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Pleasant Ridge : Innovation & Job News

6 Pleasant Ridge Articles | Page:

Chariot provides mobility solutions to Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge residents

The city of Ferndale has partnered with Chariot, Ford Mobility’s app-based microtransit shuttle service, to improve mobility issues within the city.

A six- to nine-month pilot program launched on Thursday, Sept. 20.

A sneak peek was held over the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 1 and Sunday, Sept. 2, connecting users from Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge to the Arts Beats & Eats festival in neighboring downtown Royal Oak.

Chariot is a shuttle service that allows users to tap an app to reserve a seat on the distinctive gray and teal seven-passenger, wheelchair-accessible shuttle, and travel where they need to go. In select U.S. cities, Chariot operates either publicly for commuters, privately for companies to shuttle employees around, or both.

Ferndale’s Chariot service will connect the city’s downtown and Livernois business districts, the neighboring city of Pleasant Ridge, and high-profile events.

The partnership between Ferndale and Chariot is a result of the city's plan to shut down a major parking lot in the city’s downtown. The parking lot on Troy Street will be closed while a multi-level parking deck is built.

While city officials weren’t ready to disclose when construction of the parking deck begins, the Chariot service will launch prior to the closing of the parking lot in order to familiarize riders with the service.

Though the partnership results from a direct need, it’s also part of the city’s larger plans to improve overall mobility conditions.

“It’s another way for people to access downtown during the construction of the parking garage, which is a big priority for us,” says Jordan Twardy, community and economic development director for Ferndale.

“We also want to create a modern mobility ecosystem where we improve connectivity and solve that last mile mobility issue.”

Ford Mobility was founded by Ford Motor Company in 2016. The San Francisco-based startup Chariot was acquired later that year, Ford Mobility’s first acquisition.

Visit Driven and learn how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.

ePrize hires 140 people, mostly at Pleasant Ridge HQ

Pleasant Ridge-based ePrize has added 140 new jobs over the last year, the lion's share of which are in its Oakland County headquarters. The tech firm also has 25 open positions that it's looking to fill at an open house today.

The technology meet and greet will feature the latest in what the digital engagement software firm has to offer. It's also looking to attract people to become the newest members of the company's team, including professionals who specialize in software engineering, quality assurance, front-end web development, technical project management and systems support.

"We're expecting to do a lot more hiring in this area in 2013," says Sarah Sheffer, a corporate recruiter for ePrize. "We're hoping to find a few good employees."

The 13-year-old company was founded by Josh Linkner, the current CEO of Detroit Venture Partners, in 1999. It has since grown to 425 people and 20 summer interns. Of those employees, 320 work in Pleasant Ridge. Catterton Partners, a Connecticut-based private-equity firm, acquired ePrize earlier this year.

Shortly after that ePrize spun out LevelEleven, a tech start-up that creates a sales force mobile app. The venture-backed start-up now calls the M@dison Building home and is hiring. The executives behind ePrize are looking to do more of that and are hoping attractive more software talent will help push that along in 2013. The company expects to hire another 50-100 people next year.

"The lion's share of these hires would be in Pleasant Ridge," says Mark Schell, senior director of talent for ePrize.

Source: Mark Schell, senior director of talent for ePrize and Sarah Sheffer, a corporate recruiter for ePrize
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

63 Oakland County businesses made Inc. 5000 list of "America's 5,000 Fastest-Growing Companies"

63 Oakland County companies made this year's list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., published by Inc. magazine this month. (Michigan had a total of 144 on the list.) At the top of the local group is SilkRoute in Troy, a retail merchandising and inventory apparatus designer whose revenue grew by 1,588% in the past three years.

Here are all of the local companies on this year's list:

229: SilkRoute, Troy
275: Mango Languages, West Bloomfield
278: PROLIM, Farmington Hills
450: PrizeLogic, Southfield
459: ProtectCell, Novi
504: Staffworks Group, Southfield
541: JobApp Network, Bloomfield Hills
618: Vigilant Technologies, Troy
693: PITSS, Troy
890: Detroit Trading, Southfield
999: Rapid Global Business Solutions, Madison Heights
1071: Kyyba, Farmington Hills
1076: MyInsuranceExpert.com, Troy
1113: Impact Management Services, Southfield
1132: Great Expressions Dental Centers, Bloomfield Hills
1199: Netlink, Madison Heights
1457: Zoup!, Southfield
1463: Nexcess.net, Southfield
1697: w3r Consulting, Southfield
1810: ICONMA, Troy
1919: Woodward Asset Capital, Southfield
2009: TTi Global, Rochester Hills
2186: Marvel Technologies, Novi
2273: Dialogue Marketing, Troy
2327: Red Level Networks, Novi
2427: Arrow Strategies, Bingham Farms
2433: National Food Group, Novi
2616: Preferred Data Systems, Farmington Hills
2638: BlueWater Technologies, Southfield
2662: Duffey Petrosky, Farmington Hills
2837: Creative Breakthroughs, Troy
2886: Diversified Industrial Staffing, Troy
3004: Alliance Technology Solutions, Orion
3128: Image One, Oak Park
3140: DGE, Rochester Hills
3206: JAWOOD, Bingham Farms
3239: Venteon, Troy
3248: i3Logic, Pontiac
3313: SunSoft Technologies, Farmington Hills
3564: Aleva Stores, Rochester Hills
3740: Portfolio Solutions, Troy
3774: ePrize, Pleasant Ridge
3792: Computerized Facility Integration, Southfield
3828: Paramount Technologies, Walled Lake
3879: Fisher/Unitech,Troy
3905: Ross Mortgage, Royal Oak
3918: One Source Talent, Troy
3962: DaySmart Software, Wixom
3873: HTC Global Services, Troy
4057: OpTech, Troy
4139: Natural Way Lawn & Tree Care, Lake Orion
4258: DSS, Southfield
4269: V2Soft, Bloomfield Hills
4290: ImageSoft, Southfield
4372: Eview 360, Farmington Hills
4391: ACE Tech, Auburn Hills
4556: PriveCo, Troy
4628: Human Capital Staffing, Bloomfield Hills
4641: McGraw Wentworth, Troy
4916: Airfoil Public Relations, Southfield
4953: Infomatics, Farmington Hills
4961: Multi-Bank Services, Southfield
4976: IdentityPR, Bingham Farms

ePrize acquires Cellit, adds more than 100 to payroll

Pleasant Ridge-based ePrize is adding clients and employees these days, and now it has added a competitor, acquiring Chicago-based mobile marketing agency Cellit.

ePrize is an agency specializing in interactive, online marketing campaigns. The acquisition of Cellit will give ePrize a foothold in the mobile marketing field, allowing the company to avoid building up its own presence while still engaging mobile customers.

"In the last 18 months we have moved the business into more social and mobile markets," says Matt Wise, CEO of ePrize.

ePrize has been on a growth streak over the last year. Its revenue has gone from $42 million in 2010 to $50 million last year. It expects to cross the $70 million mark in 2012. A year ago, ePrize employed 257 people. That number is at 363 today, about 275 of which work at the Pleasant Ridge headquarters. It expects to reach 420 employees by the end of this year.

"The drive of that growth is we have been shifting our company into higher growth areas," Wise says. He adds that ePrize hires "most of our folks from the local area" and expects to continue doing that in 2012.

Source: Matt Wise, CEO of ePrize
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Pleasant Ridge's Gravy Network launches mobile billboard app MOBIBO

Brothers Zachary and Josh Ball have a vision for changing the mobile advertising game, and they're working to make that happen with their new mobile app, MOBIBO.

The brothers started Gravy Network in January, with the idea of launching MOBIBO later this year. The Pleasant Ridge-based company is made up of the Ball duo and draws upon the half-dozen employees of Zachary's other firm, web developer Mercury Studio.

MOBIBO is a free, downloadable smartphone app that serves as a mobile billboard that advertisers can rent for a small fee. Advertisers only pay for the ads consumers see. The consumer is paid 25 cents through PayPal for viewing each ad. The app alerts/ads come up when the consumer is near the advertiser's place of business, telling them to view a special discount or promotional offer at a store close-by.

"I'd like to see MOBIBO being used throughout the nation," says Zachary, president and co-owner of Gravy Network. "We think we can shift the advertising paradigm to this model."

The Ball brothers are working to establish the MOBIBO brand this year, with an aim of broad adoption within the next year. They expect to significantly add to Gravy Network's staff when that happens.

"We'd like to keep the team as lean as possible," Zachary says. "What does that mean? Hopefully, less than 25 people."

Source: Zachary Ball, president and co-owner of MOBIBO
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

ePrize CEO Josh Linkner's creativity book hits top of Amazon, Barnes & Noble sales

Say the word creative around Josh Linkner and you'll probably repeat what he just said. The chairman of ePrize and CEO of Detroit Venture Partners has had creativity in the workplace on the mind for a while and now has it on paper with his new book, Disciplined Dreaming.

The self-proclaimed "proven system for driving breakthrough creativity" focuses on helping entrepreneurs and their companies become more imaginative and thus more effective in the 21st Century workplace. The book was released on Sunday and climbed to the top of the sales charts for both Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites Monday and Tuesday.

"Creativity is the most important skill that individuals and companies should be nurturing," Linkner says. "It's the one thing that can't be outsourced."

One of Linkner's favorite mantras is that entrepreneurs should be trying to invent the next Groupon instead of copying the idea. He points out that pioneers in certain new economy segments are often outdone by late-coming rivals (Friendster by Facebook and AltaVista by Google) and Linkner will counter that continued innovation is what made the latecomers first.

"They were able to outcreate their competitors even though they were late out the gate," Linkner says.

He offers local start-up hireMYway as an example of a building force in Metro Detroit's emerging new economy. The website for hiredMYway features technology that uses a dating-service model on the Web to help people find jobs. It basically pairs employers and job seekers with matching needs and skills in the same way a dating service would.

"They used creativity to fundamentally displace the complacent incumbents," Linkner says.

Source: Josh Linkner, chairman of ePrize, CEO of Detroit Venture Partners and author of Disciplined Dreaming
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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