It’s finally here: Ann Arbor’s annual tech week, a2tech360, starts today and runs all next week with 16 online tech events highlighting the latest innovations and trends in mobility tech, Midwest investment, software, security startups, and life sciences.
Personal training and wellness coaching went online during the COVID-19 shutdown, which put thousands of coaches in charge of their own income and hosting their own classes virtually. Problem is, there aren’t many platforms that are easy for both coaches and their clients to use. And how does a new solopreneur coach attract clients in a crowded space when all marketing is virtual? Yottled, a new online wellness coaching platform, just launched this week to solve those pain points for thousands of entrepreneurs. It was founded by two guys with the credentials to make it work. Co-founders Trevor Hough and Will Guedes have worked in engineering and product management for hot SE Michigan startups Duo Security and StockX, both two of the four recently minted unicorn companies from Ann Arbor or Detroit valued at over $1 billion. The Yottled platform is brand new, but it’s simple to use and it’s growing. Here’s how an online coaching platform can change the game.
“In insurance, there is certain data that matters in writing a risk,” says Jeff Heine, CRO of Groundspeed Analytics, a top-rated Ann Arbor fintech startup that is disrupting the insurance industry. “But they don’t use more than 10 percent of the data. With AI,” Heine explains, “we’re taking the intensive manual effort [to analyze the data] and automating that.” Groundspeed was rated a finalist for InsurTech Honor of the Year Award by Insurance Insider, was listed by Business Insider as a top Breakout Fintech Star, and was named by the 2020 CB Insights Fintech 250 List of Fastest Growing Fintech Startups. It’s one of the hottest new AI startups coming out of emerging tech hub Ann Arbor, Michigan, but it hasn’t gotten the same attention as many cybersecurity or conversational AI companies because the fintech space is often disconnected from other innovative startups in the Midwest. Groundspeed has gained a lot of ground under the mainstream radar.
“One problem people face in moving to the cloud is logistics,” says Ross Kinder of Groove.id, an Ann Arbor-Austin tech startup that has created a platform for easing the process of giving employees access to necessary systems during onboarding–and removing access during offboarding. “Managing this well keeps you secure. So we created a very simple on/off switch for access each new hire needs.” It’s not quite that simple, actually. Groove.id also prides itself on the company’s ability to predict which systems each employee role needs access to, to streamline onboarding for managers who need to bring on domain experts and might not know all the access they need. “Instead of asking which applications each job role needs, we look at other people in similar job roles and predict.”
If you’re in tech, you know something special has been happening in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the last few years. First cybersecurity startup Duo Security was acquired by Cisco for $2.3 billion, alongside 3 other Southeastern Michigan companies that became the region’s first unicorn startups, or tech startups valued at over $1 billion. Ann Arbor, with its solid tech talent pipeline from the University of Michigan and local business hubs that are home to now hundreds of software, life science and biotech, and security startups, has been ranked as an emerging tech hub by national outlets. Then the Duo team present for the exit got the startup itch. Now Blumira, founded in 2018 by tech alum of Duo Security, Censys and the NSA, just raised $2.6 million in seed round funding, is doubling its staff, and is disrupting the security SIEM (Security Incident and Event Monitoring) market to offer streamlined security services to small businesses.
For the last year, Traverse City Michigan startup incubator 20Fathoms has been running a program called tccodes, to mentor professionals moving into software development careers. Tomorrow, Program Manager Keith Kelly says, they’re kicking off phase 2 of the program, tccyber, with an event called CyberSecurity As a Career, to support people entering the growing cybersecurity industry.
Automation. It’s an unavoidable job stealer, right? Well, maybe sometimes, but when it comes to automation in smaller factory lines, something big is changing. It’s the type of robots, and how they work with people instead of replacing them. Universal Robots is a 12-year-old company founded in Odense, Denmark, with offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Universal Robots has a totally different vision for robotics than most manufacturers. “These robots are approachable, accessible, and should be able to work side by side with skilled humans instead of replacing them,” says Universal Robots Senior Manager of Strategic Marketing & Applications Development Joe Campbell. Moreover, they can be programmed in a matter of minutes with training in a few hours, not requiring a degree in robotics to program or operate.
Happy New Year, everyone! We are excited to kick off this new year with expanding interviews and test drives with the coolest new tech coming out of Michigan, but we need your help. Cronicle Press Tech News is supported through sponsorships of various kinds, and now you can become an individual or corporate Patron as well to help fund the work we are doing to cover the historic growth of tech in the Great Lakes area.
You live in Ann Arbor or maybe you just work here. From the chatter on the street or in the restaurants, you know thousands of people here work in technology. Walking from Main St. to State St., it’s hard to not notice a tech t-shirt, banter about code, signs on offices with made up words. Whether they’re startups or billion dollar businesses with offices here, tech is all over Ann Arbor today and they’re all hiring. There is so much happening, where can we all find out about what’s going on where?