Ann Arbor SPARK, EMU Center for Digital Engagement Provide Digital Marketing Support to Startups, Certification to Students

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AUGUST 25, 2015 – ANN ARBOR, MICH. -- Six Ann Arbor startups received a digital marketing boost through a collaborative program between Ann Arbor SPARK and Eastern Michigan University’s Center for Digital Engagement (CDE). The Digital Engagement Clinic matched undergraduates and recent graduate interns with Ann Arbor SPARK clients to accelerate the startups’ digital marketing efforts. The startups received hands-on digital marketing, and clinic interns received valuable work experience that built their resumes.

“Partnering with the CDE has provided a real value-add to Ann Arbor SPARK business incubator clients and to students considering a high tech career,” said Bill Mayer, Ann Arbor SPARK vice president, entrepreneurial services. “From our perspective, this not only helps Ann Arbor SPARK’s clients tackle a key business challenge – reaching prospects through digital marketing – it helps to retain talent who will see that these types of careers do exist in this region.”

At the conclusion of the clinic, successful students received a Digital Media Certification endorsed by both the CDE and Ann Arbor SPARK.  To receive the CDE-SPARK Digital Media Certification interns spent 80 hours working with a SPARK incubator client, blogged twice each week about their activities, and established a professional profile on LinkedIn where they made a compelling case for being hired as a digital media professional. Interns were also required to study for and pass either the Google Analytics of Google AdWords certification exam.

“The CDE-SPARK Digital Media Certification provides our students and faculty a unique opportunity to take ‘classroom’ knowledge and apply it in a way that adds real value to organizations,” said Bud Gibson, professor and director, CDE. “We expect this kind of experience to provide our students, and EMU as an institution, a real competitive advantage going forward.”

The startups participating in the clinic - Warmilu, ContentOro, Arbor Insight, Industry Star, Message Blocks, and Stridepost – are all incubated at SPARK Central in downtown Ann Arbor.

Warmilu CEO Grace Hsai explained the benefit of the program, saying, “Warmilu, like many high-technology startups, has significant technical expertise but a gaping lack of dedicated time, expertise, and even funding for improving their digital presence and marketing. The Digital Engagement Clinic is a game changer: Our digital presence has undergone significant re-focusing and amplification which has led new nonprofits, emergency medical service professionals, team members, and channel partners to Warmilu. As a bootstrapping startup, this helped Warmilu achieve significant milestones with the right expertise without breaking the bank.”

Ann Arbor SPARK’s entrepreneurial services, including its SPARK Central incubator, are funded by the by the MEDC, Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone (LDFA). The LDFA provides the capital needed to facilitate the development of private, high-tech enterprises and commercialization of research products being developed at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University and within the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone.