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Entrepreneurship : In the News

177 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All

Building a better apple-picker

It's peak apple harvesting and cider mill season in Southeast Michigan, a Grand Rapids man thinks he's got a faster, more efficient way for Michigan fruitgrowers to pick their 30 million bushels of apples.

Excerpt:

"The owner of Phil Brown Welding Corp. of Conklin has developed a self-propelled machine that replaces ladders with hydraulically operated picking platforms that crawl through an orchard while a vacuum system gently collects the apples and sends them directly into a bin, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Not only is it safer for the pickers and the apples, the five pickers who work on the machine can gather 20 percent more apples, says Brown, a 66-year-old inventor who has been creating fruit-related machines at his shop since he was 18 years old."

More here

Eleven Michigan residents make Forbes 400 list of richest Americans

Michigan's fortunes are turning for the better, with 11 of its residents among the very fortunate.

Excerpt:

"The combined wealth of theForbes'  2013 ranking of the richest people in America is $2 trillion, up from $1.7 trillion in 2012 and the highest ever, due in part to the strength of both the U.S. stock and real estate markets.   The average net worth of a Forbes 400 member is a staggering $5 billion, the highest to date, up from $4.2 billion last year...

The top three industries are:
  • Investments – 96
  • Technology – 48
  • Food and Beverage – 29 "

See the full list here

LevelEleven founder tells Forbes why he keeps his start-up in Detroit

Detroit start-up LevelEleven, which could conceivably have gone anywhere else but Detroit, has stayed rooted in the area. Here's why.

Excerpt:

"By the time my company LevelEleven launched last fall after being incubated within Pleasant Ridge’s ePrize, I had already planned our business strategy and next steps. And it never crossed my mind to move out of Detroit to build LevelEleven in a more obvious startup market. Why? In part, because this is home. But Detroit also has many characteristics that make it a great place to launch a technology startup."

More here.

The Detroit region's new landscape: Urban farming?

As the old prospecting cliché goes, "There's gold in them thar hills!" Or in the Detroit region's case, in the dirt. The Chicago Tribune has a good piece on how vacant dirt is being turned over to cropland in Detroit and its neighboring cities.


Excerpt:

"So-called retail agriculture, which includes direct-to- consumer, organic and local-foods sales, had revenue of $8 billion in the U.S. farm census in 2007, compared with $7 billion combined for cotton and rice, according to a 2010 study done by Local Food Strategies for the Farm Credit Council, the trade group representing small-town credit unions and other rural banks...

The vision is drawing attention from landowners ranging from Willerer, who is making enough money from farming to give up a teaching job and is snapping up vacant lots, to John Hantz, a financial services professional and entrepreneur who has pledged to buy blighted properties to create the world's biggest urban tree farm.

By selling at farmers markets, local restaurants and a community-supported agriculture project that sells his goods directly to consumers, Willerer said he can make $20,000 to $30,000 per acre in a year. In addition to the acre he farms on vacant lots, Willerer cultivates another three acres outside the city and is preparing to start a fourth.

Michigan has the fourth-biggest number of farmers markets, trailing California, New York and Illinois, according to a USDA report this week. Among its attempts to nurture small-scale agriculture and the businesses that arise from it, the state is home to 140 craft breweries, sixth-most in the nation. Grand Rapids, the state's second-largest city, was named Beer City USA 2013 by Examiner.com."

More here.

Macomb-OU Incubator launches blog for entrepreneurs

Add this to your reading list: The Macomb-OU incubator is spawning not only new business, but a new communications forum. For the word on all things entrepreneurial, check in (and chime in!) to this new blog.

An excerpt from the first post:

"Are you familiar with the saying “The squeaky wheel gets the grease?” The basic idea is that the loudest or most noticeable problems get solved first. The first time I heard this was from my parents at age 15. I was applying for jobs, and whenever I wouldn’t get a response, they would recommend I follow up with a phone call.

While it seemed pushy at the time, I now embrace this concept. What I used to consider brash, I now consider assertive. Whether it is applying for jobs or seeking capital, do not be timid of reminding others of who you are and what you are trying to accomplish. Remember, you are not their first priority.

I put this advice into action most recently when creating a promotional video for my business. I needed legal rights to a song, but after emailing and calling the artist’s management and even the record label, I received no response. The next week, the artist happened to be performing in a nearby city. My partners and I arrived at the concert venue an hour early and managed to give the artist our t-shirt and business card. The next day, we received an apologetic call from his manager, and eventually we received the rights."

More here.

Bye Bye Brooklyn, Hello Detroit

Business-minded couples getting squeezed out of Brooklyn are taking the combo of affordable rents and the supportive arts-minded communities of Detroit and its close-in city cousins.


Excerpt:

When Sandi Bache Heaselgrave and Andy Heaselgrave made the well-worn migration from New York City to Detroit, they didn't realize they'd be starting a trend...

But when the couple, who worked in the photography industry, decided to leave in 2010, they were the first of what would become six couples (and counting) relocating from the tiny enclave of Red Hook, Brooklyn, with entrepreneurial pursuits in mind....

So when Ann St. Peter, owner of  Pinwheel Bakery,  offered to let them open in the front half of her shop in Ferndale, the couple jumped. Bache Heaselgrave had planned to sell Pinwheel pastries anyway. 

She spent $35,000 renovating the space, buying her equipment and giving the shop an airy feel. She also took over responsibility for sales so St. Peter could focus on pastries instead of running a retail location. Bache Heaselgrave increased prices and improved the coffee, becoming the only café in the Detroit area to sell Portland, Ore.-based  Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

More here.

How a company purchased for $25K yields $20M in sales

After the great housing collapse, Marketplace Homes put some liquidity into a weak housing market.

Excerpt:

"Around 2006 Kalis noticed a lot of potential clients telling him that they wanted to buy a home, but they couldn’t get rid of their other home.   At Pulte, Kalis put together a program that helped people get out of their other homes using a method known as “solution-based selling.”   This meant that if you helped solve someone’s problem, they would likely become a customer.    The company sold around 20 homes with this solution.

Dick Chelten founded Marketplace Homes in 2002.   Chelten become one of Kalis’ biggest investors and is a mentor to him.   Kalis felt like this solution-based program could be much bigger so he bought the business from Chelten for $25,000.   The company grew to 100 homes sold in Metro Detroit shortly after that, which is around the same time that the housing market fell 90%.   Marketplace Homes is expected to do around $20 million in revenues this year.

...While many banks were telling people to foreclose on their properties, Marketplace Homes said that people should keep their homes and try to save their credit.   Marketplace Homes allows people to buy a new construction home, while listing their old home for 1%.   You can lease your home for up to 6 years."

More here.


The new CSA: Community-Supported Art

For consumers, it's believing before seeing. Farmers started selling shares of their harvest through community-supported agriculture programs, and now, artists are banding together to sell shares of their portfolios through community-supported art groups.

An excerpt:

"For years, Barbara Johnstone, a professor of linguistics at Carnegie Mellon University here, bought shares in a C.S.A. — a community-supported agriculture program — and picked up her occasional bags of tubers or tomatoes or whatever the member farms were harvesting.

Her farm shares eventually lapsed. (“Too much kale,” she said.) But on a recent summer evening, she showed up at a C.S.A. pickup location downtown and walked out carrying a brown paper bag filled with a completely different kind of produce. It was no good for eating, but it was just as homegrown and sustainable as what she used to get: contemporary art, fresh out of local studios....

Prices range from $450 for a share in  Miami  to as low as $50 a share in a  craft-art program in Flint, Mich."

More here.

Rainbow Loom bracelet kit is nation's hot craze this summer

Metro Detroit inventor Cheong-Choon Ng has a hit on his hands. Youth across the country are keeping their hands busy with this new bracelet kit.

Excerpt:

"First there were slap bracelets, then friendship wristlets and Silly Bandz, and now comes the newest youth accessory obsession, the Rainbow Loom. It differs from its predecessors in that kids can express their creativity by forming the colorful rubber-band bracelets themselves. 

"We are selling the Rainbow Loom like crazy!" says Christine Gorham, owner of Cherry Hill's Sweet & Sassy. The summer obsession, also sold at Learning Express, Michaels, Hallmark, and various independently owned toy stores as well as online, is flying off shelves so quickly that stores can't keep them in stock for long..."

More here




At Maker Faire, anything flies

A Cloud Bean, an X-Wing, and a dining-table sized version of the Operation game were just a few of the don't-miss attractions at last weekend's Maker Faire at the Henry Ford. But if you did miss it, check out these cool images.

Detroit Kitchen Connect cooks up affordable space for local culinary entrepreneurs

It's the classic chicken-or-the-egg conundrum for food entrepreneurs: they're usually required to use commenercial kitchen facilities to prepare their goods, but many can't make the rent until their businesses are off the ground.

Excerpt:

"Now Davison, the newly hired community kitchen coordinator at  Eastern Market Corp., and Daniel, founder of  FoodLab Detroit, are helping the next wave of food entrepreneurs tackle one of the biggest obstacles to growth in their industry: finding affordable, reliable commercial kitchen space....

Many local churches and nonprofits have commercial kitchens tucked away in their basements and back rooms -- even the  Detroit Symphony Orchestra  has one -- but finding them is all word of mouth. And even when entrepreneurs do find a kitchen, the owners don't always want to rent time because the additional usage increases utility costs and creates scheduling challenges...

It took Majid several months of looking -- he even considered building his own facility -- before he finally found a kitchen. 

It was 90 miles away in Holt. 

That experience is not uncommon for Detroit-area food businesses. In fact, seeing that struggle was one reason Daniel founded FoodLab Detroit, an informal community of nearly 300 area food producers focused on sustainability and social justice through food. Through her noodle shop, Daniel discovered the intense need for kitchen space and began informally brokering deals. "I started getting connected to all of these folks who wanted to offer their kitchen space or entrepreneurs who were seeking kitchen space," said Daniel, 28. "So I became this personal hub between the two. When I started FoodLab, it became the informal connector."

More here

Help Wanted: NY Times sees tech workers moving to Detroit

West coasties are coming to Detroit, on the heels of a tech-hiring boomlet in the auto industry.

Excerpt:

"After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1998, Brian Mulloy followed the path of many of his classmates, fleeing his home state for a job in a bustling city. But after 10 years of working in technology start-ups in San Francisco, he has returned as founder of a company in Detroit’s budding technology sector..

Mr. Mulloy is part of a group of workers that Detroit is suddenly hungry for — software developers and information technology specialists who can create applications for the next generation of connected vehicles."

More here.


Renaissance Venture Capital Fund thrives on Michigan investments

The Detroit-based Renaissance Venture Capital Fund is getting landmark returns through investing in Michigan companies.

Excerpt: 

"The  Renaissance Venture Capital Fund(RVCF) is a Michigan based venture capital fund.   The company has announced today that their initial investment of $16.7 million has led to a total of nearly $300 million in 20 new Michigan companies.   This means that they are seeing a ratio of $17 venture capital investment coming into Michigan for every dollar invested by the RVCF.   This led to the creation of hundreds of high-wage jobs that pay an average of $80,000 per year."

More here.

The (less than) skinny on Detroit Chocolat

File under "Things That Make You Say Yum." A teacher starts his day, every day, as an up n coming chocolatier. 
 
Excerpt:
 
"Chocolate runs in his blood: He’s a fourth-generation chocolatier (the great-grandson of Ervin and Julia Morley of Morley Candy Makers) and he spent a decade working for Morley. Even though he’s a full-time elementary school teacher, Petz was unable to resist the pull of chocolate and in 2010 started Detroit Chocolat in Sterling Heights (to the delight of his mother and his wife whom he calls a “chocolate addict.”)"
 
Read the rest here.
 

CNN Money notes "Treat Dreams" come true for Ferndale ice cream entrepreneur

Get your scoop while it's hot. The nation's press is descending on Treat Dreams, Ferndale's gourmet ice creamery.

Excerpt:

"Scott Moloney started exactly the kind of business he would have once rejected for a loan.

The Birmingham, Mich., resident closed out his 18-year career as a private lending officer in 2009 to open an ice cream shop. Among the strikes against him: "I was a first-time entrepreneur, with no experience, going into a high-risk industry," he says...

In March 2010 he bought a six-quart ice cream maker, and five months later he opened Treat Dreams for business.

Initially, Moloney offered only one unusual flavor: Loopy Fruit, featuring ground-up cereal in vanilla ice cream. His next concoction, Sunday Breakfast -- with waffles, bacon, and maple syrup -- "got people talking," he says. Since then the store has produced 500 unconventional varieties, including Lobster Bisque and Raspberry Chipotle Bacon."


See CNN Money's coverage here.

And Time magazine calls "Michigan Salad" of the "Fifteen Funkiest Ice Cream Flavors on Earth."
177 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All
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