Michigan Startups Made Some Noise at SXSW Interactive


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venue. Michigan startups competed against some of the biggest startups in cities like San Francisco and New York.

First, there was Phyl Hall’s Music Mogul game, an online music talent contest where fans get to be the celebrity judges. Phyl is an serial entrepreneur from Detroit and his game was chosen to participate in the NEXT program, a four-day bootcamp centered around customer discovery and creating business models. The program had an impressive list of guest instructors, including Steve Blank, Scott Case, and Bob Dorf.

Next, there was Ann Arbor’s Meritful, including Azarias Reda and Lander Garcia. With Meritful, companies can create a meaningful relationship with students that are valuable to their recruiting efforts, valuable to their brand, and valuable to their prospective students. Though this might not be good news forMichigan’s  talent retention efforts, Meritful won the Move Your Company To Austin For Free Competition at SXSW. They will have a big decision to make, but give them credit for having a standout pitch.

Lastly, and not too surprisingly, East Lansing’s TempoRun won the Student Startup Madness at SXSW. Why am I not surprised? Well, if you follow the startup community in Michigan and follow TempoRun’s Benjamin Ebert-Zavos, Josh Leider, Phil Getzen, and Adam Proschek, you know that this team isn’t new to startup competitions. They were finalists at the 13th Annual Celebration for Entrepreneurship, an elevator pitch competition; the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s LiveWorkLaunch Detroit pitch competition; and Spartan Innovations’ Greenlight business model competition, winning $5,000. As an MSU alum, I couldn’t be more proud of these guys and as a Michigander, they represent the future of startup companies that can thrive in the state.

When I spoke with another investor at the Capital Factory, which was after these competitions at SXSW, he had heard of these winning startups and was shocked they were from Michigan. I wasn’t surprised, because the support and resources we are getting in the state are unbelievable. The next Google could be right in our backyard.

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Thanh Tran is a serial entrepreneur in metro Detroit. He's the founder of SchedFull, MentalNote, and DNewTech, a meetup group for the startup community in Detroit and southeast Michigan. Follow @

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