New Economy Initiative Awards $3 Million to Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan

This picture is from the press conference announcing the new Business Accelorator Network for Southeast Michigan
This picture is from the press conference announcing the new Business Accelorator Network for Southeast Michigan

The announcement of the new Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan, a region-wide collaborative effort dedicated to attracting and retaining business in southeast Michigan, took place on Monday, June 21st.  The  New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan, an innovative philanthropic effort to accelerate the transition of metro Detroit to an innovation-based economy, announced a $3 million grant over three years to support the newly formed Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan.

Comprised of the region’s four key business accelerators– Ann Arbor SPARK, Automation Alley, Macomb-OU INCubator, and TechTown, the Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan will work collaboratively to share best practices, host events on addressing issues and goals that impact southeast Michigan, support business plan development, and leverage funding to grow business in the region.

Collectively, the four involved business accelerators have invested in 339 start-up companies, invested more than $18 million, created more than 1,000 jobs and secured more than $101.2 million in additional capital for the companies.

SPARK Central Incubator Profile: Mobatech

SPARK Central incubator client, Mobatech, is dedicated to designing and developing cutting-edge mobile phone software focusing on creating innovative lifestyle and personal productivity applications, which integrate into customer’s everyday lives. Founded in Ann Arbor, Michigan by Greg Schwartz in April 2003, Mobatech has been at the forefront of the mobile technology boom and continues to push the envelope in its development of cutting edge applications. Mobatech is also deeply committed to encouraging tech industry growth in Michigan. Mobatech’s products include the best-selling Mobile Checkbook, Mobile Bartender and Datepedia applications. To date Mobatech’s product line has been sold to consumers in more than 70 counties worldwide and is distributed by some of the world’s largest mobile providers including Sprint/Nextel, T-Mobile, Orange, RIM (BlackBerry) and Sony Ericsson.

At the Ann Arbor business incubator, Mobatech utilizes meeting space, administrative support, strategy consulting and other business development events. Mobatech recently won the Best of Boot Camp award for its business concept development and investor presentation and received a $5,000 initial engagement at the Ann Arbor SPARK Business Accelerator. This program offers additional strategy and business development services including financial modeling, marketing and legal services. The goal is to shorten time required for start-ups to attract capital and other resources in order to further increase the company’s chances for business success.

Find out more about the SPARK Central Business Incubator. Contact:

Lori Emerson
Business Accelerator and Incubator Coordinator
Office: 734-527-9153

To learn more about Mobatech, contact:

Greg Schwartz
Office 248-885-8870

Spark East Incubator Profile: RealKidz

Although best known for its technology and science innovation-based tenants, the Spark East business incubator has amongst them, an apparel design, manufacturing and retail company. RealKidz, Inc. is a direct sales company that makes a line of age-appropriate clothing for 5-12-year-old girls specializing in above average as well as average sizing. It has a direct-marketing model similar to that of Mary Kay or Pampered Chef. Mothers and daughters take part in a home fashion show where the girls can try on clothing that is sure to fit and flatter. The structure of RealKidz is built around the idea that positive support for a healthy lifestyle will get you there a whole lot more effectively than shame or guilt.

As a Spark East business incubator tenant, RealKidz has opportunities to utilize meeting space, administrative support, advanced communication technology, mentoring and other educational events. RealKidz also qualifies for the Michigan Pre-seed Capital Fund, which extends the personal investment of entrepreneurs during the critical stage when they are developing their businesses to the point of readiness for outside investment.

To find out more about the SPARK EAST Business Incubator contact Lori Emerson
Business Accelerator and Incubator Coordinator
Phone: 734-527-9153

To find out more about RealKidz Clothing Company, contact Merrill Guerra
Web site:
Phone: (734) 483-5333 or (877) 806-REAL

Business Incubator Company Profile: Hygieia, Inc.

Ann Arbor SPARK welcomes Hygieia, Inc. to SPARK Central, the Ann Arbor business incubator. Founded in 2008, Hygieia, Inc. is developing an endocrinologist-to-go, called Private-Doc, a glucose meter with unique software that interprets a patient’s blood sugar data.  This allows the patient to change insulin dosages right away rather than waiting to be assessed by a physician.  By managing their own dosage changes with Private-Doc, diabetics can consistently maintain control of their blood-sugar levels, a key to optimal diabetic care.  Dr. Eran Bashan was studying electrical engineering when he partnered and co-founded Hygieia with Dr. Israel Hodish, an Endocrinologist and faculty member in the division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes for the University of Michigan Helath system.

Starting with merely the idea of Private-Doc, Dr. Bashan sought guidance with the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center, which helped him develop a business plan and focus efforts on creating a fundable and successful business. Now at the Spark Central incubator, Hygieia will have opportunities to utilize meeting space, administrative support, advanced communication technology, mentoring and other educational events. Hygieia also takes advantage of the Business Accelerator Services, which is designed for innovation-based companies in early stages of product or service-based development. It offers additional professional business-building services like networking, marketing, recruiting, and legal services.  The goal is to shorten time required for start-ups to attract capital, customers, and other resources in order to give the company the best chance for business success.

Find out more about the SPARK Central Business Incubator

Contact Lori Emerson by phone at (734) 527-9153 or by email:

Contact Hygieia by phone at 734.527.9160 or by email:

Entrepreneur Boot Camp Reunion

We recently held our first Entrepreneur Boot Camp Reunion.

It was primarily a networking event where sixty campers and mentors shared their experiences with entrepreneurship. We had representatives from some of the earliest camps going back to 2002. Based upon the feedback from this event, we decided that we should hold an annual reunion as the participants value the opportunity to continue to network
with other campers and mentors.

One of your suggestions was to profile a successful company. For our initial profile, we choose Polytorx and Luke Pinkerton. Polytorx is a maker of helix fibers that replace rebar in concrete.

Luke was “Best of Boot Camp” in 2003 (although we didn’t formally announce the Award back then). One of his mentors from Boot Camp, Bill Orabone became his co-founder and seed stage investor and guided Luke through the process of licensing UM Technology, establishing a start-up company, raising SBIR Grants and 21st Century Jobs Funds to create a successful business. During their transition from research technology to a company,

Polytorx was one of the first Business Accelerator tenants. Polytorx continues to grow the applications and customers for its novel twister steel fibers. Today, they are shipping all the helix fiber that it can manufacture to 20 countries around the world.

As we continue to offer entrepreneurial education to companies in the Ann Arbor Region, we hope you continue to stay in touch via SPARK events like the Annual Boot Camp Reunion.

If you are not currently on the weekly SPARK Calendar and Ignition email lists, please contact Lori Emerson.

By Chuck Salley

Chuck Salley is an experienced entrepreneur who has founded two technology based companies and previously led information technology sales teams. He is past President of the Ann Arbor IT Zone and founding Executive Director of the Ann Arbor SmartZone Business Accelerator.He co-founded with Kurt Riegger, Entrepreneur Boot Camp and he continues to facilitate and teach this seminar semi-annually for Ann Arbor SPARK. 

He advises early stage technology companies and is a member of several Advisory Boards including the Frankel Fund at UM Ross Business School.