THE NEWS CENTER

Your official source for all Start Garden related news

UPDATE ON TECHSHOP MARKET ASSESSMENT STUDY FOR GRAND RAPIDS, MI

Posted on by Paul Moore, filed under Announcements

In Spring 2016, TechShop kicked off a market assessment study for a potential Grand Rapids, MI location. Start Garden serves as the on-the-ground liaison for the TechShop assessment team.

TechShop is an open access, membership based, for-profit maker space that houses do-it-yourself (DIY) workshops and fabrication studios. Currently, there are nine locations in the U.S. and three locations worldwide. Multiple new stores are at various stages of development in locations around the world. Each new location requires a preliminary market assessment study.

Market assessment studies are funded by stakeholders from within each respective market. The Grand Rapids market assessment kicked off in Spring 2016. It is funded through public and private funders. All funders enter into the agreement knowing that any and all site locations are on the table until the completion of the study. TechShop chooses the most viable location based on the long-term sustainability of a store.

LOCAL FUNDERS FOR ASSESSMENT STUDY

  • Grand Rapids SmartZone
  • Start Garden
  • Rockford Construction
  • CMS Energy
  • Grand Valley State University, School of Engineering

STEPS OF THE PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT

  1. Market Evaluation
  2. Identify Stakeholders
  3. Location Analysis
  4. Concept Plan
  5. Stakeholder Feedback
  6. Proposed Integrated Plan
  7. Financial & Operational Model

The market assessment is a four to six month process that involves approximately five visits from the TechShop assessment team. Each visit includes stakeholder meetings. Each subsequent visit includes more and more stakeholders.

The assessment process is crucial to the placement of a TechShop location because any location requires a vibrant community of creative makers and millions of dollars of equipment and facilities. Each location is a long-term piece of infrastructure to benefit the entire community.

Currently, TechShop is in the Stakeholder Feedback phase. No formal decision has been made and no formal statement can be given about a Grand Rapids location until the assessment is complete.

The first part of the process narrows potential locations to a few possible sites, then focuses on a frontrunner site. After some very initial concepts are sketched, broader feedback from stakeholders is sought. A plan is developed that is as realistic as possible based on thier findings. Finally, TechShop makes a decision as to if the market is a viable option for a new store. No formal commitment is made until that determination is made.

TechShop anticipates a completed market assessment in Q1 2017.

Regarding site selection, several sites have been considered immediately adjacent to downtown Grand Rapids in the near south, north and west sides. These sites have included both existing buildings and new construction sites. 

Currently, the westside neighborhood of Grand Rapids is a frontrunner. No final decision has been made about location. Concepts are being developed to generate feedback using the westside. This is due to availability of infrastructure requirements, walkability, diversity of neighborhoods, a mix of affordable and market rate housing, proximity to downtown, proximity to tech companies, access to public transit and the freeway. Critically important is proximity to potential partners, such as WMCAT, that have capacity to serve a broad base of aspiring makers of diverse ages, genders, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds.

A TechShop opening in Grand Rapids is positive affirmation and validation of a community’s startup and maker ecosystem. Their incredible community of members and staff provide inspiration and support for creating projects. With TechShop’s classes, workshops, instruction and training for people of all ages, the West Michigan community can continue to build upon the assets that have made us a destination for advanced manufacturing, building the skills for the next generation to build whatever they can dream.

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5x5 Night Hits the Road

Posted on by Paul Moore, filed under Announcements

Start Garden is getting out of the building and into the neighborhoods to find new entrepreneurs. 5x5 Night, Michigan’s most open pitch competition, hits the road for 2016!

The rules are simple: 5 presenters have 5 minutes and 5 slides to pitch in front of 5 judges for a $5,000 grant.

Each venue has its own host committee that selects the final five presenters and the judges. Visitors to 5x5night.com may vote on ideas. Tallies are considered in the decision process but final selection is at the discretion of the host committee.

Submit your idea to 5x5night.com today!

JUL 21 Holland at CityVu Events (Submissions open JUN 23)
AUG 24 Grand Rapids at LINC (Submissions open JUL 22)
SEP 27 Muskegon at Innovation Hub (Submissions open AUG 25)
OCT 25 Grand Rapids at GVSU (Submissions open SEP 28)
NOV 29  CINCO POR CINCO EN ESPAÑOL! (Presentations can be given in Spanish) Grand Rapids at Rockford Construction (Submissions open OCT 26)
JAN 24 Muskegon at Innovation Hub (Submissions open NOV 30)

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The New Start Garden

Posted on by Paul Moore, filed under Announcements

In 2012, Start Garden changed the landscape for entrepreneurship in West Michigan. In 2016, we do it again.

As a venture capital fund, Start Garden has always behaved very differently. Based on the belief that there’s no point investing into fast growth startups without a culture in which they could grow, we served as both fund and catalyst to stimulate a lot more risk taking from both entrepreneurs and investors.

In three years we funded
190  $5,000 “experiments”
68  $20,000-$50,000 potential startups
23 $50,000-$500,000 portfolio companies

Today, Start Garden separates into three different entities in order to build upon the work we previously did as one company. We join together with the Grand Rapids SmartZone and eMerge West Michigan to align the public and private sector around the needs of entrepreneurs.

A for-profit venture capital fund that continues to manage and invest into a portfolio of between 25-30 companies.

An “ecosystem” entity to bridge public and private efforts, for-profit and non-profit, to align the entire region around what’s best for those seeking an opportunity to get a start in West Michigan. Currently, it manages services for the Grand Rapids SmartZone and Seamless Accelerator.

A 501c3 not-for-profit (formerly known as eMerge West Michigan) to allow philanthropic dollars to converge with public dollars and private investment to most equitably serve all entrepreneurs looking to launch new businesses, from neighborhoods to the high tech sectors.

Start Garden has a long-term commitment to turn our region into one of the best places to start up a business. This long view is executed in a step-by-step approach to learn what is needed today in this particular context, then adapt to that context. To best serve our region and its present needs, Start Garden has adapted its structure to deepen its devotion of time and resources toward a true culture of entrepreneurship.

We'll be sharing a lot more about what this all means in the months to come, but for now check out the Rapid Growth article, Making It In Grand Rapids.

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PORTFOLIO NEWS

Posted on by TriciaJackson, filed under Announcements

OXX FEATURED ON SCIENCE CHANNEL'S SEASON PREMIER OF "ALL AMERICAN MAKERS"

Start Garden Portfolio Member, OXX, demonstrates the durability of the world's toughest coffee maker, COFFEEBOXX, on the Science Channel's season premier of All American Makers. In case you missed it, here's a clip of OXX's featured episode.

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Start Garden Introduces: Seamless IoT Commercialization Program

Posted on by TriciaJackson, filed under Announcements, Press Releases

WHY START GARDEN AND SEAMLESS?

The Information Technology Industry in Michigan is inclining rapidly. Many sources celebrate Grand Rapids as one of the top four leading cities in the US for per capita job growth, naming technology innovation as the center of this development. At Start Garden, we once thought a startup ecosystem needed a strong research university to spin out new technologies. But today, as we’ve come to understand the manufacturing industry located in our own backyard, we see how complex and resource intensive it is to build a global enterprise that ships actual stuff. We’ve changed our mind.

It is inevitable that technologists must work with global enterprise companies when it comes to building and shipping physical products at scale. The infrastructure and domain expertise needed is too costly to duplicate.

 


Photo of Steelcase Wood Plant, located in Caledonia, Michigan. The first LEED certified manufacturing facility in the nation ships more than 22,000 units of furniture a month. Raw materials are delivered pre-sorted per order by suppliers, they’re fabricated into furniture and loaded onto trucks that depart for distributers all over North America. Raw materials are delivered and finished orders shipped every two hours.

 

Seamless isn’t really a startup accelerator as much as it is a commercialization program for technologies that must be integrated into the built environment. A Consortium of global enterprises actually run the program. Start Garden’s role is more of manager and investor. Amway (home goods), Faurecia (automotive interiors), Meijer Stores (retail environment), Priority Heath & Spectrum Health (a fully integrated insurer and healthcare provider with 22,500 staff & 1,500 physicians) and Steelcase (office environments) work alongside startups to provide unprecedented access into their innovation strategies and market channel.

We present to you, Seamless IoT Commercialization Program.

Get more updates from the 12-week IoT commercialization program by connecting with Seamless on social media: @SeamlessIoT on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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START GARDEN CLOSED JULY 2 - 4 FOR HOLIDAY, KICKS OFF BRIEF JULY HIATUS

Posted on by Start Garden Intern, filed under Announcements

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. June 30, 2014 – Fifty Louis Street, Start Garden’s downtown hub for entrepreneurs, will be closed from July 2 at noon through July 4th in observance of the Independence Day holiday.

The holiday break kicks off a four-week hiatus from its weekly investment decisions, monthly updates and education classes. Submissions will remain open, but a $5K decision will not be made until July 31st at noon. The 50 Louis space will be open normal business hours in July, and Advisor Hours will continue on Tuesday afternoons.

Its full schedule will return on Wednesday, August 6. In the meantime, they are devoting attention to the growth of their portfolio companies—those investments of $20,000 or greater.

Additional detail about Start Garden and its upcoming programming can be found at startgarden.com.

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Start Garden Seeking Video Production Intern

Posted on by Start Garden Intern, filed under Announcements

Are you a tech - saavy individual with a felxible schedule looking for an internship? Start Garden is searching for a person with experience producing live stream content of our workshops and events.

If you're interested, read on to find out how to apply.

Video Production Intern

Start Garden is an unconventional venture capital fund that invests in over a hundred ideas a year in small increments. The program brings financial, intellectual and social capital to ideas at the earliest stage by connecting them to the resources of an entire region. Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it is founded by Rick DeVos whose past projects include ArtPrize, 5x5 Night, Momentum and Spout.com.

POSITION SUMMARY
The Start Garden Video Production Internship opportunity offers a multi-faceted, hands-on experience with a unique organization and team. The role of Intern includes but is not limited to producing video, podcasts, and live stream content of Start Garden workshops & events.  Monitoring social media during live streamed workshops and moderate questions between online participants and guest speakers.  Editing and uploading content to the Start Garden YouTube and UStream channels.  Troubleshooting technology issues.

Qualifications
A self-directed individual studying film/video who is proficient at video production, web broadcasting, editing, and operating audio/video.

SCHEDULE
Start Garden classes usually take place 1 to 3 evenings per week (5:00 to 8:00) and 2 afternoons per month.  Additional classes could be added.  Editing/Content Management can take place off site if necessary.  Flexibility of schedule is needed.

COMPENSATION
Part-time (10 to 15 hours per week). Hourly rate: $9.00, not to exceed stipend of $720.00 a month.

HOW TO APPLY
Interested applicants should send a resume, and any other materials you feel would help us get to know you better to kelsey@startgarden.com by January 27, 2014.  Interviews will begin the week of February 2nd.  Start date will be mid to late February.

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Start Garden Seeking Intern

Posted on by Start Garden Intern, filed under Announcements

Calling all dedicated, hard working college students seeking a unique, hands on internship opportunity: Start Garden is now accepting resumes to find our next intern.

HOW TO APPLY: Take the time to familiarize yourself with our website and investment philosophy. If you feel our process and personality is a fit for you, send your resume and any other materials you feel will help us get to know you better to kelsey@startgarden.com. We'll be accepting applications until November 25th and holding interviews the week of December 2nd. 

We look forward to meeting you!

START GARDEN INTERNSHIP | JOB DESCRIPTION

COMPANY PROFILE
Start Garden is an unconventional venture capital fund that invests in over a hundred ideas a year in small increments. The program brings financial, intellectual and social capital to ideas at the earliest stage by connecting them to the resources of an entire region. Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it is founded by Rick DeVos whose past projects include ArtPrize, 5x5 Night, Momentum and Spout.com.

POSITION SUMMARY
The Start Garden Internship opportunity offers a multi-faceted, hands-on experience with a unique organization and team. The role of Intern includes but is not limited to organizing the physical space, assisting the greater team, and promoting exceptional hospitality.

REPORTS TO
The Intern will work with everyone on the Start Garden Team in some facet, as they will be acting as a point person for the organization and communication that keeps the team efficient. However, they will work closely with the Space Coordinator who will act as the Interns direct contact person and manager.

ENVIRONMENT
It is the role of the Intern to support an environment that is welcoming to guests and promotes a friendly work atmosphere.

RESPONSIBILITIES
The Intern is responsible for projects including but not limited to:

SPACE MANAGEMENT
Responsibilities: Assist the Space Coordinator in the management of:
office material inventory/organize storage closets, kitchen and back room
● conference room usage/reservations & technology
● organization of physical space (furniture, presentation space, event space, trash/
recycle)
● troubleshoot technology and infrastructure challenges
● serve as after hours staff as needed/scheduled

TEAM ASSISTANT
Responsibilities: assist with administrative functions
● data entry to Start Garden programs
● catalog and organize team contact lists and network
● communicate messages (email, phone, mail) as needed
● event execution (set-up, tear-down, catering, etc.)
● special research/projects as needed
● monitor back end of website

HOSPITALITY
Responsibilities: Promotes welcoming, positive, and professional atmosphere of Start Garden space.

Responsibilities: Promotes positive, open, and flexible ecosystem of space.
• Greet visitors, answer questions, promote Start Garden
• Troubleshoot and conduct customer service needs
• Assist in leading building tours
• Provide refreshments for visitors and members
• Serves as a contact person for team, the space, and the organization as needed
• Collect payments at door for events
• Hand out drink tickets for events
• Answer customer service ‘hello’ emails

EXPECTATIONS OF CONDUCT
● conducts oneself as a representative of the organization at work and during office hours
● demonstrates clear articulation of the organizational message
● has a demeanor appropriate to be a public face for the organization
● can self-identify areas where the team needs help and deliver support

SCHEDULE
Start Garden core hours are Monday through Friday 9 AM to 5 PM with additional evening and weekend activities. A weekly schedule will require approximately 15-20 hours during Start Garden office hours. Must be able to support Start Garden events which may include late evening, weekend, and some early mornings. Flexibility of schedule is needed.

COMPENSATION
Part-time (15-20 hours per week). Hourly rate: $9.00, not to exceed stipend of $720.00 a month.

HOW TO APPLY
Interested applicants should send a resume, and any other materials you feel would help us get to know you better to kelsey@startgarden.com by November 25th. Interviews will begin the week of December 2nd. Start date will be mid to late December.

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RECORDING STUDIO RECEIVES $20,000 INVESTMENT DURING START GARDEN UPDATE NIGHT

Posted on by Nichole Kladder, filed under Announcements, Press Releases

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., June 27, 2013 -- Start Garden, the $15,000,000 seed fund that selects individual ideas each week for investments, and opportunities for further investment, tonight held their monthly Update Night at 50 Louis St. Among the nine companies vying for the next level of investment, the Start Garden team chose to invest $20,000 in Groovebox Studios (strt.gd/x6Ez) a startup for crowdfunding music that helps independent artists fund and create a music video.

The June update night comes before the Start Garden team takes a four-week hiatus from its weekly investment, monthly updates and education classes. While the team will continue to accept ideas through the entire month of July, its full schedule will return on Thursday, August 1. In the meantime, they are devoting attention to the growth of their portfolio companies—those investments of $20,000 or greater—during the Second Step Series on July 11.

Joining the ranks among the next step companies is Groovebox Studios. As an independent music startup based in Detroit, Groovebox creates high-end audio and video content for musicians, and the funding is 100 percent fan-supported. Using existing platforms such as Kickstarter, artists pay nothing, and the fans are part of the entire process.

“Ninety-five percent of bands are independent artists, and the majority will never sign to a major label,” said Shawn Neal, co-founder of Groovebox Studios. “They are in every city, in every country and fans are eager to support them. Groovebox live sessions and recorded product are becoming a gateway to creating instant commercial value for an artist.”

In the 90 days its initial Start Garden investment, Groovebox hired two new people, partnered with Icon Live Studio in Chicago, produced 14 live sessions and three fully produced projects and $30,000 in revenue. Every project was over-funded by the fans of each band.

“Groovebox is playing in an industry that is continues to be in-flux, which makes it difficult to generate consistent positive cash flow, but also makes it ripe for disruption,” said Benjamin Gott, entrepreneur-in-residence at Start Garden. “We think the team has a challenging journey ahead, and we are excited to take Groovebox to the next level.”

Update Night offers teams that have received an initial $5,000 investment a chance to provide an update to the public on their projects. Teams have three-minutes to present before a live audience and explain how the money was used to complete an experiment that proved their idea is desirable, feasible or viable. Following the presentations, a panel of advisors discusses each project and announces which projects Start Garden will continue to invest in. 

Eight additional entrepreneurs presented during Start Garden’s May Update Night, but did not proceed to the next level of investment. These include:
• BARK! Microstudios (strt.gd/x1AA)
• Paintware CRM (strt.gd/x49z)
• Durabot (strt.gd/x6DA)
• Fancy Fray (strt.gd/x89x)
• Ice Cream Gallery (strt.gd/x7OA)
• PillPouch (strt.gd/x4Nh)
• play. (strt.gd/x8oB)
• The Revolution (strt.gd/x22z)

The Start Garden management team accepts ideas with potential to become businesses through startgarden.com. Each week the Start Garden team selects an idea and the broader community on the website endorses another idea to receive $5,000. Start Garden can continue to invest up to $500,000 in a single idea. Learn more about submission criteria at startgarden.com/help/criteria.

The next Start Garden event is the Second Step Series on Thursday, July 11. Four teams, who received $20,000 from Start Garden, will return to tell their story and have a candid conversation with Start Garden about whether or not they're in a position to receive further funding. Learn more about Start Garden events at startgarden.com/events.

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START GARDEN TO TAKE SUMMER HIATUS TO DIG DEEPER INTO PORTFOLIO COMPANIES

Posted on by Nichole Kladder, filed under Announcements

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., June 21, 2013 -- Start Garden, the $15,000,000 seed fund that selects individual ideas each week for investments, and opportunities for further investment has operated at a feverish pace since its launch in April 2012. Today the team announced it will take a four-week hiatus from its weekly investment, monthly updates and education classes. Its full schedule will return on Thursday, August 1. In the meantime, they are devoting attention to the growth of their portfolio companies—those investments of $20,000 or greater.

During July, Start Garden will continue its Tuesday afternoon Advisor Hours, and 50 Louis will be open normal business hours. The organization will also host its new, July 11 Second Step program—a public event featuring updates and candid conversations from portfolio companies.

“This summer, we experiment with things we learned in year one,” said Rick DeVos, CEO of Start Garden. “The Second Step Series gives the public a window into what’s happening after the $20,000 investment, we’re turning over our space for members to play with and introducing startup specific classes.”

In August, Start Garden returns with a vengeance. Thursday, August 1, they restart the weekly cycle of $5,000 investments, and Update Night on the 22nd.  The August calendar is full of new events for members and classes for startups. Member Takeover Night, where a member can self-select to be an advisor and share his or her specific expertise with other members, happens Thursdays. 50 Louis is open until 9:00PM every Wednesday and Thursday for Start Garden members.

Starting July 31, there is a class every Wednesday evening. Each class will address specific startup needs, including: 
• What you need to know before you hire an employee
• Accounting for solo entrepreneurs
• Social media marketing
• Building financial projections
• Leadership development

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