Roundup:’s Rapping Royals, LevelEleven’s New Partnership

Here’s a look at news you may have missed from the Southeast Michigan innovation community:

—Hallelujah, it’s finally happened: There will soon be an affordable way to get from Detroit to Metro Airport in Romulus! For those of you in other cities wondering what the big deal is, there is currently no convenient way to take public transportation from Detroit to the major airport 15 miles outside of Detroit. Your options are to drive yourself (or talk a friend into driving), take a three-hour bus ride on a series of municipal busses that don’t coordinate with one another, or take a cab or town car for about $50 per one-way trip. To say it’s a major drag is an understatement.

The Detroit Bus Company, a startup that launched last year and aims to get functional public transit rolling in Detroit again, announced it’s piloting a new express bus route from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, with pick-ups and drop-offs at both airport terminals, the Rosa Parks Transit Center in downtown Detroit, and downtown Royal Oak. Tickets are $12 one-way or $22 round-trip. Interested riders should go here for more information .

LevelEleven, the sales gamification startup that spun out of ePrize last year, announced last week that it will partner with Cirrus Insight. LevelEleven has created Compete, a top SalesForce app that allows sales managers to establish employee competitions around sales goals. Cirrus Insight integrates customer relationship management (CRM) with Gmail. Together, the two companies are joining forces to further their reach.

“Sales people spend a lot of their day in e-mail,” says LevelEleven CEO Bob Marsh. “Cirrus takes all that information from the Gmail inbox and integrates it with SalesForce. Now, sales managers can define a goal around interactions or behaviors and motivate their team using our product.”

Marsh says Gmail has been rapidly growing in the enterprise market as more companies switch to its platform. And it’s not just small companies making the change, Marsh points out, noting that SalesForce itself recently switched all 10,000 employees from Outlook to Gmail.

Marsh didn’t get into the financial details behind the LevelEleven-Cirrus Insight partnership, but he did say it was more of a customer acquisition exercise than a monetization effort. “We both saw synergies between the problems our customers are trying to solve,” he adds. “It’s just a good idea to boost each of us.”

—From the Dept. of Best Stories We Heard This Week: Erik Torenberg, co-founder of the Detroit-based startup, has started hosting weekly freestyle rap cyphers downtown. Earlier this month, more than 100 people showed up to the cypher sponsored by Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Management. A camera crew from the BBC happened to be there, covering the cypher as part of a documentary about … the royal family. Say again? They were apparently filming a reality show designed to get the royal family to temporarily abandon their sheltered, comfortable lives in order to mingle with the teeming masses. (As for which royal family members specifically participated, is bound to a non-disclosure agreement.)

At first, the royals wanted to drop a few rhymes in a battle a la “8 Mile.” Luckily, cooler heads prevailed, and instead of getting embarrassed by a hometown crew of wordsmiths, the royals happily spit their rhymes as part of the group cypher. To quote Torenberg, the whole affair was “priceless.” To watch or participate … Next Page »

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