COULD LANSING BECOME A STARTUP CITY? 50 STARTUPS LATER, WE THINK SO.

COULD LANSING BECOME A STARTUP CITY? 50 STARTUPS LATER, WE THINK SO.

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I met Jesse Flores, an former ATLien like me, last year at a Lansing Regional Chamber strategy session. We’d “met” on twitter a few weeks prior so it was fun to connect in person. I am really excited about the work he’s doing with StartUp Lansing and look forward to what he will bring Greater Lansing in 2015. And as the owner of a two year old business, Glow Social Media, I’m continuing to grow in this community as well. 

In a recent post, Jesse talks about the 50 start ups he’s featured on his website, the various incubators around town, as well as launch programs like The Hatch. Here’s more from Jesse:

An important milestone was reached last week and I completely missed it. Two weeks ago, with our feature of Ventatti, we featured our 50th Startup Spotlight.

This is really exciting. It’s also important for a variety of reasons.

First, it means StartupLansing has been able to go strong for about a year. When we launched this, I wasn’t sure we’d last a few months. Yet, here we are. In fact, we’ve seen our readership and traffic grow quite a bit each month.

Much more importantly, it means that we’ve been able to find – and feature – a different startup for 50 weeks straight. That’s 50 startups. From Lansing.

And it’s not all.

Startups of All Shapes and Sizes

These 50 startups are each of them unique. They are in different industries ranging from fashion to tech to healthcare. They are at various stages of growth. But, they are doing their part to grow their businesses which, over time, will grow and diversify our local economy.

In fact, some of the startups are doing quite well. Like Signing Saavy, which has millions of users, Health Numeric, who’s traction and growth is starting to accelerate, and Courseweaver, who just raised a $600k round.

Many are startups, founded by students out of the Hatch. Startups like Tech Twurl, who are generating revenue and recently competed in a nationally selective competition at South By Southwest. Or OneSound, who is competing at Greenlight next week. There’s even a startup that lets you run around in a giant bubble.

But, contrary to perception, not all startups are being founded by students. People in the community are starting companies, too.

We have makers and fashion startups and other sorts of small businesses. Some, like Poochie Bowl, cross categories – they have a retail location in Meridian Mall, where they not only sell their flagship product, but encourage children to tinker and learn to build their own products through their Mini Maker space.

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At The Runway, Lansing’s newest incubator, several fashion companies are starting to take off. Companies that focus on things like men’s accessories, baby clothes, or clothes that allow you to look nice and be comfortable, without worrying about being too hot or sweating (Lawrence Hunt & Our Own).

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Many are in the seminal stages of growth. This is especially the case for  many of the companies we feature that are born out of The Hatching, a pitch competition event that occurs on the last Thursday of every month (the next one is this Thursday at Dublin Square, if you’d like to check it out). But every company starts somewhere.

And some have failed. But, that’s to be expected. It’s a healthy sign that people are trying to move the needle forward.

The crazy thing is that these 50 companies are just a drop in the bucket of a broader entrepreneurial ecosystem. See, we operate on a shoestring budget (our operating budget is entirely funded by revenue from my software company) and only have the bandwidth to feature just one startup or entrepreneurial project a year. I know there are dozens we’re missing.

Maybe more.

For instance, Spartan Innovations, the arm of Michigan State University charged with taking university intellectual property to market, is working daily to find – and launch – companies that could potentially transform their industry and the region. Seasoned founders, like Jason Schreiber (who founded – and sold – Arialink, currently launching Lightspeed) are launching other companies, too.

It’s an exciting time to be working on a business here.

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People Are Trying

When I moved here nearly eighteen months ago (how time flies!), I was skeptical that I’d find any real, interesting startup activity. I had braced myself to be bored and planned to spend time hopping back and forth from here to Atlanta as much as possible. Atlanta, after all, is becoming a hot city for startups (though, it’s not really known as one…sound familiar?).

How wrong I’ve been.

It’s small, but the entrepreneurial ecosystem here is growing. For instance, one of the indicators of a healthy startup community is the frequency of consistent, well-attended, relevant events. Last year, we could rely on the Hatching as that event. In some months, it felt like the only event, as we struggled to figure out what to put on our calendar and feature in the newsletter.

Now, we have the Hatching, Startup Grind, Tech Tuesday, and Innovate State, for starters, that happen every month (or, each week, in the case of Tech Tuesday). We’ve had twoStartupWeekendsone 3 Day Startup, and a Maker Week in the past six months or so. And take a look at our event calendar; on many weeks there is more than one event targeted at the startup community.

That’s amazing.

The point is that people here are trying. The startup community is growing. People are pursuing their ideas and pursuing their dreams. And that’s what it takes.

That’s how we transform a culture, it’s how we transform an economy.

Still a Ways to Go

Despite what progress has been made this past year, there is still a ways to go. We still need support systems to help startups excel beyond the idea stage and into growth. We don’t have many startups yet that have started to experience the kind of aggressive growth that attracts outside capital. Some, but not many.

For example, a private accelerator, on the order of something like TechStars, would be a huge asset. I personally would love to see a relationship established with Flashpoint, the accelerator I participated in while in Atlanta. They have a close relationship with Georgia Tech and I think the model might translate nicely to MSU. More importantly, Flashpoint has taken several companies to market, many of whom have raised money from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Union Square Ventures, or Google Ventures.

You know, small, local firms.

We need more, experienced founders helping less-experienced founders master important early-stage problems like customer acquisition, growth models, and building business infrastructure. Experienced founders are the only ones that can help new entrepreneurs solve these problems, because they’re hard and not obvious to people without that experience.

(As an aside, this is why I encourage every founder who is serious about growth to attend Startup Grind – Dave Smith is bringing in some top-notch speakers and you can learn a lot).

Local capital is still risk-averse and largely sitting on the sidelines, reluctant to invest in people’s ideas. I don’t blame them – the job of the investor is to fund growth, not prototypes. Still, for a community like this, in a time like this, there needs to be some mechanism for serious early-stage founders to gain access to seed capital beyond the “friends, family, and fools” round.

All said, I’m really encouraged by the activity over the past year and you should be too. The startup community is picking up momentum and it’s only a matter of time until one of our companies is listed in Forbes (Some are already in Inc.).

Bob Tresize, the CEO of LEAP wrote an excellent article for the LSJ a few months ago bidding farewell to ‘the old Lansing.’ In it, he shared how much momentum is building in the region. He lauded the various assets that the region has in its favor which, when well harnessed, will help to build a 21st century economy.

To that end, these 50 founders are doing their part to grow their businesses and enhance the region. Will you join them?

Who Are These Startups?

Want to learn more about the entrepreneurs trying to grow their businesses in Lansing? Check out our Startup Spotlights!

Jesse’s original article lives here.

What’s your Protein IQ?

What’s your Protein IQ?

Maki Lane:

I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about protein, but I must admit I didn’t realize the lack of protein in egg whites, or eggs for that matter! I eat a cup of egg beaters as part of my breakfast everyday, and I like them so I doubt I’ll remove them from the menu anytime soon. But it’s good to know that my chicken breast, salmon and tuna are getting the job done. Also, if you’re trying to up your protein intake, I recommend finding a protein powder that works for you. It’s a quick and easy way to add an extra 15-25 grams of protein into your diet.

Good luck and happy meal plan-ing!

Originally posted on Health and Fitness by Aimee:

The Best Protein Sources (minus the meat and fish for me)

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Driving Forward in REO Town

Driving Forward in REO Town

Maki Lane:

I’ve been living back in my hometown of Lansing, Michigan for 15 months now and have been so pleasantly surprised by how much the city has grown for the better. Especially in the tech and start up space. As I started looking for office space for my firm, Glow Social Media, REO Town quickly rose to the top of my short list. It’s close to my home in south west Lansing, a few blocks from Downtown Lansing and right off I-96.

I’m so excited to be a part of this growing community and can’t wait for the spring and summer months to walk down to Good Truckin’ Food to have lunch. I’m also looking forward to new restaurants coming to REO Town in 2015. As a small business celebrating its 2 year anniversary, I want to grow with my community and REO Town is just the place to do so.

Originally posted on City Saunter:

REO Town PubThursday night while attending a REO Town Association meeting, as we went over the yearly schedule for 2015, the new businesses coming to our little section of town and the recognition as a Michigan Main Street, it really sunk in. REO Town business owners, residents and those that support this area are really kicking butt! When I first started City Saunter in late 2010 REO Town wasn’t much on the map.Train Station on Washington Ave.

Construction beginning There were hints of movement within its chrysalis; Gillespie Group was interested in starting a crowd sourced restaurant and there were rumors that BWL was planning to build a new state of the art facility. One came to fruition, and the other not so much. However it provided the groundwork for the very successful Good Truckin’ Diner to move in last year.REO Town Plant

aa_Blog_Depot 3 Skip ahead five years later and The BWL Cogeneration Plant has been operating for almost two…

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How to Learn (But Not Master) Any Language in 1 Hour

How to Learn (But Not Master) Any Language in 1 Hour

Next month I’ll be headed to Dominican Republic for the first time, to celebrate a milestone birthday! My boyfriend speaks Spanish, and I know enough to order nachos and cerveza. But as a huge Tim Ferris fan, I’ve decided to spend the next few weeks putting Tim’s tools to the test.

Here’s what Tim has to say…

Conversational Russian in 60 minutes?

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This post is by request. How long does it take to learn Chinese or Japanese vs. Spanish or Irish Gaelic? I would argue less than an hour.

Here’s the reasoning…

Before you invest (or waste) hundreds and thousands of hours on a language, you should deconstruct it. During my thesis research at Princeton, which focused on neuroscience and unorthodox acquisition of Japanese by native English speakers, as well as when redesigning curricula for Berlitz, this neglected deconstruction step surfaced as one of the distinguishing habits of the fastest language learners…

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Celebrity Trainer Harley Pasternak Shares His Tips for Losing Weight and Staying Fit

Celebrity Trainer Harley Pasternak Shares His Tips for Losing Weight and Staying Fit

Maki Lane:

I’ve been on a competitive level training program since Feb 1st and although I train 5-6 days a week, the most important part of my program is the meal plan and sleep. I get at least 8 hours of sleep every night and I follow a strict 5 meals a day plan. For beginners, the gym can be hard to schedule into an already busy schedule. I recommend starting your lifestyle change with a meal plan and bed time and then slowly factor in workouts. Check out the Nike Training Club App for at home workouts!

Originally posted on PushUP24:

Harley Pasternak has been training some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood for years. With the release of his latest book, 5 Pounds, we got the chance to ask him for a few of his top tips for losing weight and staying fit! We were also lucky enough to receive 20 copies of his new book […] http://ift.tt/1Erweb8

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16 Ways to Use Social Media to Promote Your Event: By Kimberly Reynolds

16 Ways to Use Social Media to Promote Your Event: By Kimberly Reynolds

Maki Lane:

Visuals are the name of this game. Ads, photo and video content make up the bulk of this list. Which makes sense, as social media users respond greater to visual content than written word alone. So set up that event page and get to sharing! P.S. Hashtags don’t hurt either.

Originally posted on My SocialWiki:

just found this

Does your business conduct events?

Are you wondering how to use social media to promote those events?

Social media is a powerful tool to gain exposure, whether you’re hosting a physical conference or an online event.

In this article, I’ll show you 16 creative ways to increase awareness, engagement and sales for your event.

16 ways to promote an event

Discover 16 ways to promote an event.

#1: Use Facebook Ads to Remarket To Prospects

Facebook custom audiences allow you to show ads to people who have already visited your website. This is called remarketing (also known as retargeting). Advertisers can show event ads to Facebook users who left your website before purchasing a ticket.

Remarketing can be a very effective strategy because people rarely buy the first time they hear of an event or see an offer. This is especially true for big ticket items like conferences and conventions.

SMMW15 facebook ad

If your…

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The World’s Friendliest Influential Social Media Experts

The World’s Friendliest Influential Social Media Experts

talked-with-cover-06I particularly like that Gary V. is #1 on this list, as I met him while working at my very first post-grad school job as Social Media Assistant Manager of Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons at a presentation at Walt Disney World. He was so friendly and personable, and after meeting him I was hooked. Interacting with him on Twitter since then has been fun, even if he doesn’t remember we met in person!

talkedwith_info-02-2 I am looking forward to being on this list the next time it’s compiled!

For the full list visit Twtrland!