The New York Times recently published an article titled, “Detroit: The Most Exciting City in America?” Notice the question mark, which implies skepticism and surprise, because historically “exciting” and “Detroit” are not words that go together. LevelEleven is based in the heart of Detroit, and sometimes that means our employees hear the sweet sound jackhammers early in the morning. But these hardly subtle sounds of construction are preferred over silence, because they signify the growth and revitalization of a city that is recapturing some of its former glory.
According to a 2017 Michigan Venture Capital Association Entrepreneurial Study, “Detroit is an increasingly attractive location for entrepreneurs who are looking for an energetic, vibrant city to locate, live and launch their companies.” In addition, the same MVCA study reports that the number of Detroit-based startup companies has increased 50% in the last three years.
LevelEleven has been a part of this growth since 2012 when we hired our first employees at the Madison Building. Now on Woodward, LevelEleven has evolved from a sales gamification tool into a complete sales management system, and we are surrounded by many other tech startups and software companies. In the interest of removing that question mark (Detroit is the most exciting city in America), we’d like to recognize 11 fellow tech companies moving and shaking in downtown Detroit.
1. Rocket Fiber
Rocket Fiber prides itself on providing the motor city with the fastest internet available. Along with businesses in their hometown, they provide gigabit-capable internet to businesses across the nation. It’s 1,000 times faster than the average residential internet with the ability to download a 5GB HD Movie in just 41 seconds compared to the 20 minutes and 42 seconds it would take with residential internet.
2. Grand Circus
Many people launch their tech careers on the corner of Woodward and Park Street at Grand Circus, a training institute that offers 10-week coding bootcamps, as well as a co-working space and event hosting. CEO, Damien Rocchi, founded Grand Circus in 2013. Currently, there are five bootcamps that people can apply to: Front-End Coding, Front-End Part-Time, .NET (C#), Java and Part-Time Unity.
Grand Circus’s mission according to their website: “By 2020, an estimated 1 million computer-programming jobs will be left unfilled. We’re training tomorrow’s tech talent to help fill that gap!”
3. Detroit Labs
Detroit Labs is our upstairs neighbor and they have grown substantially since they started with 4 employees in 2011. The Detroit-based app developer works with companies, such as DTE Energy, Domino’s Pizza, GM, Hyundai and Bosch, to design and develop their native mobile and web applications. The goal of Detroit Labs is to “deliver cutting-edge technology and build highly functioning teams.”
4. Lunar Wireless
Lunar is a mobile provider that eliminates monthly cellphone bills. Instead, users pay for the services they want when they want them. Each app costs $0.25 for one day of unlimited data. Users are in control of which apps are actively using data, so costs per month are dramatically lower than typical carrier prices. Calling and texting are also available for $0.25 a day. So far, the phones it operates on are the Nexus 6, BLU S1 and Google Pixel.
Quikly was built by a team of marketers and their philosophy is to “develop engaging consumer experiences that deliver impressive return-on-investment from day one.” How do they do that? They use the ever-changing digital marketing world to their advantage by running frequent and highly-targeting campaigns that rewards customers for acting “quikly.”
Food allergies? Imagine if your cell phone case could save your life. Detroit-based Alerje aims to make that possible by developing modular cell phone cases that carry EpiPen devices. The startup recently won $50,000 at the 2017 Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition and is using it to build a “convenient and modern allergy management platform.”
7. Carma Car
Third runner up at the 2017 Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, Carma Car is a startup that claims to be the “future of driving.” It offers month-to-month car subscriptions with insurance, maintenance, and roadside assistance included. Oh, and they fill up the tank before you use it. The hassle and high cost of purchasing a new car, plates, registration and insurance is stripped away with a Carma subscription, which can be as low as $399 per month.
If you’re saving up for a big purchase like a home or a car, BoostUp is will help you reach your savings goal. Downloadable for free, BoostUp connects with your bank account and “RoundsUp” your purchases. Say you swipe your card for a coffee that’s $3.25. The extra $0.75 will go straight into your BoostUp account.
Additional savings opportunities exist through BoostUp partners. For example, if you buy a new Hyundai, they offer a $500 savings match and if you close your mortgage with Quicken Loans, they offer a $750 savings match.
A new take on training, Skillo is a content sharing platform that corporations can use for teaching and learning. It offers customizable course building with flexible file selection, integrated quiz tools, live video, text and video discussion and more.
University of Michigan Football coaches use Skillo to give players access to training on the go. It’s mobile-ready and “student” progress is easily viewable throughout their training. The software also provides comprehensive completion reports.
Autobooks is a champion of small businesses, as the first fully integrated payments & accounting platform delivered through online banking. It allows small businesses to receive electronic payments from their customers 12 days faster with real-time accounting entries. According to their website, Autobooks’ mission is “to make invoicing as easy as Square made accepting credit cards for small businesses.”
The first ever stock market for things, StockX is a live “bid/ask” marketplace for sneakers, streetwear, watches and handbags. Automatic transactions occur when a bid and ask meet, and StockX is the middle man that authenticates the product, ships it to the new owner and releases funds to the seller. Anonymity, transparency and authenticity are the three values StockX prides itself on. They even have an endorsement from Eminem.