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At Endeavor Detroit we believe that community investment in highly-impactful entrepreneurs is a key element of sustainable economic growth. As such, we’re excited to present a few entrepreneurs that we believe are set to make a major impact right here in Michigan. These thought leaders and innovators are working to make a difference in this state and beyond.
When it comes to making an impact, CEO of Give and Take Inc., Larry Freed, is thinking big. As a serial entrepreneur and investor, Freed has made a big impact in Ann Arbor’s startup environment as a founder and investor. Freed was the founder of ForeSee Inc., an Ann Arbor-based web analytics company founded in 2001. In 2013, ForeSee Inc, was sold for 22 times its original investment. Since then, Freed has taken up other investing opportunities like founding 2nd Stage Partners, which was created to help companies make the transition from startup to scaleup. In 2017 Freed was appointed CEO of Give and Take, an academic-research based tech startup that aims to improve employee engagement, workplace culture, and productivity. With Freed’s direction and executive expertise, Give and Take has successfully raised a seed round of $2.2 million as well as launched the beta version of its software platform, Givitas.
Co-founder and CEO of Duo Security, Dug Song, has been working for decades to give corporate and consumer cyber security the attention it deserves. Taking its cues from Song, Duo, a platform offering cloud-based security services for enterprise applications, goes beyond the traditional role of IT security by incorporating relationship building as part of its mission, both with customers and the community. Song, a past trustee of the annual Ann Arbor Summer Festival, is also the founder of A2geeks, a group motivated by “enriching Ann Arbor for creative and innovative folks.” His volunteer-run organization sponsors and organizes events around Ann Arbor that “enable, support and foster technology, entrepreneurship, culture and community” so that all community members can let their geek flags fly, no matter their passion.
Tech entrepreneur Joe Malcoun, was voted one of Crain’s “40 Under 40 2017.” He is a self-taught angel investor and the current CEO of Nutshell, a software customer relationship management (CRM) company. As a co-founder of Cahoots, a tech focused co-working space, Malcoun is also part of the technology startup movement in Ann Arbor. Malcoun explains, “The goal of Cahoots is to create a center of gravity for tech in Ann Arbor.” By bringing together thought leaders and tech innovators, Cahoots works to build Michigan’s tech ecosystem. Malcoun is also the co-owner of The Blind Pig, a cornerstone of the Ann Arbor music scene as well as a past Board President of 826michigan, a non-profit writing center for school-aged children powered by adult volunteers.
When Detroit native, Nailah Ellis-Brown, set up shop in her home and began brewing her family tea recipe, she was laying the foundation for what would evolve into the Ellis Infinity Beverage Company. Nearly a decade later, in 2016, Forbes honored Ellis-Brown as a “30-Under-30” entrepreneur. Today, Ellis Island Tea is one of the fastest growing food and beverage companies in Detroit and has gained recognition as a national brand. Furthermore, Nailah’s commitment to the community has become a symbol of Detroit’s unique entrepreneurial spirit. Not only is she the only African American female beverage maker in the United States that owns and operates her own manufacturing plant, but she also provides services for other small beverage companies who can’t afford the minimum batch requirements of larger production outlets. Nailah explains that providing jobs for fellow Detroiters has been one of the main goals for her company since its takeoff in 2014. She continues to find new growth and expansion opportunities in Detroit and beyond.
Founder and CEO of the Ann Arbor-based healthtech company JOOL Health, Vic Strecher, has cultivated a method for connecting academic research to practical applications. Founded in 2014, JOOL Health uses research and data to provide employees of corporations and large-scale organizations insight into how to support healthy and balanced lifestyles. In 2017, just a few years after its founding, JOOL Health closed a successful $4.5 million Seed Preferred round. In 1998, Strecher founded Health Media, a pioneer in Web-based “healthy lifestyle coaching,” that was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2008. Stecher’s work has been featured in a variety of publications and at events including TEDMED and TEDX, and he is recognized as a leader in the health and wellness industry all over the world.
From InfoSec to the food and beverage industry, these high-impact entrepreneurs and their companies are working to create thriving economic communities in Michigan. We’re excited to watch these companies as they continue to grow and scale in Michigan!
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