Ryan Landau is co-founder of Purpose Jobs, a recruiting firm that works with the hottest tech startups in Southeast Michigan. We have heard both from startups and talent lately that a lot of people are looking for work, but that many startups are also hiring at a faster clip than ever before. Which tech companies in Detroit and Ann Arbor have the most openings? We checked in with Landau to highlight some great companies where you might land your next tech job, and to ask him about trends he’s seeing in the tech startup hiring space in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
How does someone build a career in successful startup exits 5 companies deep in a smaller and still emerging tech hub like Ann Arbor? Ask Jim Simpson, who has done just that in the burgeoning security startup scene in Ann Arbor with startups including Duo Security and Arbor Networks. Now new security startup Blumira, whose alumni include people from Duo Security, Censys, Groundspeed, Deepfield by Nokia and the NSA, has just hired Ann Arbor security startup veteran Jim Simpson as VP of Product as the company heads into its next building phase. Blumira has closed on $2.6 million in funding in the last year and recently doubled its team of about a dozen to two dozen, hoping to double that again in the next year to 50. We chatted with Simpson this week about the company’s rapid growth and how Blumira is working with the dynamics created by COVID-19 instead of against it to build success.
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.
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.
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.
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.