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.
As summer camps went virtual across the U.S., we had a sneaky little thought. Who is to know if your kid is doing the remote summer camp… or you are? Some activities are fun for all ages. If you’re looking for summer activities at home for your kid, or… yourself, look no further than our own back yard. Ann Arbor in Southeast Michigan is home to dozens of world-class summer camp programs, and now you can access them from anywhere.
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.”
This last week, we made it out to Professor Yarger’s student video game showcase in Ann Arbor, which highlights games from University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan students. Games ranged from multi-player space pirates Space Subterfuge to a game call I’m a Chopstick, where two chopsticks attempt to get dinner to the table. (“We are not responsible for any relationship troubles that arise due to gameplay!” the creators warn in their trailer.) If you couldn’t make it out to the expo, you can still check out the trailers from games including Light’s Out, Apotheosis, I’m a Chopstick, and others below. There were well over a dozen games on hand, many of them extremely cute or fun to play.
Sam Pierce Lolla’s Shuffleboard Hacks Product Development Collaboration From Ann Arbor To Silicon Valley
Sam Lolla is one of the creators of MadeinA2.com and the founder and director of Directed Works, a company focused on product development and user experience design for startups. Lolla taught product design at the University of Michigan, and these days works independently with clients from Ann Arbor to the San Francisco Bay area to create products using a new app he put together to make collaborative design more efficient, called Shuffleboard. Recently, Lolla put together a video series on his journey designing and building a startup and documenting every step on Youtube.
“It’s unusual, experimental, and avante garde,” says Ann Arbor Film Festival Director Leslie Raymond of her historic film festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan, recently rated #1 in the country by USA Today in its 57th year. The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the fourth oldest film festival in the United States and the oldest experimental film festival. What makes Ann Arbor consistently rated one of the best places to raise a family (CBS Local, Livability, Niche, Money) is the cultural events like this, particularly with a long and storied history like the Ann Arbor Film Festival. It’s one of the reasons people with Michigan roots come back to raise kids here, or stay to found startups. From software to security to life sciences to mobility tech, SE Michigan is now an increasingly attractive option for tech workers who love a balanced livable lifestyle and the cultural events that make any community a great place to live and work.
Heather Martel is co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of ProjectFRED, a new fintech, blockchain-powered commercial real estate startup launching this month out of Ann Arbor that allows the individual small investor to get into the world of commercial real estate investing through a fractional investing app. ProjectFRED was founded by a neurosurgeon turned blockchain coder, a marketer, and a real estate broker, who wanted to make it easier for commercial real estate listings to meet their investment goals and for people just starting investing or wanting a portfolio across the United States through smaller investments to jump in to real estate using only an app. Investors are alerted to new properties coming on the market and can swipe through investment properties as they are available, which creates a targeted way to help $100 million in commercial real estate in Ann Arbor move more quickly.
Human Element, of Top 20 Fastest Growing Companies in Michigan, Creates The Kind of Culture They Want To Stay In
“We’ve been experiencing 3-4 years of 30% growth rate year over year,” Human Element’s Ben Lorenz tells us. “We’ve been an Inc 5000 company 3 years in a row and last year were named one of the Top 20 fastest growing companies in Michigan.” Ann Arbor is one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the Midwest, but what explains some companies like Human Element growing so much more quickly than others? To some extent, it’s positioning and the market they’re in. It’s no secret that AI companies are hot, as well as security. An e-commerce strategy company like Human Element has a lot of work to do catching up Midwest companies to digital business processes and online sales. But that’s not all it is.
Kristin Judge is a former Washtenaw County Commissioner elected in 2008, who has also worked as Director of Government Affairs at the National Cyber Security Alliance where she worked with Google, the FTC, FBI, SBA, DHS, and NIST to educate the public on how to protect sensitive data. As such she was the perfect person to run the CyberCrime Support public-private collaboration that helps consumers and businesses after they have been the target of cyber-fraud at FraudSupport.org.
Discoverability is an often overlooked but important topic for new ventures. Nick Suino of the Michigan SEO Group says he hears from companies a lot, from service providers to tech startups, who did marketing and SEO on their own to bootstrap and then come to him later with a website that won’t scale, or having neglected discoverability when they could have invested more in their outreach to start. It’s not always easy for a startup to know what to do when with marketing, since many are founded by professionals with industry-specific expertise and marketing comes after first sales. That’s why we were interested to hear from a company that supports other companies in getting SEO, online discoverability, and marketing off on the right foot.