Recent University of Michigan Ross School of Business Dare To Dream Grant recipients Shivani Kothari and Anne Goering had an idea: create an online service that helps engaged couples plan their wedding affordably with the assistance of a human wedding planner. The duo, both working on MBAs finished in 2020 and 2021, received the grant in Fall of 2020, and have already launched their startup.
Chicago has been minting unicorn companies, or startups valued at over $1 billion, at a brisk rate in 2021. New unicorn G2 is the fifth of the year. The B2B enterprise software marketplace and review platform startup just raised $157 million in a Series D round led by Permira, a London-based private equity firm. So far, G2 has raised over $250 million in total.
Kabir Maiga started at Continental Automotive, where the team he headed as project lead designed keyless entry for cars. “I thought why don’t we extend this tech from car to front door?” he says. “We incubated the idea with Continental, took a team to Germany for several months, trying to figure out how to go to market.” The project was spun off as a separate entity with Continental as an investor. Now, the new Ann Arbor startup PassiveBolt has launched an award-winning technology for home called ShepherdLock.
Despite the pandemic, more startups have launched in Ann Arbor, Michigan, this year alone than we have space to list here. Many Ann Arbor startups have been around for a few years and are now starting to experience rapid growth. Here is the second half of our article on 10 growing Ann Arbor tech companies that you really have to watch if you’re looking for a tech job or hoping to invest in Midwest tech startups in 2021.
It’s no secret that Silicon Valley is having a major exodus, though that never means it’s lights out for the resilient global hub of tech innovation. We’ve seen ups and downs from the Dot Com crash to the Great Recession, and California always bounces back. What’s different this time is that a confluence of major climate disasters, high cost of living, and the new option for remote work are spreading highly skilled tech workers across the U.S. and the world at a rapid rate–and sending many of them back to their hometowns to launch new businesses.
Cars are gonna fly any day now, or so the story goes according to the non-transportation media. It’s a nice thought, and it will be here eventually. Everybody wants to live like the Jetsons, right? But the reality of drones, self-driving air transport, and the integration of ground and air transportation communication and highways is on the way. It just looks very different than you might expect.
Cybersecurity startup Censys, which offers visibility and risk assessment of businesses’ constantly evolving security vulnerabilities, recently announced that it has hired Derek Abdine as CTO, who will head up technical strategy and innovation. Abdine brings 15 years of work in security industry leadership to the role, as well as experience as an industry evangelist.
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.
Research labs have been shut down. Small businesses are searching for funding. But it’s not all bad news in the emerging tech hubs of the Midwest. Especially in hard-hit Michigan, the structure is in place to allow some startups to do quite well during challenging times. We went in to a few interviews of Midwest tech companies and startup coaches thinking they would help us pay forward resources to startup founders to get through these hard times. In addition to resources, they had some good news.
Ann Arbor-based academic research database company ProQuest has just announced it is aggregating a database of coronavirus and related virus research available through its library customers and to academic research users for free to assist in research and data analysis of the quickly developing COVID-19 outbreak. “The Coronavirus Research Database saves time and improves outcomes for researchers by aggregating authoritative content from ProQuest with content made available at no cost by members of the International Association of STM Publishers…. Journals, preprints, conference proceedings and dissertations provide comprehensive coverage of COVID-19 and other past coronavirus outbreaks, such as MERS and SARS, for context around the current global pandemic. Full-text content in the database is available either directly from ProQuest or via links to publisher sites.”