“What do you want to do?”
“What’s going on?”
“What's happening Downtown
These are all questions we ask others and ourselves when it comes to finding entertainment around Lansing.
Marc and Lisa Francoeur and their MC Squared Technology Group
co-workers have created a website to make answering those questions easier for their community: LifeInLansing.com
. Community Calling
According to Marc, the website was the combined idea of MC Squared Technology Group (the company he owns with four other owners) and Forsberg Real Estate
“as a way to promote the city and the area.”
Marc and Lisa, both in their late thirties, attended school locally—Marc at Michigan State University
(MSU) and Lisa at Lansing Community College
(LCC). Lisa is from Haslett, while Marc came from Tecumseh.
Their choice to do the LifeInLansing.com
website was an easy one.
“We saw a need for it,” says Marc. “We do a lot with Junior Achievement
(both are on the board of directors); we do the website for the Greater Lansing Food Bank
. We do a number of different charitable things around [town], and it’s our way to give back to the community and strengthen it."
The website includes video interviews of local business owners. "There are so many exciting people that we have met, we are having a blast—a ton of fun—doing this," say Lisa, who conducts the video interviews. “There are great people in Lansing.”
In the summer, they covered or attended events around town, such as Blues on the Square downtown and Hot Dog Friday, a local business-networking event at Go Green Auto Glass
“There are a lot of things going on that you really don’t know about, and you can’t find out about it on the news," say Marc, "so people look more to the Internet to find things quickly. And now with smart phones, you can get online and check what’s going with your PDA or iPhone really quick.”Fabulous Features
The goal of LifeInLansing.com
, according to Marc, is to be a “one-stop shop for people looking for a restaurant or an event—anything in the city to promote locally owned businesses and typically independent businesses, too. And we want it to help strengthen the local economy.” LifeInLansing.com
has existed for a few years, but the site went through a recent redesign and re-launched in October of 2008, with a new look that resembles Facebook in some ways—users can create profiles and ‘friend’ one another.
“We started with an idea three years ago and it has evolved," Marc says. "It encompasses TasteOfLansing
, a restaurant review site, and has a community builder aspect to it. You can register, get a user name and password and post articles, updates and restaurant reviews on your own.”
One of the main features of LifeInLansing.com
is the Event List.
“There’s an Event List because it’s very hard to find events in the area all in one spot and we try our best to keep it up[dated]," Marc says, "and we’ve actually got people updating their own events: LCC puts their events in, MSU puts their events in, things like that."
Visitors to the website can add their own events to the list as well.
Next up for the LifeInLansing.com
is a proposed sports section, with a focus on local high school sports teams: “So the parents can see their kids,” explains Marc. “We’re going to try and involve journalism kids at each of the schools so they can write an article and upload it to the site.”
There are also plans to streamline video from local high school football games to the website.Company Man
's design and maintenance comes from MC Squared Technology Group
, a business Marc started up at the end of 2004 with several other owners. Prior to forming MC Squared, Marc worked at New Horizons Computer Learning Center
, an IT training company in East Lansing.
“My original business partner worked at the same spot as me. We saw an under-serviced market and we come at things from a business point of view, so we solved technical problems with a business emphasis," he says.
“MC Squared is what we do to pay the bills,” says Marc. The four other owners of MC Squared are Eliott Cook, Scott McAuley, Willis Semans and Mark Warner. The company builds websites, technology services, Voice Over IP and provides other services for small- and medium-sized businesses. “It’s a pretty under-serviced market at this point," Marc says.
The company's personal investment in LifeInLansing.com
is high, even for employees. “Everybody donates their time,” Marc says, adding that they stayed at recent event until 11:00 p.m. handing out cards and promoting the website. Divide and Grow
As an entrepreneur, Marc has plenty of advice for his fellow small business owners, “One of our mottos is ‘Do What You Do Best,’” Marc says. “We each try to pick the area we are best at, and focus on that—instead of me trying to design a website. That’s not my skill set,” he says in explaining how different roles are performed at MC Squared
In addition to Lisa handling the video interviews for LifeInLansing.com
, two other co-workers take care of the web design while Marc tackles management duties and the proposed sports section.
“I think a lot of small businesses really fall victim to that, where the one person tries to do all these things," Marc says. "You may have a guy who is a great computer technician, but he’s not a businessman. He needs to find a partner or somebody that can take that side. So, one of the things we do is try to be very diverse."
"If you all think the same and if you all have the same skill set, you won’t know if you’re driving off the cliff.”To receive Capital Gains free every week, click here.
Daniel J. Hogan
is a blogger, freelance writer and creator of the Magic of Eyri Podcast. You can listen to his audio book podcast here
Dave Trumpie is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.
Some of the Life In Lansing Crew (clockwise from bottom left) Marc Francoeur, Tabitha McAuley, Mark Warner, Nick Coon
Old Town Lansing nightlife at Chrome Cat
Life In Lansing's homepage
Downtown East Lansing
Blues on the Square
All Photographs © Dave Trumpie