Ann Arbor’s BodegaBid Bets There’s Real Profit in Virtual Currency

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either scaled back or discontinued, their secondary marketplace in virtual currency.

That said, Balfour says he’s a former Michigander who attended the University of Michigan and that he’d love to see any startup in the state do well.

Along those lines, BodegaBid was named a winner in the Internet category of the TiE20 Midwest Industry Awards presented at the end of October. The company was named one of the most promising Top 10 early stage Internet startups.

Sendo holds an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Michigan and has launched previous companies in Ann Arbor, including URturn, which rewarded users for spending time on Facebook.

Sendo is open about his past mistakes. Back in the ’90s, when Sendo was, in his words “a kid in my 20s and making a ton of money,” he got into legal trouble with the SEC over day-trading violations. In 1994, Sendo pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud. He says he never went to jail, but did pay fines. Sendo later called that incident “a train-wreck that would haunt me for the rest of my life.” And it did haunt him again in 2001 in the offering and sale of stock for another company, The SEC accused Sendo of failing to disclose his 1994 wire fraud conviction. As a result, Sendo is barred from any offering of penny stocks. Now, he is into full disclosure.

Sendo says that he made his mistakes and paid his debt to society, and that it’s all in the past. What his legal troubles have done, he says, is to force him to work much harder to overcome the shadow of his past, and to be upfront with people. He thinks it is his hard work to rise above his past that earned him recent recognition at the TiE20.

“I just persevered so much, kept going,” Sendo says. “I have been transparent about my past and have shown that I can still be successful by turning the corner.”

Sendo says he is confident he’s “finally found the right path by launching the first secondary marketplace” on Facebook. In fact, he is so confident in his formula that he is predicting that BodegaBid will add 50 employees in the next year and move from virtual to physical offices in Ann Arbor.

“We’re planning on staying in Michigan,” Sendo says. “We have investors lined up who are encouraging us to stay in Michigan. We like the Ann Arbor community.”

All he needs is more support in the virtual world to make this a physical reality

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