Electric Cycles and Software For The Soul: A Tale of Two Startups—and Whether They Plan to Stay in Michigan

5/13/10

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compared to his old stomping grounds in Silicon Valley. He moved to Michigan five years ago. Why is he here instead of where the money is? Simply because this is where his wife’s family lives and because he works out of his home, or Starbucks, or wherever his laptop happens to be; it really doesn’t matter where he is. So, why not Michigan?

“We were alone out in Silicon Valley,” Brown says. “It’s wonderful out there, but it’s really expensive. But I can work anywhere. My team is virtual. I’ve got a home office, they all work out of home offices as well.”

But he travels to wherever the investors are. Even in Michigan.

“I have fished in the backyard here, and we were one of the first groups that had raised money from the Great Lakes Angels in a long time,” Brown says, referring to a 2007 investment of an undisclosed amount by the Detroit-based private investment group.

He wants to raise more money to hire some people. “I’d be glad to hire them here in Michigan,” Brown says. “I don’t have too many openings, but I can hire about four people here I think. A lot of good people in Michigan. Great work ethic.”

So, he’s here at least for the short term. When the time is right to find physical office space, Brown says, he’ll likely look in Michigan.

These were only two companies out of dozens presenting at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium, and most of them are at the same early stage of their startup life. They’re in Michigan, some have been helped by Michigan-based seed funds, many cite the talent pool and strong worth ethic and many say they would love to maintain at least some presence here as they grow.

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