The ladies who run Jottful set out to help very small businesses with fewer than 5 employees create professional websites. “Our clients are often self-employed consultants, or service-oriented businesses,” says Dawn Verbrigghe, founder and CEO. The service is perfect for everything from “life coaches to management consultants to Main Street service businesses such as martial arts studios, beauty salons, and custom cake decorators.” If a business needs more than a build-your-own site but can’t afford the commonly quoted $5k price tag for a custom website from a creative agency, Jottful fills the gap in between. But then, the scope of what Jottful was managing expanded, and in more than one direction.
From Water Pollution to Cannabis Testing: Traverse City’s SampleServe Automates Environmental Survey Data
Russell Schindler is the head of TCNewTech in Traverse City, which at 1600 members averages 200 people per meeting. He’s also the CEO and founder of a company called SampleServe that uses technology to update the antiquated process of environmental sampling, from municipal water supply testing to cannabis. It sounds simple, and some of the technology is, but, Schindler tells us, the state of Michigan updated the standards for environmental sampling of soil, water, and the like, a number of years ago, and all of a sudden, it became much harder for companies to not only purchase specialized equipment required to conduct their sampling, but also to process all the data.
There are now more than 20 SmartZones across the state of Michigan, which means incubators in dozens of locations to support local startups. Right in the center of Michigan, Lansing’s LEAP program rungs the PROTO Accelerator, supporting local startups in tech-related industries. Besides geographical location, what distinguishes one startup incubator or tech accelerator program from another is often the prevailing industry in that city that supports new ventures. In the case of Lansing, that industry is insurance tech.
As of 2019, Detroit now has 4 unicorns–Duo, Stockx, Rivian, and OneStream–tech companies valued at more than 1 billion dollars. Detroit is home to a growing number of startups that are slowly revolutionizing the city’s economy and the economy of the Midwest, which is attracting back talent from the coasts due to balanced work-life culture, affordable cost of living, and growing tech-related industries. It’s still a work in progress, but Michigan appears to have finally stemmed the tide of talent leaving for jobs elsewhere.
Just a few months ago, industry-disrupting conversational AI startup Clinc, which is rolling out an automotive application of their voice-interface software in 2021, was filling the top floor of tech and startup co-working space Cahoots and filling an office in Kerrytown. Now the conversational AI research startup is expanding into a third location in Ann…
Every Time The Bell Rings, a Startup Gets Its Wings: Venture Accelerator’s Diane Bouis Talks Connecting New Ann Arbor Startups
In a maze of buildings on the University of Michigan’s North Campus in Ann Arbor, the Venture Accelerator, startup hub for intellectual property spun off by the Office of Tech Transfer from research and faculty at the University of Michigan, sits quietly on the block that used to be owned by Pfizer. Diane Bouis, Innovation Program Manager at the Venture Accelerator, helps these new ventures find resources and space in the many labs and offices housed in the building where the Venture Accelerator hosts new companies. The Venture Center, Accelerator, and Office of Tech Transfer work in close conjunction here to support baby startups in life sciences in particular to get out into the world.
Ann Arbor’s Voxel51, an AI startup that analyzes video for self-driving automotive applications and more, was featured last week in TechCrunch for its seed funding round raising $2 million, and because the company was chosen as a top 5 AI/machine learning company across the U.S. selected as a TechCrunch Top Pick to present at Tech Disrupt 2019. AI is growing up, and startups like Voxel51 are getting out there. That’s because Voxel51 is using adaptive tech to analyze videos using AI, not just traditionally frame by frame, but through analyzing the relationships between frames to understand what is going on content-wise over time.
You go to the zoo, but you’ve just missed the lions, who are taking a break in the shade across the enclosure. Sometimes, visits to zoos and museums are like this. What if the app on your phone helped you plan your visit, buzzed you when the lions were being fed, and when you pointed your camera at their faces, it identified them for you by name using machine learning and gave you info on their health and history? Geoxhibit, from Ann Arbor design firm Orangesplash, is a new app that brings all kinds of custom features to museums, zoos, and gardens that helps visitors not only connect with the enormous amount of specialized knowledge held by exhibits and staff on site, but also customize their visit with exhibit planning, customized scavenger hunts, and more.
College campuses have been through a number of crises lately, from dealing with increasing academic pressure to a growing number of active shooters to high rates of alcohol abuse among young people. One startup aims to offer students support in a format that works for their lives–in demand, online, and peer to peer. hEARt is a new startup founded at the University of Michigan out of the OptiMize program, which is creating a platform and peer mentoring service to combat the mental health crisis facing many students in college and even in high school.
The market for software development teams serving software companies is saturated, at least in Ann Arbor, where Alfa Jango founder Steve Schwartz has started and/or sold several startups himself alongside helping other new companies. That’s why he decided several years ago to focus on helping non-tech startups get the software development and guidance they would need so they could focus on the subject area they were expertise in. The results speak for themselves. Alfa Jango now serves clients that hail from YCombinator to Carnegie Mellon to the University of Michigan, and after selling startup Carcode to Edmunds in 2014 with a co-founder, Schwartz has now started another company called Genomenon on the side, which true to his vision uses his technical expertise on the tech side but focuses primarily on creating a genome interpretation software that empowers genomicists to compile and analyze research on immune disorders and cancer to better serve patients–rather than worrying about the software that allows them to do their work. Genomenon helps companies develop therapies or precision medicine to treat root causes of disease instead of symptoms, or build their knowledge database.