The Drinking Lunch! This Thursday, October 15th at The Beer Grotto in Lansing from 2-4pm.

The Drinking Lunch! This Thursday, October 15th at The Beer Grotto in Lansing from 2-4pm.

Just a reminder to please RSVP here for the Thursday, October 15th Drinking Lunch at The Beer Grotto in Lansing from 2-4pm. We look forward to seeing you there! For the full photo gallery click HERE!

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The Drinking Lunch – Lansing, Mi – Drink, Network and Be Merry – September 17th

The Drinking Lunch – Lansing, Mi – Drink, Network and Be Merry – September 17th

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There was a time when it was expected that you’d have a few at your business lunch – and then it vanished. With no more Mad Men episodes to tide me over, I partnered with a few colleagues to bring a little taste of those days to the 21st century. And I must say, we’re PROUD to be bringing back the afternoon libation – without the judgment. This will be a fun, casual networking event, with drink specials and menu offerings. So, bring your business cards, and raise a toast to The Drinking Lunch. If you know someone who should have had a corner office at Sterling Cooper, pass this post along so they can join the club. Visit http://www.thedrinkinglunch.com to get your exclusive invitation to our inaugural event, September 17th. The Drinking Lunch will be every third Thursday at The Beer Grotto, Lansing, from 2-4pm. Cheers!

Click below for the pdf invitation:

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Honored to be interviewed for Lansing’s Capital Gains Media, “Entrepreneur returns home to grow social media company”

Honored to be interviewed for Lansing’s Capital Gains Media, “Entrepreneur returns home to grow social media company”

I was thrilled when the Small Business Development Center asked to feature Glow Social Media for their local coverage for National Small Business Week. But to have press want to interview me for even more information was an honor!  I spoke with Ann from Capital Gains Media, a local online publication about how I got into social media and why I #LoveLansing.IMG_8668

Personally, I’ve always loved social media. I remember updating my MySpace page religiously, and racing to get my college email activated so I could sign up for Facebook. I have always had an affinity for communicating and bringing people together through the internet, and through college I was constantly updating Facebook albums and event walls.

My first social media position was a joint social media internship at Disney, splitting my weeks between Disney Institute and Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons. I then went on to accept a role as Assistant Manager, Social Media with Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons. I learned so much from the big D, and the amazing marketing and social media leaders on my teams. It was a huge opportunity and lead directy to my position as Social Media Specialist at gmcTV (now UPtv). I was their first social media hire, and we both learned a lot about how hard having just one dedicated social media professional in a company can be, for the business and the employee. I was overwhelmed, and my learnings there really shaped the concept for Glow Social Media’s agency feel.

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I am thankful to have started the company in Atlanta, and learning about running a business in a fast paced, tech-friendly environment. But, moving back to Lansing, and returning to my roots has been tremendous. I am glad to bring jobs, and knowledge, to the Greater Lansing community, where a lot of old misconceptions about social media are just waiting to be dissolved!

 Read an excerpt from the interview below.

When Courtney Maki was ready to graduate college and start her career,it was as if the stars aligned when she landed a job in social media.11187171_10155710960975556_3797933207294371848_o

“I fell in love with social media,” says the now business owner of a growing social media company in Lansing. “I’ve always been social, so to have the opportunity to connect with people world-wide is just an amazing feeling.”

Maki has transformed a passion that started with Disney and an Atlanta-based TV network into a small business focused on social media strategy. She founded Glow Social Media in Atlanta in 2012, then leveraged the virtual qualities of the business to move back to Lansing in November 2013. Since her homecoming, Maki has remained true to her nature, renewing old acquaintances and cultivating social media networks for a variety of businesses and organizations in mid-Michigan.

“Atlanta was a good place to start a company,” says Maki. “But Lansing is a good place to grow one. There are not a lot of other firms here that offer exactly what we do.”

Glow specializes in developing brand awareness, generating inbound traffic, and encouraging product and brand adoption through…Read the full article.

Source: Courtney Maki, Owner, Glow Social Media
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor, Capital Gains Media

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.

Driving Forward in REO Town

Driving Forward in REO Town

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.

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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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Free Business Networking Event: “How to attract all the customers you need by using the POWER of Social Media Marketing”

Free Business Networking Event: “How to attract all the customers you need by using the POWER of Social Media Marketing”

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I am looking forward to attending a local social media focused networking event next week at one of my favorite Consignment shops in Greater Lansing. I am also hoping to provide some insight and engage in some networking and mutual learning sessions! If you’re in the Greater Lansing area you should definitely join!

Click HERE to register.

More info on the event:

Their special guest for this month, Kim Schott, will reveal the closely-guarded secrets to attracting and keeping more visitors on your web site and Social Media sites; cutting your lead costs, being seen by more prospects, increasing sales AND profits.

9:00am-9:15am – Registration & Networking
9:16am – 10:30am Seminar

In this seminar, you’ll learn:
• Why and how to engage with your audience on Social Media
• How to post compelling content to turn fans into customers
• Social media marketing resources
• And, so much more! 

Who should attend: 
• Small business and nonprofit marketers 
• People who have used Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or LinkedIn to market their business or organization 
• People who have used other digital marketing tools to reach their audience (email, blogs, Twitter, other social media sites) 
• People who are actively posting content online

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I’m Back

I’m Back

IMG_8668Happy New Year!

A lot has changed since I last posted on this blog. A new job turned into my first layoff, which turned into becoming an entreprenuer, Co-Founder and business owner. A move back to my home-state of Michigan proved to be great for the business and my personal life.

I’m excited to share with you all musings from my “Top 3”: Fitness, Speaking and Being Social. I’ll explain why the “Top 3” and why those listed are mine.

In the meantime, connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to stay in touch!

Thanks for reading and I look forward to blogging again!

-xoxo Courtney Lane