I started my adventure in finding Tech Startups in Ann Arbor at the beginning of June.
Barbara Ericson, Professor at School of Information at UMICH, had been helping me all the way through during this time to get in touch with many of the responsible in the community. It has been thanks to her connections that I started planning ahead.
However, before arriving in Ann Arbor there have been little but promising hopes to meet with some of the Tech Startups in the city. Apparently, I realized later that most of the startups were High Tech oriented. First Aileen, Professor at Transforming Engineering Education Lab (TEEL), helped me get in touch with other colleagues, who in turn got in touch with others until I got one interview promise via email from Fluity hosted at Desai Accelerator. This didn’t discourage me since the community seemed pretty thriving with innovation initiatives.
Finally, I arrived in Ann Arbor on the 1st of June for the IPIT annual meeting. After an exciting session organized during the meeting, Aileen decided to introduce me to Rich, CEO at Menlo Innovations, who was happy to receive me in an opened guided tour and have an interview regarding their approaches in developing high tech software. He also introduced me to one of the most promising startups in the center, Parabricks.
Fortunately enough on the 7th, the Tech Trek event was going on in the city. This allowed me to get in touch with several startups. The event occurred once a year. Leading technology companies opened their doors to the public and showcase their latest innovations. Everyone was welcomed to attend and get a taste of the Ann Arbor tech community.
I ended up talking to over 20 startups out of the 80+ present in the event and managed to book time with 6 most relevant ones. Now I felt more confident that there will be high hopes in achieving my goals in the coming week.
When starting meeting with the startups from 11-15 June, I realized how opened everyone was and happy to talk about their software engineering practices.
Jonathan, Vice President of Engineering at SkySpecs, decided to show me around their advanced technology with other engineers. The company had managed to develop turbine inspection with drone technology, which had brought a rapid growth in the last two years.
Alexander, CEO of Fluity, was pleased to show me his product, which helped industry model their components rapidly.
I have been amazed at how much every other startup I met was eager to tell me about their Software Engineering practices and their products. Recording the interviews was not a problem as long as you could explain well your research work and the purpose of the recording.
But, work wasn’t the only satisfaction I took from the trip. I had a chance the last day to meet with Alexander and grab a beer downtown.
Together with my family, we had dinner at Barabara and Marks’ house. It was mainly thanks to them and IPIT that I managed to take the most out of this visit.
Everyone I met in Ann Arbor was quite friendly and talkative. This helped me conduct my research efficiently but also have a perfect time.
Bottom line you have to meet in person with these amazing people and a lot of the things get done. Recruiting via emails doesn’t work. It is truly a networking city, and a lot of Tech Startups are located all over the town, driven mainly by the Ann Arbor SPARK incubator community.
Many thanks to IPIT and their team in helping me reach part of the goals while visiting Ann Arbor!