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Systems in Motion doubles Ann Arbor office with 130 hires

On-shoring IT work is turning into a good thing for Ann Arbor. Systems in Motion, a California-based firm specializing in bringing IT work back to the U.S., has hired dozens of people for its Ann Arbor office over the last year.

"It's actually far and away our biggest office," says Colin Chapman, vice president & general manager for Systems in Motion.

Today the company employs 230 people in Ann Arbor after hiring 130 in the last year. Those new hires include software engineers, quality testers, and developers. The company is also looking to hire more people now.

"We're always looking for the best athlete," Chapman says. "We're constantly trying to build out our bench with strong people."

Systems in Motion specializes in application development, information management and testing services. It uses an Agile software development methodology, which makes the creation of software viable through a system of incremental improvements. That system enables it to be cost-competitive with overseas companies.

Systems in Motion plans to hire 150 people in Ann Arbor this year. It's a move the company expects will prompt it to looking for a bigger office space in the coming months.

"We're close to full occupancy at the building now," Chapman says.

Source: Colin Chapman, vice president & general manager for Systems in Motion
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

AdAdapted doubles staff as its mobile technology gains traction

AdAdapted has doubled its staff over the last year thanks to its principal mobile advertising platform gaining traction in the market place. The Ann Arbor-based startup has hired four people over the last year, including software developers, account managers, and sales professionals. It now has a staff of nine employees and one intern.

"We anticipate hiring 2-4 more people in the next six months," says Michael Pedersen, CEO of AdAdapted.

AdAdapted got its start developing a native advertising platform for mobile apps. The idea is to better connect advertisers with developers to create customized advertisements for target audiences. It has since expanded its reach to include content tracking of brands and purchases for its customers.

The company has watched its revenue spike over the last year. Pedersen describes the gains as "substantial" and anticipates the company to grow its revenue by at least 100 percent over the next year.

"We are inking deals now that are worth well into the six figures," Pedersen says.

Source: Michael Pedersen, CEO of AdAdapted
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Dexter-based kSpace Associates creates 5 new jobs

Last year turned out to be quite the year for kSpace Associates. The Dexter-based tech firm tied for its best year ever (2011) in terms of revenue generated.

"A good chunk of that was solar systems," says Darryl Barlett, CEO of kSpace Associates. "We anticipate we will have similar sales level as well (this year)."

The 23-year-old firm develops and manufacturers diagnostic tools for the semi-conductor industry. Its sales were led by orders for solar projects from Chinese firms, primarily from its Ultrascan System, which measures the curvature and bow of semi-conductor wafer.

Those spiking sales allowed kSpace Associates to hire five people over the last year, expanding its staff to 26 employees and the occasional summer intern. The new hires include an optics engineer, a sales engineer, a field service technician, and an office assistant. It is currently looking to hire an software developer.

The company is also looking to pump up its sales of LED products in 2015. The firm also landed a Small Business Innovation Research grant to develop new products. The first phase of the grant is worth $150,000.

"Phase 1 is a six month project," Barlett says. "We hope to apply for Phase 2 by the end of the year."

Source: Darryl Barlett, CEO of kSpace Associates
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Seat Side Service lands big client in Toledo Mud Hens

Last year was Seat Side Service's first appearance at the plate with its mobile concession software. While it didn’t hit a home run on its first swing, it didn't whiff at the pitch either.

The downtown Ann Arbor-based startup landed the Toledo Mud Hens (the Detroit Tigers AAA minor league affiliate) as a customer last year. Seat Side Services technology enabled the baseball club to increase its concession sales by double digits, specifically its per-capita-crowd-expenditures by 44 percent.

"It's an astronomical number," says Steve Ventura, senior vice president of Seat Side Service. "They (Mud Hens management) was more than pleased."

The 2-year-old startup created a mobile software platform that enabled spectators at athletic events to order food and beverages through their smartphone. They can pay online and the orders are delivered from a centralized kitchen, enabling vendors to only have to carry the food ordered. Seat Side Service’s first season with the Mud Hens allowed the company to show what it can do.

"It allowed us to open a lot of doors in other sports, not just baseball," Ventura says. The company is now speaking to teams in Major League Baseball, NCAA, NHL, and the NFL. Ventura expects to have a dozen teams signed up for Seat Side Service’s platform by the end of the year.

"I would think the number is going to be triple that by the end of 2016," Ventura says.

That success has allowed Seat Side Service to do some hiring. It has added two employees (Venture and a technical lead) over the last year, expanding its staff to six employees and 4-6 interns. It is also looking to hire another five people in software development, sales, and marketing.

Source: Barak Leibovitz, founder & CEO of Seat Side Service, and Steve Ventura, senior vice president of Seat Side Service
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Sight Machine to close on multi-million-dollar VC round, grow staff

Sight Machine doesn't have to look too far down the road to see some big things are on the horizon. The manufacturing software startup is poised to close on a big venture capital round in a few weeks, move into a new home in a few months, and exponentially grow the business this year.

The Ann Arbor-based startup is in the final stages of securing a seven-figure venture capital deal within the next couple of weeks. The deal is described as "less-than-$10-million" ...but not too much less than that.

"It's still a multi-million-dollar deal," says Patrick Fetterman, vice president of marketing for Sight Machine.

The 4-year-old company has been developing a software platform for manufacturers. It started out as a inspection technology but now has expanded to analyze a factory's entire operations. It’s being branded as manufacturing analytics that take up an enormous amount of computing power to operate.

Sigh Machine launched its first product two years ago. Now it has two Fortune 1000 companies as customers and a number of medium-sized businesses. Fetterman expects that list to grow rapidly once the seed capital is confirmed and used to grow the business. It is already bursting at the seams in its current home in Ann Arbor's Maker Works.

"We're looking for additional office space because we have outgrown it," Fetterman says. "We plan to double the size of the business."

Sight Machine has expanded its staff to 22 people after making nine hires last year. Those new jobs included sales, marketing, engineers and executive team members. More hires are expected this year.

"It's going to be a very exciting year for the company," Fetterman says.

Source: Patrick Fetterman, vice president of marketing for Sight Machine
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Portal Architects hires 15 people on strength of strategic partnerships

Portal Architects really started to hit its sweet spot in 2014. The Ann Arbor-based cloud IT firm has grown by triple digits over the last year, enabling it to hire more than a dozen people.

"We have more than doubled in size," says Mark Brazeau, CEO of Portal Architects.

The 2-year-old company’s software, SkySync, helps companies connect their IT to the cloud through a Windows app. That technology enables organizations to synchronize and move files across storage systems including most cloud storage services. Bottom line is it takes a lot of the pain out of moving files that has long plagued businesses looking for digital information mobility.

"This problem has been around for 30 years," Brazeau says. "We're the first company to address that problem."

Which has resulted in 380 percent revenue growth over the last year. That in turn led to15 new hires in IT, software, sales, and marketing positions. It is also looking to hire a couple of software developers right now. That growth has come thanks to some big strategic partnerships the firm has landed in the last year, including the likes of Google, IBM, Oracle, and Internet2.

"They promote our product," Brazeau says. "It's a fantastic relationship. It’s a one-plus-one-equals-three relationship."

Source: Mark Brazeau, CEO of Portal Architects
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

ArborMetrix creates 17 jobs as it more than doubles in size

The team at Arbor Metrix is hiring people as fast as the healthcare software startup can find the right folks.

The Ann Arbor-based firm has hired 17 people over the last year. Those new hires in sales, development, and on the executive team have expanded the staff to 42 people. The company is also looking to hire a handful of software developers right now.

"It's not for a lack of trying," says Brett Furst, CEO of ArborMetrix. "We're trying to find the talent. We're looking for people in every facet of the business."

The 3-year-old company's software platform provides real-time clinical performance analytics tools for hospitals. The technology helps healthcare providers improve the quality, safety and cost-effectiveness of surgical and other specialty care.

Sales of the platform are up 110 percent over the last year. ArborMetrix has also more than doubled the number of its customers from 18 to 41, while tripling the number of clinical users. The number of hospitals its services with its platform is now north of 300.

"We also made some investments in the product," Furst says. "The newly released surgical metrix tool is getting a lot of attention."

Furst is optimistic ArborMetrix will continue this growth streak into 2015 if not surpass it. Rigt now he is looking to double revenue again by forming some strategic partnerships and expanding the company’s staff to 60-plus employees.

"We're sustaining that momentum," Furst says. "I expect we will outpace our 2014 performance."

Source: Brett Furst, CEO of ArborMetrix
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Biovigil Hygiene Technologies lands new hospital contracts, expands staff

Biovigil Hygiene Technologies is moving into a bigger home in Ann Arbor, which is allowing it to grow its business even more this year.

"We have doubled the size of our office and operations," says Brent Nibarger, chief sales & marketing officer for Biovigil Hygiene Technologies.

The 5-year-old company has hired six people in engineering and tech support over the last year. It now has a staff of 19 employees and the occasional intern. It is also looking to hire a couple people right now to keep up with its growth demands.

Biovigil Hygiene Technologies principal product is a hand-sanitizing system for hospitals designed to detect and monitor hand washing. It utilizes a room sensor, a base station, and an identification badge to monitor and automatically communicate compliance information. The idea is to help improve compliance and cut down on infections.

The company launched a joint marketing effort with Steris Corp last summer to get its technology in more facilities. It has added five hospitals in that time and is looking at add 50 more this year.

"We secured a national contract with Premier, which is the biggest purchasing group in the country," Nibarger says.
 
Source: Brent Nibarger, chief sales & marketing officer for Biovigil Hygiene Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Armune Bioscience scores seed capital, grows Ann Arbor lab

Armune Bioscience recently landed $700,000 in seed capital and is looking to bring that number up to $2.5 million to complete its Series A round.

That money is going to go toward the commercialization of the 7-year-old company's cancer blood test, Apifiny, and the addition of more staff member. The company currently employs six people, two of which (both executive positions) were hired over the last year.

"We anticipate having several job openings in the second and third quarter of the year," says David Esposito, CEO of Armune Bioscience. "Four or so will be in our laboratory."

Armune Bioscience is developing an innovative, non-PSA blood test to aid in the early detection of prostate cancer. The startup plans to launch that blood test commercially later this year. The Kalamazoo-based company developed the product at its Ann Arbor lab where half of its staff works.

"We hope to have that on the market in the second quarter of this year," Esposito says.

Source: David Esposito, CEO of Armune Bioscience
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Michigan eLab investments find different ways to impact Ann Arbor

Michigan eLab is an investment firm launched a little more than two years ago with the idea of  bridging the entrepreneurial ecosystems of Michigan and Silicon Valley. It’s well on its way to do that with its first two investments.

The downtown Ann Arbor-based venture capital firm, founded by Silicon Valley investment veterans with Michigan roots, has invested in MobileForce (a Silicon Valley-based mobile app startup) and Akadeum Life Sciences (an Ann Arbor-based life sciences startup). Both investments are bringing jobs to Ann Arbor.

The $150,000 investment in Akadeum Life Sciences is helping the University of Michigan spinout develop its tissue testing preparation platform. The startup and its team of three people (it plans to add more later this year) has leveraged a number of local entrepreneurial initiative, such as U-M's I-Corps program and seed capital from Invest Detroit.

"Akadeum Life Sciences is a great example of a startup that has came out of the entrepreneurial ecosystem," says Doug Neal, managing director of Michigan eLab.

MobileForce developing enterprise cloud and mobile software. It is working with VisionIT to build out it products and is looking to hire up to four people in Ann Arbor now.

"The goal is to get to 20 people in Ann Arbor," Neal says.

Michigan eLab currently employs five people. It has made two investments so far but plans to ramp up that pace in 2015 with three or four investments before the end of the year.

"We are hopeful we will make another one in the next couple months," Neal says.

Source: Doug Neal, managing director of Michigan eLab
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Saline-based Image Data Conversion hires 7 as it continues to grow

Image Data Conversion has been growing a lot since the economic recovery commenced a couple of years ago through both organic growth and acquisitions.

The Saline-based company specializes in digitizing documents. Think turning paperwork and microfilm into more readily accessible digital documents. That could be everything from newspapers to building permits.

"The business has been growing in the double digits since 2010," says Bob Palmerton, director of finance administration for Image Data Conversion. "There is a lot of paper out there."

The 4-year-old company has also been acquiring or launching new divisions in the last few years. It acquired Beam Film in 2012 and launched Reveal Digital in 2013. It has steadily consolidated it sales efforts since then.

That has allowed Image Data Conversion to hire seven new people over the last 18 months, expanding its staff to 65 employees. Of those, 55 are based in Saline. That number could jump again in the near future as the company considers acquiring more firms in the not-too-distant future.

"We keep a short list of potential candidates that would fit in well with the company," Palmerton says.

Source: Bob Palmerton, director of finance administration for Image Data Conversion
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Akadeum Life Sciences spins out of local entrepreneurial ecosystem

Akadeum Life Sciences just landed a six-figure seed capital round. The $150,000 raise was led by Ann Abror-based venture capital firm Michigan eLab.

"They are wicked smart entrepreneurs doing something really hard that will have a big impact on the world," says Doug Neal, managing director of Michigan eLab. "Those three criteria are really important to us."

Akadeum Life Sciences is developing a platform that helps researchers prepare samples faster and more efficiently. It uses buoyant beads to improve cell isolation, allowing the targeting of cells in complex solutions using surface antigens.

The technology was spun out of the University of Michigan and the two-person startup leveraged a number of local entrepreneurial resources along the way, including U-M's I-Corps program and Invest Detroit. It is currently sharing space at Menlo Innovations office in downtown Ann Arbor, receiving mentorship from the company’s principals, like Richard Sheridan.

"We like their approach to solving problems and making products, which is customer-oriented," says Brandon McNaughton, co-founder & CEO of Akadeum Life Sciences.

The 9-month-old startup is rare in that already has customers. Eight researchers working on cancer research are paying for the technology and another half a dozen potential customers are in the pipeline.

"We want this in as many hands as we can possible get," says John Younger, co-founder & CSO of Akadeum Life Sciences.

Source: Brandon McNaughton, co-founder & CEO of Akadeum Life Sciences; John Younger, co-founder & CSO of Akadeum Life Sciences; Doug Neal, managing director of Michigan eLab
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Ann Arbor's Logic Quantum doubles staff, revenue in 2014

Logic Quantum spent 2014 nearly doubling its staff to keep with demand for its software services.

The 30-year-old firm has hired four people in data entry, sales and marketing. It now employs 10 people in Ann Arbor. It is also looking to hire a few sales people early this year.

Logic Quantum specializes in environmental health and science software. Its recent growth, which has allowed the company to double its revenue, has come from two primary sources. The company has been offering its software and services to small-and-medium-sized businesses to help to conform to OSHA regulations. It’s also helping firms convert chemical data sheets to a uniform format to meet regulations.

"We're trying to expand in that space," says Yiwei Chen, managing director of Logic Quantum.

That new work has allowed the firm to triple its customer base. Logic Quantum is gearing up to launch a new safety-and-risk software platform later this year that should allow it to grow even more.

"We're pretty confident we will be able to double our revenue again," Chen says.

Source: Yiwei Chen, managing director of Logic Quantum
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Selocial expands to 6 as it makes finals of Extreme Tech Challenge

Social media startup Selocial helped bolster its brand earlier this year at the Extreme Tech Challenge in Las Vegas.

The Ann Arbor-based company made the semi-finals of the business plan competition, earning an invite to do a live demo on the Monster Product stage of this year's Consumer Electronics Show. It beat out 2,000 other entries to score a Top 25 spot.

"This is really big," says David Baird, co-founder & CEO of Selocial. "I didn't expect it."

Baird likes to describe Selocial as an Instagram meets Spotify or Pandora. The company’s software allows users to make a "Selomix," which is a 15-minute visual playlist that combines the users preferred music with a photo. The company launched midway through 2014 and is still in Beta.

"We would love to come out of Beta in the next six months," Baird says. "We're looking at a couple of partners right now."

The 1-year-old startup has expanded its staff to six people. That team is currently working on enhancing the software platform by adding more features and plugins.

"Someone could listen to someone else's mix on Facebook without having to go to our site," Baird says.

Source: David Baird, co-founder & CEO of Selocial
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Agentjet carves out niche with high-end real-estate leads

Ever click on an online house listing, think you found the idea home, and call the real-estate agent only to learn it’s no longer on the market? Luke Petty and Eric Pointer, both local real-estate veterans, were quite familiar with the phenomenon and launched their own startup to combat it.

Agentjet is an online platform that provides high-quality real-estate listings with the best data available online. No more highs and lows of finding what my be the perfect home and then finding out someone else bought it. Check out a video describing the service here.

"You're not going to get any false data," says Hank Brown, CEO of Agentjet. "If a house says it’s for sale then it's for sale."

The Ann Arbor-based startup launched in 2012 and has grown to 11 people. It has hired four people over the last year, including Brown. It is now looking to add three more, including a customer service rep and a telephone sales professional. Agentjet currently has 500 real-estate agents utilizing its service.

"It has been growing very well," Brown says. "It was just about at break-even when they hired me back in August."

Agentjet is planning to undergo a large marketing push in 2015. The company has spent its first few years perfecting its software and plans to take the firm national this year.

"We're planning a major launch of the product in 2015 where we will expand our coverage area," Brown says.

Source: Hank Brown, CEO of Agentjet
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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