It’s New Years Eve, so we’re looking back at the most popular posts on Cronicle Press Tech News out of Ann Arbor-Detroit about the growing Great Lakes tech scene in 2019. Turns out, it was a banner year for Ann Arbor tech and Detroit startups in particular, so we just scratched the surface of all the latest news. First up, the most popular post by far, professor Austin Yarger’s master list of game development studios of Michigan. Also included at the end are some followup interviews with a few of those gaming studios that are either growing in Michigan or started here.
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.
MVCA’s Executive Director Ara Topouzian Balances Economic Development with Award-Winning “Side Hobby” in Armenian Music
We met him at the TechCity Jam early this fall. The local jam session for tech workers who have music careers or hobbies on the side included everything from pop songs to electronica to incredible traditional Armenian music. We wanted to know who was playing in this award-winning band that came seemingly out of nowhere to the stage and played a brilliant set that would be inadequate to just call foot-tapping. Ara Topouzian, pictured right above, plays the qanun (kanoon), an Armenian 80-string harp that goes back to the 5th century and is still played today. The music sounds traditional, and yet it’s still extremely catchy.
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.
BOAA Technology Industry Group President Michael Cole On The Tech Financing Process, Tech City Jam Friday
When new businesses start up, arranging financing can be fraught. When that process involves a bank loan, it’s hard to know where to go. Many banks have a reputation for turning away small or risky tech startup businesses. Good news for tech businesses in Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan. Bank of Ann Arbor, which according to DBusiness is now the 4th largest bank in Metro Detroit, has created an entire division specifically for financing and guiding tech businesses in the growing startup hub. BOAA Technology Industry Group President Michael Cole says this has been a long time in process. Cole has been working for the past 17 years to create business financing options specifically tailored to tech and life sciences businesses in Southeast Michigan.
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.
When Cronicle Press Tech News launched out of Ann Arbor in April of this year, our goal was to talk to every tech company in town we could by the end of 2019. Since we knew that probably wasn’t possible with more startups launching every month, the benchmark was to at least interview 100. It’s only September, and we’ve already passed that 100 interview milestone, thanks to the generosity of people like you reading this now. Thank you for letting us in to your startups and your incubators and labs and your amazing meetups and conferences. To dig in to your search platforms and co-working models and your natural language processing. We are deeply grateful to be a part of highlighting the great work you’re doing to elevate tech globally and in the Great Lakes region, where the balanced lifestyle and reviving communities are contributing to a renaissance of new tech.
When we were kids, it was headline news that the human genome had finally been sequenced, a remarkable feat of science that cost $2.7 billion and took 15 years to complete. Today, according to Matthew Hymes of Arbor Biosciences, it’s possible to replicate the same work for under $1,000, which has allowed an entire field of genomic sequencing to emerge, with applications from crop disease resistance studies to research on ancient DNA from archeological digs, to medical research. Arbor Biosciences is one of those companies, whose work in genomic sequencing can be applied to a host of industries.
Young entrepreneurs are pouring out of tech towns these days. If the towns are lucky, they retain many of them now that the Midwest and other places outside Silicon Valley are reviving and affordable spaces to grow a business. The University of Michigan, ranked #1-rated ecosystem for undergrad student entrepreneurs by Princeton Review, is leading the way in this shift in startup culture across the U.S.. That’s why successful serial entrepreneurs like Jim Price were brought on board, to mentor the next generation of founders. Price is Entrepreneurial Studies Faculty & Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and he’s a big connector and mentor for young entrepreneurs starting out in Ann Arbor, with a background that spans coasts, tech and engineering, and teaching. He’s also a really fun guy we’ve watched help shift the entrepreneurial environment in Ann Arbor through generous mentorship, so we caught up with him in his office at the University of Michigan to ask him what led him to Ann Arbor and what trends he’s seeing these days in business and entrepreneurship.
Nice to see so many familiar tech faces this morning as Dr. Rob Pasick’s monthly Leaders Connect networking breakfast hosted Google at Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor. The theme? Culture and innovation at the tech giant, which recently announced plans to expand its Ann Arbor office on Traverwood as well as its Detroit Little Caesar’s Arena campus to a third floor. Kicking off this event, Dr. Rob offered the group what he offers his students at the University of Michigan, an exercise in mindfulness. “Every day we journal,” he said, “and I encourage you to set the intention. What would make today a good day?…. And part two of this exercise is to reflect. If you think about your day yesterday, what do you appreciate? I call those my abundances. What lesson did you learn?”