A2NewTech is a tradition around Ann Arbor and Michigan startup culture. New startups come to pitch ideas for feedback, to attract funding, and to polish their pitch. This month’s A2NewTech included the following new Michigan startups:
Nutshell is a newer staple in the Ann Arbor tech scene the last 10 years, founded by several people — Andy Fowler, Guy Suter, Ian Berry, and Lindsay Snider — who had worked together in a regional dialup ISP and subsequently started a bitleap data backup startup that updated companies’ data to the cloud in the early aughts. This company was acquired by Ann Arbor’s Barracuda Networks, and the band got back together in Ann Arbor a few years later to create something new: a CRM software solution. The idea? Create a CRM sales process and make it repeatable. Now the company that became Nutshell has grown, and released its second major product, that takes CRMs to a new level.
We’ve seen it repeatedly in recent months: companies are racing to adopt or update e-commerce platforms to keep up with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing buying online. Everything from groceries to steel buying to marketing and networking is now online, and that means demand for online user interfaces, conferencing, e-commerce platforms, and online marketing are at an all-time high. One startup we recently spoke with, Eoxs E-Commerce, was busy disrupting the steel buying industry with online buying platforms, but has since pivoted and expanded their offerings in response to this trend.
Despite a challenging year, a number of Ann Arbor tech startups are still experiencing rapid growth. First up? Pocketnest, the fintech startup that created a personal financial wellness app to integrate into bank and credit union software to help advise end users on savings and investment decisions while they monitor their finances.
Behind The Scenes Look at Massive Consolidation in the Auto Industry’s Suppliers with 123Go’s Dominic Rea
123Go enterprise software development startup co-founder Dominic Rea has years of experience working to design software for the auto industry, which gives him an edge to understand software design in a logistically complex industry. Rea works with Detroit’s Automation Alley, various Tier 1 automotive suppliers, and companies in the HVAC industry on applications such as time tracking, trying to bring a collaborative “low-code” process to custom software development, and more. According to Rea, the auto industry is currently undergoing a massive consolidation in terms of suppliers, which affects how automotive software designers, mobility startups, and Tier 1 suppliers plug in to a diverse industry of many technologies. We were curious to learn more both about how 123Go designs its efficient software development process for business professionals who aren’t in IT, and if Rea could tell us more about what’s going on behind the scenes for the sake of Cronicle readers who are working to hook into the mobility tech scene.
Ann Arbor-based Shuffleboard officially launches today, with a 40% discount for anyone looking for a remote team collaboration tool. The idea, from founder Sam Pierce Lolla? Make remote team collaboration more like in-person brainstorming. Shuffleboard alleges to cut down on Zoom fatigue, and also creates a process by which professional teams can glean feedback from clients or colleagues in a simple streamlined process. Lolla has years of professional experience working with professional teams to help them collaborate. The Shuffleboard tool is a natural extension of a lot of expertise and deep knowledge of team brainstorming process best practices.
Last time we spoke with BrandXR, the new extended reality startup was installing augmented reality art murals around the United States and Detroit. After pushing through the pandemic, founder Moody Mattan says the company has found unexpected momentum. This AR/VR tech is suddenly in high demand as a learning tool.
Pocketnest, a new app for next-gen financial wellness used by top credit unions and companies like Cisco and Henry Ford, has experienced explosive growth over the past year after closing its Series A funding round in 2019. The Ann Arbor-based fintech startup was founded by financial advisor Jessica Willis just 12 months ago after realizing there was very little out there in the way of non-transactional financial wellness apps for Gen X and millennials who were looking for technology to ease communication with financial advisors and to glean accessible financial wellness education and advice. Now boasting 8 enterprise clients with 20% user growth month over month and 40% growth month over month from an enterprise standpoint, Pocketnest now works with the top 3 largest credit unions in the United States–Wright-Patt Credit Union, Lake Trust Credit Union, and MSU Federal Credit Union–and growing.
Torrance Learning is an online training software company based in Chelsea, Michigan, just west of emerging tech hub Ann Arbor. Torrance has won awards from the eLearning Guild Demofest and the Brandon Hall Awards for its methods of developing new forms of instructional design, primarily for corporate training. The small consultancy has thrived thanks to the innovative thinking of founder Megan Torrance, who has adapted agile programming methods for application in instructional design and corporate training.
Susan Wagner of KLA Corporation spoke up front at this year’s TechTalk out of Ann Arbor on the importance of diversity and inclusion. Inclusion gives companies the diversity of thought and experience to be as creative and innovative as possible. “We should work together to life one another up. It does not mean that just because others succeed we will fail… all boats rise together,” she said. “KLA is a global company. COVID’s impact can vary,” Wagner said. “The semiconductor industry is playing a crucial role to enable work from home. Many things are changing, some for good,” she said. “Electronics are more important than ever to keep us connected.”