Starting your own business is the dream of many. What could be more exciting than owning and running your own business, setting your own schedule, and making tons of money?
For those business owners not in the tech startup space, Ann Arbor SPARK is launching a new, free educational series, Accelerating Company Excellence (ACE), which aims to help small business owners learn new skills and reinforce best business practices by learning from subject matter experts in finance, sales, marketing, and accounting. A lot of SPARK programming is specific to their tech startup cohorts, so this is a great opportunity for those slightly outside the normal criteria to take advantage of the educational and networking opportunities SPARK provides, for more mainstream businesses.
TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN: Ola Filter Corporation won the TCNewTech Pitch event with its easy-to-use, ultra-affordable water filter that uses proven ultrafiltration technology to remove bacterial contamination from drinking water in developing countries. Theresa Smith, Ola Filter’s co-creator, pitched in TCNewTech’s return to in-person Pitch Events, with an international online audience live streaming in on the TCNewTech Youtube Channel and Facebook Page. Ola Filter Corporation is a women-founded, triple bottom line social business focused on people, the planet, and profits to build true sustainability in a market of over two billion people worldwide in need of decontaminated drinking water. Ola Filter Corporation is based out of Ann Arbor, MI., Bend, OR., and San Marcos, Guatemala, where they’re currently implementing their filtration system.
Michigan tech organizations and enthusiast groups are venturing back to in-person tech events this month. Here are a few highlights of groups that you might consider joining if you’re looking for an in-person tech event to attend in late June or in July 2021.
There’s no global database of auto clubs, certainly not one that’s multilingual. Creating this is one of the ongoing projects of new startup Throdle, an Ann Arbor SPARK Best of Bootcamp winner and new player in the automotive social media scene. Founder Nadine Lee says that when people connect with a car through a test drive or a track day, they often connect with a brand for life. Connecting potential buyers or new drivers with other people who already own a special vehicle, whether that’s a BMW or an EV, helps people discover a love of car culture.
“Getting jobs filled should transcend politics and get the best people for the position,” says Jibril Sulaiman. Sulaiman is an entrepreneur and founder of job board and diverse remote job candidate network Incluzion.co. He noticed growing up in Pensacola that there were few opportunities in Florida to found a tech startup. He moved to Atlanta, founded a tech startup, and leveraged a remote distributed team to build it. The company made it to the Inc 5000, and Sulaiman worked as a board member for his local chamber to build up black/Latinx/womens businesses.
Women in tech face even more isolation than simply being a minority in the industry. As tech grows and the gender gap persists, many womxn and those identifying outside the cisgender male experience are entering roles as diverse as marketing, operations, and people. This means women could be the only woman in their company and the only woman they know in their role in a tech company. Three women in the growing Ann Arbor tech scene set out to build bridges for womxn in tech: Alison Todak, Kristina Oberly, and Rachel Phillips are all key players in the Ann Arbor tech scene with experience that ranges from community building to HR and marketing in tech startups. They founded Shine & Rise in 2019 to address the isolation of women in the tech industry. Even after a pandemic forced operations virtual, the organization is growing and expanding beyond Ann Arbor. Now, Shine & Rise is taking an active role in helping organizations diversify tech from the inside out.
For this month’s Great Lakes region tech events roundup, we are highlighting more online events available to you remotely for safety, as well as including some in-person events you might want to consider. Many groups have reported that they will be keeping remote live streams to some events after the pandemic, but others will not. It’s a great time to check out groups farther from home. This month, we’re including tech events from Chicago as well as our usual focus surrounding Southeast Michigan.
Traverse City’s 20Fathoms just announced its new HealthSpark Accelerator for digital and telehealth startups, to be held virtually starting April 12, 2021, running through June 30. Preference is given to Michigan companies, but the cohort is not restricted to Michigan only so the virtual format means this could be a great opportunity for a startup from any location. “HealthSpark is a 12-week high-intensity program,” 20Fathoms Executive Director Lauren Bigelow tells Cronicle. “We have pulled experts from across the country who are both leaders and practitioners,” she says, so that startup founders gain experience and can network with leaders in their space who know what it is to build a digital or telehealth startup on the ground.
What’s going on lately with all the pitch groups and networking events that have gone virtual? This month, we’re seeing tech groups focus on planning through the end of the coronavirus pandemic to look forward to how work and life will function in the future. Also, we’re seeing a lot of conferences and pitch groups focused on agtech and health and wellness as well as COVID response technology and data analysis. Plus, some regular hackathons are still happening that you won’t want to miss out of Detroit.