Fitness :Innovation & Job News

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Electric bike company moves from basement operation to Ypsi storefront

H.E.H. Human Electric Hybrids' electric bicycle shop opened just weeks ago in Ypsilanti, but it's already attracted customers from as far as Toronto.

 

The store's owner, Ypsi Township resident Jim Summers, opened his first brick-and-mortar store in mid-July at 25 S. Huron St. after running the business from his basement and garage for several years.
All electric bikes, or e-bikes, can run for at least 10 to 15 miles on a single charge and most of them are capped at 20 mph. Riders don't have to pedal on an e-bike, but pedaling while running the motor helps save the battery.

 

Most of the e-bikes sold at H.E.H. Human Electric Hybrids are factory bikes made by about a dozen other companies, but Summers also builds some of the bikes himself. The shop offers virtually any service relating to both e-bikes and traditional bikes, including conversion, customization, modification, assembly, repairs, tuneups, delivery, and shipment of lithium batteries.

 

Summers has enjoyed riding bikes since he was a kid with a newspaper route. His interest in e-bikes started later in life when he sought out the best way to commute to work after moving into a new home in Ann Arbor, about 20 miles away from his office in Canton. He didn't want to risk sitting in rush hour traffic if he drove a vehicle and he discovered the round trip on a regular bike was too exhausting after a 10-hour work day.

 

Summers bought a small motor to put on his bike, but it didn't work at first and he didn't receive much help with troubleshooting, so he used his background as a control engineer to fix it himself. That's what caused him to begin building e-bikes in the summer of 2012, starting with one for himself, one for his wife, and a third for visitors. He realized there was a demand for e-bikes when people kept asking if they could buy one from him, and he ended up continuously selling his spare bike and building a new one.

 

Summers officially registered his business in early 2013. He and his wife, Kim Mayes, decided to sell their vehicles and buy a company van so they had a way to move bikes around when the business was about a year old. They both try to ride their e-bikes as often as they can instead of driving the van.

 

"For the number of miles we used to drive and the number of miles we've put on the van in three years, we think we've saved 25,000 to 35,000 miles' worth of driving a vehicle by using bikes," Summers says.

 

Summers initially liked e-bikes because they allowed him to get some exercise while commuting to work, but after about a year of building and selling e-bikes, he realized their numerous other benefits, including saving money on gas and reducing the use of fossil fuels. E-bikes also make it possible for people with physical disabilities or impairments to get back on a bike and start riding again.

 

"We've had some people tell us that it's changed their life because they used to love biking so much, but got to a certain age [and] couldn't do it anymore because of an injury or whatever," he says. "But then, once they found e-bikes, they can get back out with their spouse or with their family and do the biking they used to do."

Brianna Kelly is the embedded reporter for On the Ground Ypsi and an Ypsilanti resident. She has worked for The Associated Press and has freelanced for The Detroit News and Crain's Detroit Business.

All photos by Brianna Kelly.

 

Ann Arbor's Applied Fitness Solutions hosts fitness challenge to benefit Ozone House

Ann Arbor's Applied Fitness Solutions (AFS) recently raised $3,075 with a charity challenge benefitting Ozone House, a nonprofit that helps homeless and runaway teens in Washtenaw County.

 

AFS is an Ann Arbor-based business that offers fitness and nutrition coaching in person and via mobile app. After clients meet with a fitness coach, they set exercise and nutrition goals and are encouraged to make it to AFS' gym at least twice a week. If a client reached his or her attendance goal over the four weeks of the charity challenge, half of his or her signup fee was donated to Ozone House.

 

Heidi Ruud, Ozone House's marketing and communications specialist, has been a client at AFS for some time. Sawyer Paull-Baird, fitness director at AFS' Ann Arbor location, says Ozone House was a natural choice when AFS management talked about charitable projects.

 

"Part of our mission is to unite, empower, and enrich the communities we serve," Paull-Baird says. "The main way we do that is through health and fitness, but we also wanted to partner with like-minded local charities."

 

The funds raised during the challenge were presented to Ozone House in late June, but AFS will continue supporting Ozone House by hosting a charity garage sale Saturday, July 29, and Sunday, July 30.

 

Over the course of the 10 years AFS has been operating, the business accumulated many pieces of used exercise equipment in its storage unit, and employees kept planning to clean it out but never did, Paull-Baird says.

 

"I thought it would be a good idea to do a garage sale and donate the proceeds to our charity partner," he says. "It's also a nice opportunity to increase awareness of what Ozone House does."

 

More information about the charity garage sale is available on the AFS Facebook page.

 

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

 

Photo courtesy of Applied Fitness Solutions.


Ann Arbor startups take top prizes in MSU business plan competition

Ann Arbor startups made a splash last week at Michigan State University (MSU) in the annual Greenlight Michigan business plan competition. Swim coaching app MySwimPro took the $40,000 grand prize, while eco-friendly animal feed producer Kulisha took the $6,500 first place award in the undergraduate category.

 

The business plan competition organized by MSU's entrepreneurship office, Spartan Innovations, is open to entrepreneurs from the entire state. The competition focuses on early-stage businesses, and applicants are required to have been in business for less than two years.

 

Prizes are sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the MSU Federal Credit Union.

 

Paul Jaques, director of community and student engagement for Spartan Innovations and co-creator of the Greenlight program, says the 2017 competition attracted 178 applicants, the most since the program was started. A panel of seven judges chose 22 finalists to make presentations at the March 29 competition.

 

"One thing we are looking for are companies that are going to go on to the next thing, that will use the investment to create jobs," Jaques says.

 

Jaques says MySwimPro won the top prize because judges believed the prize money would allow the company, which makes the top-ranked swim coaching app for Apple Watch, to "get to the next level."

 

"They have already won quite a few competitions in the area and around the country, and they were named the number one app on the Apple Watch," Jaques says. "They're looking to grow and to possibly be acquired by a larger company."

 

Kulisha won in the undergraduate category for having a truly unique concept that complements Michigan's vibrant craft beer industry, Jaques says. The company uses black soldier fly larvae to turn food waste into an eco-friendly animal feed.

 

"They are putting units outside craft beer places and having mealworms feeding on waste byproducts," Jaques says. "The way the team was put together and the way they presented their idea was great, and something the judges had never seen before."

 

Ann Arbor-based SAHI Cosmetics, which won the Michigan Business Challenge in February, was also a finalist in the Greenlight Michigan competition but didn't make the final cut.

 

Organizers say while there is a rivalry between East Lansing and Ann Arbor on the football field, the Greenlight Michigan competition is a chance to break down barriers and get people from communities all over Michigan shaking hands and making connections.

 

"There are amazing medical and technology developments coming out of Ann Arbor, but there are amazing things going on in the entire state, including Detroit and Lansing and Grand Rapids. Everybody has their own niche," Jaques says.


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Photo by John McGraw of John McGraw Photography.


Coval Fitness & Sports Performance grows staff to 4 in Ann Arbor

Mike Coval doesn't believe personal fitness has a one-size-fits-all solution. That's why his business, Coval Fitness & Sports Performance, treats each customer individually.

That means designing programs to help people lose weight, or gain strength to better compete athletically or build up endurance to overcome illness and injury so they can live an everyday life. It also means the Ann Arbor-based business isn't a sea of cardio and weight machines.

"We are much more specific to the individual and what their goal," Coval says. "We try to make it the Rolls Royce of personal training."

Coval Fitness & Sports Performance has used this philosophy to expand its client base and add staff. The company has hired four people over the last year, that includes a few replacement hires, so the 4-person firm can meet its demand.

Source: Mike Coval, owner of Coval Fitness & Sports Performance
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Tech Brewery's Saagara offers meditative mobile app, aims to hire 20

Saagara is gaining traction, both for its meditative breathing apps and its workforce. So much so that the Tech Brewery-based start-up plans to hire 20 people over the next year.

Saagara, which is Sanskrit for ocean of ideas, focuses on providing a holistic approach to better health, centered around breathing called Pranayama. Its president, Dr. Bobby Peddi, started the company shortly after he left his surgical residency about two years ago. Today it has a host of Internet and mobile phone apps with close to 500 users.

"We're looking to expand rapidly," Dr. Peddi says. "That's it. We have no choice."

Saagara currently employs five people full-time and four part-time, including one worker who is transitioning from part-time to full-time. That's up significantly from the last time we touched base with Saagara a little more than a year ago. Then it employed Dr. Peddi and a half dozen independent contractors and interns.

Dr. Peddi plans to continue to evolve Saagara so it becomes increasingly user friendly for groups. He hopes the meditative app will be picked up by health insurers, schools and hospitals.

"We're going to try and get people to exercise together," Dr. Peddi says.

Source: Dr. Bobby Peddi, founder and president of Saagara
Writer: Jon Zemke

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