Startup Culture

Putting Young Tech Minds and Friendly Faces on Debt Collection

From left, HealPay's Erick Bzovi, Lance Carlson, and Hakki Tomanbay

After Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, there might not be a more apropos startup in Michigan than HealPay, an Ann Arbor company that offers a suite of cloud-based apps that enable online payment processing for various sectors. As HealPay co-founder Erick Bzovi says, debt collection “is a dirty world and the technology sucks.” The solutions he and cofounder Lance Carlson have developed streamline collections and provide electronic options that they say improve chances of collecting receivables.   More

Cities Learning Startup Culture

With Help from Etsy, a Small-City Mayor Brings the Maker Movement to the Classroom

Larry Morrissey was 35 and had never held a political office when he ran a successful campaign as an independent candidate to become mayor of Rockford, Ill., in 2005. Now in his third term, Morrissey is determined to bring the city where he grew up back from years of economic decline. Among efforts to bolster local business and the city’s faltering education system, he recently teamed up with the online marketplace Etsy to create a pilot program for entrepreneurship education. He says it’s a link to an era when entrepreneurship was a way of life, not something learned in grad school.   More

Global Tech Mobile

Xiaomi Joins Mobile OS Field

There’s an interesting report out saying that up-and-coming smartphone maker Xiaomi is developing its own mobile operating system (OS), becoming the latest Chinese player to try to muscle in on a market now dominated by three U.S. companies—Apple, Google, and Microsoft. I’ll admit there have been so many similar initiatives by both Chinese hardware and Internet companies these days that it’s hard to know which of the campaigns are genuinely new systems and which are just variants of Google’s popular and free Android OS.   More

Startup Culture

Venture for America Brings a Socially-Conscious Entrepreneur Home

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When Chelsea Koglmeier left Cincinnati after high school, she never thought she would return to live in her home city. But barely a year after college graduation, she’s back, working for a company that makes a mobile app for planning road trips. Koglmeier is a fellow at Venture for America, a program that places bright college grads at startups in struggling cities. Techonomy spoke with Koglmeier about creating social impact, diving into startup culture, and seeing her home city in a new light.   More

Global Tech Mobile

China Lands on iPhone Global Launch Map

Apple store in Shanghai, China

China reached an important milestone this week when it was included for the first time in the global launch for Apple’s newest smartphone, the iPhone 5S. The move reflects the growing importance of China to Apple, which now counts the market as its second largest. China’s inclusion in the global launch also reflects an effort by Apple to try and win back local consumers, many of whom have recently abandoned the U.S. tech giant due to long waits to get the latest iPhones and a series of negative media reports.   More

Cities Media & Marketing Startup Culture

Detroit’s Ambassador Helps Companies Reward Their Advocates

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How do companies leverage the communities they build among users, and reward consumers for becoming unofficial ambassadors for their products and services? Detroit native Jeff Epstein asked this question in 2008, just as social media was coming into its own as an empowering platform for consumers. Epstein established Ambassador as a way for companies to give their biggest online evangelists a piece of the action. We spoke with him about harnessing word-of-mouth for a digital marketplace, and on Detroit as startup mecca.   More

Business Internet of Things

Are We There Yet? Delivering a Contextually Aware Networked Vehicle

"Networked vehicle" image via Shutterstock

Businesses and consumers are embracing a mobile experience for entertainment and information nearly everywhere, from devices and applications to the connected home to social networks. Yet there is a last bastion of hold-outs in our increasingly “always on” mobile lifestyle—our cars. Though roadblocks exist, the car’s time has come. Both the mobile and automotive industries have finally reached a critical, defining moment to create and deliver an unprecedented mobile platform: the networked vehicle.   More

Learning

You Can Teach an Old Brain Young Tricks

(Image via Shutterstock)

In recent years many educators have endorsed the benefits of video games in learning, both for younger students and at the university level. But now brain scientists have discovered that a multitasking video game can also improve the short-term and long-term focus of older adults, The New York Times reports. The study found that some people as old as 80 even showed neurological patterns of 20-year-olds after playing the game, which involved swerving around cars while simultaneously picking out road signs.   More

Cities

Detroit Is No Blank Canvas: Why Creativity Pays Here

Detroit skyline image via Shutterstock

"Detroit is a blank canvas." I cringe every time I hear this phrase, even though it's used by people who mean well. To say something that references "emptiness" regarding a city founded in 1701 is both unfair and inaccurate, as it implies that there's nothing here—or worse—that there's nothing worth talking about here. By suggesting this, the speaker disregards momentum building around the Detroit 2.0 movement, which is in full swing.   More

Cities

Venture for America Made This Young Easterner a Detroit Believer

A mockup of an Accio EHD Generator in the field.

I found my future on Twitter. Two weeks into a summer research internship in Singapore that I had already lost interest in, I saw the tweet that would change my life. It linked me to an article describing the kickoff event for Venture For America, a new program dedicated to placing top college graduates in startups in economically troubled cities. I knew right away what I would be doing with my first two post-collegiate years. The application process started with a written submission followed by a phone interview, and culminated in a day of group and individual interviews by VFA board members and staff. After a few tense days, VFA founder and CEO Andrew Yang called me with an offer.   More

Partner Insights

Why Measuring Digital Capital Matters

Although largely uncounted, intangible digital assets may hold an important key to understanding competition and growth in the Internet era. On July 31, 2013, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis released, for the first time, GDP figures categorizing research and development as fixed investment. It will join software in a new category called intellectual-property products. In our knowledge-based economy, this is a sensible move that brings GDP accounting closer to economic reality. And while that may seem like an arcane shift relevant only to a small number of economists, the need for the change reflects a broader mismatch between our digital economy and the way we account for it. This problem has serious top-management implications.   More

Cities Startup Culture

Why a Recruiting Startup Thrives in Detroit

Matt Mosher at the hiredMYway office in Detroit, Mich.

With backing from Detroit Venture Partners, Matt Mosher founded hiredMYway.com in 2010. In the crowded field of online recruiting, it might have seemed an unlikely-to-succeed upstart. But as an entrepreneur since his early teens, Mosher knew how to take a fresh approach in order to coexist with the biggest names in the industry. With Detroiter moxie, he built the Swiss Army knife of recruiting sites.   More

Global Tech

Xiaomi Steals Google Exec on Road to Global Stage

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Most of the world is buzzing with speculation about what prompted a top Google executive to defect to Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, but few are giving much credit to one of China’s hottest tech companies for luring Hugo Barra to join its ranks. Most media are focusing instead on an apparent love triangle between Google co-founder Sergey Brin and an unnamed current love interest, who just happens to be an ex-girlfriend of Barra. But instead, I would venture to guess that Barra’s departure has less to do with this titillating love story, and more to do with Xiaomi’s aggressive global aspirations   More

Media & Marketing

Armed with Smartphones and Social Media, Brazil’s Mídia Ninja Spreads the News

(Photo via Shutterstock)

There’s a new kind of journalism coming from the streets of Rio de Janeiro. The Mídia Ninja is a collective of volunteer citizen journalists who are using smartphones and cameras to record and live-stream street protests in Brazil. And as its influence grows, the ninja is setting the agenda for political discontent, The Guardian reports. The Mídia Ninja has used social media to break news stories on police infiltrations, wrongful arrests, and more. In the past few months it has grown to a group of 2,000 collaborators in 100 cities, and it is beating the mainstream media to important stories.   More

Business Global Tech

WeChat Faces U.S. Skeptics, Banking Friction

WeChat screenshots via Flickr

I’ve been traveling through Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau these last few days, so thought I’d end the week with a look at Tencent’s hugely popular WeChat mobile messaging service and the challenges it faces in its quest to go global and commercialize. I’ve been quite surprised by how widespread WeChat, known in Chinese as Weixin, has become in all three of these Chinese-speaking areas. But at the same time, comments from one of my industry friends also indicate Tencent could face an uphill battle winning acceptance in the US, where it could face heavy competition from rival products and skepticism due to its China connections. New media reports also indicate WeChat’s hyped new relationship with China Merchants Bank may also be running into problems, indicating the road to commercialization may not be as smooth as Tencent had hoped.   More

Jobs Learning

America’s Economic Recovery Hinges on STEM Education

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Of all of the potential threats to an economic recovery in the United States, one issue stands above the rest for companies like Dow. The issue isn’t tax reform. It isn’t energy prices. It’s not even budget issues in Washington. All of those are important. Perhaps the most important issue for us at Dow—the one that has the potential to either wreck or resurrect the American economy—is whether this country has enough qualified workers to sustain the economic recovery that we see looming just over the horizon.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Internet of Things

Why Designers and Engineers Need Chances to Cross-Pollinate

Understanding and making the most of disruptive technologies such as genomics, robotics, the internet of things, and synthetic biology will be a challenge best met by a mix of engineers and designers, says designer Jonathan Follett, principal at Involution Studios. In a podcast with O'Reilly's Jenn Webb today, Follett says that the problems these new technologies present to humanity make it crucial that the two disciplines evolve and work together.   More

Cities Startup Culture

Detroit Startup Wants the World to Get Glocal

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Launched in 2011, Detroit's Glocal offers users a tailored local experience via online community forums. It aims to counter a loss of connection with local community that many see as a negative effect of the global hyper-connectedness driven by social media. Techonomy spoke with Glocal President Lincoln Cavalieri about the importance of zooming in on what’s happening in your own neck of the woods.   More

Cities

Why Detroit Is Fertile Ground for an Innovation District

With 90-percent occupancy rates, 10,000 new jobs, a brand new Whole Foods, and the repurposing of a long-abandoned GM building as a design center, midtown-downtown Detroit—soon to be linked by a new rail line—is poised to become the country’s next "innovation district," suggest Brookings Institution's Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley in The New Republic this week.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Global Tech

No PhD Required: Science Goes Grassroots

Champions of Change honoree Karen Oberahuser (University of Minnesota)

“Citizen science” is trendy. From keynote presentations at major scientific conferences to official recognition from the White House, citizen science seems to be everywhere. But what exactly is it? Broadly defined, citizen science covers any activity by which regular people are contributing to scientific research, or integrating science more closely in their day-to-day lives. (We’ve already seen how people are getting involved through crowdsourcing; this new trend goes a step further.) Citizen scientists are those who believe in the power of technology and research—and are finding ways to advance their lives and those of others by embracing a scientific approach.   More