A Rising Tide Lifts All Businesses

Media Genesis has enjoyed a good bit of business success over its 16 years. Now the Troy-based company is starting to spread that success around to businesses both old and new.

The software firm is doing more consulting work with entrepreneurs, helping them build their companies. It has also been working with local business development organizations, like Blackstone LaunchPad and the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition and helping a broad range of companies, from filmmakers to vitamin makers, grow.

"We're starting to help a lot of entrepreneurs at the very early stages," says Antoine Dubeauclard, president of Media Genesis. "The climate for entrepreneurship right now in Michgan is great."

That doesn't mean Media Genesis has let its core mission fall by the wayside. It has hired five people over the last year, expanding its staff to 40 employees and a handful of interns. It has accomplished this through more work from existing clients, such as helping the Detroit Symphony Orchestra improve the viewership of its online presence.

That expertise is not only the driving force behind Media Genesis' core business but its mentorship of new start-ups. Dubeauclard points out that the Internet has become the great equalizer for companies by lowering the bar of entry. All entrepreneurs need is an innovative approach and the business expertise to make it happen.

"The knowledge is something you have accumulated over a number of years," Dubeauclard says. "It's a renewable energy source."

What is old is new

Media Genesis' mentorship isn't isolated to new entrepreneurs looking to reinvent the Internet. Some are established firms that hail from the old economy that need a fresh outlook to grow their business.

Media Genesis helped Verndale Products that way. The Detroit-based company spent half a century making its money by turning milk into milk powder which is then turned into high end chocolates. Media Genesis helped Verndale Products better visualize its business and brand image while improving its online visibility through SEO.

That brought in a bevy of new business inquiries, including one from a major coffee shop chain. It also opened up Verndale Products to international markets where their products are used by chocolate entrepreneurs and also by premium chocolate makers. Verndale Products is now operating at full steam and looking to add another plant in Detroit to meet demand.

"The web instantaneously opens up opportunities for them to reach out and let the world know what they do," Dubeauclard says.

What is new is opportunity

Media Genesis has also made a mark helping other small companies and entrepreneurs carve out their niche in their markets. That's the case with Great Pilates Now, a Canton-based company that helps people with physical fitness through online videos and coaching.

Judy Farmer, the firm's owner, brainstormed with the team at Media Genesis to find new ways to keep customers engaged. Often the customers were new parents in need of a workout but with limited time to make it happen. Today Great Pilates Now offers its physical fitness videos online on a subscription basis and offers coaching and advice to users to help keep them motivated and doing the best workout. The company isn't a customer of Media Genesis, but the firm was happy to help a new business find an innovative new way to compete.

"It's something we really enjoy," Dubeauclard says. "We enjoy coaching and mentoring and helping an entrepreneur when we can."

Software companies have been making bigger splashes doing this sort of mentorship lately. Menlo Innovations, an Ann Arbor-based software firm, helped Accuri Cytometers design its software and received a big windfall last year when the bio-tech start-up was acquired for more than $275 million. Media Genesis has also been doing that sort of equity-stake work with start-ups but sometimes it just helps out another local entrepreneur in need because they could become a customer one day or something more.

"These are the people that are willing and able to sustain the risk of being an entrepreneur and will sustain themselves," Dubeauclard says. "We will run into these people again and you never know when you will need their help."

Jon Zemke is Metromode's Innovation and Jobs News editor.
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