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289 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All

East Lansing Startup GiftZip Taps Growing $90 Billion Gift Card Industry

East Lansing-based GiftZip.com was one of a few gift card companies recently featured in Entrepreneur Magazine.

According to excerpts from the article:

As the holiday shopping season kicks off — and merchants brace for another lean year — a small group of online entrepreneurs is setting up shop around one of retail's only bright spots: The gift card.

Yes, the gift that says "I put almost no effort into this" has morphed into a $90 billion industry, according to the TowerGroup, a Massachusetts research and consulting firm. Sales of gift cards—that is, any card issued by a merchant redeemable for goods and services—jumped to $97 billion in 2007 from $57 billion in 2005. While the dollar figure dipped in 2008, First Data, a retail tracking service, found that shoppers actually bought more gift cards than the year before; they just loaded less money onto them.

"When the dust settles, we see gift cards surpassing $100 billion by 2012," said Brian Riley, research director for the TowerGroup. Online entrepreneurs who've built businesses around the phenomenon are banking on it. Here's how they're cashing in on plastic fever:

The gift card without the card. Shoppers choose a merchant "card" and an e-gift card pops up in the recipient's inbox,which can be redeemed in-store or online. "My intent was to take that department-store kiosk model and put it online," says founder Sam Hogg, who came up with the idea while taking a Sustainable Supply Chain class at Michigan State University.

Who's in: The mass (Forever 21, Target) and the deeply niche (Culinary Teas, Glitzy Pet Jewelry) How it pays off: Merchants compensate the East Lansing, Mich., company  by paying a percentage of sales, or paying to have traffic driven their way or their logo placed next to a big company like Target. GiftZip began in June; Hogg expects to break even early next year.

Read the entire article here.

East Lansing Wedding Cake Designer Makes TheKnot.com's Best of 2009 List

Intricate cake designs from A Piece O’ Cake in East Lansing have made it into a national magazine that features all aspects of wedding design and planning.

According to excerpts from the article: 

Kelly Kobus has taken that primal yen for comfort food to a whole new level with her East Lansing bakery, A Piece O’ Cake.

Kobus, 24, bought A Piece O’ Cake from the previous owners two years ago right after she graduated from college. She was a French major and an art minor, but she always had a love for food. During her senior year she studied abroad in France, where she took some cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu and also took private classes. These classes led to her working with (and studying under) some of Paris’s top gourmet chefs, and when she came home her career began to take shape.

“When I came back, I started interning at Le Chat Gourmet [a classical French culinary arts program in Eaton Rapids], and soon afterward my dad found this bakery for sale,” Kobus said. “I talked to the owner, and she asked me if I had graduated from culinary school, and when I told her no she told me that was perfect. She said, ‘They teach you pastries in culinary school, but they don’t teach you the art of the cake.’”

A Piece O’ Cake was recently featured in TheKnot.com’s Best of Weddings 2009, putting her in the elite class of go-to wedding cake makers in the state.

Read the entire article here.

Three MSU Students Start Grocery Delivery Business From Their Dorm Room

Three Michigan State University (MSU) students are ramping up Spartanicity, their electronic shopping service company.

According to excerpts from the article:

Adam Root, David Switzer and Joe Brummitt have started Spartanicity, an online grocery store that delivers everything from Ramen noodles to laundry detergent.

The 21-year-olds met through a student investment group. Their venture, run through www.spartanicity.com, currently has more than 500 products for sale.

"We were just trying to think of things we could get involved in while we were at school," Root said.

He said the idea grew out of the time and effort it takes some students to get groceries while living on campus without a car.

Read the entire article here

Enliven Software COO One of Speakers at Inaugural TEDxDetroit Event

East Lansing-based Enliven Software's COO Matt Dugener was one of several presenters at the idea-sharing event TEDxDetroit.

According to excerpts from the article:

Dugener said entrepreneurs are a subset of enterprising persons, those who come up with new ideas. He said Michigan must create a culture where both types can survive. And that hasn't been the case. Dugener cited the case of one friend who had a great business idea, thought about starting it in Michigan but eventually started it in Texas. Dugener, working for the Michigan Economic Development Corp. at the time, asked the friend why Texas got the company.

Replied the friend: "In Texas, when you're an entrepreneur, you're a hero. . . . In Michigan, when you're an entrepreneur, you're treated like a criminal. 'You must not be able to hold down a job.' 'Why aren't you working for one of the Big Three?' 'You have an MD PhD, what are you doing starting a company?'"

Dugener used a quote from economist John Maynard Keynes, "Most men love money and security more, and creation and construction less, as they get older," to explain how Michigan has for decades trained its children to be employees, not employers. Michigan is a state built on command and control, he said, where a few people at the top get to have all the ideas, and everyone else has to merely implement those ideas like a good drone.

Obviously, that must change for Michigan to survive.

Read the entire article here.

Handy's Mexican Market and Deli Changes Hands, Offers Diverse Products

Two years ago, Handy´s Mexican Market and Deli changed hands. Now Daniel Pesina, the store's new owner, is changing up the merchandise, too.

According to excerpts from the article:

“We’ve changed a few things,” Pesina said. “We added merchandise and we’ve found bigger distributors with better costs for us.”

Pesina and family members bought the store from Ken Handy, who started in 1970. It was the first Mexican specialty market in Lansing.

Pesina wants keep the store’s legacy intact. “There’s always that saying,” he said. “If it’s not broke, let’s not fix it.” Over three decades, Handy’s became known as a small, family store, a great place for friendly conversation as well as homemade pork rinds. The staff will even carry groceries to your car.

Read the entire article here.

Schuler Books and Music Adds On-Demand Book Selling Capacity and Equipment

Schuler Books & Music, which has locations in Lansing and Okemos, has turned to Espresso Book Machine, a machine that can print a book as quickly as a barista can make an espresso.

According to excerpts from the article:

When University of Michigan graduate Bill Fensenheld began selling books more than 25 years ago in a dusty Ann Arbor bookstore, he had no idea that one day another UM grad, Google founder Larry Page, would give him access to millions of books to sell at his own shops.

Schuler Books & Music, a Michigan based book retail chain started by Fensenheld and his wife, Cecile, will soon be able to offer books printed on-demand for customers in its Grand Rapids, Okemos and Lansing locations.

Espresso book machine prices range from $75,000 to $90,000, depending on speed. The only other Espresso in the state is at a University of Michigan Library.

At this point, the mini chain has purchased a single Espresso for its 28th Street store in Grand Rapids, but it will deliver on-demand books to its Okemos and Lansing stores several times a week.

Read the entire article here.

Ignite 2.0 Excites 500 Attendees At Temple Building With Ideas and Innovations

The Ignite Lansing 2.0 event was a huge success, with roughly 500 people packing the Temple Club in Old Town Lansing to toss around ideas and listen to multiple, five minute presentations.

According to excerpts from the article:

The Ignite program is a worldwide event hosted by individual communities. Lansing’s first Ignite event was in April, and program volunteers said they hope to host another event next spring.

“I think it’s a really cool opportunity, especially for start-up firms to get their ideas out there,” said international relations senior Jennifer Seager, a volunteer at Ignite Lansing. “A lot of times these ideas sit under the water because they can’t find people to fund them, or get them off the ground, because you need support.”

Before the event, Spotlight Michigan, an MSU group, hosted Eve of Ignition. It encouraged MSU students to mimic the IgniteLansing event by presenting their own projects.

Five students were selected from five student organizations to make their presentations and compete for the opportunity to start their own business.

Spotlight Michigan was born out of a James Madison College seminar last year, which since has grown to a yearlong seminar promoting entrepreneurship in Michigan.

Read the entire article here.

Everybody Reads Bookstore Looking Forward to Making Co-Op Transition

Eastside Lansing-based Everybody Reads is hoping to become a co-op within the next nine months.

According to excerpts from the article:

Owner Scott Harris believes the move will bring stronger financial backing for the store and enable it to offer more services to customers.

In a co-op model, members buy a share of ownership in a store. In exchange, members have a greater voice in how the store is run.

While details such as the cost of a membership have yet to be hammered out, Harris said the change makes good sense. He hopes to find about 500 people willing to take a stake in the store.

Read the entire article here.

Tripper’s Sports Bar in Frandor Celebrates 20 Years in Business

Tripper’s General Manger Steve Tripp is celebrating the 20-year anniversary of Tripper’s, an Frandor-based bar founded by his brother Jim.

According to excerpts from the article:

MSU and Michigan fans alike were able to finally have a place to root for their teams.

“In this business you need to change with the times," said Steve Tripp, General Manager and brother of Jim.

“Our father Fred Tripp was the guiding light in starting this business with our foundation in the restaurant business and strong ties to MSU.”

“Jim was always trying something different. He wanted to be able to offer our guest a big city experience, whether it was the Game Room Arena, Martini’s or the Comedy Zone. He wants Tripper’s to be a place to spend the day.”

Read the entire article here.

East Lansing's The Hatch Facility Designed to Incubate Student Entrepreneurs

Less than a year after creating its first incubator, the City of East Lansing will open its second, this one designed to foster student entrepreneurs.

According to excerpts from the article:

The Hatch will be located in the 1,500-square-foot gallery at Scene Metrospace, an alternative art and performance venue at 110 Charles St. It'll be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, the days Scene Metrospace is closed.

When it opens, The Hatch will be similar to the Technology Innovation Center in that it offers low-cost workspace for entrepreneurs to do business. But The Hatch is solely for students.

"One of the major benefits of this space is that chance encounter with somebody that's doing something similar to what you're doing or ancillary to what you're doing, and the two organizations move forward together or start doing business together," Smith said.

Read the entire article here.

National Coney Island Opens First Capital Region Coney Station in East Lansing

Roseville-based National Coney Island has opened a new National Coney Station at 565 E. Grand River Ave. in East Lansing.

According to excerpts from the article:

For advertising junior Eric Dornbrook, Thursday’s grand opening of the National Coney Station, 565 E. Grand River Ave., would be the beginning of a love–hate relationship, he said.

“It’s really a disaster, is what it is,” Eric Dornbrook said. “We live two blocks away, and now we’re never leaving.”

For Michiganians like Dornbrook, National Coney Island was a staple of childhood and its arrival in East Lansing means Hani sandwiches and Coney dogs will now be an option for students.

National Coney Island was first founded in Roseville, Mich., in 1965, and since then, the restaurant has popped up in more than 20 locations, most of them in metro Detroit. East Lansing’s National Coney Station is the first of its kind in the Lansing area.

Read the entire article here.

Williamston Parents Find Success With Car-Based Educational CD Business

Through their company, Rock N Go, Williamston moms Cheryl Miller and Heather Lewis have created a fun, effective way to continue their children’s education while shuttling them around town.

According to excerpts from the article:

The Williamston moms came up with their own alternative, starting Rock N Go LLC three years ago. Together, they have produced a line of educational music CDs that encompass such musical genres as punk, blues and reggae that come with workbooks and materials for kids to enjoy in the car.

The CD packages have covered counting, addition, subtraction, drawing and watercolor painting. And they've caught the attention of the National Parenting Center in Woodland Hills, Calif., which has given the "So Skip Counting" CD and workbook kit its 2009 Seal of Approval.

Miller and Lewis recently received Henderson, Nev.-based Creative Child magazine's Seal of Excellence award for 2009.

Read the entire article here.

Growing Mooville Creamery Adds to Capital Region Food and Fun

Mooville Creamery in Nashville, about 35 miles southwest of Lansing, is a growing producer of  milk, ice cream and butter. In addition to being a popular destination spot, the facility also stocks the Foods for Living store in East Lansing and has a spot at the Lansing City Market.

According to excerpts from the article: 

Passersby who had seen the operation taking shape at the corner of M-66 and M-79 took notice. By the time Mooville opened in 2005, area residents were ready.

"You have no clue what you've gotten yourself into until you do something," Louisa Westendorp said. "The first day we opened we didn't want to look at how long the line was."

Four years later, Mooville is a destination stop for families and a growing operation with 15 employees, not including the Westendorps.

The company started out bottling 800 gallons of milk each week, and it now bottles up to 5,000 gallons, Doug Westendorp said.

The dairy facility sells 32 flavors of ice cream, distributes its products to 45 stores and offers 32 flavors of ice cream.

The Meijer Inc. store in Charlotte plans to start selling Mooville milk by the end of October.

Read the entire article here.

GiftZip.com New Chief Operating Officer is MSU Grad Recruited From Boston

The electronic gift card company GiftZip.com, has added another employee, this time encouraging a Michigan State University (MSU) graduate to leave his job in Boston and move back to the Capital region.

According to excerpts from the article:

 John Gwillim, a 2007 MSU finance alum, will be joining the team in the coming weeks as Chief Operations Officer and will oversee the day-to-day activities of the company. He is tasked with ensuring the long-term profitability of the GiftZip.com concept.

Gwillim joins GiftZip.com from Boston-based BNY ConvergEx, a successful 2006 Bank of New York spin-off providing software solutions for hedge fund trading markets. 

“The ability to come back to Michigan and still work in a fast-moving, high-tech environment was something I really wanted to pursue," Gwillim said. "I’m from Michigan, I’ve known [founder] Sam [Hogg] a long time, and GiftZip.com is a very attractive opportunity poised for growth. The more I looked at it, the more it made sense to me.” 

Hogg credits a changing East Lansing entrepreneurial culture for attracting talent like Gwillim away from Boston, often thought of as second only to Silicon Valley as a hub for technology start-ups. Hogg said being able to showcase things like the Technology Innovation Center (where GiftZip.com is located) as well as other MSU-based start-ups will keep more ofthe talent in the area and even get some to return, like Gwillim. 

Read the entire article here.

Popular Ramon’s Restaurant Reopens on Lansing's Westside

Ramon’s, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Lansing, reopened in a new Westside Lansing location on Saginaw Street earlier this year and has seen a steady increase in business.

According to excerpts from the article:

The restaurant, which opened in January, has seen a steady increase in costumers since its new start. Many of them were patrons of the restaurant’s previous incarnations on Washington and East Grand River avenues.

For store owner Rieger (ne Fuentes), the new location on Saginaw Street is a slow return from the renowned Lansing restaurant her parents owned. But for Rieger and her husband, Steven, the return of her family-oriented Tex-Mex restaurant is a dream come true. "I daydreamed about when I would get my own restaurant," she said. "I think I’m a dreamer. I mean, how else do you get what you want than to have dreams?”

Out at 806 1/2 Saginaw St., Lansing, the primarily take-out restaurant, which shares a building with Pope´s House of Style, is a sight for sore eyes for former patrons who remember the original, pure Tex-Mex flavor of her parents´ cooking.

The small, white sign out on the parkway that reads "Ramon´s. We´re back," points to the rich and often painful history of the restaurant and the family behind it.

Read the entire article here.

289 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All
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