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Carbon Media Group hires 30, expands outdoor-related digital content focus

Carbon Media Group is not trying to keep its growth slow and steady. The digital media firm is in the midst of taking a couple of big steps forward.

The Bingham Farms-based company has hired 30 people since the beginning of 2013, more than doubling its staff to 56 employees. It is looking to add some interns this summer. Many of the new jobs included positions in software development, account management, business development, sales, content writing and editing.

"We're getting ready for a big growth year in 2014," says Hyaat Chaudhary, CEO of Carbon Media Group.

For most of its first seven years, Carbon Media Group focused on digital advertising. Think banner ads, aimed at outdoors enthusiasts. It has since expanded its scope to include agriculture and action sports, like snowboarding or rock climbing. It is now working to become the largest digital content producer for the outdoor sporting world.

"It's really a growth in the breadth of the business," Chaudhary says.

Carbon Media Group now helps coordinate advertising and content creation for more than 600 websites for fans of the outdoors, agriculture and action sports/events/activities. It also has an extensive network of outdoor-related YouTube channels and its own CarbonTV outlet for online videos about the outdoors.

That expansion has allowed Carbon Media Group to grow its revenue by 33 percent in 2013. It is on track to hit its goal of 60-percent revenue growth this year, an expansion that should allow the firm to continuing hiring at a brisk pace.

Source: Hyaat Chaudhary, CEO of Carbon Media Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Warner Norcross & Judd staffs up IP practice in Southfield

Intellectual property work is becoming a bigger part of Warner Norcross & Judd's law practice in Southfield.

The Grand Rapids-based law firm, the third-largest in the state, has had a sizable office in Southfield for the last decade. That office has handled mostly business law work, such as contract work.

It is growing the Southfield office with the addition of a handful of new intellectual property attorneys. It has hired three over the last eight months, bringing the Southfield office’s number of attorneys to 35.

"It looks like we will bring two more on board in the next month or so," says Greg DeGrazia, intellectual property attorney for Warner Norcross & Judd. He adds, "We are ramping up our IP services on this side of the state."

Warner Norcross & Judd has a total of 220 attorneys on its payroll, including 25 in its intellectual property practice. Its new hires are taking on more technology work not only in the local automotive industry, but also for companies in other fields, such as Dow-Corning and the band KISS.

"We do all industries," DeGrazia says. "We have a lot of east coast companies."

Source: Greg DeGrazia, intellectual property attorney for Warner Norcross & Judd
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

ALC Hosted Telecommunications adapts to stay competitive

Making a go of it in the telecommunications field is not an easy play these days, which is what’s keeping the team at ALC Hosted Telecommunications on its toes.

"It's a competitive market," says Bettyanne Molitor, president & co-owner of ALC Hosted Telecommunications. "You are competing against services that are free so you have to be clever about what you're offering."

The Chesterfield Township-based company specializes in providing hosted telecommunication services for businesses. Think audio, video, and web conferencing, hosted auto-dialing, and marketing-on-hold services. ALC Hosted Telecommunications recently added a conference call interface with the ability to dial out and invite participants into a conference call.

Molitor started the business with her husband after being a stay-at-home mom for a number of years. She thought about the idea of re-entering the workforce as someone else’s employee but soon talked herself into re-entering as someone’s boss.

"The idea of going to work for someone else after not doing that for years wasn't appealing to me," Molitor says. "So I decided to go into business for myself."

It proved to be a good choice. Molitor and her husband have built ALC Hosted Telecommunications’ team up to four people and have continued to grow the firm's revenue despite the tough competition through client retention.

Source: Bettyanne Molitor, president & co-owner of ALC Hosted Telecommunications
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Rose-A-Lee Technologies spins out of Elmhirst Industries

Rose-A-Lee Technologies isn't your normal spin-out of another firm.

The Sterling Heights-based firm was spun out of Elmhirst Industries last year because Rose-A-Lee Technologies' founder, Patty Lopez, is part of the family that runs Elmhirst Industries, an automotive-manufacturing firm that specializes in everything from design to laser cutting.

Lopez is an engineer and had ambitions of being her own boss when she started Rose-A-Lee Technologies. The company specializes in engineering services and prototype manufacturing, primarily in the automotive and defense sectors. Lopez has built the firm’s staff up to three people as it gained traction.

"Over the last month or so we have been having steady work orders come in," Lopez says. "That's exciting because our customers are passing our information around."

Now that work is becoming a little more steady for Rose-A-Lee Technologies, Lopez would like to continue building on the engineering and prototyping services by diversifying the company's clientele. She would like to add more customers in not only automotive and defense, but also in the appliance and aerospace industries.

Source: Patty Lopez, president of Rose-A-Lee Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Wheels for Workers creates car-repair career paths

Greg Szczesny knows what it's like to be without a vehicle when you absolutely need one. The Allen Park resident lost his job in 2009 and car trouble didn't do anything but help him in his search for employment.

"I realized how important it was was to have reliable transportation and how difficult it was to maintain it," Szczesny says.

That experience helped inspire him to start Wheels for Workers, a new non-profit focused on helping at-risk youth find careers through car repair. The non-profit, which Szczesny hopes to move to Detroit later this year, teaches teens how to become automotive mechanics while providing hands-on experience in auto repair. Check out a video about the non-profit here.

Szczesny first pitched the idea at last year's Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, an event focused on triple-bottom-line business creation and growth, and received warm reviews from the judges. He has since worked with Michigan Corps to refine the idea. He also recently finished the BUILD program at downtown Detroit-based D:hive to create a strategic plan.

Wheels for Workers has also received a $2,400 grant from State Farm Insurance. Szczesny plans to re-enter the non-profit in this year’s Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge as a new venture and then in Hatch Detroit to help raise more seed capital, along with other grant money.

"There is a lot of grant money out there for job training," Szczesny says.

Source: Greg Szczesny, managing director & founder of Wheels for Workers
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Walsh College launches online program for aspiring entrepreneurs

Walsh College has always prided itself on being a friend of small business through education, but now its Troy campus is trying to make that help easier to access.

The Walsh Institute is debuting its new Business Launch program, an online guide focused on helping aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their business dreams into reality.

"We took everything we do and centralized it," says Tara R Miceli, director of Walsh Institute. "We put it online and put it out there."

Business Launch can walk budding businesspersons through the steps of growing their ideas and give them access to Walsh College's resources, mentors and faculty. The idea is to streamline the business-creation process so new entrepreneurs go through less of a learning curve.

It costs $195 per idea to use the program, which includes filling out a questionnaire and receiving customized feedback. Users of the program will have access to a variety of business resources, including articles, blogs and case studies featuring small- and family-owned business success stories.

"It just makes more sense," Miceli says. "We want to give the real-time answers to what a business needs at that time."

Source: Tara R Miceli, director of Walsh Institute
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

EcoMotors acquires Katech, plans to add personnel

EcoMotors has acquired engine-manufacturer Katech, a move that will help the Allen Park-based startup accelerate development of its green-engine technology.

Katech, which calls Clinton Township home, has made a name for itself over its 35 years for pushing the envelope when it comes to developing the latest in engine and powertrain technology.

“The company has a great reputation,” says Tony Mannarino, the new CEO of Katech. “There are some really skilled people here.”

EcoMotors launched in 2008 with the idea of reinventing the internal combustible engine to be more energy efficient and cleaner. It's developing an opposed-piston, opposed-cylinder engine that is smaller and lighter than conventional engines. It also has about half of the components of traditional engines. EcoMotors is a venture-backed startup with investment from Khosla Ventures, Bill Gates and Braemar Energy Ventures.

The acquisition of Katech will allow for EcoMotors to research, test and build its engine technology. Katech will also keep doing business with its existing clients and flesh out its operations. Katech employs 18 people and is looking to add interns. It expects to hire another five people this year.

“We expect to add another shift to operate at capacity,” Mannarino says.

Source: Tony Mannarino, CEO of Katech
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Beringea recruits modern music college to Detroit with $3M investment

A trio of musical entrepreneurs are crossing the Atlantic Ocean and setting up shop in Detroit, thanks in part to the encouragement and investment from Michigan's largest venture capital firm.

Beringea is investing $3 million in the Detroit Institute of Music Education, a music college for contemporary musicians set to be launched this fall. Sarah Clayman, Bruce Dickinson and Kevin Nixon launched Brighton Institute of Modern Music in Brighton, England, in 2001. They sold the business in 2010 and were recruited by executives at Beringea to open a U.S. version in Detroit.

"It was a really easy sell," says Charlie Rothstein, founder & senior managing director of Beringea. "They were getting there on their own. Everything that is happening in Detroit is saying loudly to open up here."

Detroit Institute of Music Education, commonly known as DIME, will open up in 15,000 square feet of one of Bedrock Real Estate Services' buildings in downtown Detroit. The company will offer lessons in playing instruments and musical entrepreneurship. Initial projections call for 150 students in the first class, with a goal of up to 1,000 students in future classes. The business is already looking to hire up to 30 instructors and support staff for the venture.

Detroit Institute of Music Education picked Detroit over other major markets like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago because of the Motor City's impressive musical culture and the warm welcome from regional business leaders like Rothstein and Quicken Loans Chairman Dan Gilbert.

Source: Charlie Rothstein, founder & senior managing director of Beringea
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Michigan First Credit Union aims to add 17 jobs

Michigan First Credit Union is in the process of hiring another 17 people right now, including a new spokester for its Young & Free Michigan program.

The Lathrup Village-based credit union currently employs 247 people across six stand-alone branches, plus three more in Meijer stores. It is replacing a branch on Gratiot Avenue, which is expected to open this fall. Michigan First Credit Union has hired 17 people over the last year. Its new positions range from IT professionals to branch operations. For information on those jobs, click here.

Among the new positions is the credit union’s spokester job for its Young & Free Michigan program. The 3-year-old program employs one college student for a year, making the person the credit union’s spokester. The spokester engages local college students through social media, community events, blog posts and online videos. The idea is to encourage smart financial behavior and help attract more young people to the credit union.

"The year goes by so fast," says Vicky Goldwater, young & free Michigan spokester for Michigan First Credit Union. She worked as a waitress and studied communications at Macomb Community College before taking the position. "The experience was awesome."

Michigan First Credit Union is taking applications for this year's spokester. The position comes with paid gas and insurance. Applicants are expected to make a video when applying. More info can be found here.

"Have fun with the video," Goldwater says. "Be yourself."

Michigan First Credit Union has about 94,300 members in Michigan, which is up more than 4,000 since the beginning of 2013. It has added $30 million in assets in the last year, totaling $674 million.

Source: Vicky Goldwater, young & free Michigan spokester for Michigan First Credit Union
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Walsh College scores $100K investment fund for students

Business students at Walsh College in Troy have six figures to play with now that a former member of the school’s faculty has started a new investment fund there.

Leon LaBrecque, a former professor and department chair of finance and economics at Walsh College and managing partner and founder of LJPR, is giving $100,000 to start the Michigan Alpha Project. The student-run investment portfolio will focus on investing in publicly traded companies based in Michigan. LeBrecque says he choose to donate $100,000 at first because “it seemed like enough to make the students interested,” and he is helping raise more money to expand the fund.

"We're trying to shoot for $1 million by the end of the year," LaBrecque says.

The Michigan Alpha Project will be run by two student teams per quarter. One team will make the investments and manage the fund while a second team manages a shadow fund. The results from both teams are compared each quarter. The teams can range in size from five to nine students.

The students will use Walsh College’s newly created finance lab to analyze markets and make investment choices. The 1,400 square-foot space features 24 work stations, 12 Bloomberg terminals, lab projectors, a white board, and an interactive market wall with live feeds for market indexes, global currency movements, current commodity prices, bond prices and NASDAQ, NYSE and Watchlist feeds.

"It gives the students enough to get their fingernails dirty," says John Moore, professor of finance and economics at Walsh College. "It's different when you are investing real money."

Source: John Moore, professor of finance and economics at Walsh College and Leon LaBrecque, managing partner and founder of LJPR
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Talascend staffing firm gets new COO

The leadership team at Talascend is growing as the Troy-based staffing firm adds a new COO.

Andrea Hopkey arrived this month with 20 years of staffing industry experience, working in the engineering/construction, manufacturing, telecommunications, IT/technical, chemical, and oil and gas industries. She has worked at Adecco, and most recently as president responsible for all aspects of the business at Allstates Technical Services.

"She has a tremendous amount of staffing experience with some major players," says Jason Dawson, executive vice president of global administration for Talascend. "She has expertise in places we are growing, such as oil and gas."

Talascend got its start in 1946 as Modern Engineering. It specialized mainly in engineering and design work early in its life but has transitioned mostly to staffing in recent years. The company employs about 150 core staff after making some new hires of recruiters and other positions in the last year.

It routinely places 3,000 people in contract staffing jobs around the world, however, most of its staffing work is U.S.-based. Dawson still sees U.S.-based work as the firm’s biggest growth spot. Talascend has experienced double-digit growth since the end of the Great Recession, and Dawson doesn’t see why that streak would stop anytime soon.

"We see '14 already growing again," Dawson says.

Source: Jason Dawson, executive vice president of global administration at Talascend
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Telemus Capital adds 4 positions, $100M in new clients

Telemus Capital isn't trying to make its clients rich. It's trying to keep them wealthy. That’s part of the reason why the Southfield-based financial management firm has been growing so much in the past year.

The 9-year-old firm has watched its revenue increase by 20 percent over the last year. That’s due in part to strong performances from stock markets. It also is due to an infusion of new customers.

"Our new clients that have come to us have exceeded our expectations," says Lyle Wolberg, partner & senior adviser at Telemus Capital. "We have brought in $100 million in new clients to the firm in the last year."

Telemus Capital acquired Concentratic Capital in Los Angeles earlier this year. The new acquisition will serve as Telemus Capital’s new LA office. Telemus Capital has also hired four new people, including a new partner and a few research analysts.

"We have done quite a bit of hiring," Wolberg says.

Source: Lyle Wolberg, partner & senior adviser at Telemus Capital
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

DASI Solutions adds 8 jobs, moves into new downtown Pontiac HQ

DASI Solutions underwent some big changes in the last year, expanding its staff with a number of hires, moving into a new home in downtown Pontiac, and preparing to offer some new cutting-edge services.

The engineering/tech firm executed its move to a newly renovated building in downtown Pontiac last summer. The company also hired eight people over the last year, expanding its headcount to 45. The new employees are primarily engineering and business development professionals. It also has two openings for application engineers and is planning on adding a couple of summer interns this year.

DASI Solutions is also getting ready to launch a 3-D printing-on-demand service later this month. The company plans to make 3-D printing much more affordable and accessible.

"We will be accepting models from our customers online," says David Darbyshire, co-owner of DASI Solutions. "We will give them an instant quote."

The 18-year-old company has also been expanding its market share geographically. It recently entered into the Cleveland market. The new Cleveland office joins a handful of the firm’s offices across the Midwest.

DASI Solutions has also been doing a lot of work with the state of Michigan's MAT2 (Michigan Advanced Technician Training) program, which helps steer high school students or recent graduates toward tech careers. Think of it as helping guide kids in high school robotics programs who might not be cut out for engineering degrees toward careers in robotics through an apprenticeship program.

"The best way to describe it is an internship on steroids," Darbyshire says.

DASI Solutions will be participating in a MAT2 company fair for careers in mechatronics and design visualization on March 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The fair will take place at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills campus in Building F, 2900 Featherstone Road.

Source: David Darbyshire, co-owner of DASI Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Canine To Five looks for larger Ferndale space

Canine To Five is starting its second year at its new location in Ferndale and is looking for a bigger space to help accommodate its success.

The dog daycare business, which got its start in Detroit's Midtown neighborhood, opened its second location in Ferndale last year. It now takes care of 60 dogs a day there. It took the company several years to reach that number at its Detroit location.

Canine To Five currently employs 15 people at its Ferndale digs and is looking for a bigger location to accommodate its growing pack of customers. "When I find the perfect building, I'll know," says Liz Blondy, owner of Canine To Five.

The business got its start on Cass Avenue just south of Martin Luther King Boulevard in Detroit in 2005. Back then the rebranding of the old Cass Corridor as Midtown was just beginning and dog boarding was a relatively new idea to the market. Today it employs 45 people, mostly in Detroit, and expects to hire another four or five this year.

Blondy says her business has proven popular in the suburbs, especially with people who don't often frequent the inner city. She is considering opening another location in the suburbs in the not-too-distant future to take advantage of that demand but isn’t actively moving toward doing that this year.

"At this time it's not a serious consideration but if a great opportunity comes up I will consider it," Blondy says.

Source: Liz Blondy, owner of Canine To Five
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Complete Data Products makes 6 hires, expands customer base

Neal Doshi and his brother, Nyrav Doshi, purchased Complete Data Products two years ago with the idea of turning the software firm into something bigger. A few software product launches later, the Troy-based business is realizing that dream for its owners.

"From a numbers standpoint we expect our company to grow 20 percent, top-line, by the end of the year," Neal Doshi says.

Complete Data Products specializes in paperless document management software. If there is some sort of business function that requires using paper, Complete Data Products is coming up with ways to do it digitally.

For instance, the firm launched its financial receipt product last year, which allowed users to send sales receipts through email. It also recently launched an electronic signature application, and upgraded its financial receipt product to utilize text message technology.

"There were a lot of people who pushed that out," Neal Doshi says. "There was a lot of growth in that vertical."

The customer base of this technology has grown from credit unions to include banks and law firms. That has allowed Complete Data Products to hire six people, primarily in tech support and marketing, over the last year. It now employs 28 people.

Source: Neal Doshi, managing partner of Complete Data Products
Writer: Jon Zemke

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