Update: Ingress, LevelEleven, Rubicon, ArdentCause, Time Magazine

We glide into the long weekend with a report from an Ingress event held in Detroit on Aug. 23, an update on three expanding local tech startups, and brief, gloating commentary on the new story about Detroit in Time magazine. Have a lovely holiday!

—The Ingress XM wagon (pictured) stopped in Detroit last weekend for the first-ever Anomaly held in the Motor City, part of a series of events happening across the world under the #Helios tag. I attended the Anomaly’s cross-faction afterparty at St. Andrew’s Hall in downtown Detroit. Hundreds of people of all ages, colors, and creed crammed into the historic concert hall as the floors buckled, and results of the competition were announced—the Enlightened team captured Detroit—to raucous cheering. Afterwards, the local band Howling Diablos took the stage. (Fun fact: John Hanke’s wife’s cousin is in the band.) Linda Besh, the Ingress player we profiled in February, helped organize the event.

We caught up with Niantic Labs’ Hanke, the original creator of Ingress, who told us that the game is now available for iOS, allowing those with iPhones to play for the first time. Hanke said he participated in the Anomaly as an agent for the Enlightened, the first time he’s played at an organized event. He said the next big thing coming to the Ingress universe is the “missions” feature, which will allow the implementation of player objectives. “The missions will be curated by Ingress agents, and it’s a great way to take walking tours,” Hanke explained. Expect a big announcement on that in the next few months.

The Anomaly marked a return trip to Detroit for Hanke, who calls it the perfect city in which to play Ingress: “There’s so much to discover, but it’s not a place where people spend a lot of time on foot. Those who play Ingress here come away with a very positive image of the city.”

LevelEleven, the Detroit-based startup focused on Salesforce apps and sales motivation software, has raised an additional $2 million in venture funding from new investors, including the Dallas Angel Network and Tamiami Angels. Bob Marsh, LevelEleven’s CEO, says the company now has 175 customers and is growing annually at a rate of 300 percent. Marsh adds that the funding announced this month is in the form of a convertible note leading to a future Series A round.

“More and more, we’re looking to drive the productivity of sales teams,” he says. “When we launched a year and a half ago, four percent of companies were looking at gamification of sales. Now it’s about 30 percent. Gamification is not itself a solution, but it’s the reason companies are adopting LevelEleven software rapidly. They’re trying to optimize performance of their existing sales teams, and the cost of LevelEleven is much cheaper than hiring five new salespeople.”

LevelEleven also announced that it has added former Exact Target chief marketing officer Tim Kopp to its board of directors.

Rubicon Genomics, the biotech startup based in Ann Arbor, has doubled in size to 30 employees since we last wrote about it in 2012. It recently moved to a new 19,000-square-foot facility on Venture Drive, and the company plans to hire more employees and expand sales to India, Mexico, and Brazil over the next year.

Christine Haakenson, the company’s chief operating officer, says Rubicon’s … Next Page »

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