By Vivian Henoch, Editor myJewishDetroit
May 23, 2012
In spite of the city’s economic woes, or perhaps because of them, there’s plenty of startup buzz to go around, and enough to inspire entrepreneurial enterprises to open doors.
Just ask Twitter
Joining a growing constellation of tech startups, business incubators, angel investors and venture capitalists working to build a viable business ecosystem in downtown Detroit, the social media giant recently announced the opening of its first Michigan office in the newly restored tech hub known as M@dison downtown.
By the way, Madison Theatre Building, located at 1555 Broadway, is owned by developer and Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert’s company Rock Ventures. Gilbert has purchased nine downtown Detroit properties in the past year, with plans to move a total 4,000 employees to downtown Detroit from the suburbs.
On the lookout for talent, inventors and new tech skills
Just as 2,000 former employees of Yahoo are out of work, Detroit Venture Partners will hold a job recruitment event in May in Palo Alto, CA.
This summer the U.S, Patent and Trademark Office will open its first satellite office in Detroit, one more indication of Detroit’s influence on the innovation sector.
A new driving force
Without a doubt, business incubators, venture firms and startups of every stripe, from Are You Human to Ubi Video are playing key roles in Detroit’s tech renaissance and comeback. Startups are also pulling up on their own bootstraps, seeking creative means and new avenues to help city residents and nonprofit organizations reach new heights. Many of those companies starting or funding new businesses today are Jewish-owned and operated. This new technology boom in the city is providing opportunities that have been lacking in recent years. With new jobs creating the impetus to move into the city, young people are returning to Detroit, starting new careers and driving the movement for positive change.
Jewish Detroit startups and biz ventures to watch
For nonprofits looking to step up their game with social media and other online resources there’s ardentCause, an information technology marketing and consulting firm based in Ferndale. The company offers a variety of services to help nonprofit groups, fund developers and grant-making foundations get their jobs done quickly and easily.
Crowdrise: an ingenious online fundraising platform, employing the tactics of crowdsourcing, social networking, contests and retail. Founded by Moosejaw partners, Jeffrey and Robert Wolfe, along with actor Edward Norton, Crowdwise was named a “Top 25 Best Global Philanthropist” by Barron’s. “We’re trying to keep about giving back, raising tons of money for charity and having the most fun in the world while doing it.”
Picket Report: an engaging map-based website, helps people who are moving or relocating select the best neighborhoods to live in by providing detailed information about lifestyles, schools and more. Founded by Brian Bandemer, Bryan Kunka, and Patrick Misch,
Benzinga: a full service news and media company specializing in real-time news, actionable trade ideas and commentary. Founded by Jason Raznik, in 2010 Benzinga has offices in Delaware, Metro-Detroit and Chicago.
Doodle Home: the “ultimate design source” catering to the professional design community, using interactive and immersive technology to showcase brands and offer inspiration, advice and resources. Founded by Jennifer Gilbert.
Ludlow Ventures: funding the dreams of serial entrepreneurs and startups, turning companies into established ventures. Under managing partner, Jonathan Triest, Ludlow Ventures has launched a family of digital companies and apps including UpTo, a social-power platform for calendars and Scan, a QR decoder for sharing content on mobile devices.
Ambassador: a rewarding social marketing platform and software to turn customers into brand ambassadors, founded by Detroiter Jeff Epstein