02-01-13 | Blog Post

Cloud Mobile Application Startups Plant Roots in Michigan

Blog Posts

Lock the stable door, the cloud is coming to the farm!

Rural wisdom has long proclaimed that successful farming has more to do with hard work, cooperation, frugality and common sense than science and technology. But a farm management software startup company called FarmLogs wants to modernize the industry by bringing critical farm data online. It replaces paper record keeping with software that is accessible via cloud computing on smartphones and web browsers.

An exciting venture, for sure.

But there’s another notable development in the story of FarmLogs, which recently received $1 million in seed funding to expand its mobile applications in time for the 2013 planting season: The tech company – which was incubated in Silicon Valley – has set its roots in Michigan.

Twenty-something co-founders Jesse Vollmar and Brad Koch grew up in the rural Thumb area of mitten-shaped Michigan. They headed off to Silicon Valley to develop their vision after receiving seed funding from Y Combinator.

Their next move? Leave the world’s largest conglomeration of technology corporations and start-ups and return to Michigan. They’ve set up their growing shop in Online Tech’s hometown of Ann Arbor.

“We decided the right move for us was to move back to Michigan, right here in Ann Arbor,” Vollmar told Concentrate Media. “Ann Arbor has a better start-up culture and vibe that we thought would be better for attracting talent.”

While the move may sound unconventional, FarmLogs’ return to Michigan is the continuation of a high-tech trend. Business leaders — from the urban mobility opportunities championed by Ford Motor Company executive chairman Bill Ford to Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert’s development of an entrepreneurial tech hub in Detroit — are moving the state past its manufacturing base.

Michigan gained the most tech jobs nationwide in 2010 and was ranked third in the nation for high tech job growth in 2010-11.

Gilbert is the co-founder of Detroit Venture Partners, an aggressive venture capital firm that invests only in early-stage tech start-ups. Many of those start-ups are based in the DVP’s M@dison Building in downtown Detroit, a renovated theater tabbed as one of the “World’s Coolest Offices” by Inc. magazine.

The conglomeration of tech start-ups in Detroit has people referring to it as “the rise of Silicon Valley 2.0.” Not so fast says DVP co-founder Josh Linkner, who built suburban Detroit-based ePrize into the largest interactive promotion company in the world.

“We don’t want to be the Silicon Valley of Detroit. We want to be the Detroit of Detroit,” Linkner told TechCrunch TV. “I think that Detroit is going to be the turnaround story of the century. I think we’re going to be studying this five-year stretch, when Detroit got back its mojo, for decades to come.”

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