Resurgent Detroit: 5 Tech Companies Taking This Rust Belt City To the Future
In anticipation of Benzinga’s headquarters moving to the heart of Detroit, we’ll be putting out a monthly series highlighting new establishments and exciting things going on in what will be our new home.
What Detroit may lack in pure manufacturing power is being made up for in tech prowess.
It's no Silicon Valley, but this rust belt city has a bevy of tech startups dabbling in everything from real estate to finance, taking Detroit to tomorrow.
Don't believe us? Here are just a few:
iRule is one of the companies at the forefront of the smart home -- that is, home automation. The company develops hardware and software that lets you wirelessly control all the devices in your home.
iRule Founder and CEO Itai Ben-Gal told Benzinga that he envisions technology will play a key role in Detroit's future and overall evolution as a major U.S. city.
"Michigan has a long heritage in automotive. However, technology companies can be the great equalizer in that they require less capital and space to get up and running," Ben-Gal said.
New modules, faster performance and an array of advanced functionality enhancements make iRule 4.1 a must-have! pic.twitter.com/CV80kmEtuh
— iRule (@iruleathome) March 4, 2015
Founded by three guys who are rehabbing their own Detroit home, Castle is a tech-based property management service. Castle helps find tenants, collect rent, arrange maintenance and respond to tenant inquiries and emergencies all hours of the day and much, much more.
Technology enables people to understand and solve problems in new ways, Castle CEO Max Nussenbaum told Benzinga.
"Castle makes it easy to invest in real estate in a way that's productive for the city: by creating good homes for Detroit's residents, not speculating on distressed properties," he said.
Why is the quality of most property management so poor? We have a few theories: http://t.co/c8Qur1Sj7C
— Castle (@EnterCastle) February 18, 2015
Detroit Labs develops something that people use multiple times every day: apps. That's right. Detroit has it's very own app development company that's already worked with Domino's, DTE Energy and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Detroit Labs Co-Founder Nathan Hughes told Benzinga that every one of the team members can tell the story of a positive and enjoyable work experience in downtown Detroit, which creates a network effect that Hughes said is powerful and necessary to build the energy and momentum needed for real change.
"Companies like ours demonstrate that real, good technology is being built downtown by companies that have culture and organizational values that compete with tech companies anywhere in the country," he said.
Happy 313 Day! The team will be celebrating by hacking all night with Detroit's new open data portal.
— Detroit Labs (@DetroitLabs) March 13, 2015
Grand Circus helps others in Detroit get into the tech sector through coding bootcamps. Students can take six- to eight-week long classes to learn various programming codes and start a new career in developing software. The company also introduces its graduates to hiring companies in the area.
Co-Founder and CEO Damien Rocchi told Benzinga that the tech sector is creating jobs in Detroit, while the story of the city's tech ecosystem is bringing new and exciting talent to the city.
"In Detroit, it's not only possible to have a big impact, there's also tremendous support for new startups," he said.
— Grand Circus (@GrandCircusCo) March 10, 2015
Founded in 2012, LevelEleven offers a sales performance platform that helps people focus on key sales behavior and track success via leaderboards. Salesforce.com is one of the company’s key investors.
Technology is helping people outside of Detroit recognize that the city’s potential is far from tapped, LevelEleven founder and CEO Bob Marsh told Benzinga.
“There’s no shortage of passion among the talent – so many Detroiters want to personally get involved in helping to build something for our great city, and that’s reflected in their work,” Marsh said. “This just isn’t something you see in more traditional tech hubs.”
— LevelEleven (@leveleleven) March 22, 2015
While Stratos isn't technically located within the Detroit city limits, it demonstrates the reach of the tech revolution that has expanded to the metro Detroit area. This Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company has created an all-in-one smart card that carries your credit, debit, loyalty, gift and membership cards all in one single unit.
Stratos Co-Founder Henry Balanon told Benzinga that Michigan's high-tech workforce is the fourth largest in the country.
"The most exciting part is that this is only the beginning, and we believe the Detroit area will continue to draw in talent and industry, not only from Michigan, but from across the country as well," he said.
— Stratos Card (@StratosCard) March 4, 2015
Image Credit: Public Domain
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