Detroit Startup Rapt.FM: From Startup Weekend To Giving Away Major Record Deals, Detroit startup, startup weekend

Last week when we wrote about Detroit startup Grand Circus, we talked a bit about Detroit’s entrepreneurial past and that it was fueled by the automotive industry (see what I did there) and music. Startups are crucial to rebuilding the city that was once a beacon of industry in the US. It’s startups and entrepreneurs that are going to help drive Detroit out of bankruptcy and back onto the national stage.

raptlogoWe knew it wouldn’t be too long before we heard about a great music startup in Detroit. Sure, in the 1950’s the music startup that fueled Detroit was Motown, and it was driven by R&B music. Today though, Hip Hop and Rap have taken the place of upbeat party R&B music, the kind that gave Motown its name.

Rapt.FM isn’t a new hip hop record label. Those are a dime a dozen. They’re an entirely new platform for aspiring rap artists. allows people to rap and collaborate with anyone in the world and have a live audience to watch, chat, and vote.  Its also a discovery platform for up and coming artists. has already given some lucky rappers the chance to open for Mos Def and Royce Da 5’9. Now they’re giving away a recording contract with Tommy Boy Records (think Digital Underground, Naughty By Nature, House of Pain).

We got a chance to talk with CEO and co-founder Erik Torenberg who started Rapt at a Startup Weekend in 2012. Check out our interview below.

What is your startup called?

tommyboyWhat does your company do? is a platform where people can rap with anyone in the world and have a live audience watch, chat, vote for who they like best. It’s also an artist discovery platform — contest winners won the chance to open for Mos Def, Royce Da 5’9, and next month one winner will get a record contract with Tommy Boy Entertainment.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

Erik Torenberg started the company at Start Up Weekend January 2012 (along with Co-founder Jamie Pitts) because he wanted to learn how to rap. They then won the competition, and a couple other competitions, and realized there were a lot of people like Erik who wanted to rap, and even more who found watching rap entertaining.

Where are you based?

Madis@n Building, Detroit

What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

From Grand Circus piece: “Detroit startup scene is booming – SA Today names Detroit one of the “10 Great Places to be Inspire by Innovation” Fast Company’s piece “How A Young Community of Entrepreneurs is Rebuilding Detroit” called the city a “refuge for techies looking to tackle real problems.” The New York Times also spotlighted Detroit’s tech scene, nothing that hiring in the city’s tech sector is pulling developers from the coasts. Detroit has seen a 10 percent year-over-year increase in tech job listings, which makes the city the fourth in the nation for total employment in the tech industry”

What problem do you solve?

We provide place for users to find others people to rap with, to build their fan bases, and to launch their rap career — from rapping in their basement to opening on stage for a platinum rap artist or winning a record contract. is going to expand to other music genres in the future.

Why now?

Most other music sites focus on hosting, but not on live interaction between artists and between fans and artists.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

— In only 6 hours a week, during the month of July we had 7 K users, returning users of which spent an avg of 25 minutes on the site, and 60% of all users were returning

— Launched Partnerships with heavy hitters in music industry.

What are your next milestones?

Launching the full-website September 5th (open 24/7)

Where can people find out more?    Facebook


Saving Detroit: Grand Circus Is One Of Many Startups Hoping To Reinvigorate Detroit’s Economy

GrandCircus, DVP, Detroit startup,startups, startup interview

When we think of startups, tech, and entrepreneurs we don’t usually think of the industrial revolution, or the invention of things like the automobile. We don’t often equate names like Henry Ford, William C Durant, Charles Stewart Mott, or even Berry Gordy. Decades ago these were the innovators and entrepreneurs that bucked the system, created companies and created jobs. Henry Ford created Ford Motor Company, Durant and Mott were behind General Motors, and Gordy is the king of the R&B music we know today, the founder of MoTown.

All we think, when we hear Detroit today, is $10,000 mansions in foreclosure and a city government that’s filed for bankruptcy. Now it’s up to the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators to refuel the city that was once a thriving mecca of modern day technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.  Detroit startups are at the foreground now of breathing life back into one of America’s industrial beacons.

One of those startups is Grand Circus. While Grand Circus is a startup itself, they are on the ground floor of Detroit’s technological revolution. Grand Circus is 15,000 square feet of tech training space. But we’re not talking about traditional certificate-based classroom learning.

“…we dismiss that true skill comes with a certificate. We focus instead on outcomes that matter. With project based instruction our training delivers real world expertise. We call it training with a purpose. Our curriculum is based on the latest in technology, business, and design, and we have partnered with the best and brightest. Our instructors are real world practitioners who are at the top of their field and committed to the success of their students. [We’ll offer] More than 30 different classes this fall – including Build an iPhone App, The Design Process, and Digital Marketing,” Grand Circus’ Kelly LaPierre told Nibletz in an interview.

Michigan, and Detroit specifically, already have a handful of great startups, that if successful will continue to create jobs in the Motor City. But this time instead of motors they’re using keyboards, computers, laptops, the internet and iPhones. We’ve recently covered myfab5, a Detroit startup making restaurant reviews and decision making much easier. Two weeks ago we reported on UpTo, a Detroit shared calendar startup that raised a $2 million series A. DVP (Detroit Venture Partners) has also graced the pages of Nibletz quite a bit over the last year.  So there’s no doubt that people in Detroit are stepping up.

Grand Circus is making it even easier for people to step up by learning the skills that they really need to create the next wave of startup companies. They will also play an instrumental part in grooming the next generation of employees for these startups.

We got a chance to interview the team behind Grand Circus. Check out the interview below:

What is your startup called?

Grand Circus – named after Detroit’s historic Grand Circus Park that our new space overlooks in downtown Detroit. We are located in 15,000 square feet of space in the newly renovated Broderick Tower.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?

Grand Circus was kick-started when co-founders Damien Rocchi and Brad Hoos met while working at Detroit’s collaborative tech space in the M@dison building. “We saw the opportunity and quickly converged on a mission to create an amazing home for tech training in Detroit, a city with immeasurable talent that is just starting to reach its full potential,” said Rocchi.

What’s the startup scene like in Detroit?

Detroit startup scene is booming – SA Today names Detroit one of the “10 Great Places to be Inspire by Innovation” Fast Company’s piece “How A Young Community of Entrepreneurs is Rebuilding Detroit” called the city a “refuge for techies looking to tackle real problems.” The New York Times also spotlighted Detroit’s tech scene, nothing that hiring in the city’s tech sector is pulling developers from the coasts. Detroit has seen a 10 percent year-over-year increase in tech job listings, which makes the city the fourth in the nation for total employment in the tech industry.

What problem do you solve?

There is an ever-growing need for tech professionals in Detroit’s burgeoning digital hub. “As Detroit continues to grow and evolve its technology core, developing creative and talented technology professionals is critical. We are excited about the important role Grand Circus will play in the city’s continued revolution,” said Josh Linkner, Managing Partner of Detroit Venture Partners.

Why now?

“Detroit’s tech scene is dynamic and there’s a certain vibe and feel that exists here that you just have to experience,” said Hoos, COO and Co-Founder of Grand Circus. “We’re excited to be at the epicenter of Detroit’s tech earthquake just as it’s making waves.”

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

Grand Circus joins Detroit Venture Partners’ (DVP) portfolio, a venture capital firm formed by Detroit business leaders Dan Gilbert, Josh Linkner, and Brian Hermelin.

What are your next milestones?

Classes start this fall

Where can people find out more?  Any social media links you want to share? or or @grandcircusco

Join lot’s of Michigan and midwest startups at this huge, national  startup conference Sep 29-October 1 in Cincinnati. 


Detroit Startup UpTo Closes $2 Million Series A, It’s Like FourSquare For The Future

UpTo, Detroit startup, Detroit Venture Partners, startup fundingCheck in apps have come and gone. Of course the biggest player in the space is still probably FourSquare. After that is Facebook checkins or even Google Plus. I personally find the only time I actually use FourSquare is when I’m at a big tech event. Judging by my FourSquare feed, I’m not the only one who has resorted to part time checking in.

But what if there was an app that could tell you where I’m checking in later. I don’t necessarily want to open up my schedule to everyone in the world,but between events, being a parent, and the sneaker strapped startup road trip, I typically catch up with someone a few weeks later and they were like, “hey I can’t believe I missed you at xx event.” I’d imagine most of my colleagues and most of our readers are pretty busy people. Typically if I check in on FourSquare or Facebook or even on Twitter, at an event, it’s too late to get on my schedule.

Well Detroit startup UpTo is taking that pain away.  By opening up the parts of your calendar you want to share socially, your friends, colleagues, and family members can see where you will be later in hopes that maybe you can schedule something social or for work.

I like this idea a lot, and so do investors.

UpTo raised a pretty hefty seed round of $875,000 back in 2011. Now they’ve just closed on a $2 million dollars Series A round.

The downtown Detroit-based startup currently has 9 employees and plans to add even more.  They also plan on evolving the platform to include interest-based entries like concerts and sporting events. They’ve incorporated more calendar features and even a business-to-business component as well.

“UpTo is now a full calendar with social networking instead of the other way around,” Founder and CEO Greg Schwartz told Xconomy. “A lot of users wanted to use UpTo as an every day calendar. We realized we could be highly differentiated from every other calendar.”

Detroit Venture Partners, Venture Investors, and Ludlow Ventures all participated in the round.

“[The $2 million round] allows us to really focus on building our sales team and the growth of B2B,” Schwartz says, adding that the company plans to hire four or five people within the next few months. “Right now, we’re focused less on selling and more on building our network,” he says. “We want to grow our customer base to the point that we look back and say, ‘I can’t believe we had calendars that were so static.’ ”

You can check out UpTo here.



Dress Your Personal Web Presence To Impress With Detroit Startup Workfolio

Workfolio,Detroit startup,startup interview,startupThere are thousands of  “do it yourself” (DIY) solutions to designing your own web page. There are blogging platforms, free overnight do it yourself web tools, and many more. When it comes down to it though, most of them are about saving time and sacrificing design.

Well a Detroit startup called Webfolio is looking to change that by helping users create a “stunning personal website in minutes”.

The startup, founded by Charles Pooley and Aaron Smyth, comes with everything people need to create their own beautiful website in a very short amount of time. Simple editing, magazine quality blogging, file and media hosting, promotional tools, traffic analytics and personal domain and email services make Workfolio a one stop shop for whatever your personal web needs are.

We got a chance to interview the team behind Workfolio. Check out the interview below.

What is Workfolio?

Workfolio is a web application that allows anyone to create a beautiful, distinctive website to highlight their personal brand.

In layman’s terms, how does it work (In other words how would you explain it to your grandmother)?

We make it easy for anyone to create a website, removing many of the technical and content-writing hurdles that complicate the process for the average person. We help users register their own domains, choose a beautiful website theme, and create high-quality content so they can feel great about their website and get back to business.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

Charles Pooley is the CEO and visionary force behind Workfolio. He comes to Workfolio having previously run a successful marketing and design agency, and having served as a technology executive at a publicly-traded company.

Aaron Smyth is Workfolio’s technology lead. He previously worked as a developer for CafeMom and, and was the second employee at a successful New York startup company. In addition to his product development experience, Aaron is an instructor in front-end web development at General Assembly in New York.

Where are you based?

Workfolio operates from Detroit and New York City.

What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based? 

Detroit and New York have very different startup cultures. Because Detroit’s tech scene is still small, the atmosphere is very collaborative, and there is a greater opportunity for individual companies to be recognized within the community.

We chose to open an office in New York in order to take advantage of the tremendous network of technology entrepreneurs, investors, and media that exists here.

How did you come up with the idea for Workfolio?

About a year ago I was invited to do a number of speaking engagements, and I decided I needed my own website to help build my personal brand. I tried to use several of the popular website builders but found them to be complicated and frustrating. I realized that if I was having such a problem, being a designer and a fairly technical person, then this process must be close to impossible for less tech-savvy people. We ran a survey and found that 80% of respondents wanted their own website, but only 7% of them actually had one. And when asked why, the two most popular reasons were exactly what I encountered — people thought it was too difficult to set up their own website, and they had no idea what content to add to the website once they set it up. I took these results to my partners, and Workfolio was created shortly thereafter.

How did you come up with the name?

We struggled for a long time to come up with a fitting name for our product. We eventually landed on Workfolio because it concisely conveys the essential function of the product (and we also think it’s catchy).

What problem does Workfolio solve?

If you’ve ever tried to set up your own website, you probably remember feeling frustrated trying to get your website hosting, domain, and code to work together. If you somehow managed to get those to cooperate, you then had to create or buy a design theme, and let’s face it — most of us are not good designers. Then you’re left with another big question: what content goes on my website? Most people get stuck just after purchasing their domain — the learning curve is just so steep. We eliminate the technology and design hurdles for you, allowing you to focus on the important part — creating content to let the world know what you’re all about.

What’s your secret sauce?

We believe design and user experience are the keys to the success of every application. If we can find a way to get users to share their content and feel good about the sites they create, they will be loyal customers for life.

Are you bootstrapped or funded?

Workfolio is funded by angel investors.

What are some milestones you’ve achieved?

We’re still in the early stages of the business, so most of our milestones have been related to product development. We have hit every product development milestone we have set so far.

What’s your next milestone?

Since our soft launch, our milestones have shifted from product development to customer acquisition.

Who are some of your mentors and business role models?

Randy Whitaker, the Executive Vice President of Operations for Victoria’s Secret, Dr. David DiChiera, the founder of the Detroit Opera, and Dave Hill, former President of General Motors Trading, stand out as the three people who have been most influential in helping me develop as an executive. I also admire a number of thought leaders in business, Tom Peters for example, and designers such as Jonathan Ive at Apple.

What’s next for Workfolio?

We have several new product enhancements in the works to provide more customization options for subscribers.

Where can people find out more?

The best place to learn about us is on our website: Follow us on Twitter, as well: @WorkfolioHQ

We’ve got more great startups from Detroit here.

Do you have your startup village booth for yet?


Detroit Startup Glocal: Share Your Local Content With 113 Cities Around The World [video][sxsw]

Detroit startup Glocal is a new local sharing site that allows you to share your pictures, videos and other content with 113 cities worldwide.

Glocal aims to be the source for localized content, shared with the world. Content creators can share their articles, photos and videos from their city. Content consumers can use Glocal to find out what’s going on, what to do, where to eat, local news and more for any of the 113 cities (and growing) that Glocal has a community for.

Glocal,Detroit startup,startups,startup interview, SXSW,SXSWiThe company, founded by Lincoln Cavalieri, launched back in October after a three year development period, and after raising $1 million dollar seed round from Compuware’s venture capital arm.

One of the things that makes Glocal unique is the diverse range of content being created by community members. For instance, content creators in the Memphis community have offered everything from great burger and restaurant suggestions, to photos from a tour of the Fedex world headquarters.

A quick check in Chicago has highlights captured from various Saint Patrick’s day parties, to fan pics of the Chicago Bulls and even local news like a recent lawsuit in McDonald’s.

A tour of the Berlin community turns up beautiful photos of the city, the newest Mercedes Benz and a variety of local news.

Right now Glocal can be accessed via mobile web but Cavalieri already has his team working on native apps for Android, iPhones and iPads.

You can sign up to contribute content, or peruse the Glocal offerings here at

Check out our quick video interview from SXSW below.

We’ve got a truckload more SXSW 2013 coverage here.

Even Startup Chicks Love Bacon, Grit Design Introduces SizzlePig

SizzlePig,Detroit Startup,startup,startup interviewIt seems that there’s only one thing that goes wild for bacon more than the dogs in the bacon bits commercials, and that’s geeky startup founders. Bacon and pigs for that matter, isn’t just about dudes, the women have it too. A love, an attraction, to pigs and bacon.

Andrea Livingston, the co-founder of Grit Design, showed off their new SizzlePig product at the recent 2013 event. SizzlePig gets a double bonus because not only does it mention pigs, but it’s also a startup born out of an existing business’ tool like Xtrant and ShortStack.

So what is SizzlePig?

SizzlePig is the by product of Grit Design, a small Detroit based shop that specializes in web and mobile design. Over the past four years, Livingston along with her co-founders; Mark Stewart, Eric Livingston, Carrie Thorpe, Michelle Shoan and Brendan Colley, created SizzlePig to handle photos on web and mobile projects.

“We had to resize large numbers of images, over and over again.   We’ve made tools for ourselves over the years and developed our own platform which we named Bacon (BCN – Basic Content Network).  We decided to use Bacon to help us with the batch image resize issue.   Our little tool worked better than we had expected.  We thought, hmmmm, I bet others would want to use this…so we put a UI on it and began to test it out.

sizzelpig™ was born.  sizzlepig™ is cloud based software (can also live client-side) that pulls an entire folder of images, and allows you to visually resize,  crop, change compression  to an unlimited amount of sizes for each image, all on the same page. We call it ‘fine-tuning’ the images – which is very helpful for sites that are built to be responsive. .  One of the problems we have had in the past is that we couldn’t see our final edits until the scripts had finished running.  This could take time – as in hours if the files were large.

We have seen a 70%+ decrease in time spent on initial resizing of batch images and over a 90%+ decrease on time spent for batch images to be re-worked.  This literally equals hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars and that’s for each time folder with large amounts of images are processed.

We love how we can manipulate how each image will appear and it is very fast.  There are no file size restrictions, so even original files coming from the photographer don’t need additional prep work before being processed.

This isn’t simply an alternative to scripts or other tools, this is a whole new wave of digital creation.” Livingston told in an interview.

She continued; “We didn’t make sizzlepig™ for the sake of launching a product, we made a tool to help us resize an entire folder of images to an unlimited number of sizes and fast. These images needed to be able to live in many places and on multiple screens, and, we wanted complete visual control over each crop and every last pixel.  We needed a higher quality and faster solution and were tired of settling.”

Sure there are batch scripts available but what you get with SizzlePig is a way to move the images through faster. We’ve been using SizzlePig inhouse here at nibletz and the greatest thing about it is you can set up a blueprint for the way that you need photos. We need a small 150×150 thumbnail and a 280×280 photo for our stories. We can upload as many photos as we want and that blueprint resizes all the photos at the same time and spits them back out.

SizzlePig is perfect for photographers, brand managers, designers and enterprise. With it’s simple to use interface and wide variety of customers it’s no wonder that called SizzlePig a “game changer”

You can try SizzlePig for yourself here

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Bizdom Cleveland Startup Accelerator Gets A New Bizdom

Bizdom is a startup accelerator program with locations in Detroit and Cleveland. Both Detroit and Cleveland have growing entrepreneurial and startup ecosystems, where Bizdom’s program and facilities naturally fit in.

Bizdom was launched in Cleveland by one of their biggest tech startups turned successful giant companies, Quicken Loans Inc,and Chairman Dan Gilbert’s Rock Ventures. Gilbert is passionate about technology, entrepreneurship and Cleveland is also the majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Bizdom program is actually one of the earlier startup accelerator programs. They hold three month sessions and provide startup companies, selected for their program, with $25,000 seed investments for 8% equity. Startups selected for the Bizdom program at either location are given office space, internet access, access to a wide variety of mentors, business services and other perks.

The Cleveland program has been operating out of the Quicken Loans Web Center inside the MK Ferguson Building at Quicken Loans Arena. Now they’re moving to their own 7,000 square foot space at 250 W. Huron Road in the 250 Huron Building.  The Bizdom Cleveland headquarters will be inside the five story commercial building which sits directly below the Ritz Carlton Cleveland Hotel.

“Establishing our Cleveland headquarters at 250 Huron solidifies Bizdom as an anchor in the city’s growing tech hub,” said Ross Sanders, chief executive officer of Bizdom. “Much like our Detroit headquarters, we have designed a collaborative and dynamic space that fosters an atmosphere for our entrepreneurs to truly excel,” he said.

The Detroit Bizdom location moved to a new headquarters in the Madison building in Detroit back in March.  Space is one of the values that is very important to Gilbert which explains why both locations have relocated prior to their next session.
“The opportunity came open at the Madison and part of Dan Gilbert’s vision is that place matters,” says Maria LaLonde, Bizdom’s recruiting and development leader told XConomy about the Detroit move. “We’re trying to create a great tech community where our entrepreneurs are closer to mentors, closer to funding sources, and can collaborate in an open workspace.”
Both locations offer four seasonal sessions a year and have graduated over 50 startups.
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Move Your Resume To The Front Of The Line With Chicago Startup

A new startup in Chicago called hiredMyway may have just solved a huge problem for job-seekers and that’s getting their resume actually reviewed and reviewed quicker. There is a cost involved, but when it’s all laid out for the job seeker the nominal $5 fee is worth so much more in the end.

Matt Mosher the CEO and Founder of is offering a different kind of job site. With hiredMYway, when an interested job seeker finds a position they feel they are qualified for or “perfect” for they can submit their resume for free, or they can elect to pay the $5 fee which guarantees their resume will be reviewed in the first 15 days. In fact hiredMYway will notify the job seeker when their resume is actually read.

Now we realize that job seekers don’t have a bunch of $5 bills just laying around, especially if they are out of work while on the job hunt. That’s actually the beauty of Mosher’s system though. Job seekers will only pay the $5.00 for jobs they feel they are really qualified for and actually want.

The current job hunting website system is broken. Typically when a job is posted to one of the current job sites, thousands of people submit their resume, whether they are qualified or not. Some even submit their resume when they don’t even want that particular job, they just want “something”.

Recruiters, hiring agencies and HR departments that sign up with hiredMYway will know that when someone is submitting their resume along with the $5.00 payment, they have a truly interested candidate. It will effectively move those candidates to the top of the pile.

“You’re not going to pull your credit card out if you don’t think you’re going to have a chance,” Mosher said in an interview with redeyechicago.

Now here’s where it gets better.

There’s a signing bonus structure within the recruiters, hiring agencies and HR Departments. According to this article from redeyechicago that signing bonus could potentially be as big as $4,000 if not more. As with any job site or hiring agency a fee changes hands from the employer to the “agency”. hiredMYway splits that fee with 2/3 going to hiredMYway and the other third going back to the job seeker who gets the job.

With that 1/3 of the “finders” fee back in the pocket of the job seeker they most likely will make all their money back, regardless of how many jobs they paid the $5.00 “token” fee for.

Mosher is in the process of moving the funded startup from Detroit to Chicago. They currently employ 24 people and plan to hire more.  They’ve secured $3.5m in their first round of funding from VC’s and angel investors.

While the $5.00 payment may be a turn off to some, if you live in a world where you believe you get what you pay for you may actually see the real value in redeyechicago. Some job sites charge extra for premium listings for job candidates. With hiredMyway your $5.00 goes directly to getting your resume seen.


Check out hiredMYway here at

Source: redeyechicago

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Detroit Accelerator: TechTown Hosting Startup Soup August 3rd

TechTown,Wayne State University,Detroit startup,Detroit accelerator,accelerator,startup,startups,pitch contest,startup soupThe creativity in pitch events gets better and better. We’ve all heard of the Startup Bus to Austin’s South by Southwest Festival. Several cities have had Startup Trains, where people work on startups on a day long train ride, we’ve even heard of a Startup Beach House (that was unfortunately cancelled).

Now, Wayne University’s TechTown Accelerator is hosting Startup Soup.

The event is open to the public and will be held on August 3rd. Startups that want to pitch must register at the link below before July 31, 2012.

The pitches will be five minutes and there doesn’t seem to be a theme for the pitch contest. There is a nice $1500 cash prize along with 5 free TechTown seminar passes for the winner. The winner will be chosen by a panel of local tech community judges.

The finalists will all receive complimentary tickets to 2 future TechTown events.  The events at TechTown are all meant for startup enrichment and offer valuable business resources and continuing education.

After the pitches and the winners are selected there will be an evening of networking, and you guessed it… soup.

The event starts at 5:30pm August 3rd at TechTown 2051 Rosa Parks Boulevard in Detroit.


To register to pitch click this link

Source: CBS Detroit

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Foundry’s Jason Mendelson, Now Bullish On Michigan Startup Scene

The Michigan Growth Capital Symposium was held this past Tuesday and Wednesday in Ypsilanti. Xconomy’s Sarah Schmid reports that over 450 founders, entrepreneurs, VCs, and others in the Michigan startup community showed out for the event.

Among them was the managing director and co-founder of Foundry Group, Jason Mendelson who gave a keynote address entitled: “The Velocity of the Midwest Venture Capital Ecosystem: Sleeping Giants or Momentary Blips?”

During his speech he was very positive about the current startup scene in Michigan. Mendelson is no stranger to the state of Michigan. He was born in Detroit and graduated from the university of Michigan.  While this weeks talk was all positive, it wasn’t always that way for Mendelson and his native state.

After graduating from law school at the University of Michigan, Mendelson wanted to stay in Michigan but he quickly found that the state, so deep rooted in the auto industry, didn’t care if someone had the next million dollar idea. At that time no one cared about anything except seniority.

So like any aspiring entrepreneur Mendelson made a pilgrimage to Silicon Valley, an experience he doesn’t speak to highly of.

Mendelson said that the competition in Silicon Valley was so harsh that the only pleasure in life came from relishing in others’ failure. Mendelson described Silicon Valley to Schmid as “toxic” ultimately causing him to leave in 2006 and head for Boulder Colorado.

More after the break
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Michigan Startup: Credentialock Is A Cloud Vault For All Your Credentials

Do you have any certifications? What about your college and high school diploma? Where are your high school and college transcripts? What about that real estate license? All of these questions could probably be answered in one place if Credentialock was around 20 years ago.

Credentialock is a new Michigan startup that just launched their free web based version this past week. It is essentially a cloud based vault for all of your important credentials, transcripts and licenses.

More and more people are turning to cloud based storage for their important computer files. Even more people are turning to digital storage for things like receipts,important papers, even back up copies of drivers license, credit card and passport information. While some may already have some kind of digital record of their “credentials” Credentialock makes it easy to store all of your important papers in one spot.

“My wife is in the insurance industry and she has over 100 documents of certification from 20 different states to keep track of, so we always use her as the benchmark,” Credentialock CEO Scott Slyfield CEO told Sara Schmid of Xconomy. “Instead of having our employers keep track of this stuff, we need to be able to own and manage it ourselves. It’s really empowering.”

More after the break
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Detroit Startup: Picket Report Let’s Home Buyers Dive Into A Neighborhood

While some may dispute the fact that “home buying season” is among us, it is. With that there’s a new startup in Detroit that’s hoping to make shopping for the right neighborhood a little easier.

Imagine before you even leave the comfort of your home and computer you could see more in depth information about schools, favorite restaurants, what kids of cars your neighbors drive and more. That’s just some of the in-depth analytical information you can get from Picket Report a new map based real estate tool launching out of Detroit.

This may not be the tool for real estate owners with all the fair housing laws around these days, but if you as the buyer want more thorough analysis of important demographics this tool could be for you. After all you wouldn’t want to live next to someone that drove an 82 Chevy Citation would you?

“People looking for their dream home can now make sure it’s also in their dream neighborhood even before driving through,” said Bryan Kunka, Co- Founder and CEO of Picket Report said in a statement. “We’re right at the beginning of home buying season, so house hunters looking to buy their first home or relocate to a new area can use Picket Report to make sure they are choosing the best neighborhood for themselves and their family.”

While it doesn’t say how they vet their information, the data is aggregated from over 300 sources. Kunka insists that home owners will now be able to judge the safety of their perspective neighborhood with the data provided.

PicketReport was born out of the Bizdom entrepreneurial accelerator in Detroit. Bizdom was founded by Dan Gilbert the founder and former chairman of Quicken Loans.



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Detroit Startup: RegainGo Introduces Home Owners To Home Improvement Service Providers

Now that Spring is officially underway, despite that cold front we just had on the east coast, home improvement is on a lot of peoples minds. Home Improvement startups happen to be a hot topic these days. Earlier this week we told you about Florida startup that helps home owners by providing free home virtualization software so home owners can see what home improvements will look like.

RegainGo is a Detroit based startup in the home improvement space. Co-Founders Jason Beale and Clark Covert are looking to bring home owners and home improvement service providers together in a way that fosters a relationship of trust. Xconomy calls the startup a hybrid of Groupon and AngiesList.

Covert and Beale have backgrounds in real estate. They found that when people were looking to have work done for their homes they would go to Google and use the first name that pops up. That caused a disconnect between homeowners and service providers that do quality work.

RegainGo is attracting homeowners to their site and their service providers by offering coupons for home improvement services. After the user signs in via Facebook they can browse the deals on the RegainGo site and buy the ones they like. The site encourages you to share the deal with friends and family via the users social networks. A voucher for the deal you purchase will be emailed to you and that merchant will honor it.

More after the break
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