Innovation & Job News

2006 Articles | Page: | Show All

Oxford Companies plan more murals as part of growth plan

Art is an afterthought for most real-estate companies. For Oxford Companies, it's a critical part of its business plan. The Ann Arbor-based company made a splash last year with the creation of one of the largest murals in downtown Ann Arbor. This year it's making plans to add two more significant pieces of public art in downtown.

Humantech expands workplace ergonomics through software

For more than 20 years Humantech was known as a go-to consulting firm when it came to workplace ergonomics. The Ann Arbor-based company has become one of the largest consulting ergonomics firm in the U.S. since its founding in 1987. But it needed more to maintain its upward trajectory.

Simple Continuity aims to become TurboTax for risk assessment

Simple Continuity, which calls Ann Arbor SPARK’s incubator home, is developing a software-as-a-service platform that helps businesses perform a better risk analysis. Its being branded as RADAR and is focused on providing more cost-effective and time-efficient compliance with federal regulations.

Michigan Angel Fund hits 100 members, invests in local startups

Michigan Angel Fund is hitting some significant milestones over the last year with even bigger ambitions for 2016. The Ann Arbor-based angel investor group has 100 members between its two investment funds. It finished 2015 by sending out $2.91 million in investments, of which $1.5 million was made in the fourth quarter of last year.

 

Arbor Brewing Co expands in India market with new production plant

Arbor Brewing Co made headlines a couple of years ago with its expansion into India, opening a brewpub in Bangalore. Today it's capitalizing on that success by working to open a production plant in Goa then follow with taverns that stretch across the continent.

 

Local Orbit's new software connects big institutions with local food producers

Local Orbit is currently beta testing a new platform, LocalEyes, that connects major institutions, like college campuses and corporate entities, with local food producers.

ContentOro provides marketeers with access to authoritative content

It's one thing to get consumers' attention but its quite another to get their respect for your product. The new Ann Arbor-based startup ContentOro specializes in providing marketeers with access to authoritative content.

Ann Arbor's PriceLocal browser app compares Amazon pricing to local retailers

When PriceLocal launched a little more than a year ago it was a spunky, local startup carving out a niche by helping local retailers compete with e-commerce prices. Today it is a significantly bigger startup looking to make grow even more during the holiday shopping season.

 

IDI takes hassle out of time management with Quick Time Entry

Integrated Design Inc has been in the software business for a long time. The Ann Arbor-based firm is a year shy of celebrating 30 years of delivering customized application-integration software for its clients. It plans to spend the next year introducing a new, time-management software platform.

 

AdAdapted's native advertising tech for mobile goes national

AdAdapted isn't just a little tech startup with big dreams in Ann Arbor anymore. The 3-year-old native advertising company is building a sizable client base with ambitions of landing a few national advertising campaigns.

AdAdapted has created a native advertising platform for mobile apps. It connects apps with advertisers with an easy-to-use technology to create and place customized native ads. It also provides content tracking of brands and purchases for its customers. Demand for AdAdapted's technology and services has spiked.

"We are on pace to double our revenue since last year," says Michael Pederson, CEO of AdAdapted. "2016 is looking to be significantly larger."

It also employs a team of nine people, including three full-time hires in engineering and client services over the last year. AdAdapted has built up a client list that includes some large multi-national corporations, including Nestle and Proctore & Gamble. Pedersen and his team want to add more of those sorts of large clients in 2016.

"That's our target area," Pedersen says. "We're looking for brands that want to advertise on a national level instead of a local or regional level."

To do that, AdAdapted is looking to raise some seed capital next year. It has raised $1 million since 2013 as part of a seed round. It is also in the beginning stages of raising more but those efforts are still in their infancy. With that said, Pedersen knows one thing is certain.

"We will raise some money next year," Pedersen says.

Source: Michael Pederson, CEO of AdAdapted
Writer: Jon Zemke

Homeward Healthcare turns 2015 pilot program into 2016 profits

Homeward Healthcare started this year testing its healthcare technology at Hurley Medical Center in Flint. It's ending this year with a successful pilot program and a few paying customers in its pocket, not to mention ambitions to take its business model national next year.

The 2.5-year-old startup has developed a mobile platform that enables clearer communication between hospital staff and patients. It provides a questionnaire to patients to illicit more frank information about their health free from social pressures to say certain things to impress doctors or other medical staff. The idea is to enable medical professionals to deliver better care.

"We use an interactive medical platform to provide risk stratification to help prevent patient re-admissions," says Joe Gough, president & CEO of Homeward Healthcare.

Homeward Healthcare's pilot program dealt primarily with cardiac patients. Kettering University is about to release a white paper on the results of the program that shows a 47 percent reduction in readmission of patients dealing with congestive heart failure and a 33.4 percent reduction in readmission in patients in general cardiac care.

"That translates to 69 fewer readmissions out of 1,000 patients," Gough says.

Homeward Healthcare has been able to translate that work into three paying customers, including Hurley Medical Center, Mammoth Hospital in California, and Evolution Hospital in Las Vegas. Homeward Healthcare also has a handful of other hospitals lined up to become customers in the first quarter of 2016. The health systems they are attached to could mean that Homeward Healthcare has customer ceiling of up 600 hospitals.

Homeward Healthcare plans to go national with its platform next year. Besides its office in Ann Arbor, it also has offices in Toledo and San Francisco. It employs 18 people, including 11 hires over the last year. Gough expects those numbers to rise as his team works to raise more seed capital. It closed on a $1.5 million Series A a year ago and is currently raising a $1 million bridge round with an eye on closing a Series B by the end of next year.

"We opened it (the bridge round) last week," Gough says. "We already have $250,000 in it."

Accio Energy scores $4.5M to field test wind-energy tech

Accio Energy just landed a lot of money. And that means further development of its innovative wind energy generation systems. And the Ann Arbor-based startup has its eyes on raising even more in busy 2016.

The 7-year-old startup received a $4.5 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy to fund the field testing of Accio Energy's technology. Accio Energy plans to spend next year laying the groundwork to field test its off-shore wind energy generation systems off the coast of Maine in 2017.

"This is our opportunity to scale it more than 10 times and take it offshore," says Jen Baird, CEO of Accio Energy.

Accio Energy's technology generates alternative energy from the wind without the turbine. Its aerovoltaic technology harnesses the electrokinetic energy of the wind (think static electricity) through a screen-like piece of equipment with no moving parts. The technology has been proven in wind tunnels, but this new funding means it can be built up for field testing in Penobscot Bay of Maine near the town of Castine.

The federal funding is a bit more than a grant because the feds will have an active role in the project, but the money is still non-dilutable government funding. It will also allow Accio Energy to hire a few more people to its staff of eight employees. The federal partnership comes with a 10 percent match requirement for Accio Energy and Baird expects to begin raising a multi-million-dollar seed round next year.

"It's a big step," Baird says.

Source: Jen Baird, CEO of Accio Energy
Writer: Jon Zemke

Akervall Technologies' mouthguard sales spike, staff grows

Akervall Technologies won the advanced materials category at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition earlier this week for the second year running. But that's the least of what the startup is excited about these days.

The Saline-based mouthguard manufacturer has spiked its sales by 60 percent over the last year and it’s on pace for similar growth in 2016. It is also looking at launching a handful of new products to help it grow even more.

"We think we can sustain our growth rate," says Sassa Akervall, CEO of Akervall Technologies. "We are the bottom of the hockey stick and it (the company's growth) is about to take off."

The 6-year-old company’s primary product is the SISU Mouth Guard, which is marketed toward athletes as a stronger alternative that is both lighter and less obstructive that traditional mouth guards. SISU is a popular word in Finland that roughly translates to "determination, strength, resilience." Other products include the SOVA mouth guard which is designed for people who grind their teeth in their sleep.

Akervall Technologies has been based out of Sassa Akervall's basement in Ann Arbor until about a year ago when it took over a light-industrial space in Saline. It now employs a staff of 17 people and a summer intern. It has hired five people over the last year, including research scientists and marketing professionals.

Akervall Technologies made the finals of this year's Accelerate Michigan, the state’s largest business plan competition for startups. Winning the advanced materials category comes with a $25,000 cash prize, which Akervall Technologies plans to use to help purchase production equipment.

"It just sharpens your mind," Akervall says of Accelerate Michigan. "If helps you figure out how other companies think."

Akervall Technologies plans to launch its next-generation version of the SISU Mouth Guard that is stronger than the current version in the first quarter of next year. It is also planning to launch some other products later in the year.

Source: Sassa Akervall, CEO of Akervall Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

The Whole Brain Group grows through customer service, added services

The Whole Brain Group has been adding clients by focusing on itself over the last year. The Ann Arbor-based digital marketing agency has moved into a bigger home, beefed up its technical expertise, added staff, and expanded its services. That cleared the way for it to grow its revenue by 20 percent in 2015 and aim for 30 percent growth in 2016.

"We are trying to offer a well-rounded set of services," says Marisa Smith, head brainiac at The Whole Brain Group. "A lot of our clients are growing companies that are looking to scale their growth."

The Whole Brain Group has added a number of new clients, including a RV dealership in upstate New York, Arborlight (an Ann Arbor-based lighting startup), and Great Lakes Scrip out of Grand Rapids. That new work has allowed The Whole Brain Group to add two new jobs, expanding its staff to 14 people. The firm moved to a new office near Briarwood Mall and plans to stay put for the next few years.

"We are going to stay in our same space because there is room to grow," Smith says.

The Whole Brain Group also recently achieved platinum partner status with HubSpot, a digital marketing platform used by businesses around the world. The status is the second to top tier for HubSpot, making The Whole Brain Group only one of two in Michigan to achieve it.

"We have attained a certain level of expertise and a number of clients who use that software," Smith says.

Source: Marisa Smith, head brainiac at The Whole Brain Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Arborlight shines a light forward as it ramps up revenues

When Michael Forbis thinks about sales he doesn't have to worry about setting sales goals at his startup, Arborlight.

"We have shipped more than $100,000 in product in the last four months," Forbis says. "We have a pipeline of $1.3 million in sales opportunities right now. It just keeps growing every single day."

Arborlight, which spun out of the University of Michigan, makes a LED light that emits a sun-like light. What the company is branding as a "daylight emulation system" can be used in both residential and commercial settings, imitating sunlight in both color, temperature and even exposure based on the weather or time of day.

"Our clients really care about the health and well being of their workers because it impacts their productivity," Forbis says.

The 5-year-old startup has hired six people in production, accounting and marketing, among other fields in the last year to help it meet rising demand for its products.

"We have tripled in (staff) size over the last year," Forbis says.

Arborlight closed on a $1.7 million seed round last spring. It also won the alternative energy category at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, the state's largest business plan competition for startups. The $25,000 in cash prize for winning will go toward Arborlight's efforts to raise a Series A late next year.

"We have seen a lot of demand for our product," Forbis says. "We want to take advantage of that opportunity."

Arborlight has enjoyed most of its growth with orders from large businesses, including a couple of Fortune 500 companies. It plans to target institutions in the education sector (K-12 schools and universities) in 2016 as it continues to grow.

"We think we can hit $4 million in sales," Forbis says.

Source: Michael Forbis, CEO of Arborlight
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
2006 Articles | Page: | Show All
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