For Latesha Lipscomb, winning 5×5 Night last month was a long time coming.
“I wasn’t going to do it,” Lipscomb said. “I had done 5×5 twice in the past, and I had come really close to being able to present, but each time I was devastated because I wasn’t selected. I was really discouraged.”
Lipscomb launched her beauty business, I Got Face, in 2010 out of her live work/space on Division Ave. She entered 5×5 Night at the last minute after receiving encouragement from the community.
“I got several emails from several people from all different walks of life in the community telling me that I should do 5×5,” Lipscomb said. “I am a firm believer that if you hear something three times, then it must be meant to be.”
In the past five years, Kickstarter has emerged as a legitimate source of funding for startups and entrepreneurs. While banks or traditional investors are likely going to want to see proof that there will be a large, worthwhile return on their investment (sales or letters of intent) Kickstarter is a place for people with great ideas that may not fit conventional funding models.
Tree Huggers is an environmentally responsible business, dedicated to educating customers in leading environmentally sustainable lives. Owners Angela and Dan Topp, opened their first store in Holland two years ago and a second store on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids in 2011. Tree Huggers seeks to break down what can be an intimidating process of living and consuming more sustainably into more manageable steps.
For many software entrepreneurs, growing their company quickly and selling it to the highest bidder is the end goal of all their long days and sleepless nights. It may sound easy, but upon successfully exiting his company after growing it for nearly eight years, and going through two rounds of funding in the process, Jason Pliml needed one thing: a break. “You can only put in so many 80-hour weeks before it catches up to you,” Jason said.
Technology is meaningless without people to use it. The partners of Mutually Human Software recognized this and designed a software development firm that tailors its services to the people who use technology. Since 2006, founding partner and CEO John Hwang, along with partners Mark Van Holstyn and Zach Dennis, have asserted their software strategy and design consultancy in the competitive software market. Thanks to a common philosophy, user experience and compatibility is the primary design imperative and the resulting technologies inspired by Mutually Human become ‘ergonomically comfortable’.
Chris Spielvogel’s path to becoming the CEO of a tech startup started on sabbatical from a position as a tenured professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Two seed accelerators, two business partners, and a few employees, Chris’ product, “Flip Learning” is on its way to mass commercialization.
In the classroom for over 12 years, Chris Spielvogel could not help but see a need for a more compelling way to teach students. The traditional model of a lecturer talking to students about material from a textbook, despite all efforts, was simply not connecting with students.
The Successes of Entrepreneur James R. Albright
Rain poured down his face as he waited outside an entrance on Grand Valley’s campus. He was cold and wet. The broken handicap button separated him and his wheelchair from the dry inside. At this point, he knew something had to change.
This describes the event which prompted James R. Albright (Jim), to develop Albright Insights. The technology driven problem-solving organization focuses on creating cutting-edge mobile accessibility and navigation applications. Albright Insights’ first project is a mobile application called XcessAble; a wordplay referring to the handicap accessibility features it provides. Architectural specifications for a building are detailed in the application database: accessible building entrances, location of restrooms, heights of faucets and more. As a user accesses the application, the database of specifications is cross-referenced against the user’s physical capabilities to deliver a custom layout of the building. The mobile application, though a powerful tool, is only the first step to raise awareness for people with disabilities.
Food-preneurs Get a Kitchen
Her idea stemming from a business class at Calvin College, Kelly LeCoy soon acquired the seed capital needed to create a kitchen facility that helps food inspired entrepreneurs create their own culinary venture.
The National Restaurant Association estimates that roughly two-thirds of each dollar earned is allocated to food, beverages and labor for a restaurant. This figure does not include cost of facilities, equipment or the learning-curve needed to meet regulatory standards.