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Entrepreneurship : Innovation & Job News

500 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All

LEAP launches Fund Lansing, crowd funding for local startups

Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) announced in late August a new program called Fund Lansing. Fund Lansing is aimed to assist companies and individuals in greater Lansing who are raising investment through web-based crowd funding platforms.
 
“The concept of crowd funding is quickly gaining momentum as a means for young companies to effectively raise funding while simultaneously gaining positive press on the web and social media," says Ken Szymusiak, Co-Director of the New Economy Division at LEAP.
 
Crowdfunding is a relatively young idea in which entrepreneurs utilize small sums of investment from a range of supporters often in exchange for a product before it is available to the public. Kickstarter and IndiGoGo are two of the more well known platforms.
 
The web service is free to join and serves as a way for local companies to easily promote their fundraising efforts to local investors. LEAP's objective with FundLansing.com is to allow all companies in the region an additional platform to get the word out about their campaign and provide a service that allows local investors to easily find local companies seeking their support.
 
"By making the connections between local opportunities and capital we feel that we can provide an economic boost by making it easier to encouraging investment within our region," says Szymusiak.
 
Source: Sara Graham, LEAP
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
 
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Public relations consultant launches company, Piper & Gold Public Relations, grows team

When the demand became too much for Kate Snyder, APR to keep up with on her own doing public relations consulting work, she started working with a part-time associate and two student interns in December of last year.
 
"That growth of the team really led me to start thinking about growing a company, not a consultancy," Snyder explains. She attributes having the right people on board and amazing support for convincing her to take the entrepreneurial plunge into launching Piper & Gold Public Relations
 
Along with the new company name, identity, and office at The NEO Center,  the part-timer, Veronica Gracia-Wing, has now joined the company as a full-time Associate Strategist. Piper & Gold also continues to have two student interns per semester to help with pro bono projects and provide a value add for clients. 
 
Snyder has a pretty traditional background when it comes to an emphasis on research and strategy, but has really focused on using digital tools to build meaningful relationships over the past several years. "That blend of the core PR principles and the new tools is one of the things it's important to me to keep as we grow," she says.
 
Ultimately, Snyder would like to see Piper & Gold grow in a responsible and sustainable way, so they're focused on finding the right client mix for their backgrounds and personalities and creating opportunities when the perfect people come along.
 
Source: Kate Snyder, Piper & Gold Public Relations
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
 
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

NEO Center celebrates first anniversary amid rapid growth & successes

As Lansing's first business incubator, innovation is the golden standard for The Center for New Enterprise Opportunity. "It's been an exciting and productive learning experience," says founding member, Thomas Stewart. "We're still developing and tweaking our programming and trying to figuring out the best methods for accelerating entrepreneurial success."
 
The NEO center was created in response to the growing need for an environment that supports small business ecology and that is unhindered by the existing boundaries. Promoters of sustainable economic development and preventers of deterioration, the NEO Center is looking to expand programming to other incubators in the region and the state.
 
"We'd like to develop a wide network of entrepreneurs and help standardize entrepreneur education across the state," says Stewart.
 
The past year has been an exciting and productive one for the incubator, graduating four client entrepreneurs from the incubation program and receiving additional support from major corporate sponsors. NEO Center alumni include: VizKid Designs, FlightLead Development, Tucknologies, and Oceanvue.
 
10 clients call the Center home, in what is primarily called a mixed-use incubator. Most clients are service-based businesses. Stewart says they're currently accepting people interested long-term leases and new clients to our incubator program.
 
Source: Thomas Stewart, NEO Center
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
 
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Pine Needle People looking to begin biomanufacturing, have eyes set on long-term hiring

Kevin Karpinski is dying to make things. As President and CEO of the Pine Needle People, an ambitious bio refinery and manufacturing company, Karpinski is ready to get his product in the marketplace for many reasons. "We can help the economy, help feed more people, and help farmers," Karpinski says.
 
The Pine Needle People, or PNP, are Karpinski, Waylon Sanford, Mansour Ashtiani, and Nader Ashtiani. By trade, they represent a variety of fields: chemical and manufacturing engineering, urban planning and infrastructure, and bio matter technology. The team has developed a number of products intended for patenting, the most prominent being the Cellulosic Residue Refinery for Advanced Manufacturing, or CRRAM.
 
"CRRAM essentially allows us to make products from agricultural scraps; we take corn stalks to carbon fiber," Karpinski explains. The refinery system allows PNP to create a Bio Energy Pathway system, which is a sidewalk system manufactured from biomaterials produced by the CRRAM. Karpinski hopes to have the pathway system in production soon.
 
Things are ramping up for PNP as they work with investors and industry. Karpinski anticipates being able to hire 30 to 50 employees over the next 2 to 3 years.
 
Source: Kevin Karpinski, Pine Needle People  
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
 
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

PNC Bank and Learn Live Lead Entrepreneurial Academy partner to open an in-school bank

Students at Learn Live Lead Entrepreneurial Academy (L3) can now add money management skills to their young resumes. In an exciting partnership between the Lansing Academy and the PNC School Bank Program, L3 students are getting hands-on banking experience with the grand opening of an in-school bank.
 
"L3's cutting edge approach to education offers a perfect fit for the PNC School Bank Program, which has several features aimed at developing good savings habits and money management skills," explains PNC Retail Market Executive, Jim Paul. The program is part of PNC's Grow Up Great initiative, which has served more than 1.5 million at-risk children nationally.
 
The bank will open twice a month during the school year. Five L3 students will staff the branch during lunch periods, opening bank accounts and taking deposits. The program provides an opportunity for students to establish their first bank accounts, as well as improve their math skills as they track their savings and calculate interest earned.  
 
"PNC offers leadership, advocacy, funding, volunteers and educational resources because we believe that an investment in our children now makes good economic sense and plants the seeds for the dynamic workforce of tomorrow," says Paul.
 
Source: Jim Paul, PNC  
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
 
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Student owned and operated cheese steak stand opens in East Lansing

It's not often you hear of a 19 year old and a 20 year old opening a business, and creating their own business plan to boot. But that's just what MSU students and long time friends Alex Lennard and Hunter Mowers did when they launched State's Cheese Steaks last week.
 
"We wanted to start our own business and had originally thought about opening a hot dog stand," explains Lennard. The City of East Lansing wouldn't grant a permit for that, which got Lennard thinking.
 
While in Panama City for Spring Break, the friends came across a cheese steak stand that had a line that lasted throughout entire day. Pair that inspiration with an entrepreneurial drive to provide something new in the East Lansing culinary scene, and you've got the recipe for a food stand.
 
Located on the corner of Abbott and Albert, the stand is open Thursday through Sunday. They hope to be able to hire 2 to 3 employees beyond themselves once business gets further off the ground.
 
A finance student, Lennard says "This is teaching us way more than the classroom could; we're dealing with real people and a real business."
 
Source: Alex Lennard, State's Cheese Steaks
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
 
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Getting Started Fellowship Program welcomes international students, receives $20,000 grant

The Global Lansing “Getting Started” Fellowship Program, led by the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) and supported by a coalition of partners including the Prima Civitas Foundation (PCF) recently received a $20,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to better connect the nearly 7,000 international students at Michigan State University and Lansing Community College with local businesses and entrepreneurs.
 
“We need to infuse these untapped talents into the community;” says LEAP Talent & Communications Director, Sara Graham, “we’re trying to get some of these qualified and driven people to stay in Lansing and create their lives and invest here.”
 
The “Getting Started” program allows international students in the Lansing community the opportunity to partner with businesses in an internship capacity, to align with their academic and professional interests. LEAP and partners have recently begun the interview process for applicants interested in opportunity. “Applicants included engineering majors, accounting majors, supply chain management majors, and more;” explains Graham, “we’re excited by the variety of applicants and for the diversity of niches we’re able make connections with.”
 
The grant will largely be used toward employing a program coordinator who will help bring both sides together over the upcoming semester, trouble-shooting issues, and identifying areas of internship focus. Partnering businesses so far include Message Makers, Allen Neighborhood Center, City of Lansing Emergency Management Office, among others determined once the applicant selection process is complete. 

Old Town firms merge to create Spoke 8 Marketing, create three jobs

Two familiar names in the Old Town creative services scene have joined forces. Lisa Smith of Donovan & Smith Marketing and Media and Ann Siegle of Tria Marketing and Design have merged their companies to create Spoke 8 Marketing
 
“We have both been on each other’s radar for a long time,” says Siegle. After the women began partnering on projects early in 2012, working together more permanently just made sense. 
 
“We both kind of looked out there and said, ‘this is a good thing,’” Siegle says. “We have very complementary skill sets.”
 
The focus of the new company is on what Siegle calls “open source marketing,” that is, applying the concept of open source software to their work to allow their clients to be as involved as they’d like. 
 
“The marketing industry is very protective of their products,” says Siegle. “We want the clients to own this from the beginning.”
 
The merger took place in July. Spoke 8 now employs a staff of eight. One new employee has been added since the two companies joined, and Siegle expects another two jobs to be added soon. 
 

Frandor store expands with new home brew supplies shop

For all the popularity home brewing beer has garnered in the Lansing area over the last several years, many might be surprised to learn that there weren’t many local places to buy home brewing supplies.
 
“Other than the Red Salamander in Grand Ledge, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of resources in the area,” says Brian Devries of the new home brewing shop in Frandor, That’s How We Brew. “We thought we could fill that vacuum.”
 
The shop itself was not brand new. Also known as That’s How We Roll, the store used to specialize in cigarette rolling supplies. When new regulations prevented the sale of their most popular item, Devries says they decided to expand the scope of their venture. 
 
“We thought it would be nice to hve a brew shop closer to town. There was a brew hopin . Some of use were brewers and we decided it would be nice to have something more local.
 
The move has been a good one since the store-within-a-store opened in early August. That’s How We Brew has added a new publicity employee and is working with a few professional local brewers as consultants. Devries says they hope to add an additional employee with brewing experience in the future. 
 
“One thing that we’re about to start is our brew club,” says Devries, “which will offer brewing customers some exclusive deals. We’ll also be having classes with some very knowledgeable people. We’re still coming up with ideas for other things that will benefit our customers.” 
 
Devries says their inventory is continuing to grow and change based on the needs and requests of their new customers. 
 

State of Fitness grows staff, renovates workout space

State of Fitness brought a new kind of workout to East Lansing when they opened their doors more than two years ago. The training-focused facility has been growing ever since, and has recently completed a major renovation. 
 
“When we first moved into the facility it was beautiful, and it was already built out really well for a gym,” says State of Fitness Trainer Justin Grinnell. “But the way we train our folks is different than your traditional gym.”
 
A 2,000 square foot space in State of Fitness has been transformed into a field turf area, where a variety of training and exercise can take place. Grinnell also swapped out some of the facility’s more traditional cardio equipment for newer, more cutting edge machines. The renovations represent an approximately $40,000 investment. 
 
“It’s been great,” says Grinnell. “People like that they have more space to workout in. We have a lot of fun. It’s like an adult playground here.” 
 

Local martial arts expert launches world's first online martial arts school

Martial arts expert Chief Master Richard McDowell knows there is an array of things that prevent people from attending training, even if they want to learn martial arts. 
 
“People don’t have the time anymore to go to a school,” says McDowell, “And some people may be too shy to come to class. But they still want to learn, they want their kids to learn”
 
McDowell created a solution for those obstacles by creating the first online martial arts school, Martial Arts Online University.
 
“We made it very affordable,” McDowell says. “You train at your pace, not anybody else’s. If it takes you six years, if it takes you six weeks, that’s up to you.”
 
The school gives students of all ages and in any location the opportunity to train up to black belt level. Twenty-five instructors – nine of whom are in the Lansing area – teach video courses available in 13 languages. As students become ready to test for the next level belt, they simply submit a recorded video to the master instructors for evaluation. 
 
“You can also download everything to be a black belt, and never have to test,” McDowell says.
 
The unique online school began this month and already has students in Canada, Europe and Jamaica, as well as throughout the United States. Here in Lansing, the Westside Community YMCA serves as the home for Martial Arts Online University, as the setting for the filming of the course videos, as well as the location where 60 students attend non-virtual classes.
 

Williamston tanning salon changes hands, creates three jobs

After taking time off from her career as an entrepreneur to spend more time with her children, Kelly Driver was looking for a new opportunity. When she noticed that a tanning salon on Grand River in Williamston had closed, she saw her opportunity. 
 
Driver and her oldest daughter purchased and re-opened the 900 square foot Bronzed Tanning Salon in the spring and have been busy serving the community ever since.
 
“We’re pretty competitively priced,” says Driver. “It’s very homey in here. We don’t try to push stuff on people, so people are just really comfortable here.” 
 
One of the things most people don’t realize about tanning, says Driver, is that it’s not all about cosmetics. Bronzed Tanning serves a number of clients who tan for medical reasons. 
 
“I have several people in here for psoriasis and eczema,” Driver says. “We try to educate people, whether they’re here for health reasons, or to have a healthy glow.” 
 
Bronzed Tanning Salon currently employs Driver and her two daughters. She hopes to expand the salon’s services to include hydromassage. 
 

DRM Genesis celebrates 10 years, expansion and 10 new jobs

Ten years ago, Re'Shane Lonzo learned firsthand about the need for a local quality home healthcare provider. When her friend’s daughter suffered a severe injury, she watched her spend countless hours caring for the girl without sufficient help. Though Lonzo worked full-time for Lansing Community College, she couldn’t help but volunteer to help. 
 
“After two years and about 2,500 hours of volunteering, my friend said, ‘Re'Shane, you should start your own company,’" Lonzo says. “I researched the thought, obtained the proper insurances, and 10 years later here I am.” 
 
Now with 50 employees and more than 40 clients, Lonzo is celebrating her tenth anniversary of her company, DRM Genesis with additional growth. She added 10 employees over the last year, and expanded the company with a new office in Warren.
 
“We were introduced to a physician there with 30 plus years of experience and he was looking to add another discipline to his office complex, says Lonzao. “It was a great opportunity for us and that office is actually growing at a faster rate than our Lansing office.” 
 
In addition to DRM Genesis’ growth, Lonzo started the DRM International Learning Center in 2007.
 
“Once we got into the groove of hiring healthcare staff to work with our clients, we realized there was a need for more healthcare training,” she says. “What better way to ensure that you have the most competent, compassionate home healthcare employees than to train them?”  
 
Now celebrating its fifth year, the school now trains between 200 and 250 students per year.
 

Friendly Heating & Cooling adds two positions, focuses on marketing

Friendly Heating and Cooling is now in it’s eleventh year in Lansing and is entering a new phase. Owner Michael Sobczyk has escalated his social media presence and is now looking to hire a new technician and a sales person to help manage the new work. 
 
“We’re a pretty small company, but we’re looking to grow a little,” says Sobczyk. “We’ve had a website since 2001, but we’ve never done much with it. We’re trying to get our feet wet with marketing and social media.”
 
In addition to his recent social media effort, including his informative heating and cooling blog, Sobczyk believes his growth can be attributed to the quality of his work, which he backs up with a unique, three-year warranty.
 
“We’re the only company in Lansing that offers a three-year warranty on parts and labor,” Sobczyk says. “We’re confident in knowing we’re going to do the right job, and we want our customers to feel confident that they are getting the best repair.”
 
Sobczyk hopes the additional technician and salesperson will help him manage his growing clientele, as well as allow him to continue his new focus on marketing. 
 

MSUFCU to award $25,000 for winning startup idea

Area entrepreneurs could get a real boost from a new contest from Michigan State University Federal Credit Union. The startUP Challenge will award up to $25,000 to an entrepreneur in the tri-county with a winning business plan. 
 
“A lot of our members are MSU students and they are the most entrepreneurial generation and we believe in supporting all our members to achieve financial security and their dreams,” says Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer for MSUFCU, April Clobes. “This program is designed to help individuals looking to start their own business to have some assistance in achieving their dreams.”
 
In order to win, participants must complete an application, business plan and video pitch. The top five entries will have the opportunity to present their business ideas to the startUP Challenge committee, which will be comprised of local experts. According to Clobes, the committee will be open to business ideas from a wide array of industries.
 
“We wanted to be appealing to all the business startups from creative to scientific,” Clobes says. “The prize is substantial enough to attract individuals that could manufacture something, be a scientific patent for food or medications, or to create an art studio. The possibilities are endless and we are excited to see all the ideas.”
 
Individuals in need of assistance with their entry or business plan are encouraged to contact LEAP for help. MSUFCU is also introducing the startUP Loan Fund, which allows entrepreneurs to apply for loans up to $15,000.
 
500 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All
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