchen Connect cooks up affordable space for local culinary entrepreneurs

It's the classic chicken-or-the-egg conundrum for food entrepreneurs: they're usually required to use commenercial kitchen facilities to prepare their goods, but many can't make the rent until their businesses are off the ground.


"Now Davison, the newly hired community kitchen coordinator at  Eastern Market Corp., and Daniel, founder of  FoodLab Detroit, are helping the next wave of food entrepreneurs tackle one of the biggest obstacles to growth in their industry: finding affordable, reliable commercial kitchen space....

Many local churches and nonprofits have commercial kitchens tucked away in their basements and back rooms -- even the  Detroit Symphony Orchestra  has one -- but finding them is all word of mouth. And even when entrepreneurs do find a kitchen, the owners don't always want to rent time because the additional usage increases utility costs and creates scheduling challenges...

It took Majid several months of looking -- he even considered building his own facility -- before he finally found a kitchen. 

It was 90 miles away in Holt. 

That experience is not uncommon for Detroit-area food businesses. In fact, seeing that struggle was one reason Daniel founded FoodLab Detroit, an informal community of nearly 300 area food producers focused on sustainability and social justice through food. Through her noodle shop, Daniel discovered the intense need for kitchen space and began informally brokering deals. "I started getting connected to all of these folks who wanted to offer their kitchen space or entrepreneurs who were seeking kitchen space," said Daniel, 28. "So I became this personal hub between the two. When I started FoodLab, it became the informal connector."

More here

Help Wanted: NY Times sees tech workers moving to Detroit

West coasties are coming to Detroit, on the heels of a tech-hiring boomlet in the auto industry.


"After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1998, Brian Mulloy followed the path of many of his classmates, fleeing his home state for a job in a bustling city. But after 10 years of working in technology start-ups in San Francisco, he has returned as founder of a company in Detroit’s budding technology sector..

Mr. Mulloy is part of a group of workers that Detroit is suddenly hungry for — software developers and information technology specialists who can create applications for the next generation of connected vehicles."

More here.

Renaissance Venture Capital Fund thrives on Michigan investments

The Detroit-based Renaissance Venture Capital Fund is getting landmark returns through investing in Michigan companies.


"The  Renaissance Venture Capital Fund(RVCF) is a Michigan based venture capital fund.   The company has announced today that their initial investment of $16.7 million has led to a total of nearly $300 million in 20 new Michigan companies.   This means that they are seeing a ratio of $17 venture capital investment coming into Michigan for every dollar invested by the RVCF.   This led to the creation of hundreds of high-wage jobs that pay an average of $80,000 per year."

More here.

The (less than) skinny on Detroit Chocolat

File under "Things That Make You Say Yum." A teacher starts his day, every day, as an up n coming chocolatier. 
"Chocolate runs in his blood: He’s a fourth-generation chocolatier (the great-grandson of Ervin and Julia Morley of Morley Candy Makers) and he spent a decade working for Morley. Even though he’s a full-time elementary school teacher, Petz was unable to resist the pull of chocolate and in 2010 started Detroit Chocolat in Sterling Heights (to the delight of his mother and his wife whom he calls a “chocolate addict.”)"
Read the rest here.

CNN Money notes "Treat Dreams" come true for Ferndale ice cream entrepreneur

Get your scoop while it's hot. The nation's press is descending on Treat Dreams, Ferndale's gourmet ice creamery.


"Scott Moloney started exactly the kind of business he would have once rejected for a loan.

The Birmingham, Mich., resident closed out his 18-year career as a private lending officer in 2009 to open an ice cream shop. Among the strikes against him: "I was a first-time entrepreneur, with no experience, going into a high-risk industry," he says...

In March 2010 he bought a six-quart ice cream maker, and five months later he opened Treat Dreams for business.

Initially, Moloney offered only one unusual flavor: Loopy Fruit, featuring ground-up cereal in vanilla ice cream. His next concoction, Sunday Breakfast -- with waffles, bacon, and maple syrup -- "got people talking," he says. Since then the store has produced 500 unconventional varieties, including Lobster Bisque and Raspberry Chipotle Bacon."

See CNN Money's coverage here.

And Time magazine calls "Michigan Salad" of the "Fifteen Funkiest Ice Cream Flavors on Earth."

The Autobike is less work, more play

Why not get your bike to do the work for you this summer?


"Remember when riding your bike was all about fun and adventure? Well, if you have forgotten, it's time you got to know  Autobike. Autobike, a Betaspring alum from Fall 2012, is now shipping an automatic shifting bicycle that delivers the simplest, smoothest, most comfortable riding experience ever to customers across the US...

Driven to bring back a riding experience that could delight a new generation of riders--and get riders who had abandoned their bikes back on two wheels--the team designed an automatically shifting bike with no on/off buttons, no shifting levers. Fast forward six months and the team has shipped to customers in MI, NH, TX, FL, TN, IN, NV, WA, and British Columbia so far and the pipeline is growing by the day."

More here.

Michigan ranks 8th nationally in economic development success

Call Michigan the nation's comeback kid. Site Selection magazine just named it 8th best for job creation and economic development.


"Michigan advanced eight spots in this year’s Competitiveness Awards, up from 16th in 2011.
The state's many business climate changes have resulted in other noteworthy improvements, including:
No. 1 for states that recovered most from the Great Recession.
No. 4 in the nation for most new corporate expansions or building projects in 2012.
Third most business-friendly tax ranking among the nation’s 12 largest states.
Third in the nation for high-tech growth."

More here.

Detroit area fares well in national comparison of drop in unemployment rates

Metro Detroit's 1.1 percentage-point decline in the unemployment rate from 2011 to 2012 puts it in the top half of the nation's largest metro areas in terms of improving job markets. 

See the national stats here.

Laundry entrepreneurs think outside the box

With not enough hours to get to the laundry, apartment dwellers and office workers in Detroit (and soon its metros) won't be left hung out to dry.


"Michigan's own laundry barons Wayne Wudyka and Jeffrey Snyder want to place rows of high-tech lockers inside every downtown Detroit apartment building and office complex.

These computerized and smartphone-enabled lockers – call them Bizzie boxes – are the pick-up and drop-off sites for the longtime business partners' latest venture in dry cleaning and laundry services. The target user: tech-savvy urban dwellers and busy office professionals.

"Our plan is to locate the Bizzie box in every apartment complex in the downtown area and then work our way out into the suburbs," Wudyka said in a recent interview."

More here.

Food Tripping mobile app scouts out local, fresh food

A new app with some entertainment industry pros behind it can point you to the berries and kale.


"A new mobile app will let organic- and health-food nuts scour where to buy nourishment that fits their diet regimen. It also lists microbreweries...

SHFT.com is a mobile app development founded by film producer Peter Glazer and “Entourage” television star Adrian Grenier. Ford was one of the founding partners of that company - launched in 2009 - whose stated goal is educating people about healthy food options."

More here.

Champions of the New Economy event set for May 8

An opportunity to mix and mingle with top business minds at a strolling dinner presents itself at the 2013 Champions of the New Economy on Wednesday, May 8 from 6-9 p.m. at Quicken Loans, JA Finance Park, 577 E. Larned St., in Detroit.

A couple of the luminaries include Joseph L. Welch, chairman, president & CEO of ITC Holdings Corp. and Matt Mosher, founder & CEO of hiredMYway.com.

Click here for more information, and register by May 3.

Atlantic Cities maps Metro Detroit's creative class

A great, comprehensive article on how the 7.2-square-mile greater downtown Detroit is growing posher by the minute, it seems, and how and why its deindustrialized metros (and certain Detroit neighborhoods) are landing the creative class.


"Two of the top 10 creative class tracts are in Birmingham; two are in Bloomfield Township, and another is in Bloomfield Hills, home to some of the priciest real estate in the U.S. and the Cranbrook educational community. Designed by Finnish architect  Eliel Saarinen, the architecture critic  Paul Goldberger  called Cranbrook "one of the greatest campuses ever created anywhere in the world." University of Michigan's  Little  points out in an email to me: "Cranbrook graduates have added to the cutting edge design and creative communities of Detroit and the nation for decades."

Another top creative class tract is in nearby Troy, a sprawling middle-class suburb with excellent public schools, and the site of a high-end mall, the Somerset Collection. Two are in Huntington Woods, a leafy neighborhood that boasts such notable amenities as the public golf course  Rackham and the Detroit Zoo. Two more are in the "Grosse Pointes" — Grosse Pointe Farms and Grosse Pointe Park — the communities of choice for many of Detroit's old industrial magnates, whose lakeshores are lined with sprawling Gilded Age mansions."

More here.

Immigrant entrepreneurs ACCESS opportunities

Hopeful immigrant entrepreneurs now have a fallback in the form of a unique model support program for those needing some business survival skills.


"As lawmakers in Washington work out an overhaul of the immigration system, a Michigan-based social and economic services agency has launched a comprehensive program to help immigrants open or expand businesses.

Dearborn-based ACCESS recently held a graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of its Immigrant Entrepreneur Development Program. It's one of several immigrant- and refugee-focused efforts in the organization's new Growth Center division...

Dijana Bucalo, a former Bosnian refugee who settled in the Detroit enclave of Hamtramck, is a self-described "clothing artist" with a fashion design and costume-making shop in the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit in the city's Midtown neighborhood. She came to the United States in 1996 after war in her homeland – knowing no English but with experience as a fashion designer.

Still, she took a job far from her preferred field. Bucalo became a real estate agent and said she was successful at it until the housing market tanked a few years ago.

"I should be thankful the economy went bad," she said. "It helped me to think more seriously about my business, my skills and my trade."

More here.

Royal Oak's 1xRun LLC moves to Detroit to accomodate growth

Metromode has written several times about 323East Gallery as well as their limited-edition print business called 1xRun LLC. We always expected big things and, well, big things have come.
"Owners Jesse Cory and Dan Armand will shut the Royal Oak gallery's doors at the end of the year, but a gallery at the new headquarters will replace it. 
Cory and Armand closed on the three-story, 10,000-square-foot building Nov. 29, paying $400,000 on a land contract. The building was renovated in 2005, including all new HVAC and fire control systems. The remnants of an employment business are on the first floor, and a handful of residential lofts are on the other floors."
Read the rest here.

Could a Bloomfield Hills entrepreneur corner the suspender market?

Sometimes old timey is hip. The suspender business is booming for Sal Herman, who puts his money where his mouth is and wears the alternative to belts every day.
"So intense is Herman's devotion to suspenders — and the 1% of the population he says wears suspenders — that he has turned them into an unlikely and thriving business. About 2,400 stores nationwide sell his suspenders.
And he's expecting a record-breaking season on his company's website."
Read the rest here.

Royal Oak sneaker sellers to become stars of Eminem-produced YouTube series

The owners of Royal Oak's Burn Rubber aren't only getting their own Internet program, it's being supported by the Michigan Film Incentive and produced by Detroit native son, Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem).
"Detroit Rubber will follow Rick Williams and Roland “Ro” Coit, owners of the Royal Oak sneaker shop Burn Rubber. In addition to opening a new boutique, called two/eighteen, the show will highlight these Michigan entrepreneurs as they balance family, a growing business and day to day struggles. The show will be released on the premium YouTube channel Loud."
Read the rest here.

Detroit Venture's Josh Linkner calls out Silicon Valley

Former ePrize founder and CEO and local entrepreneurial guru takes a sharp needle to the Silicon Valley's over-inflated bubble and extolls the virtues of growing a company in Detroit.
"Many people think the Valley is the best place to start a digital/tech company. While there have been no shortage of successful start-ups in Silicon Valley, I argue that many of those ventures succeeded in spite of their location. For me, this “best place” logic makes no sense. In the Bay Area, there is more competition for everything – talent, funding, office space, resources, etc.  What kind of investment tip is “buy high, sell high?” As an entrepreneur, it’s difficult enough getting a company off the ground; why make your work any harder than it already is? Give yourself more leeway – pay fewer dollars for higher-grade intellect, make a splash in the media because you’re the big fish, and get the investment community to notice you and the traction you’re making. Why over-pay just to blend in? When you’re swimming in a vast ocean filled with other startups, you need herculean accomplishments to stand out any more than the next guy. Every single day. Good luck with that."

Read the rest here.

Metro Detroit tech entrepreneur says region needs to be more experimental

David Tarver turned a basement business beginning into Telecom Analysis Systems, which was sold in 1995 to multinational British firm Spirent. He's written a book about his business philosphy and will be a speaker at Friday's TEDx Detroit.
"“It’s very appropriate,” Tarver said. “Because there are a lot of needs that you can see in and around Detroit, and a lot of times we get hamstrung addressing those needs and being concerned with whether they’ll be successful or not. What we need is 100,000 experiments.”
Not all of the experiments will be successful in classic terms, he said, but all of them will help point to what should be done next, at the very least helping future generations."
Read the rest here.

Farmington equity firm director writes about cutting-edge tech investment

Jeff Bocan of Farmington's private equity firm Beringea talks about his time at the National Science Foundation's I-Corps, a program at U-M designed to fast-track research from the lab to the real world, and how the government can help foster greater entrepreneurship by funding cutting edge R&D
"I have just completed a tour of duty as a venture capital faculty member at the National Science Foundation's I-Corps (short for NSF's Innovation Corps - a program designed to fast-track research from the lab to the real world), delivered in partnership with the University of Michigan. I-Corps is like the scientific version of PBS' Antiques Roadshow -- NSF-funded technological gems that have largely been tucked away in the labs of America's research institutions are being dusted off, given a heavy dose of commercial polish and have been unearthed to unlock the potential to create a lot of value for the technologists, their universities and society in general."
Read the rest here.

Revealed: What's in White Trash Pie

Here's a fun interview with Nikita Santches, avante garde baker of Rock City Pies, which currently makes its home in Ferndale's Rustbelt Market.
"A semifinalist in the Comerica Hatch Detroit contest, he hopes to win the grand prize of $50,000 and open a brick-and-mortar retail space in the city. Santches would plan to sell sweet and savory creations to hungry customers, as well as distribute the pies wholesale.
The Hatch finalists is determined by public voting through Sept. 18, and a final round of judge and public decision-making at the end of the month will determine the winner."
To discover what's in a White Trash Pie click here.

Grosse Pointe salad joint plans for national expansion

How far can veggies take you? For this GP-based restaurant chain, they're looking to shoot the moon.
"The Big Salad, a chain of restaurants in metro Detroit serving fresh, custom-made salads, healthy and hearty soups and a wide range of sumptuous sandwiches today announced plans to open two new franchises in 2013 with a goal to launch an additional 200 restaurants over the next 10 years."
Read the rest here.

The Atlantic magazine is looking for a few good start-ups

Entrepreneurs and economic development officials, be on the alert for a pair of enterprising reporters from The Atlantic magazine. Beginning next week, they're making a beeline for the Upper Midwest, and Detroit is one of the regions where they're looking to find the region's brightest start-ups.

"This year, we're starting the trip in Chicago and finishing up in Pittsburgh. Call it a Rust Belt Tour, if that's not a pejorative. If you're starting a business along this route (or even near it), we want to hear from you. While we're primarily interested in tech (very broadly construed), interesting entrepreneurs of all types should feel free to get in touch.

And stay tuned because we're working on putting together a few events, so that we can meet as many people as possible.

This year, we want to build maps of the startup scene in each city we visit. That means we want to map not just where startups have their offices, but also where they get coffees and beers and meetings and employees and money."

Read the full story here. And check here for MLive's coverage.

Creativity and entrepreneurship go hand in hand

Intuitively it's kind of a no-brainer: Creativity begets invention which begets entrepreneurial endeavors. Still, it's nice to see Richard Florida put some numbers to the theory. Good numbers.
"The size of the creative class is "positively and significantly associated with the total of establishment growth in a region, the number of new opened establishments and the expansion of existing establishments," they find. Furthermore, they write that “regions of all sizes primarily experience growth through the creation of new establishments, and that growth is always, significantly, and positively associated with regional creative employment."
Read the rest here.

Royal Oak says okay to bikeshaws

With it's vibrant downtown, loft housing options, and ever-growing "sense of place," Royal Oak has been one of metro Detroit's fastest evolving communities. And since it's a mystery as to when rail will ever make it to the Woodward Avenue corridor it was inevitable someone would introduce some alternative transportation. Meet bike taxi service driver Sean Paraventi.


"From Thursday to Sunday, now until the snow gets in the way, Paraventi plans to be out in Royal Oak with his bikeshaw, offering rides. He already has pedaled his way into the hearts of Royal Oak regulars such as Karen Mchugh.

Bikeshaw in Royal Oak "I think it's really comfortable, much more than I thought it would be," Mchugh said. "Sean seems in tune with the safety and watching out for cars and people as well.""

Read / watch the rest here.

Mt Clemens' shop cited for space sharing strategies

Sharing. It's a concept we're all taught in kindergarten but too often forget. For some businesses around the country, however, it's become a smart economic choice.


"Many businesses wind up in space sharing arrangements at a real-estate broker's suggestion. Jennifer Rossi, owner of MINDS Eye Bookstore, a shop selling books about metaphysics and alternative healing, turned to a broker when she wanted space in Mount Clemens, Mich., a community long associated with health and wellness because of its historic mineral baths. She hoped to open near a natural foods store or yoga studio, but ended up in closer quarters than she had expected with a complementary business."

Read the rest here.

Speed-networking events attract metro entrepreneurs

When you consider how many people work out of their homes, how spread apart businesses are in metro Detroit, and how few instances there are to "bump into" potential clients, networking events seem not only like a good idea, they seem like a necessity.


"Companies of every stripe can benefit. Last month, nonprofit entrepreneurship accelerator Bizdom U and the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan, a nonprofit trade organization, held a similar event. Its "Mobile Matchup" focused on networking between entrepreneurs and developers of mobile technology.

"A lot of times, entrepreneurs are working from home, so this helps them build those all-important connections," said Maria LaLonde, recruiting and development leader for Bizdom Detroit."

Read the rest of the story here.

Ferndale's food truck culture finds embrace... and opposition

Ferndale's recent food truck rally at the Rustbelt Market was a big success according to organizers. But it looks like our songs of praise for the city's embrace of food truck culture may have been a bit premature.

Though still more welcoming than many metro Detroit communities, push back from local businesses has started to complicate local implementation of a trend that has been enthusiastically welcomed in cities in like Austin, San Francisco, and Portland, OR.

Curbed Detroit examines the situation and has some smart buit pointed thoughts on the subject.


"But what businesses seem to be missing with all the INF-ing is that there is such a thing as healthy competition, and a food truck – even one with its very own permanent parking space on private property – creates a destination and a little something urban planners like to refer to as “street excitement.” The amount of damage done to a brick-and-mortar business’s business is probably comparable to that of a Subway – and business owners certainly don’t have the option of demanding ordinances changed preventing fast food chains from opening next door.

Bottom line is if a person is seeking a leisurely sit-down dinner with drinks and ambiance, they aren’t going to see a food truck and say, “Nevermind, let’s just go here instead!” (Imagine how THAT first date would end.) Conversely, someone looking to grab a quick bite to eat on the go won’t suddenly be swayed by an attractive façade to stop in for a three-martini Mad Men lunch. The clientele base might be exactly the same, but each concept suits different people at different times."

Read the rest here.

Read about the rally here.

Success is no trivial pursuit for Canton company

Question: What company changed its name in order to appeal to more customers and expand its reach?
Answer: Motor City Trivia became Great Lakes Trivia, finding trivia league success in bars and taverns across the Midwest.


"The company also has expanded into the Toledo and Cleveland markets for a total of about 90 locations between Michigan and Ohio, marking significant expansion for a company Mark Adams founded in Plymouth with his family members three years ago with its first show at Liberty Street Brewing Company."

Read the rest here.

And watch the video below.

TechTown's influences and accomplishments heralded

There's been whole lotta talk about innovation in Metro Detroit but what does it take to incubate that innovation on the ground? Wayne State's TechTown gets spotlighted for its efforts and impacts.


"To date, TechTown is an emerging economic force in downtown Detroit. It has introduced approximately 8,000 Michigan residents to “an entrepreneurial culture” through its public events and walk-in sessions. It has invested more than $700,000 directly into new ventures and has helped clients raise more than $14 million in venture capital.

Wayne State, which manages TechTown, located a few blocks from its midtown Detroit campus, has put some $2.7 million into TechTown between 2007 and 2011, providing about 23 percent of its programmatic funding. Its College of Engineering has provided prototype services and lab space to TechTown companies. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences provides translation services, while the Law School conducts small business clinics, and its School of Medicine has provided researchers and tissue samples. The university has partnered with TechTown to secure federal and state research grants."

Read the rest here

Ferndale to host food truck rally at the Rust Belt Market

Metromode has long sung the praises of the food truck movement and it looks like others are catching up. This month Ferndale will host "Street Eats," a celebration of mobile food vendors. The idea is to make it a once-a-month event.


"The event will be similar to the food truck rally at the Farmer's Market in Royal Oak earlier this month, which at only halfway through the event saw 1,200 customers served by the six food trucks and a cart from Treat Dreams in Ferndale.

The event was sponsored by the Michigan Mobile Food Vendors Association."

Read the rest here.

Farmington Hills biz behind $1B 5-Hour Energy

Put this in the "Betcha didn't know" column. Living Essentials, the company that makes the 5-Hour Energy drink (and has sued out of existence the 6-Hour and 8-Hour Energy copycats) is a billion-dollar company in our own backyard. That's right, billion -- with a "b".


"The privately held Living Essentials doesn’t report revenue or profits, but a source with knowledge of its financials says the company grossed north of $600 million last year on that $1 billion at retail. The source says the company netted about $300 million. Checkout scan data from research firm SymphonyIRI say that 5-Hour has 90% of the energy-shotmarket. Its closest competitor, NVE Pharmaceuticals’ Stacker brand, has just over 3%.

Yet Bhargava, 58, is so under the radar that he barely registers on Web searches. His paper trail is thin, consisting primarily of more than 90 lawsuits. This is his first press interview. “I’m killing it right now,” he says, adjusting a black zip-up cardigan from behind the table of a soulless conference room in a beige low-rise building in a suburban business park in Farmington Hills, Mich. “But you’ll Google me and find, like, some lawyer in Singapore.”

Read the rest here.

Looking for stylish Islamic wear in Metro Detroit?

Metro Detroit is no stranger to clothing stores that cater to our ever-growing Muslim American population. It was only a matter of time before high end boutiques like Hija.Bee of Dearborn Heights came along.


"Hija.Bee has professional makeup artists and scarf designers. Makeup is only $10 for eyes, and $20 for a whole face — compared to salons that charge up to $75 for makeup.

Scarf designers have made astonishing pieces for brides on their wedding day since opening March 2011. Hija.Bee does alterations and gift baskets too.

In less than a year of being open the store has received international attention with orders being placed from various states, and countries such as Canada and Palestine.  The two admit word of mouth has been good to them."

Read the rest here.

Wall St. Journal says Detroit's economy in turnaround

Though winning streaks by sports teams are hardly a barometer of economic health, Detroit is getting kind words from both the press and statistics as of late. We're far from any kind of recovery, but as the Wall Street Journal points out in their like note to the region, things are starting to look up.


"But for locals, it appears there's more to cheer about than Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez's game-ending strikeout, or the Dallas Cowboys' second-half collapse against the Lions last Sunday.

The state's unemployment rate remains higher at 11% than the national average, but it has fallen by 1.5 percentage points since July 2010—a larger percentage drop than all but three other states—and is down from a peak of over 14% in late 2009. Housing prices in Metro Detroit have ticked up after years in freefall, as more young home buyers seize bargains in the suburbs and the city."

Read the rest of the story here.

NPR's 'The Takeaway' thinks Metro Detroit is ripe for entrepreneurship

One of our favorite NPR shows, The Take Away, looks at the economics of entrepreneurship and what that could mean for Metro Detroit.

In the radio piece they talk to Henry Balanon, founder and Lead Developer at iPhone app company, Bickbot, AND co-founder of Detroit Labs, which makes iPhone, iPad, Android and web applications.

Listen to the broadcast below.

Detroit's first food truck parks downtown

You jump through enough hoops...

Given Metromode's recent coverage of the budding food truck scene in metro Detroit (we wanted to write 'blossoming' but it's still early days) we thought it right to update Detroit's contribution to the trend. Finally.


""El Guapo is the first one to have secured a space through the Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department," the manager said.

While other food truck operators in downtown Detroit have set up shop without permits, Anthony Curis and Doug Runyon, co-owners of El Guapo, made dozens of trips to City Hall to find a path to legality. "

Read the rest of the story here.

Ford backs DIY incubator in Allen Park

Laser cutters, welding equipment, and homebrewers. Oh my! Ford and Silicon Valley's TechShop are partnering to create a space for area makers.


"Ford officials confirmed this week that the automaker has partnered with the Silicon-Valley based do-it-yourself enterprise to open a community workshop in Allen Park.

Techshop Detroit, which is slated to open in November, will provide creative minds with access to affordable tools, machinery and even "dream coaches" to help them turn their ideas into working prototypes."

Read more here and here.

To be acquired or to go public? That is the question

The editor of Xconomy Detroit offers up a six-pack of observations about Michigan and its economic future.


"Michigan is the land of would-be acquisition targets, not IPOs. Yes I know a weak economy and Sarbanes Oxley have made going public less attractive. But I'm struck how little appetite exists in Michigan for initial public offerings. There was a time not long so ago when ringing the NYSE bell symbolized the ultimate achievement in American capitalism. But Michigan startups are mostly content with being acquired instead growing to a point where they could be the acquirer."

Read the rest of the story here.

In the United States of Innovation, Techtown is Michigan's claim to fame

In its roundup of where innovation is happening across the U.S., guess what Fast Company singled out for Michigan? Most people would guess Ann Arbor. And they'd be wrong. The answer is... ding, ding, ding... Detroit's TechTown.


"A stunning factoid: The fastest-growing tech-job market in the U.S. over the past year was Detroit. A key part of the equation is TechTown, an incubator started in 2004 by Wayne State University that's now home to 220 firms."

Read the whole list here.

Detroit's rock scene could teach new tech firms a thing or two

HuffPost blogger, Oakland University professor and Grosse Pointe resident Jason Schmitt reads into the genetic code of Metro Detroit's ever inventive and endlessly innovative rock scene and see a template for how new technology firms and entrepreneurial endeavors can find similarly earth-shattering successes.


"If you are interested in corporate creativity, my first finding of pocketed communities takes the form of a "no duh." Nearly every creative-inspired leadership book I have read mentions the importance of keeping the creatives away from the nitty gritty. The importance of not micro-managing is brought up to allow the big ideas a culture in which to flourish. The interesting notion is to think of these ideas on a larger scope than the brick and mortar office. To zoom out and look at this as a more city culture than corporate philosophy. And to look at the ramifications that working from home can have on this process. Metro Detroit has enough room to allow distinct lifestyles to play out in separate Petri dishes. In a Second Life, 2.0, global access world, the dictates of "neighborhood" are changeable, sculptable, and extremely important.

Family-owned radio in Detroit is an interesting second ingredient to the homogenization kryptonite this region seems to possess. Plain and simple, Detroit is not as quick to pick up on national music trends. By not basking in the newest ideas, this region has maintained a more focused creative demeanor. Media that reflects the region's view and not national dictates, is extremely important. This finding makes reassessing your RSS feed content, and choosing what streams of information you want to seep into you, or your workforces' brain, more important.

The third finding is Detroiters make great audience members."

Read the rest of the story here.

Silicon Valley blogger peers under Bizdom U's hood

Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant Sramana Mitra publishes an extended interview with Ross Sanders of Bizdom U on her website and leaves no stone unturned.


"Could you describe an ideal company that would benefit from your program?

Ross: Most people that we bring into our program do not have established businesses. They are people who are seeking out ideas.

I can give you an example. There was a woman [Judy Davids] who had a lot of different ideas. She didn’t know which one to settle on, so we brought her into the program.

We went through several brainstorming exercises to flesh out her ideas and add new ideas to existing list, and she landed on one. We worked around with that idea and once we got fired up, we did a market and financial feasibility study, trying to figure out what are the economics of one unit are, and how she was going to make money.

Once we were done with that, we did a sales and marketing plan. We figured out what the sale process was, what the target market was, and how they were going to get to that target market. Then, we set goals. If you want to get to that target market, then you are going to have to set numerical goals for these different metrics in order to get to that market. "

Read the rest of the story here.

ePrize's Linkner becomes quotable

You know your message is getting out when your quotes start circulating on the Interwebs. ePrize's Josh Linkner inspires a conference attendee at Inc Magazine's Growco conference. Who knows, someday he might become as quotable as the Big Lebowski.


I picked out 10 quotes to make you think harder about your own business and where it’s headed:

:Instead of being 'heads down' we should be 'heads up' so we can spot trends" This is according to Josh Linkner,  the founder of ePrize, a venture capitalist, and now bestselling author of Disciplined Dreaming. If you don't stop and look around you, you miss the big picture – and you can’t look ahead. Are you taking time to look "up" in your day?"

Read the rest of the story here.

Metro Detroit boomers as late-stage entrepreneurs?

If necessity is the mother of invention then maybe there's a bright side to our recent economic woes. TechTown held a recruitment event and nearly a third of the attendees were approaching or above their fifth decade.


"Salley, 69, is one of many baby boomers pushing into new fields through TechTown, a business incubator at Detroit's Wayne State University.

Nearly a third of people attending TechTown recruitment events are older than 46. Ten percent are over 56. They, like younger small business hopefuls, are looking for success during a recession that's seen thousands of jobs slashed across the Detroit area.

Salley is president of NextCAT Inc., which finds commercial uses for biofuel catalysts.

"Some people are doing it for the same reason I did it," he says. "They tried early retirement and found themselves unsuccessful. Some are doing it because they didn't early retire by choice and are considering entrepreneurship as an alternative."

Read the rest of the story here.

Media dwells on Detroit, misses Michigan's growing new economy

There's little doubt that Detroit's recovery is a necessary component of Michign's success. But too often the mainstream media focuses on tales of local woe instead of the growth and innovation that's occurring in communities around the state.


"While the Motor City has struggled to shift gears over the past decade, cities like Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo have quietly developed local innovation ecosystems that resemble those of early Silicon Valley and Boston’s Route 128 Corridor.

More importantly, the business leaders in these various hubs are beginning to work together to nurture an entrepreneurial environment that spans the state. This will ensure that Michigan’s fortunes won’t be tied to one single city, region or industry.

Venture capital investment numbers in Michigan bear this out. According to the NVCA MoneyTree Report (based on data by Thomson Reuters), venture capitalists invested nearly $155 million in 31 Michigan companies in 2010. Only about half of that money went to Detroit companies. Between 2004 and 2009, the state’s biotechnology sector attracted $439.6 million in venture funding."

Read the rest of the story here.

Michigan earns middling scores on state competitiveness, says MEDC

One would think Michigan could definitely hold its own when it comes to business competitiveness with all of the news around here of the new economy, entrepreneurship, investment, and the comeback of the Big 3. However, when you compare it to the rest of the states of the union, Michigan still ranks in the middle of the pack, and that's according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Worthy news for Michigan, yes. An indication that we still have a ways to go, definitely.

Check out the MEDC score sheet here.

CNN/Money takes lessons from Detroit

CNN/Money magazine takes a look at entrepreneurship in Metro Detroit and how the down economy has prodded people toward that career path. It also alludes to the idea that the region should make entrepreneurship a real option at all times, not just when the economy is performing poorly.


When Paula Batchelor took a buyout last year -- figuring she was likely to be laid off if she didn't -- she wasn't worried about landing another gig. Having worked 11 years as a graphic-design project manager for a health insurance company downtown, "I knew I had skills," she says.

But Batchelor, a single mother of a 6-year-old, quickly realized just what it meant to live in one of the worst job markets in the country. By year's end, the resident of Royal Oak -- a suburb north of the city -- still had no work and couldn't make her mortgage payment. "I was feeling the pressure," says Batchelor, who's now 55.

Months of financial struggle followed. Then, in June, her older sister, Karen, an attorney who'd gone into life coaching, had a proposal. She'd used social media, including Facebook, to market her own biz; Paula had skills in project management and graphic design. Why not combine their talents and help small businesses with social-media marketing?

The firm they founded, Color Me Social, had $1,500 in sales in August, a promising, if modest, start. While the money isn't coming in fast enough for Paula to save her home from foreclosure -- she and her daughter are moving in with Karen -- Paula is hopeful that this is the beginning of her turnaround. "You have to stick your neck out and take a chance," she says.

Read the rest of the story here and more here.

Inc. gives 5 reasons to start a biz in Detroit

Inc. magazine comes through with a thorough piece on starting a business in Detroit and all of the opportunities that come with it. The story highlights newer entrepreneurs and taps the wisdom of those that have been here a while.


There's no hiding the fact that the past decade hasn't been easy on the Motor City. Once a paragon of stability and the nation's fourth largest city, Detroit has seemed to fade alongside the auto industry on which it so vitally depends - now sitting at 11th place on that very same list.

In spite of the decline, those who stay refuse to see this as an anything other than an opportunity. With tons of open space, inexpensive rent, and legions of talented workers, the city was - and is - ripe for the kind of fresh and innovative thinking that drives new business. "Detroit needed to decrease its reliance on manufacturing," says Ross Sanders, CEO of Bizdom U, a local business accelerator formed in 2007. It needed to transform into a "brain economy," he adds, rooted in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Read the rest of the story here.

SF Business Times lauds Michigan govt programs to boost new economy

Maybe it's a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence, but whatever the reason, it's nice to see Michigan's new economy initiatives get some respect; if not even a little envy from the state it's trying to emulate. California, take a page from Michigan's playbook.


"Michigan," the founder of San Francisco's CMEA Capital repeated. "Now I'm not that close to it, but you see it more in programs and policies. They're protecting small businesses, providing tax breaks — lots of breaks — and they're providing worker training incentives."

Also, Baruch noted, Michigan has a strong delegation in Congress that has helped funnel federal stimulus program cash in an effort to transform the world's auto capital into a green-auto hub.

"(State government has) tends to be less antagonistic and more of what you might call 'participatory' in bringing together assets within the state, including the universities," said Baruch, whose firm has bankrolled the likes of cleantech companies Codexis and Solyndra.

Read the rest of the story here.

Issue Media Group named to Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the nation

Did you know that one of the nation's most thriving media companies, Issue Media Group, is based right here in Metro Detroit? The start-up parent of this publication is on the higher end (think 1,000s) of Inc. magazine's latest list of the 5000 fastest growing companies.


Issue Media Group, number 1,672 on Inc.'s list, has developed many community websites, for places like Detroit and Cincinnati. The sites have original features and contributors' blogs, as well as the neighborhood profiles and event listings you would expect from a community website. The sites' strength is a strong emphasis on photography, as in this profile of Cincinnati musician Baoku Moses.

Read the rest of the story here.

NY Times hails Midtown's rise

Detroit's Midtown neighborhood is building on its past, not tearing it down willy-nilly. It's an economic development policy that is garnering national attention, and for a good reason.


DETROIT — In sharp contrast to the rest of the Detroit metropolitan area, an area known as Midtown just north of the central business district has been holding its own in the recession.

Much of the success of Midtown — as it was branded a decade ago — is a result of the strength of institutions like Wayne State University, the Detroit Medical Center, the Henry Ford Hospital and the Detroit Institute of Arts, all of which contribute students and employees as well as residents.

Another component of Midtown’s success is that its developers are refurbishing older buildings, using tax credits and public financing, as much as they are building from scratch.

“For a long time, there was a big effort to tear things down in Detroit,” said Michael Poris, a principal of the architecture firm McIntosh Poris Associates, which is restoring a former vaudeville house in Midtown for multiple uses. “But if we have all these great historic buildings here, why not take the historic tax credits and reuse them? Plus it’s a greener, more sustainable form of development.”

According to the CoStar Group, a real estate information company in Bethesda, Md., the vacancy rate for office space in Midtown — including an adjacent area called New Center, where the former headquarters of General Motors now houses state offices — stood at 8.2 percent in the second quarter of this year.

The vacancy rate in Detroit’s central business district, which at 24.5 million square feet has 3.5 times the space of Midtown, was 19.5 percent in the second quarter of 2010.

Read the rest of the story here.

Detroit makes Entrepreneur magazine's Innovation Nation list

Detroit's problems are opportunities, or at least from the viewpoint of Entrepreneur magazine. It inducted the Motor City into its list of Top 50 innovative cities.


Detroit sits poised on the brink of economic collapse--and on the cusp of a post-industrial renaissance. Artists and iconoclasts are moving to this city in droves, purchasing foreclosed properties and relying on solar energy and other alternative solutions to pursue lives and careers outside the margins of mainstream society. Officials are looking to reinvent blighted segments of the city as urban farms. Detroit is dead--long live Detroit.

Read the rest of the story here.

Forbes recognizes U-M President Coleman's push for student entrepreneurs

Michigan's colleges should be helping students hit bottom lines, not just the books. University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman advocates for students to have the tools and mindset to become business owners and job creators, and for institutions of higher learning to accommodate this paradigm shift.


Entrepreneurs on today's college campuses are no longer only huddled together at the business school. They are emerging from the hallways in our music schools and our engineering programs. They are coming forward with fresh ideas in architecture and medicine.

The educational programs designed to draw out these innovative thinkers must be welcoming to all students willing to take a risk on what some might call their "crazy ideas."

The late President Ronald Reagan got it right in 1988 when he told students at Moscow State University, "These entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all of the economic growth in the United States."

If he were making that same point today, Reagan might have to address the students more directly. Instead of discussing "these" entrepreneurs he would need to say "you" entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurism is breaking out all over our college campuses. At the University of Michigan we've learned that many of our students are creating opportunities for themselves even before they get to campus. One survey found that as many as 15% of our incoming freshmen had already started businesses.

Read the rest of the story here.

Xconomy profiles NextWave biz incubator in Troy

Could Metro Detroit's next generation of entrepreneur come, partly, from the NextWave small business incubator in Troy? Xconomy seems to think so in a story about where the new for-profit incubator is heading.


Nancy Skinner, CEO of NextWave Media Studios and part owner of the just-opened NextWave business space in Troy, MI, describes her new digs as a “different animal” from your average incubator.

It is more than just shared office space, she says. “If we deem that your company has good prospects, then we’re going to throw all of our resources into it,” Skinner says. “We’re going to help you with building a business plan, marketing, access to capital.”

Not only that, but NextWave gives its chosen companies “very aggressive growth objectives” within certain periods of time, she says. If they succeed, then they can advance and get bigger and better offices, and even a flag on the NextWave flagpole.

“It’s not a ‘Survivor’ ‘you’re off the island,’ but it’s not an indefinite ‘we’re going to support you forever’ kind of thing,” Skinner says.

Read the rest of the story here.

TechCrunch highlights Metro Detroit's entrepreneurial work ethic

What Metro Detroit entrepreneurs don't have in an entrepreneurial ecosystem, they make up for with their work ethic and solutions-based attitude. At least that's the way one third party observer sees it.


I've met a lot of engineers and entrepreneurs from Detroit and there's an underlying vibe that resonates from all of them: a specific attitude or work ethic – possibly left over from the automotive industry – that either causes them to try to work harder than their fathers or go against the grain trying to figure out how they can live life to its fullest.

As Jay Adelson takes his first break from work in 20 years, we get to time travel with him go back to the land of Henry Ford (the ultimate Detroit entrepreneur) to see where people like Jay come from.

Read the rest of the story here.

NY Times spotlights Bizdom U, Quicken Loans' Dan Gilbert

Detroiters know how to hustle. Bizdom U knows how to run a successful start-up. Quicken Loans Founder Dan Gilbert is putting the two together in an effort to reinvent Metro Detroit's economy. The New York Times takes an in-depth look at the initiative.


James Smith Moore, the son of a single mother on Detroit's east side, knows how to hustle.

He started a lizard-breeding business at age 15 and sold more than 500 hatchlings online for $15 to $80 apiece.

At 16, after local stores ran out of a certain popular Nike sneaker, he hired a manufacturer in China to supply him with knock-offs, which he sold for $80 to $200 a pair on his own Web site as well as eBay and other auction sites. Four months later, he received a cease-and-desist letter, but he had made a $14,000 profit, enough to buy his first car.

This bootstrapping spirit got Mr. Moore, now 21, accepted into Bizdom U, an intense boot camp for aspiring entrepreneurs who aim to start high-growth businesses in Detroit. Bizdom U is the brainchild of Dan Gilbert, a Motor City native who is founder and chairman of the online mortgage lender Quicken Loans. He also hopes to help revitalize his hometown.

Read the rest of the story here and more here.

Businessweek examines entrepreneurship, immigrants and Metro Detroit

Metro Detroit's economy is about to get hit with a trifecta of forces, such as immigrants, opportunity, and entrepreneurship.


"If we're going to achieve political stability, people have to own the economy." That may be the most cogent statement I've heard about the situation in Iraq. The speaker was Carl Schramm, president of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, explaining on Charlie Rose in late May why U.S. development policy in Iraq and other troubled countries needs to change. (Full disclosure: The Kauffman Foundation has funded and continues to fund some of my research on entrepreneurship.)

What would help these countries most is what many of their citizens want and what the U.S. itself already has: a strong entrepreneurial economy. Merely restoring Iraq's oil industry will not be sufficient. Yes, oil is a tremendous cash cow for the nations that have it. But overreliance on any single industry is risky, as anyone from Detroit can tell you. And a nation that relies too much on the extraction of a single natural resource is courting dictatorship and corruption. It's too easy for a governing junta or a group of oligarchs to control that resource, thereby controlling the population. We've seen this happen in many oil states. Wouldn't it be a shame if all we had accomplished in Iraq was to set the table for the next Saddam?

Read the rest of the story here.

Industrialized cities (Yes, Detroit!) are key to economic recovery

Why will Rustbelt cities like Detroit fare better than Sunbelt cities in the 21st Century? We're not making sunshine for senior citizens -- we make real stuff and know how to innovate our way out of tough times.


And now for a few promising words about old industrial towns ...

Traditional industrial centers such as Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and yes, even Detroit, may fare better in recovering from the current economic funk than so-called "bubble cities" such as Las Vegas, Tampa, Miami or Riverside, Calif., said Bruce Katz, founding director of the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program.

At a recent London School of Economics symposium on U.S. and European cities, Katz said American bubble cities are characterized by "real estate economies built on consumption and excess."

More mature industrial centers, he said, tend to have strong universities and a history of research, innovation and making things. If America is going to "rediscover our innovation mojo," as Katz put it, traditional industrial metros are best equipped to lead the way.

Read the rest of the story here.

Immigration may be Michigan's future

The United States was founded by immigrants, who created prosperity. Now "immigrant" is a bad word. Well, if you look closely (or just read this report), you'll see that immigrants actually improve areas by diversifying the economy and opening up businesses.


In the beginning of the last century, when Detroit was the Silicon Valley of its time, more than one-third of its population was foreign-born.

"What the Global Detroit report reveals," says Tobocman, "is that there is nothing more powerful to remaking Detroit as a center of innovation, entrepreneurship and population growth than embracing and increasing immigrant populations and the entrepreneurial culture and global connections that they bring and deliver."

The foreign-born share of Michigan's population rose from 3.8 percent in 1990 to 5.3 percent in 2000, to 6.1 percent in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2007, Michigan was home to more than 600,000 immigrants. And roughly 47 percent of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote, notes the Immigration Policy Center in its September 2009 report, "New Immigrants in the Great Lakes State."

Read the entire article here.

Local entrepreneurs find workspaces in public

Who needs offices these days. All you really need to do business is a phone, an email address, and an Internet connection. Whether it's a tea house, a coffee shop, or your car, local entrepreneurs are doing business everywhere (except the office).


Their first conference call with a client took place via a car phone.

They spend a good chunk of each week working on their laptops in a tearoom in Royal Oak.
And they decidedly do not regret leaving the larger corporate world for the below-the-radar world of entrepreneurs.

Susan Ferraro and Jennifer Marsik Friess could be any of the thousands of recently laid-off professionals in Michigan who are now happily — if still sometimes nervously — self-employed.

In their post-corporate life, they tap the goodwill of coffee shop and tearoom owners for free table space (often lingering for hours over a cup of tea while poring over laptops), and barter for necessities like a new business logo. Networking is second-nature for them.

"Just because you've been downsized doesn't mean you lose your talent or your skills or your abilities," Ferraro said last week. "It simply means that you have to apply those in a different way than you've done in the past."

Read the entire article here.

Entrepreneurs transform their spaces; roller rink to retail

Entrepreneurs tend to think about things a little differently than the rest of us. So it's no surprise when these entrepreneurs start thinking about their own spaces a little differently. This Wall Street Journal piece examines a few who've done that and Leon & Lulu in Clawson is one of those entrepreneurs. They've turned their space into a roller rink. Now, that's thinking outside the box.


Mary Liz Curtin and Stephen Scannell's furniture and gift shop, Leon & Lulu LLC, used to be a roller rink and Motown concert venue. They bought the place in 2005 for $750,000 and added $255,000 in renovations.

They kept the 69-year-old property's original flooring, benches, trophy cases, scoreboard and signage. On weekends and during special events, employees skate through the aisles to serve coffee and cookies to shoppers.

Last year the Clawson, Mich., company posted about $2 million in sales, a 20% increase from 2008, according to Ms. Curtin. "We get letters from people who thank us for keeping the history alive," she says.

Read the entire article here.

LTU survey hopes to boost entrepreneurship, innovation

Stand up and be voted! OK, that's a little dramatic for this survey, but still important. LTU is putting together a survey to see what's up in the world of entrepreneurs and how to make that world a better place.


Lawrence Technological University has launched the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Needs Assessment Survey, sponsored by the United States Department of Commerce through a grant from the Economic Development Administration.

The survey will help assess the availability of -- and gaps in -- resources needed by entrepreneurs, small business owners, venture capitalists, corporate research and development departments, displaced workers, and business support organizations to spur innovation, entrepreneurship and new business creation in Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

Lawrence Tech is partnering with several organizations to reach more than 25,000 people statewide with the survey. People interested in or involved with innovation and entrepreneurship across Michigan are encouraged to access and take the survey at www.iesurvey.ltu.edu.

Read the entire article here.

Michigan fares well when it comes to small business assistance

Different states are taking different approaches to promoting and assisting small businesses. In Michigan, through the Michigan Small Business and Technology Center and the Kauffman Foundation, the training and retraining of laid-off workers seems to be filling a void.


Last June, the Michigan Small Business and Technology Center began to train laid-off workers to start new ventures.

So far, 527 people have taken the course, which the center offers in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. To date, 160 people in the Michigan program have introduced new business ventures, and more than 125 owners of existing businesses have enrolled in separate courses to bolster their chances of surviving. Another 1,000 would-be entrepreneurs are expected to complete the program this year.

The unemployed workers, many laid off from the auto industry, come to the program with an idea for a small business and must search for capital on their own. The program, said a spokeswoman, Jennifer Deamud, "preps the company for a loan and makes connections for the owner."

Read the entire article here.

Ypsilanti firm helps Massachusetts entrepreneurs create dry erase paint

Who needs a dry erase board when you can just write on the wall, or the table, or the chair? The catch is that it's still all dry erase! A couple of mad scientists - A.K.A. entrepreneurs - thought about a world where dry erase board paint existed. They sought out to create it and found an Ypsi company to help them realize their dream.


For three years, former classmates Morgen Newman, John Goscha and Jeff Avallon sought help from specialty paint and chemical coating laboratories. Two labs claimed it was impossible. Whiteboards are made using high-intensity ovens. IdeaPaint needed something that could be applied with a roller in a single coat. That wasn't going to happen, the scientists said.

The young entrepreneurs refused to believe it. "Our joke was, if we could put a man on the moon, we can make dry-erase paint," says Newman, 25.

Then they found CAS-MI Laboratories in Ypsilanti, Mich., where the scientists were willing to give their plan a shot and even cover some of the development costs.

With the help of $1 million from family, friends and a few angel investors, the group spent the next four years fine-tuning their recipe.

Read the entire article here.

Motorcycle mag for women revs up

A local gal put her entrepreneurship into gear in a motorcycle mag for women. It's not the typical hot rods and hogs style magazine you'd see on a news stands where the lady is scantily clad, but an actual magazine about motorcycles for women. And they're wearing more than bikinis.


When she was a student at Ferndale High School, Doni Langdon felt like an out-of-place tomboy who was too busy with welding class to worry about make-up or shopping.

But now, the 27-year-old entrepreneur has turned her love of cars and motorcycles into a nationally distributed women's magazine aptly called Throttle Gals.

Unlike traditional motorcycle and hot rod magazines, Throttle Gals features women as fully-dressed, competent mechanics showing off the tough and sporty machines they have built and repaired for themselves. "These are real women," she said. "Everyone you see is with her vehicle -- not a model and not someone in her husband's or her boyfriend's ride. It's her pride and joy."

Read the entire article here.

From Chrysler to a Chinese tea shop

The Girlings went from automotive employees at Chrysler to entrepreneurial tea hounds, and all it took was a trip to Beijing. A story other Michiganders might take solace in. The Girlings made the transition to what Michigan was to what Michigan could be, maybe. No, not tea-slingers, small business owners.


Chrysler has greatly affected life in the Detroit area over the decades, and now it has brought the Motor City a Chinese teashop—albeit indirectly.

Janice and Jim Girling, founders of Goldfish Tea, were both working for the automaker when they were offered the opportunity to go to China for two years to help build an assembly plant outside of Beijing.

"We were living in Beijing and on weekends we just liked to go out exploring," Janice says.

While on an exploration one day, a dragon-embossed tea set caught the couple's attention.

"We went to look at it inside what turned out to be a wholesale tea market," Janice says. "Two Chinese ladies motioned for us to sit down at the tea bar and we stayed for three hours sampling tea."

Read the entire article here.

Michigan's prosperity will come from reinvention

Prosperity in our state is still years away, according to The Economist and a whole lot of other people, but, still, the signs point toward prosperity.


Universities, too, are preparing to play a bigger role in the state's economy. The top-notch University of Michigan, a mere 40-minute drive from Detroit, is filled with cheerful cafés and big brains. The three-year-old University Research Corridor is a collaboration between Michigan's three main universities. "I describe it as the university becoming much more porous", explains Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan. She hopes to improve ties with businesses and ease the commercialisation of academic research. Just as energetic is the attempt to nurture a new generation of entrepreneurs. (For 100 years, Michigan coasted on the success of that hyperactive entrepreneur, Henry Ford.) The University of Michigan has a two-year-old Centre for Entrepreneurship, providing classes and other support to students with business ideas. In Detroit, Wayne State University's TechTown is a research park as well as an incubator for new companies. TechTown hopes to help create 1,200 start-ups by 2012.

Read the entire article here.

Michigan is chock full of hungry startups

Michiganders have lost jobs over the last few years. And that, unfortunately, can't be sugarcoated. However, with unemployment come a jolt of entrepreneurship and startup businesses. And Michigan is chalked full of 'em.


"The influence you're seeing by new firms and smaller firms is apparent," said Mark Lange, executive director of the entrepreneur-focused Edward Lowe Foundation. "It's the influence of small business and the fact that people are leaving large companies to start their own businesses."

Between 1998 and 2007, Michigan lost 215,800 jobs, but the state also added 143,000 new establishments in the "stage one" category, or those with less than 10 employees, according to foundation data.

Consider Mandy and Pandy, an early-stage Ann Arbor, Michigan business that teaches children Chinese in a fun and easy way, by integrating books with CDs, DVDs, toys, fashion and television. It saw 2009 revenue of about $130,000 and forecasts a healthy increase for this year.

The company, which printed its first book in June 2007, was created by former Ford executive, Chris Lin. Lin, a 40-year-old American-born Chinese, is leveraging the skills he learned as a marketing director for the automaker in China and later as a consultant with Deloitte.

Read the entire article here.

A new crowd in town: Tech, fashion, medical fields are diversifying Metro Detroit economy

Watch out auto industry, there's a new dog in town. Well, actually, there are a few new dogs in town. Metro Detroit is becoming home to a new set of employers, which are diversifying its economy.


Coombs and his fellow entrepreneurs cited similar reasons for launching in -- or, in one case, moving to -- metro Detroit.

They appreciate the area's low cost of living, which translates to relatively low overhead costs for businesses. They have access to skilled employees, thanks to Michigan's universities and an automotive talent base that is looking for work. And Detroit Metro Airport remains a major transit hub, putting executives in easy striking of customers outside of Michigan.

The companies we spoke with are located throughout metro Detroit, including nearby suburbs such as Pleasant Ridge and Wixom, as well as Ann Arbor, which has become a hub for technology spin-off companies in Southeast Michigan.

"There is this notion that high-tech belongs at the coasts, or that the 'Rust Belt' is not really the place for this. That's patently untrue," says Ann Marie Sastry, CEO of Sakti3, an Ann Arbor firm working to develop advanced lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

Read the entire article here.

Free space in Plymouth! ... (If your business model is profitable)

Nothing is free these days... except class A office space in Plymouth. OK, so it's not that easy. All you need is to do is demonstrate a profitable business model and "Poof" some free space (after a careful application process, of course).


705 South Main, Plymouth's premiere business incubator and class A office space, said this week that it is accepting proposals for free office leases.

This opportunity is extended to start up ventures that have a great product or service but lack the capital to secure office space.

"There are so many new ventures in the area that could benefit from an office environment like ours," said Trowbridge Realty vice president and property manager Ryan Richmond. "This will allow entrepreneurs to establish a presence in a class A building without the expense."

Read the entire article here.

Survival of the hippest: Temporary shops open in Detroit

Temporary shops sound silly at first. Stores that come in -- like mercenaries -- set up shop, sell, and leave six months or so later seem like they wouldn't make sense. How could that possibly work or revive retail? Well, apparently it can be done.


Analysts say that if pop-up stores -- ephemeral outdoor retail spaces used to draw marketing buzz and promote new products -- are a sign of flush times, the temporary store is its counterpoint.

It makes sense that temporary stores, open six months or less, could buoy retail in Detroit at a time when the sector is mired in a historic low.

"The concept of temporary stores is really more realistic for the Michigan market," said Cynthia Kratchman, a broker with Landmark Commercial Real Estate Services in Farmington Hills. In this economy, landlords are more willing to accept shorter term leases and tenants with less business experience, Kratchman said. "They are also willing to do deals on terms that they never would have entertained even a year ago."

Read the entire article here.

Commerce Secretary announces nation's first Commerce Connect office in Plymouth

The more the merrier, some say. Immigrants bring an entrepreneurial spirit and diverse economy -- two things that can strengthen Michigan's future.


Noting that many Arab-Americans are small-business owners, Locke said: "We need to unleash the power of entrepreneurs."

To that end, Locke unveiled the department's first-in-the-nation "CommerceConnect" office, a one-stop shop in Plymouth for businesses to access all the federal government has to offer, from research and development tools to grants and to licensing assistance.

"Too few businesses actually know of the existence of some of our programs, because you needed a GPS system to navigate the federal bureaucracy," Locke said.

Read the entire article here.

Innovating, step-by-step

OK, so, this story isn't specifically about Southeast Michigan. But it's a lengthy, in-depth, step-by-step on how to innovate. CNN Money releases a six-part program on how an area might foster business activity.


"In an economic downturn, innovation isn't your best friend," says Jeff DeGraff, director of the Innovatrium Institute for Innovation at the University of Michigan. "It's your only friend."

You don't need to be Steve Jobs to come up with a novel business idea. Nor is innovation all about high-tech inventions or new products. As many successful entrepreneurs will tell you, incremental ideas can be just as important as breakthroughs. The Eureka Moments we've profiled may have happened by accident, but in all cases the business owners were paying attention and followed through on their initial flash of inspiration.

Read the entire article here.

Economic revival requires a Michigan Turnaround Plan

Five points. That's all it will take to turn the state around. Just five points. Well, at least according to a commentary in the Detroit News.

Two of the five:

Getting Michigan competitive to attract and retain jobs. This would include developing a competitive business tax structure that reflects Michigan's changing economy, providing a more predictable and stable tax environment for businesses and ensuring tax changes don't make the state's structural deficit worse. The short-term goal is to significantly reduce the tax burden of the MBT, while making Michigan a Top 10 state for lowest business costs in the long run.


Accelerating job growth through innovation and entrepreneurship. Michigan could benefit from shifting its economic development strategy toward supporting innovation and entrepreneurship across all sectors; increasing entrepreneurial education; and creating a university-business partnership focused on attracting business, growing sectors and retaining talent.

Read the entire article here.

Michigan looks for entrepreneurial spirit to spur growth

The entrepreneurial spirit has never been void here in Michigan. From names like Dow and Kellogg and Ford, Michigan has had its fair share of majorly successful entrepreneurs. And it's that spirit that the state is looking to attract/spark/spur/develop -- whatever word works best -- to brighten up this economic dark spot.


At universities and community colleges, in downtown office spaces and 15 "SmartZone" technology centers designed to spark collaborations between universities and industry, Michigan is working to encourage the creation of new industries to provide the middle-class jobs that made the state a mecca for generations of workers.

There's lots of room for improvement. The state ranked just 27th nationally in the 2008 Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, lagging behind most western states and national leader Georgia in the survey's measure of adults creating businesses each month.

To boost its standing, the state has awarded millions of dollars to high-tech firms through its 21st Century Jobs Fund, and companies are sponsoring contests that reward new "green" technology ideas. Business incubators are sprouting up from the urban streets of Detroit to the snowy streets of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

"You had Henry Ford, you had (Charles Stewart) Mott, you had Herbert Dow, you had W.K. Kellogg - all entrepreneurs with new ideas that created a new economy for Michigan that lasted us pretty much the last century," said William Rustem of Public Sector Consultants, a Lansing think tank. "Now, we've got the same situation. We need that entrepreneurial spirit."

Read the entire article here.

Detroit's TechTown plays role in rebuilding Michigan

What is gained in Detroit is gained in Southeast Michigan. So, as Detroit's TechTown rolls out its agenda of creating 1,200 new companies in just three years, its surrounding communities and cities stand to benefit.


"Recessions such as this one ... set the stage for future growth. As economist Joseph A. Schumpeter wrote in 1942, 'creative destruction shakes loose people from old, dying businesses and forces them to figure out new ways to be useful,'" the Kauffman Internet site also noted.

"In economic development terms, no one, nowhere has ever done anything of that scale ever before," Charlton said.

"A few years back, the government of Japan had a program to create 1,000 companies in the entire country. We're talking about 1,200 companies just in Southeast Michigan," he said.

"If we achieve that, and we will, we're going to change the face of Detroit," said Charlton, adding the initiative is "very much a partnership" with other organizations in the region such as Automation Alley, Ann Arbor Spark and the 10 foundations that have put up money for the New Economy Initiative.

Read the entire article here.

Making entrepreneurs in Michigan

Entrepreneurs start businesses. Businesses grow and stimulate the economy. A stimulated economy helps pull Michigan out of a financial dark cloud. The problem, of course, is that first part... Michigan needs entrepreneurs, both retention and attraction. Michigan Policy Network posts a blog breaking down a few points on how to get those entrepreneurs.


Michigan is in need of an entrepreneurial makeover. Young innovators are ready to implement their business concepts yet continually face obstacles known to both the seasoned and rookie business leader. Children today are raised in an entrepreneurial environment-two-thirds of entrepreneurship comprises of men and women between the age of 34-64. Subsequently, their children are raised on the notion of creative thinking and business optimism. In less educated words: The apple does not fall far from the tree. The focus then must be shifted from solely providing support for big business to encouraging young innovators to "take the leap" and start a business of their own.

Credit must be given to America's younger generations (under the age of 30). The burden of ensuring a fruitful economy will soon shift from the diligent business leaders of today to the innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Such responsibility is being taken seriously-programs and organizations have surfaced encouraging the unity of college entrepreneurs in order to share ideas and concepts to fuel innovations that will, ideally, create thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in revenue for their respective region.

Read the entire post here.

Student-run Tech Arb fosters college entrepreneurs

You need good soil to grow crops. With dry, cracked, stressed soil you're not going to grow even the smallest bit of anything. You can apply that to startups and entrepreneurs, as well. You need good soil to grow a healthy crop of entrepreneurs. The UM student-run incubator is hoping its good soil will produce a new crop of tech moguls and entrepreneurs.


Under Google's imposing shadow on East Washington Street in Ann Arbor, more than two dozen University of Michigan students click-clack on keyboards and discuss third-party software, iPhone applications and angel investors. They are all attempting to grow technology-based startups and to see their big ideas succeed as part of the student-run incubator, TechArb.

TechArb, with its 29 budding entrepreneurs representing 11 companies, is the upshot of UM senior Jason Bornhorst's involvement in the entrepreneurial summer internship program, RPM-10.

RPM-10 is a 10-week technology-based accelerator, created by Ann Arbor-based venture capital firm RPM Ventures and the College of Engineering's Center for Entrepreneurship.

Now in its second year, RPM-10 selects three UM student-run startup companies a year and provides them with mentorship and capital to build their company.

Read the entire article here.

$1M in micro loans for Michigan startups

One million bucks in micro loans is being made available to Michigan entrepreneurs to help stimulate growth and success in startup companies. Micro loans, if you're unaware, are generally modest loans made to very small companies that in most cases wouldn't be able to borrow from a traditional bank. The approach has had great success in developing nations.


Michigan is making $1 million in micro loans available to entrepreneurs in key industries in an effort to increase the number of successful start-up companies in the state.

The program, which is being overseen by the Ann Arbor SPARK economic development group, was quietly rolled out in May. So far, only two start-up firms have applied for the loans, but the money is expected to help 20 to 30 companies within the next two years, said Skip Simms, manager of the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund and director of SPARK's business acceleration services.

"There's not been a program like this in Michigan," Simms said. "We believe there's a big need."

Read the entire article here.

Cross-border angel investors looking to raise $20M fund

It's about time Michigan took advantage of Canada being close at hand (pun intended). In a first-of-its-kind setup, Canadian and Michiganian angel investors are forming a publicly traded company to fund promising local start-ups.


Detroit-based Great Lakes Angels has joined forces with angel groups in Toronto and London, Ontario, and with the University of Windsor to form Nouveau Angel Capital Corp., which hopes to raise $20 million to invest in early-stage companies in Southeast Michigan and southwestern Ontario…

Nouveau's founders think it is the first public company in the U.S. or Canada to facilitate angel investing, and so does Jim Jaffe, president and CEO of the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds.

“There are some angel groups that have formed private funds that operate like mutual funds, but I'm not aware of any public companies doing this,” he said. “The concept is exciting and unusual. My guess is that even in these difficult economic times, it may well find a group of interested investors.”…

Rick Galdi, president of Great Lakes Angels, said Nouveau will target companies affiliated with TechTown, the University of Windsor and University of Western Ontario in London. The investment range will be $250,000 to $750,000 per company, well above what a company would generally expect to get in a typical angel deal.

Read the full story here.

U-M students texting for good

University of Michigan students have developed a new app to tout (er, tweet) good deeds.


Beautify your world. Leave an inspirational message in a public place. Connect with a family member. Those are just a few of the proposed acts of kindness pushed out to users of a new smartphone application developed by University of Michigan students…

DoGood, a new, free app available to iPhone and iPod Touch users, aims to make the world a better place, its developers say.

"We simply wanted to empower the 40 million iPhone and iPod Touch users to collectively do acts of kindness," said Bornhorst, a senior computer science and engineering student. "I can go smile at a stranger, but what if we could get 300,000 people to do that? … The world needs something like this."

DoGood, created by the student-run company Mobil33t, (pronounced "mobil-EET") has been downloaded more than 10,000 times since its release June 8. It has an active user base of more than 5,000, and that number is growing every day. It lets users leave stories about how they participated in that day's deed. It also integrates with Facebook and Twitter so participants can send a message to their friends when they've finished an act of kindness.

"There's a tweet somewhere in the world about DoGood every five to 10 minutes," Bornhorst said.

Read the full story here.

Entrepreneurs need their space

Just like the buffalo that need an open prairie to roam, entrepreneurs need an open area to create. And if Michigan can't create that space here, our beloved entrepreneurs may roam to greener pastures.


Michigan must create an entrepreneur-friendly economy by lowering the cost of doing business for all firms, not just the favored few darlings of the moment. The state's policymakers have spent decades trying to pick the winners (automation, biotech, green energy) that would rescue the state from its dependency on automotive manufacturing. But policy makers and elected officials do not "create jobs" or industrial sectors -- businesses and entrepreneurs do.

Anyone serious about promoting wealth-creating entrepreneurship must at some point direct attention toward how the moral, legal and political environment aligns incentives. Entrepreneurship -- like everything else -- doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's long past the time we stopped pretending it does.

Read the entire article here.

Save the Rain

Rain water doesn't damper this Royal Oakian's spirits. He saves it. He uses it for his garden, his flowers, his shrubs, and, to top it all off, it helps reduce his water bill. Soon we'll all be saving our rainwater, maybe, after hearing from this guy.


Collect the water that runs off one residential rooftop when it rains just a quarter of an inch, and you gain 55 gallons of water.

That's a lot of nutrient-rich, chlorine-free water that shrubs, flowers and vegetable plants love.

Each spring and summer the result can be up to 3,200 gallons of water that is saved and used. Royal Oak resident Jon Muresan said it can also save a lot of money on water bills.

"My girlfriend and I are avid gardeners; serious gardeners," Muresan said. "One summer we spent nearly $1,300 on watering our lawn, shrubs, potted plants and vegetable gardens."

Read the entire article here.

Walsh College survey finds what 'new economy' businesses want to change

We're in an era of change. Moving forward from what seems to have been in play since the 80s, when Reagan was in office. Now, a Walsh College survey uncovers the thinking of new economy firms.


"The results indicate 'new-economy' businesses want policies that will reduce business taxes while advancing strategies to better prepare our workforce, retain our graduates, and rebuild our roads and bridges," Walsh College President and CEO Stephanie Bergeron said. “That has been an important issue raised by many business leaders. However, the considerable support for education and retraining initiatives is significant, as evidenced by the high ranking of work-relevant curriculum changes, expanding the role of workforce development, and finding ways to keep graduates in Michigan. We believe these are critical issues to address if we are to have the workforce necessary for a knowledge-based economy."

Read the entire story here.

Beaumont Hospital nurtures patients - and patents

Royal Oak-based Beaumont Hospital's new commercialization center helps to bring new medical devices to life.


Beaumont offers services from prototype development and real-world testing to regulatory approval preparation. Unlike similar efforts usually on a university level, the Beaumont Commercialization Center is a for-profit endeavor that offers access to a high-volume hospital system.

"The end goal is better products for Beaumont, as well as others," said John C. Shallman, director of strategic business development for the commercialization center. "We can bring to bear actual clinical, practical, economic decisions ... into the design process."

Read the full story here.

Your T-shirt's blushing! You must be happy to see me.

In what could give a new look to the wet bikini contest, a Roseville firm designs temperature-sensitive apparel.


Their catalog includes T-shirts that glow for up to eight hours, hoodies that sprout designs when exposed to cold, and could add bikinis that change color in water for the Down Under market…

Body Faders began four years ago when Karl Clayton and his wife Lori Monley made the jump from glowing necklaces to color-changing fabrics. Since then, the company has grown from a 2,000-square foot space to a 16,000-square-foot facility with nearly 20 employees. They work with a variety of clients, including Sears, Kmart, and Honda, according to Clayton, vice president.

"People have a big fascination with things they don't comprehend," Clayton said. "Touching a piece of fabric that instantly changes color is 'Wow.' "

Read the full story here.

Java joints perking up downtown Detroit

Regular unleaded never tasted so good. And now it's local! Come fill your tank with liquid caffeine at one of Detroit's newly opened coffee stations.


Tim Hortons, Bearclaw Coffee Co. and the Book Cadillac's in-house WBC Coffee recently opened for business downtown. Biggby Coffee in Midtown and the independently owned Mercury Coffee Bar in Corktown are also new additions to the scene.

The new shops are a "positive sign" that entrepreneurs are heeding Detroiters' "pent up demand for retail and restaurants," Stella said, noting that coffee shops brighten any community as places to congregate and share ideas.

Read the rest of the story here.

SE Michigan programs help businesses start the new year off right

It's a new year. It's time to improve on the last one. Change a few things, rework this or that, tweak a few items in the business plan. Or, maybe you don't even have one... and want one. Regardless, if you're unsure about how to go about doing any of these things, there are programs out there to help.


The beginning of a new year usually brings with it the feeling of a fresh start. Build on the things that went right last year and make some changes to address the things that didn't go so well. Most university business schools would have you refer back to your business plan to make sure that you are still aligned with your goals or suggest you amend your plan to incorporate changes that you have made to your business.

That assumes that you have a business plan to refer back to. What if there is no business plan? Or what if technology, competition, customers or the current economic situation has rendered your business plan obsolete? There are local resources available to you that can help.

Read the entire article here.

Missed the 70s? Check out Royal Oak's newest addition to retail

These two business partners are doin' what they love - sellin' weird stuff. But not just any kind of weird stuff. Weird stuff plucked right from the 1970s. Royal Oak's newest store, Bohemian Rhapsody, sit down with Hometown life and talk about opening up a niche retail store in challenging economic times.


The 1970s had its virtues, most of which are on display in vivid color at the new Royal Oak store, Bohemian Rhapsody.

Co-owners Pam McLenon of Farmington Hills and Marianne Petrus of Royal Oak opened the unique boutique Nov. 8 with the goal of offering accessories, home decor, personal care products and art that's heavy on kitschy fun and low on price. Pick up a funky pillow and some handmade soap or some jewelry, a Superball and a Russian nesting doll. Like the 1970s itself, it's a potpourri of colors, tastes and moods.

The women own their own side businesses as well: Petrus started Girls in the Studio with Angie Yaldoo; McLenon owns the Forever Mick and Keith line of greeting cards and art. Many of those items are for sale in the store.

Read the entire article here.

Michigan group looks for cutting edge investments

Some high-profile names got together to figure out Michigan's next step in investment. Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Roger Penske, and a handful of others, met to announce InvestMichigan's first two investments as well as the direction to take for the state's investment future.


"Michigan is at a tipping point, economically," Granholm told me as the meeting broke up. "We need to move in a direction, growing these green, cutting-edge technology companies right here, where we're leading the nation."

Charles Rothstein of Beringea, a Farmington Hills venture capital firm and one of three program managers for InvestMichigan, said the Penske-led council is impressive.

"We're not just giving firms a pile of money. We're giving them smart money and connected money," he said, referring to people like Penske, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris and Charter One regional bank president Sandra Pierce, who are available to offer advice in many industries and provide connections to tap key talent.

Read the entire article here.

Study identifies best entrepreneurial cities in Michigan

Any city can be entrepreneurial, that's the whole point, right? But what cities rise to the top? Well, you're in luck. A study just released by the University of Michigan-Dearborn found exactly that.


The 2008 “eCities” study (also called "the Entrepreneurial Cities Index”) found that many southeast Michigan municipalities “are hard at work attracting, cultivating, building and holding entrepreneurial firms.”

The study, conducted by iLabs, the Center for Innovation Research in the UM-Dearborn School of Management, focuses on entrepreneurship because of its importance to expansion and diversification of Michigan’s regional economies and the impact small businesses have on job creation.

This second annual UM-Dearborn study found that successful communities work with entrepreneurial businesses to determine their needs and carry out relationship marketing akin to private sector firms.

“Economic development agencies, local chambers of commerce, and state agencies all are instrumental in helping bring firms to a community,” said Timothy Davis, director of iLabs. “Successful local governments also have professional and empowered staffs who champion new businesses, leading them to solutions and acting as a conduit for networking.”

Read the entire article here.

Coalition forms to push establish agenda for region's economic landscape

Not only are communities fighting for jobs, but the state, the region, and the country. The Detroit Chamber has joined a coalition revolving around the Great Lakes region to aggressively attract and retain jobs.


The Detroit Regional Chamber has joined with more than 30 other chambers of commerce in the Great Lakes region to promote a federal legislative agenda for growing the region's economy.

This coalition, pushing an aggressive business agenda for creating jobs and attracting investment in the Great Lakes area, includes more than 94,000 employers, said Richard Blouse Jr., CEO and president of the Detroit chamber.

Read the entire article here.

Entrepreneur preaches passion, culture and values in workplace

Big Communications founder Lisa Stern told nearly 300 entrepreneurs at Wayne State University's E2detroit event that passion, culture, and values can go a long way in the business world. And she should know what she's talking about, she grew Big from a small start-up to a 90-employee company that pulled in $12.3 million in revenue last year.


Big began recognizing its strengths not only as a company, but also the strengths of its employees. Culture and value became two important characteristics of the company. Positive attitude, champions of change, kind, creative, trustworthy, detailed and good communicators are some of the adjectives used to describe the company’s team members, according to Stern.

Big developed a commitment to its established culture and values. The company’s mission was centered on hiring valuable team members to exemplify its commitment.

“Culture and values are the soul of our company,” Stern said.

Read the entire article here.

From one CEO to another

This CEO-to-CEO forum is the first of a series that will run across Michigan through 2009. The two brains, CEO Bill Emerson of Quicken Loans and Michigan's First Gentlemen Dan Mulhern, will discuss philosophies on becoming a great company with a great corporate culture. Oh, and by the way, it's free.


What does it take to -- not just succeed -- but to be named one of the best places to work in the United States?  Quicken Loans knows. Ranked second on Fortune magazine's 2008 list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For," Quicken Loans has placed on the list's top 20 five years in a row. The company was also named as the top place to work for technology employees in the U.S. by Computerworld Magazine in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

According to CEO Bill Emerson the awards are no accident.  Visit the company's career Web page and you'll read the following: At Quicken Loans, there's no daunting hierarchy, "boss" is a four-letter word, and if you work hard you're the one who will reap the rewards - both personally and professionally. More than any other place you'll work, we are dedicated to honing your skills, helping you grow and making sure you have plenty of fun doing it. …when you're not bogged down by corporate constraints, you have the freedom to do great things for our clients as well as ourselves.

Quicken Loans is one of Michigan's Great Companies and a fantastic place to work. Learn how to make your corporate culture great by joining CEO Bill Emerson and Michigan First Gentleman Dan Mulhern at the October 9, 2008 CEO-to-CEO Forum.

To register or for more information email MNGC@michigan.org or call (517) 335-7839.

Michigan sees a boost in innovation activity

Ah, the sweet smell of innovation. There's nothing like it. Except maybe bacon. 

Well, here in Michigan, it's all you can smell lately - innovation, not bacon. A study out of UM-Dearborn has seen an increase in innovation activity in the state.


Innovation and entrepreneurial spirit may be on a comeback in Michigan for 2008 after last year's turmoil in the local business climate, according to the latest quarterly report from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

The UM-Dearborn's Innovation Index for the first quarter of 2008 shows an uptick in five of the six innovation indicators tracked by the school's Center for Innovation Research.

Read the entire article here.

$300 million on its way to Michigan to help startups

Here it comes, like a fastball down the middle of the plate. But let's just hope that this $300 million investment fund is a home run for Michigan businesses. Its purpose is to diversify the states economy by devoting the cash to startup businesses, troubled businesses, and business that might stimulate the manufacturing industry.


"Invest Michigan! will help diversify Michigan's economy by retaining, attracting and building successful small and medium-sized businesses and, in turn, creating jobs for Michigan workers," Granholm said at the downtown Detroit press conference.

The effort will include a high-powered group of CEOs that includes Dow Chemical Co.'s Andrew Liveris, CMS Energy's Ken Whipple, Quicken Loans Inc.'s Dan Gilbert and Meijer Inc. President Mark Murray. They will serve as consultants to the investment fund managers and work with the entrepreneurs. That group will be chaired by Roger Penske of Penske Corp.

"My passion is about Michigan," Penske said. "It's very important we can take this capital and redeploy it."

Read the entire article here.

Program aims at retaining entrepreneurs, so far so good

Entrepreneur isn't the easiest word to spell. However, on the flip side, it's a lot easier spelling it than being one. So, to make it a little easier, and to retain these entrepreneurs here in Michigan, a program called MORE is making a push. The  program has granted 11 UM students five grand to pursue a wide range of ideas.


The grants are part of the MORE Program, an organization founded in November 2007 to stop the loss of highly skilled college graduates to other states and promote entrepreneurship in southeast Michigan. Brian Balasia, a U-M graduate and founder of the Detroit-based medical records firm Digerati, started the program.

Balasia received a two-year, $355,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that's part of a $5-million grant awarded for similar efforts throughout Michigan to spur entrepreneurship.

In May, Balasia, executive director Jessica Pfeiffer, and a number of area organizations hosted a job fair at U-M that connected hundreds of young entrepreneurs with small businesses in the state looking for talent.

Read the entire article here.

It's startup weekend in Ann Arbor, the goal is to launch 10-12 new businesses

Looking to start a business this weekend? Well, on Friday, June 20, and Saturday, June 21, you just might have your shot. It's startup weekend in Ann Arbor and the recruits are looking for the motivated, the innovated, and the ambitious to start something up. The event will be held in the lower level of Liberty Square, 510 E. Washington.


This isn’t a series of classes or speakers, it’s a bunch of people rolling up their sleeves and creating companies with the help of a facilitator.

Participants will get not just ownership in a company you help found (which is pretty cool in its own right), but new relationships with interesting, energetic, talented people and a new set of skills -- which you will be able to use in the future.

Organizers say the event is as much about building a startup-friendly community as it is about building companies.

Read the entire article here.

To register for the event, go here.

New resources offered at Dearborn library

Once you think a library can't fill its walls with more information, the Dearborn Public Library goes and does something like this. They now offer two databases full of legal tools and business plans. On the legal side state customized downloadable, printable forms are offered for library patrons - wills and power of attorney forms for example.

A bit more exciting are the resources offered up to potential small business owners that are merely a click away. This database will also have hundreds of sample business plans created by real-life entrepreneurs. Even better, anyone with a library card and an internet connection can access these bad boys 24/7.


"Gale LegalForms will help empower the citizens of Dearborn, and will allow them to take greater control over their legal affairs," said James Knapp, Head of Adult Services. 

"People need access to a cost-effective, authoritative means for understanding the paperwork of common legal procedures.  In addition, Small Business Resource Center is packed full of information for the person interested in starting and operating a small business including accounting, financial, marketing, and management information."

Read the entire article here.

Creative companies asked to participate in regional survey

Creativity? Oh, we've got it, all right. Anyone who knows the metro area knows our downtowns and side streets are bustling with stores that are part of the creative economy, from local fashion designers to graphic artists to Web specialists. Detroit Renaissance and Crain's Detroit Business are trying to survey southeast Michigan's creative economy.


The creative economy can be a foundation for economic development. But to grow existing companies and attract new creative-economy companies, Southeast Michigan has to show the world – and its own business population – the creative talent that lives here.

Read the entire article here.

Ann Arbor SPARK to host a round of entrepreneur boot camp

Sign up by October 5 for a round of Ann Arbor SPARK's entrepreneur boot camp, set for the beginning of November.


The Boot Camp Program compresses the usual three-month learning curve to move a great business to the next level with two intensive days of learning. You'll spend two days and evenings learning how to identify critical issues for your business plan.

A seasoned entrepreneur will lead you in the Boot Camp. He will be complimented by a host of local business experts.

You'll learn how to develop a solid business planning foundation, design effective investor presentation, and work one-on-one with experienced business executives and MBA students.

Read more and sign up here.

State looking into small business lending practices

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has issued a request for proposals to conduct a study of small business lending practices in Michigan.

The study would help assess whether small businesses in Michigan find it more difficult to obtain financing compared to other states. The RFP is available online at www.michigan.org/sblrfp  along with specifics of the application process.  

Great Lakes Entrepreneurial Quest back for 8th year

TechTown, Automation Alley and Ann Arbor SPARK will sponsor intensive entrepreneurial training this fall called Great Lakes Entrepreneurs Quest.


The GLEQ has a track record of success, with more than $22 million recently awarded to twelve GLEQ alumni from the 21st Century Jobs Fund, bringing the total investment into GLEQ companies to more than $40 million.

The GLEQ is structured into two distinct maturity "paths" serving entrepreneurs at different stages of development. Cash awards of as much as $25,000 and in-kind services are provided to the winners.

Read the entire article here.

New Dearborn eatery promotes the lowly hot dog, uses local suppliers

Dearborn's Juicy Red Hots serves up varieties of the classic American hot dog with style and products from local vendors like Calder's.


Woodard is using local vendors as another part of his strategy. Avalon International Breads in Detroit supplies the restaurant's hot dog and hamburger buns, Detroit-based Fairway Meat Packing Co. supplies its meat, and Calder's Ice Cream in Lincoln Park provides the desserts.

"I didn't just pick anyone to supply my products," Woodard said. “The majority of vendors that I use have been voted the 'best of' something."

Read the entire article here.

ePrize sponsors on-line marketing contest for entrepreneurs

Pleasant Ridge-based ePrize has teamed up with Entrepreneur magazine to hold an online marketing makeover contest. The winning business will receive up to $20,000 in services and technology.

Interested companies should submit a 200-word essay to www.entrepreneur.com/marketingjolt by August 31.

Zingerman's get NYT shout-out

Ann Arbor's beloved Zingerman's Deli nabs a nice little write-up in the New York Times.


Zingerman's Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Mich, has gone beyond being simply deli to being gourmet enterprise with sales of more than $30 million expected this year...

Read more here.
Note: It is a Times Select article, so it is $4.95 to read the whole thing.

Entrepreneur "pitch forum" set for May 17

The New Enterprise Forum will host a a pitch forum on May 17 at which would-be entrepreneurs can learn about what makes a successful pitch and then practice shopping one to a panel of experts.


At the May 17 event, the forum will put four entrepreneurs in front of a judging panel and give them an imaginary company to pitch ideas to. Entrepreneurs will give impromptu presentations, with little to no time to prepare. The audience will participate in voting for the best pitches.

Read more here.

Detroit Chamber to host creative forum on May 15

Detroit Regional Chamber will host "Creating a Region for Entrepreneurs and Innovators" on May 15 in Detroit.

The agenda includes:
  • A keynote address by Josh Linkner, founder and CEO of ePrize, the world's largest international, interactive promotions agency headquartered in Pleasant Ridge.
  • Facilitated group activities to inspire participants to become entrepreneurial and innovation stewards.
Find out more and register here.

Michigan Growth Capital Symposium to be held May 15-16

The Midwest's largest venture capital gathering, the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium, will be held May 15 and 16 in Ypsilanti.


A carefully screened group of 40 companies, representing industries ranging from information technology, life sciences, and alternative energy, will present in three tracks for an audience of venture capitalists, angel investors and institutional investors. These companies represent high potential deals in the Midwest and are seeking their initial investment, a first institutional investment or expansion financing.

Find out more and register here.

Mercado incubates new businesses in SW Detroit

The Mexicantown Welcome Center and Mercado opened its doors on May 5 as a small business incubator for Southwest Detroit.


María Elena Rodríguez, president of the Mexicantown Community Development Corp, calls the construction of new businesses a re-awakening of the community.

"Despite the (local) economy we keep on growing," Rodríguez said. "There's such a demand for retail space that people are fighting for land."

Indeed, neighborhood groups have cataloged tremendous growth: There were 1,029 businesses in the three ZIP codes that make up Southwest Detroit in 2004. In 2006, it climbed to 1,719.

SPARK offers full May schedule for career change boot camps

In May, Ann Arbor SPARK is offering several opportunities and focuses for their Career Change Boot Camps, including health care, IT and entrepreneurship.


"A series of Boot Camps are being offered for people who are looking for new career opportunities or are considering starting their own business. These Boot Camps will provide an intensive one-day opportunity to learn from area experts, obtain information about resources and obtain one-on-one mentoring. Boot camps are a way to learn about your options with no strings attached."

Read more and sign-up here.


Ferndale and Royal Oak host expo to promote small businesses

76 Ferndale and Royal Oak small businesses promoted their goods and services last week at a business expo hosted by the Chambers of Commerce of both cities.


Bill Allen, executive director of the Royal Oak chamber, noted the two chambers wanted a forum "for our local businesses to get some new customers." All participants were chamber members, and he described them as a tight-knit community willing to help each other.

Read the entire article here.

Denso retiree cooks up French-Japanese cafe for downtown A2

Japanese-born Miyoko Honma retired after 22 years with automotive supplier Denso Corp. and leaped at the chance to open Cafe Japon, a Japanese-inspired bakery and cafe with a French twist in downtown Ann Arbor.


While Café Japon was originally conceived with 30 seats, city building requirements restricted her seating to about a dozen chairs inside, with sidewalk dining in the summer. Therefore, Honma said the restaurant will emphasize carry-out cuisine.

For those who dine in, Honma promises a unique experience. "I'll be presenting (food) in a different way, even the coffee,'' she said, declining to reveal her secrets just yet.

Read the entire article here.

Winemaking business opens in Ypsilanti

Sharryl Sullivan, a former geography teacher, has opened a wine-making operation as a component of U-Brew in Ypsilanti.


After months of wrangling with the local and federal government to get the proper licenses and permits, Sullivan finally opened the winemaking portion of U-Brew on Washtenaw Avenue next to Mr. Pizza in Ypsilanti last month, where she'll brew her brand of Purple Feet wine.

Read the entire article here.

11 local businesswomen recognized at annual luncheon

The Detroit chapter of the National Association of Business Owners Greater Detroit Chapter will recognize 11 businesswomen at its annual awards luncheon.

Awardees include Marion Illitch, ASG Renaissance's Lizabeth Ardisana, Liz Blondy from Detroit's Canine to Five Detroit Dog Daycare and Debbie Dingell from GM.

Blondy, who is to receive the Up-and-Coming Award, said, “Being recognized for this success gives me that extra vote of confidence to expand this business and begin new ventures.”

A complete list of winners is available here.

Source: Liz Blondy, Canine to Five Detroit Dog Daycare

Find out if your company is venture capital-worthy at upcoming Crain's event

Crain's will host "Following the Money: Where Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists See Opportunity" on Mar. 19 with panelists Ian Bund of Plymouth Venture Partners and
David Weaver of Great Lakes Angels.


Is your Company venture-worthy? Find out what panelists Ian Bund, chairman of Plymouth Venture Partners and David Weaver, president of Great Lakes Angels, look for in a company- and which sectors they think show the greatest opportunity in metro Detroit.

Find out more and register here.

New record label to focus on A2 folk and indie rock scenes

Ann Arbor-based Jeremy and Brian Peters, along with New York-based partner Justin Spindler, have started an independent record label called Quite Scientific.


Jeremy Peters said the trio decided to start the label because a lot of great local acts weren't getting the chance they deserve.

"There's all this good music going on in this scene - the local folk scene, the local indie rock scene - that's not getting paid attention to, or getting lumped into the Detroit scene incorrectly,'' he said. "We're just trying to publicize and show other people all this good music from this area. It's just kind of a co-op idea. Everybody's friends help out each other to a certain degree.''

U-M, MSU, Wayne presidents: Help us, help state

The key to Michigan's economic recovery lies in pumping more money into the state's three biggest universities, the presidents of Wayne State University, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan said Wednesday in an unprecedented joint appearance before a state appropriations subcommittee.

Read the entire article here.

EPrize starts charity to "foster creativity and entrepreneurship’"

Predicting revenues of $55 million in the coming year, Pleasant Ridge-based ePrize L.L.C., an online interactive sweepstakes company, said it plans establish the ePrize Fund this year to "foster creativity and entrepreneurship."


"A statement by ePrize said the ePrize Fund will be a 501(c)3 charity. The company will extend the charity to its offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and London."

Read the full article here.

GLEQ to sponsor 2 entrepreneurship training events in SE Michigan

The Great Lakes Entrepreneur's Quest will partner with two southeast Michigan business catalyst organizations to provide training to start-ups.

The GLEQ and Ann Arbor Spark will sponsor the discussion "Legal Primer for Business Start-ups." on March 1 at 6 p.m. at Spark Central in Ann Arbor.

The GLEQ and Automation Alley will sponsor "Legal 'Gottahaveits' for the Emerging Business." on March 7 at 8 a.m. at Automation Alley in Troy.

More information and registration here.

Read the entire article here.

New Enterprise Foundation salutes entrepreneur of the year

The New Enterprise forum will celebrate its 21st birthday as a entrepreneurial networking organization and salute its entrepreneur of the year, Dick Beeden of Entyre, at its Annual Awards and Birthday Celebration in Ann Arbor on Feb. 15.

More information and registration available here.

Local online company markets conscience capitalism

Nev Muftari, a local entrepreneur, has launched a on-line “cause-marketing” company that will promote products sold for the benefit of a non-profit agency. The company, idUnited, is currently selling hooded sweatshirts screen-printed with designs by two local artists. 25% of the sale of each sweatshirt will benefit Woodbridge’s 555 Gallery/Studio.

The designs, both printed on American Apparel sweatshirts, are adaptations and enhancements of the classic Old English D. The girl’s hoody was designed by local artist AJ Brackel and the guy’s by Wayne State University student Ric Breeze. idUnited will sell the sweatshirts, priced at $31 and $48 respectively, only until the end of Feb.

A tee-shirt version of the female design will be featured in Six Degrees Magazine in the month of March.

Muftari says that, in the future, what his site markets “may or may not be clothing” and agencies supported “may not always be in Detroit.” He is particularly interested in the issue of access to drinkable water in developing nations.

Source: Nev Muftari, idUnited
Image courtesy idUnited

Rochester Hills designer specializes in wedding dresses

Rochester Hills-based Kate Bennett Abraham is becoming to the go-to designer for local brides interested in a stylish affair.


She runs her own company, called Kate Bennett, out of her Rochester Hills home. At the tender age of 27, her work is already attracting attention. Last fall, she won the top prize and $1,000 in Macy's Distinction in Design Contest at the Somerset Collection. Her work is being featured in local bridal magazines, and brides-to-be are seeking her out for custom looks at less-than-designer prices.

Read the entire article here.

RO couple find niche by offering cooking classes

Bill and Shanny Apodaca have turned their love of cooking into a growing business. They currently offer cooking classes at their Royal Oak home, but will soon begin to utilize a Birmingham location.


The Apodacas started their Simply Good Kitchen cooking classes in November 2002. Originally, Shanny taught alone, but Bill joined her a year later. Each year they've served more and more students -- they now teach 70 classes a year and have 3,200 people on their mailing list -- and they recently released a cookbook, Simply Good Kitchen, containing 12 menus from their classes and available at www.simplygoodkitchen.com.

Read the entire article here.

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