Detroit Startup H2bid Connects Water Utilities, Vendors Through E-Bidding Service

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an optional subscription fee of $5.25 per month, which entitles users to a discounted fee of $4.95 to purchase the complete details of a procurement request (non-subscribers pay $7.95). Vendors can sign up for free e-mail alerts when new procurement requests are added to the site.

Despite the challenges of getting the word out about H2bid–Oliver said he’s been contacting individual cities and city associations to promote his website—it has attracted some high-profile attention. In 2007, H2Bid came in second place in a nationwide business contest sponsored by Forbes magazine. Last year, Oliver was named a local “Champion of the New Economy” by dbusiness magazine.

This kind of acclaim, perhaps, shouldn’t be surprising, as Oliver is the man who helped transform Detroit’s infamous annual Halloween tradition of mass, citywide arson—otherwise known as Devil’s Night—to Angel’s Night, where a small army of volunteers takes to the streets the night before Halloween to keep neighborhoods safe. His unique Detroit experiences figure just as prominently in his company’s creation story.

“Based on my time serving on the Detroit Water Board, I knew things could be done in a different way,” Oliver said. “I saw the bigger picture, where this kind of business could transform the water utility industry around the world.”

Oliver cites financially challenged enclave Highland Park, MI, as one municipality fully on board with H2bid. “What we’re trying to do is sign up more cities like Highland Park to use our service,” Oliver said. “H2bid opens a user to our database of 30,000 vendors, allowing utilities to get the best product or service for the lowest price.”

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Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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