Entrepreneurship :Innovation & Job News

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THiNC.technology launches new apps tailored to customer need

No outsourcing. No prescribed platforms. One hundred percent customer focused.


For Craig Tucker, those are factors in the formula for success for a small business competing in the high-tech marketplace. And since 2014, Tucker and his partners have sustained a business that builds software, mobile apps, websites, and integrated solutions for sales and e-commerce—all to customer specifications.


"Everyone here is Midwestern--from Michigan or Wisconsin," says Tucker, CEO of THiNC.technology. "We like to keep it local."


Intent on keeping an agile mindset, Tucker and his nine-member team operate from a functional office within the University Center at 333 Albert Ave. in downtown East Lansing. Two recently engineered apps underscore the abilities of THiNC.technology to respond to customer challenges and devise solutions that meet both broad and specific needs.


The Judgment Interest Calculator, released in April, frees attorneys, law students, judges and other legal professionals from complex hand calculations. The app determines accrued interest on monetary settlements, and then compiles figures into a state-approved form for emailing.


A second app under development and set for release later in 2017 answers the need for some health organization to authenticate particular sales activities for compliance. Currently in rollout, the Validu app that will use biometric authentication for attendance when required by regulations affecting pharma, medical and security operations.


"We like to build things that solve problems," says Tucker. "They say necessity is the mother of invention. So, we can say we like to create things that are necessary."


The company's portfolio includes apps for distracted driving, American Sign Language translation, education and services. The veteran-owned company has also developed dozens of websites, e-commerce solutions and presentations.


"We will continue to expand," says Tucker. "We have clients all over the world—including China, New York and California. The vibrancy of East Lansing makes us want to always keep a presence here."


Source: Craig Tucker, Owner, THiNC.technology
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Burst Into Bloom waxes for the nomadic life with handcrafted bags

Leah Seelye moved to Michigan five years ago with her husband Cody. Relocating from Wisconsin, the two lived behind the Capitol in Lansing, and then resettled in Grand Ledge to build on their devotion to making mid-Michigan home.

All the while, Seelye stayed true to her passion for handcrafted items, determined to become a maker herself. She retaught herself to sew, and set out to fill a niche for attractive clutches, bags, purses and pouches made from waxed canvas.

In 2015, Seeyle equipped a home studio with a sewing machine and everything she needed to create products for contemporary nomadic life. She concentrates on the design and sewing. Her husband does the waxing. And in less than two years, husband-wife team behind Burst Into Bloom has sold about 1,500 waxed canvas items a year to customers as close as next door to as distant as the Pacific Northwest.

"While I was really invested in my day job, I just wanted to do something with a creative outlet," says Seeyle. "My first sale was a wholesale order, and it just blew up from there. I didn't expect it. I've been humbled."

Seeyle's bags and clutches are functional but funky, with colors and patterns inspired by the desert southwest. Made from printed canvas and then waxed, Burst Into Bloom products have the look and feel of leather and are stain and water resistant.

Seeyle says she started Burst Into Bloom with a $300 windfall buffeted by the support and encouragement of her husband, her family, and friends. She recently began full-time at the biz, and has her sites set on continuing to grow her line.

"We're passionate about making things and are committed to helping people make that hand-made connection," says Seeyle. "Our age is so digital. As human beings, we're always craving or creating something to hold, touch and connect with."

Burst Into Bloom purses, bags, clutches and pouches are available online, locally through Polka Dots in Old Town, and in several Michigan stores in Detroit and Grand Rapids.

Source: Leah Seelye, Owner, Burst Into Bloom
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Lansing Mosaic tells stories of area entrepreneurs, provides resources

A small business owner whose path began from a home-based operation has launched a new resource to help promote other Greater Lansing area entrepreneurs, particularly those without a brick-and-mortar presence.
Ashlee Willis founded Lansing Mosaic in November 2016, intent on telling the stories of people who apply their talents and innovative ideas through start-ups. Her tool? An online, event-driven publication that highlights diverse entrepreneurs and small business owners through articles and video content.
"There are a lot of resources here in mid-Michigan that are helping to get businesses started and helping them to succeed," says Willis. "I want to be part of that."
Lansing Mosaic encourages community members and subscribers to be involved in generating ideas for content and events that foster and promote entrepreneurship. Visitors to the site can also find content on technology trends, business initiatives, marketing and other topics relevant to entrepreneurs. 
Willis operates Lansing Mosaic from The Fledge—her hometown's incubator for new businesses in Grand Ledge. She writes and curates much of her content herself with the expertise and assistance of several contributing writers, designers and interns.
"We're also in the midst of starting an affiliate called Grub Lansing," she says. "We want to capture the food scene, and showcase some of the entrepreneurs here starting food businesses."
Willis is the owner of Michigan Premeir Events, an event-service company she started from her home that specializes in event planning, decorating, coordinating and photography. She is a board member of the Lansing Black Chamber of Commerce and will receive the 2017 Entrepreneur on the Move Award at the chamber's annual Pillar Awards in late April.
Source: Ashlee Willis, Founder, Lansing Mosaic
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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Love Letters to Lansing continues to bloom at Old Town coffee shop

Bloom is coffee. Coffee is love. Love is needed, now, and lots of it.
That's how the founder and manager of Bloom Coffee Roasters in Lansing's Old Town see it. And despite a political and social climate filled with confusion and change, Jared Field and Andrea Sherman believe it's Lansing's opportunity to bloom.
Starting February 7, Field and Sherman began providing customers the chance to write what they call a "love letter to Lansing." Customers were offered a postcard—three designs, in fact, custom-made by Sherman's husband Eric—and invited them to write a message on the back that said what they love about Lansing. Customers could hand the completed card to baristas on the spot for a free drink, or bring it in at another time for the same reward. Customers could also opt to have their card hung in the window or their message posted on social media.
"The response was overwhelmingly positive," says Field of Love Letters to Lansing. "People love the idea and have been more than willing to share their stories and love for Lansing."
Sherman expands.
"A lot of people have really taken the opportunity seriously," she says. "They want their words to matter and to have a meaningful impact. I watch as many of them pause and reflect on what part of themselves they want to share with their neighbors. It's almost a 'what can I give of myself that will inspire hope and peace and goodwill?'"
Field says Bloom will continue to run the campaign of love and support for as long as people have nothing left to say. And that could be a while.
"We greatly appreciate the support in our projects and the pursuits to make Greater Lansing and Old Town a better, welcoming place," says Field.
In addition to Love Letters, Bloom has launched a campaign inviting the community to support student artwork that will be displayed on the café walls come May. The project represents a partnership with the Lansing Art Gallery for the Ingham Student Art Exhibit. Customers and community members can help support the display of 10 student artworks at Bloom through the purchase of coffee bags and cups of coffee. Field says Bloom needs to raise $250 to help cover the professional framing and exhibit of each piece.
Bloom Coffee Roasters opened the café in Old Town on July 5, 2016. The roasting company has been in the same location at 1236 Turner Street since September 2014. The café employs 10 people.
Source: Jared Field, Owner, Bloom Coffee Roasters
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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Okemos resident keeps it clean with handcrafted soap business

Autumn Romig says she's always been interested in traditional skills, particularly ones with an edge. She's also driven to have her own business after growing up in an entrepreneurial family in Okemos, Mich.
So when Romig happened upon the craft of soap making via a class on beekeeping, she knew, bar none, that she had found an outlet that combined her two passions.
"I like making soap because it can be a little complex and dangerous," she laughs. "It's also a way I can take ingredients, do something with them, and create something."
Romig launched Autumn's Harvest Soap in November 2016 after making handcrafted soaps for use by her friends and family. She started by making small batches, then word spread to friends of friends. Soon, she was making, storing and delivering soaps as fast as she could.
Romig said the turning point came when her husband sat her down and convinced her she could sustain a low-cost business based on her newfound passion. Tapping her powers of creative thinking, Romig researched the ins and outs of becoming a home-based soap maker and created a business model that worked.
Today, Romig maintains an inventory of about 300-400 bars of soap she makes through a cold process. The soap, she says, has about a six-week cure time, and is made from a combination of lye, sustainably harvested oils like palm, and fragrances derived from essential oils.
"My recipe is a little different and draws on particular ingredients," says Romig. "Like anything in life, you try to pick the best options."
Autumn's Harvest Soap makes and sells handcrafted soaps, lotion bars, wax melts and bath fizzies. Most of her business is local, with customers ordering bars for their business, their homes, and for special gifts.
"I like products and gifts that are thoughtful and luxurious," says Romig. "I want to make really nice quality products that people enjoy using, and that bring a little joy to them when they use it."
Autumn's Harvest Soaps are available online and through the Titus Farms CSA. Romig is also exploring selling her products through Farmraiser come spring.
Source: Autumn Romig, Owner, Autumn's Harvest Soap
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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Masters of Confection brings chocolate to the people through monthly subscription service

Life is like a box of chocolates when you're Konny Zsigo.
In October, Zsigo swapped a 30-year run as an entrepreneur and corporate CEO in the high-tech wireless, digital advertising space to pursue a new path as a chocolatier. It was a move that took some by surprise since Zsigo had launched and operated East Lansing-based wireless companies since graduating high school, creating about 500 jobs. His most recent venture, WDA, was sold to the big data marketing company Rocket Fuel in 2014, contributing to the growth of high-tech ventures in the Greater Lansing area.
"I didn't want my whole life to be about high tech," says Zsigo. "I've been that way since I was 17 and started a computer company. It's very stressful, and this represents a nice semi-retirement option for me. It also gives me a chance to be creative."
Typical of Zsigo's enterprises, Masters of Confection isn't simply what it appears. Instead of being a brick-and-mortar chocolate shop, Masters of Confection offers a monthly subscription service where members get a two-pound, eclectic assortment of handcrafted, signature chocolates and confections. Corporate clients can opt for an efficient gift-giving program for key employees and customers—complete with a box customized with the company's logo. Zsigo also coordinates tasting parties and charity events, including a recent "ladies night" at Azzi Jewelers.
"I didn't want to be a backroom chocolatier, someone who doesn't see anyone," says Zsigo. "I want to do the opposite and bring the chocolate to the people rather than having them come into a shop. Most chocolatiers I've met are in the back with their gloves and hats on. I'm doing that, too, but I want to go out and meet people."
Zsigo credits his son for igniting his chocolate craze. About six years ago, his then 10-year-old son was looking to start his first business in the form of a lemonade stand. Zsigo steered him toward something bigger, and suggested he do something with chocolate instead.
"He was dipping Oreo cookies, and while he was doing that, I was making truffles," says Zsigo. "I discovered I loved it and was really having a great time."
It wasn't long before Zsigo was seeking advice from professional chocolatiers, attending trade shows, and learning everything he could about the business. Today, he makes preservative-free confections that source chocolate from France and Belgium, creating a variety of different chocolates and sweets for each month.
"It's seasonally inspired—so you'll get different assortments for Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and so on," says Zsigo. "That's part of the fun of it. It's a surprise."
Zsigo handcrafts all chocolates alongside his wife and business partner Nikki. Monthly subscription services for Masters of Confection are $35 a month, and run for nine months out of the year—excluding June, July and August. To find out more, click here.  
Source: Konny Zsigo, Owner and Chocolatier, Masters of Confection
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

New K9 FitClub encourages health and wellness at both ends of the leash

Now there's a way both you and your dog can get off the couch and get moving.
New to Lansing since July 2016, the K9 FitClub integrates human and canine fitness, and claims to be the only business that addresses health and wellness at both ends of the leash.
Local club coordinator Rachel Loucks understands the strength and motivational aspects of the human-animal bond, as well as the benefits of fitness. Since childhood, the 30-something has worked side-by-side with her mother, a veterinarian in Holt who specialized in dog training. Growing up, Loucks also dreamed of being an Olympian, having been a three-sport athlete and equestrian.
But then, in 2010, Loucks incurred a traumatic brain injury after falling off her horse. She recovered, and went on to earn her master's and land a full-time job. But in 2015, an auto accident caused her brain injury to flare, triggered posttraumatic stress, and left her permanently disabled.
"I've never been one for boxes," says Loucks. "I don't like being told I can't do things, and it's been really hard for me to accept. Every day since my accident I have been searching for what I can do."
So when Loucks saw an opportunity to become a certified K9 FitClub master trainer, she jumped on it. She had seen how the franchise had worked with another person experiencing traumatic brain injury, and knew it was something she could do based on her background with animals.
"Through my trauma, I found my life purpose: to help trauma survivors of any kind heal and thrive," she says. "That is why 100 percent of K9 FitClub Lansing's profits go toward providing trauma survivors with service dogs or access to animal therapy."
With emphasis on fitness for all levels, K9 Fit Club Lansing offers specially designed programs for seniors and people with certain disabilities to promote physical and mental well-being. Group and private classes are held at the two Doggy Day Care and Spa locations in Okemos and Lansing. 
"Even if you are struggling to do a jumping jack or a reverse lunge, your dog is right there with you, wagging its tail and being its happy-go-lucky dog self," says Loucks. "The dogs in class provide comedic relief, making it impossible to take it too seriously. And we all know that laughter is the best medicine."
Source: Rachael Loucks, Certified K9 Fit Club Master Trainer and Licensee, K9 FitClub
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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Dewpoint marks 20 years with gift to ITEC 2020 Girls program

A Lansing-based information technology solutions provider is celebrating 20 years in business by paying it forward to another locally-based organization that helps prepare K-12 students for 21st century jobs.
In early September, Dewpoint gifted $10,000 to the Information Technology Empowerment Center (ITEC)—a Lansing nonprofit that works with Michigan students to build excitement for coursework and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The donation represents a new partnership between Dewpoint and ITEC to support and expand ITEC's 2020 Girls Program.
The 2020 Girls program helps prepare girls for successful futures in the global economy, and is something that peaks Dewpoint's interest. The program helps Lansing-area females ages 9-13 explore studies and careers in the STEM fields. Girls enroll in robotics, game design and programming courses to learn new concepts, hone existing skills, and put their theoretical knowledge into immediate practice.
"Supporting ITEC fulfills our mission of bringing talented individuals into the IT market," says Michelle Massey, a vice president at Dewpoint. "We do that by helping to educate students early on."
Massey says that strengthening their connection with ITEC is a way to support the Lansing economy and build a pipeline of students and employees. Dewpoint's gift to ITEC will also focus on developing self-confidence in girls, as well as relationship building with mentors who work in technology.
"Being a female myself in the IT industry, we don't see a lot of girls engaged as far as technology goes," she reflects. "There aren't a lot of women who are visible in IT, and statistically, we start losing girls between the ages of 9 and 13. This is a perfect way for Dewpoint to engage with girls and help break down those barriers."
Dewpoint is headquartered in the Knapp's Centre downtown, and was founded in 1996 in Lansing by eight entrepreneurs who started a services and hardware reseller company. As hardware became more commoditized and the IT industry evolved, Dewpoint expanded its footprint into managed services, application development, IT assessments, and security and data center operations.
Dewpoint has hired 60 people since January 1, employs 240 people, and has 52 job openings.

Source: Michelle Massey, VP, Dewpoint
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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Popular networking event hits first anniversary

About a year ago, three entrepreneurs put a new twist on the two-martini lunch and invited other small business owners to enjoy a mid-afternoon break that merged business with socializing. The Drinking Lunch, founders envisioned, would be an event where the pressure was off but the focus was on creating friendships that could lead to business opportunities.
"We came up with the idea in reference to the 'Madmen' days, when people would take time out of their day to have a drink and socialize over business," says Paul Schmidt of UnoDeuce Multimedia. "We started thinking about something along those lines, and created a stress-free networking event where you can do business or not."
In mid-September, the monthly event founded by Schmidt along with Ash Harris of AKEA Web Solutions and Courtney Maki of Glow Social Media marked one year of bringing people together. Like all Drinking Lunches leading up to it, the low-key event took place at the Beer Grotto in downtown Lansing—complete with door prizes.
"We attract a wide range of ages and a cross-section of business people from financial to real estate to the tech industry," says Schmidt, commenting that attendance has held steady at about 50 to 60 people each month. "It's regarded as a legitimate networking event that people know about. The fact that we've sustained the numbers without it dropping off has been amazing."
Schmidt says he, Harris and Maki hope to promote the concept to other cities, or expand the opportunity to other locations within Greater Lansing. In the meantime, attendees can drop in and join the Drinking Lunch at the Beer Grotto, every third Thursday of the month from 2 to 4 p.m.
"Nothing is set in stone," he says. "We've had some talk about it. But really, the key that makes the Drinking Lunch so successful is that it's not a super selling kind of event. It's more like, welcome to our space, come and join our conversation, and meet someone new."
Source: Paul Schmidt, Co-founder, the Drinking Lunch
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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Online strategic communication degree empowers working professionals

Organizations seek out the abilities. Professionals strive for the skills. And starting Spring 2017, the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences will welcome its first class into a new online master’s program on strategic communication.
The Master of Arts in Strategic Communication represents the first time the College has offered a degree program 100 percent online. The program responds to the needs of working professionals through its flexible delivery as well as through content that addresses the challenges of a 21st century communication environment.
"Given the rapidly changing communication ecosystem, mid-career professionals are eager for training to update their skills," says Prabu David, Dean of the College of ComArtSci. "Currently, communication professionals, including our own alumni, do not have rich, in-state options to learn new media techniques. This new online M.A. in strategic communication fills that gap."
Students in the nine-course, 30-credit program will examine how to leverage today's evolving media and digital mix into an integrated marketing and communications strategy for businesses, start-ups, non-profits or government agencies. Expert faculty will handle all aspects of course content and bring expertise in corporate messaging, news and information, fundamental communication processes, audience research and data analytics, and new technologies. Students will complete a service-learning project that applies their newly acquired expertise within a community setting.
"The College of ComArtSci has a long-standing leadership in an integrated theory-to-practice orientation toward effective communication strategy and tactics," says John Sherry, associate dean of for graduate studies in ComArtSci. "There is no other college in the world with such broad and deep coverage of these issues."
Students can complete courses and requirements from anywhere, anytime and at their own pace in one to three years. The program is ideally suited for working professionals with three to five years of experience in communications as well as for business and communication entrepreneurs. Students will also have opportunity to collaborate with other online learners, further enhancing their professional network.
"The ability for individuals to be located anywhere and enroll in this master's program is a distinct advantage," says ComArtSci Alum April M. Clobes, president and CEO of the MSU Federal Credit Union. "Being able to complete the program while working full-time is also essential for long-term success. MSU's high rankings in the field of communications along with excellent faculty, will make this a highly sought after degree."
The program is currently accepting applications and no GRE is required. More information on MSU's new online master's degree program in strategic communication can be found here.
Source: Nicole Szymczak, Senior Communications Director, MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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New foundation to provide 3D printers and inventive technology to schools

A new foundation with an inventive twist is looking to support the next generation of innovators by providing funding, equipment and programming to schools, teachers and the local community.
Launched in spring 2016, the Mini Maker Foundation raises funds to encourage K-12 kids to become makers, inventors and problems solvers, with an additional emphasis on encouraging girl's involvement in technology and engineering.
Executive Director Joe Rabideau says that 90 percent of tax-deductible donations will directly go toward program development and equipment purchases for local schools. He says the foundation's passions include 3D printers, 3D modeling, printing instruction, hands-on learning and project-based programming—all areas that parallel STEAM education.
"While our goal is to get 3D printers into area schools, we're really about more than just getting new technology," says Rabideau. "It's about inspiring kids, sending that message that if you have ideas, you can bring them to life and have solutions. Today's 3D printers allow people to do that."
Rabideau would know. Several years ago, the self-described tinkerer and inventor came up with the idea for an "eargonomically" designed food and water bowl for dogs with long or furry ears. The Poochie Bowl dish keeps a pet's ears out of their water bowl. In 2013, Rabideau drew on resources provided through LEAP and Spartan Innovations to prototype the bowl using 3D printing. That prototyping ability led to the manufacture of Poochie Bowl through Lansing's Diamond Engineering, as well as distribution throughout the U.S.
Without the capabilities enabled through 3D printing, Rabideau says the Poochie Bowl never would have made it out of the pages of his idea journal. The experience of seeing his idea come to life prompted his quest to provide similar opportunities to kids. Toward that end, Rabideau also founded tinkrLAB—a kid-focused maker space in the Meridian Mall that offers classes, workshops and camps on 3D printing, robotics, tinkering, making and building.
"We see a lot of maker spaces for adults, but we're not necessarily inspiring kids in the same way," he observes. "We want to be on the forefront of things. On the foundation side, we're trying to make that connection with schools—a lot of which are strapped for cash—and to help provide the resources and equipment they need."
Source: Joe Rabideau, Executive Director, The Mini Maker Foundation
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Husband-wife team bring bounce to parties and fundraisers

Kristi and Robert Caretti moved to Mason, Mich., when Robert got a job with the Meridian Fire Department four years ago. Having lived in Detroit most of their lives, they immersed themselves in their new community, eager to make a connection.
Barely settled in, the two jumped on the idea of starting a family-owned and operated business. Kristi had some ideas, but Robert had others—one, she says, that was a little far out.
"He loved the idea of renting bounce houses for parties," Kristi says. "I thought he was crazy."
But Robert won out, convincing her that the party rental business was a sure-fire way to bring a worthwhile service to the community while having fun at the same time.
The Carettis launched Tye-Dye Party Rentals in 2012, and have grown from servicing occasional parties to one to four events nearly every weekend. The home-based company provides a variety of party-related rentals, including moon bounces, slide-bounce house combos, tables and chairs, tents, and popcorn, snow cone and cotton candy machines. All rentals come with free delivery and setup as well as teardown once the party is over.
"Robert was right about this being a happy business," she says. "We get all happy phone calls, and then when you're there and the blower goes on the moon bounce goes up, it's just all smiles."
Kristi says Robert's work as a firefighter has helped them establish themselves as a community-oriented business. Charitable events regularly pop-up on their agendas, many related to the fire fighter community.
"We pride ourselves on our customer service," says Kristi. "It's part of my motivation as a mom. You want things taken care of. You want reasonable prices. We try to work with you to keep it fun."
While business is peak during the summer, Tye-Dye Party Rentals isn't limited by the season. Pole barns, gymnasiums and other large interior or public areas can be readily converted in party paradises during the spring, fall or winter. Tye-Dye Party Rental experienced double-digit growth in the past year, prompting the Carettis to add two staff to their team for the first time since opening.
Source: Kristi Caretti, Co-owner, Tye-Dye Party Rentals
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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JoyRide Pedal Tours brings party bikes to Lansing, puts new spin on summer leisure

Cycling enthusiasts in Greater Lansing or those who simply enjoy a leisurely pedal may be surprised to hear that the happiest biking experience on earth isn't thousands of miles away but right in their own back yard.
At the end of May, JoyRide Pedal Tours opened one of the area's first party bike businesses. The pedal-operated trolley seats up to 15 people as well as a company employee who steers and oversees navigation. Passengers sit on stools on either side of a long wooden bar and provide the pedal power while enjoying non-alcohol beverages during a two-hour tour.
"I thought this would be a great addition to draw people to our capital city and to enjoy our entertainment sector and the arts," says Molly Chan, the owner and founder of JoyRide Pedal Tours. "It's something different. It gives you a chance to get together with people you enjoy. And you can go to places that you might not visit otherwise."
JoyRide Pedal Tours offers tours of breweries, restaurants, art galleries or area landmarks in Lansing, East Lansing and Williamston. Tours depart from the Harrison Roadhouse, Lansing Brewing Co., and Old Nation Brewing. Passengers can hop on and hop off at select destinations to stretch, see the sights, or enjoy food and drink along the two-hour route.
Pedalers can take both public and private tours, or can customize routes for wedding parties, work or social groups, or reunions. Other upcoming concepts include specialized tours for foodies, gardening enthusiasts, and progressive parties for neighborhood associations. "Spin dating" events will invite singles to mix and mingle at a particular location, then go out for a short pedal ride. Fitness enthusiasts may also enjoy the intensity of upcoming "spin classes" that depart from designated health and wellness clubs
"I like to think we have something for everyone," says Chan. "We target all generations from 18 on up. We're trying to think outside the box and create special events and special moments for you and your friends. That's what life is all about."
JoyRide Pedal Tours will be open from May through October. Tours average $250 to $350 for 90-minute to two-hour rides and can be reserved or customized by phone or website. JoyRide operates with two bikes imported from the Netherlands, and employs about 10 staff.
Source: Molly Chan, Owner, JoyRide Pedal Tours
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Cinnaire offers unlimited paid time off, hires 14 new employees

Their company name implies moving forward in a caring or thoughtful way.
And after building a corporate culture based on employee engagement, the Lansing-based Cinnaire implemented a paid-time off policy that is likely the first in Mid-Michigan.
As of March 1, the full-service community development financial partner announced an unlimited paid-time off policy for its 86 employees—including 46 who work in the 13,000- square foot REO Town headquarters at 1118 S. Washington Ave. The policy, says President and CEO Mark McDaniel, is designed to provide work-life balance, and to maximize teamwork and collaboration. Staff manage their own vacation, sick and personal time and communicate openly with colleagues to support workload, goals and outcomes.
"This is the final icing on the cake," says McDaniel of creating a productive, energized corporate culture. "We're telling our employees that we trust you, that you're valuable to our organization, that as long as your goals are being met, what does it matter if you want to take time off?"
Cinnaire supports community stabilization and economic development initiatives through creative loans and investments. The company works to match community investment opportunities with community-focused investors.
Founded 22 years ago in Lansing as the Great Lakes Capital Fund, the non-profit recently rebranded to Cinnaire. The company has expanded to serve a nine-state region and manages $3.5 billion in capital.
Cinnaire has more than 650 housing developments under asset management. The company's work has resulted in quality, safe and stable housing for more than 97,000 low- to moderate-income individuals. The company's cumulative activities have supported the creation and retention of more than 81,000 jobs.
In Lansing, Cinnaire has hired 14 people in the last eight months. McDaniel believes part of the company's growth is rooted in their policy and approach to human resources.
"I always said I would build a culture that empowers people to find passion in their work, and to grow personally and professionally," says McDaniel. "Employees are the most important asset in any company."
Source: Mark McDaniel, President and CEO, Cinnaire
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Klimb Creative helps small businesses reach new marketing heights

Katie Saglimbene understands it can be hard to take that first step when it comes to starting or marketing a business. She recently took a few steps herself, venturing from a six-year gig with a Lansing-based IT company to start her own small business a half-year ago.
As the founder of Klimb Creative, Saglimbene helps bridge the gap for small businesses that are big enough to need a marketing coordinator but too small to bring someone on full-time. The company's sole purpose is to help small companies grow their online presence and build brand awareness through a variety of marketing strategies.
"Starting from zero can be overwhelming for small businesses," Saglimbene says as she reflects on the anxiety and intimidation some companies experience when it comes to marketing. "I help them build up to the bigger picture."
Klimb Creative specializes in four key areas, and works closely with clients to develop a strategy that combines website development; content creation like press releases, case studies and social media; inbound marketing including blogs and email; and brand identity. Saglimbene, too, offers the ability to come-on-site and work with a company's staff, adding a further personal dimension to Klimb's services.
"It's the difference between hiring an agency and hiring a marketing coordinator," Saglimbene says. "I create a more personal relationship and work with the company's schedule, budget and needs."
Saglimbene grew up in a small community in between Lansing and Grand Rapids and decided to settle in Lansing about seven years ago. She says she likes the big-city-small-town vibe that Lansing radiates, and is happy to be part of the entrepreneurial culture.
"It's a great opportunity to work in Lansing as it grows and flourishes," she says. "There are a lot of new businesses, and I'm excited about combining my passion for small businesses, start-ups and marketing through Klimb Creative."
Source: Katie Saglimbene, Founder, Klimb Creative
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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