This post originally appeared on startupnation.com/grow-your-business
It’s a myth that only the top startups and the best startup jobs are in Silicon Valley or New York City. As a Midwest company built for Midwest startups, we know that’s just not true.
In 2020, Glassdoor came out with a list of the top 25 U.S. Cities for jobs. And guess what—most of the cities on the list were in the Midwest. Detroit ranked number 10. Then LinkedIn came out with their list of the top cities to launch your career in. Detroit ranked number eight—again, that’s out of the whole country.
In the last decade, Detroit has seen a huge growth in tech employment. That, plus the growing number of startups, affordable cost of living, and vibrant community, make it a great place to live and work.
So what are the companies that are putting Detroit on the tech hub map? Check out the top Detroit startups and tech companies to watch in 2021.
And yes, they’re hiring!
Top Detroit Startups and Tech Companies 2021
Autobooks is one of those Detroit startups that continues to crush it. In 2020, they were named one of the Best Places to Work in Financial Technology 2020, and the TAG FinTech ADVANCE program recognized Autobooks as one of the most innovative U.S. FinTech companies. Their culture is flexible and collaborative, making it a top Detroit startup to work at, and they’re constantly innovating and helping small businesses find the banking tools they need. Plus, their Detroit HQ in the Madison Building downtown has been named one of the coolest offices in the country, which makes a return to the office—and real clothes again—something to look forward to.
Guardhat is the maker of smart safety gear for workers, and they had a pretty big 2020. Back in the summer, they partnered with Oloid to help bring contact tracing and temperature scanning to the workplace. In late 2020, the company released smart glasses to help protect front-line workers. And TIME magazine named the Guardhat HC1 Communicator one of the best inventions of 2020.
One of the top startups in Detroit (and in the country), StockX is “the stock market of things.” Especially sneakers. In November 2020, the Detroit tech company announced that they’re developing three new authentication centers in Toronto and Hong Kong, which will expand the company’s global network by 50%. So look out: top startup in Detroit, the country, and maybe the world.
Headquartered in Chicago, Clearcover is an Insurtech startup for car insurance. They just opened a new (and right now virtual) office in Detroit, and their Detroit team is growing. At the beginning of 2020, they raised $50 million in series C funding.
5. AaDya Security
The strong—and growing—Detroit/Ann Arbor cybersecurity scene brought in some new funding this year. AaDya Security raised $2.7 million back in September and launched a new product, Marzo4, which includes virtual cybersecurity assistant, Judy. AaDya has been consistently one of the top startups in Detroit, and one of the best places to work in the city.
Integral is a technology consulting firm that’s making the world a better place by leveraging their tech superpowers. They help clients strategize, design and implement, and they work with some of the biggest names in mobility—you know, like Ford. Even though they were born and raised in Detroit, they’ve opted to continue a remote model of working. Integral hosts monthly meetups (virtual) that are focused on new technologies and problem solving. Part of their mission is building great teams, so they’re a people-first company that values humility, accountability and kindness.
Budgeting is always hard, especially during economic downturn. But Pocketnest is trying to make it easier. The Detroit fintech startup uses behavioral science and psychology to coach users, primarily Millennials and Gen Xers, to achieve financial wellness. Jessica Willis, the CEO and founder of Pocketnest (and also a top female founder in the Midwest) noticed that the next generation does business differently, and most financial institutions leave them out. But not Pocketnest. They’re building a team and the technology that’s helping more and more people achieve financial wellness. If you want to check out some of Jessica’s excellent budgeting tips, click here.
8. OneStream Software
Located in Metro Detroit, OneStream is a corporate performance management platform that’s consistently one of the best tech companies in Detroit, and one of the best places to work. In 2020, OneStream Software was named a Leader in the 2020 IDC MarketScape for Cloud Enterprise Performance Management Software. They also had a record-breaking Q3 with strong sales and customer growth—all that despite the pandemic’s economic impact. And again, they were named one of the top 2020 Small Places to Work at by the Detroit Free Press—their campus is state of the art, their benefits are top tier, but it’s their humans that make it an amazing place to work.
9. Signal Advisors
Coming out of stealth mode in 2020, Signal Advisors is a Detroit startup that’s growing their business and their team. The co-founders are looking for entrepreneurial candidates who are “obsessed with finding a better way” and feel free to innovate. Plus, this isn’t the co-founders’ first venture—these guys know how to build successful businesses, and we’re excited to see what they do in 2021.
10. Plain Sight
Tapping into your local business community can be tough, but Plain Sight is making it easier. This Detroit tech company created a social networking app to help people make meaningful connections in shared spaces. And when the pandemic hit, they pivoted and offered ways for people to meet virtually as well as in physical spaces safely. This shift worked so well that they’ve expanded their presence to Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina, and in 2021, the team plans to expand to Atlanta, New York City and San Francisco.
Dynatrace is a global software leader with an all-in-one platform. Their software provides answers, not just data, about the performance of applications, the underlying infrastructure, and the experience of all users. Their team in Detroit is diverse, inclusive and close-knit. Plus, their new digs in Ford Field are pretty sweet.
Ever see concerts and other in-person events in movies and shows these days and just cringe? Same. But, as this Detroit startup likes to remind people, even though large in-person gatherings are cancelled, events don’t have to be. Passage, a digital platform for event ticketing and selling merch, made a big pivot in 2020 to help people host virtual events—whether that’s a virtual concert, comedy showcase, cooking class, fitness workshop, or other events. They were featured in Forbes for their creativity and innovation during a challenging time, and we’re excited to see what’s next for the Passage team in 2021.
Founded in early 2020, Rivet is a new Detroit startup that’s building workforce and job management tools for the skilled trades. Tens of millions of workers don’t earn a living wage, and it’s not for a lack of job opportunities. Rivet is on a mission to understand current and future demand for skills, connect workers with training, and deploy workers just-in-time to projects or jobs. In late 2020, they announced they closed their first funding round, which was led by Ideal Industries, Michigan Rise, Solidea Capital, and WPMC. They’re one of the newest Detroit startups in the game, and we’re looking forward to watching them grow in 2021.
14. Airspace Link
Airspace Link is the leading North American provider of state and local government drone flight authorization and management solutions—in other words, they’re making sure drone operations take off smoothly and safely. They landed some big partnerships in 2020. The city of Ontario, California is using AirHub to launch the first-of-its-kind digital drone infrastructure in the sky. And the Detroit Region Aerotropolis deployed the Airspace Link low altitude drone infrastructure to support the safe use of drones and to lay the groundwork for a new type of Smart City mobility infrastructure. Airspace Link is also a top Detroit startup because of its culture—great benefits, real work/life balance, and the opportunity to work with a high-growth, high-potential tech company.
Back in June, Vroom went public with a great IPO. The e-commerce platform for used cars, which is used by over 250,000 customers, saw a lot of growth in 2020, and we’re excited to see where the tech company goes in 2021. While they have offices in New York and Texas, their Detroit pit crew of technologists and product developers is a talented and innovative team to work with.
Shopping got a lot more fun—Jewel partners with premium and luxury brands so you can earn cash back on all the best stuff. Win-win. But it’s not just a cash-back program. They’re a tech company that’s making luxury and fashion more accessible to people. Back in 2019, Jewel was acquired by Capital One, but this Detroit tech company is still very much immersed in the Detroit startup community and looking to hire talented, down-to-earth folks.
Headquartered in Metro Detroit, Altimetrik is a software company that helps clients transform and accelerate their business. They operate with a hyper-collaborative process to solve difficult problems. Though they’re a larger, global corporation, their startup culture is what drives them: collaboration, innovation, problem solving and investing in technology. The Altimetrik Collider is a collaboration and innovation hub for startups and technologists. Located in Downtown Detroit, it’s designed to nurture a hyper-local technology community connecting with local executives, talent, prospective employees and entrepreneurs.
Waymark is a Detroit startup that makes it simple for companies to create their own commercials. They offer multiple templates and design tools to make creative work accessible to anyone. Once the pandemic hit, the company offered free commercials for small businesses, and donated over a million dollars in free videos to local businesses across the country. They’re a small team focused on their people and their customers. Plus, they have some awesome benefits.
As a digital marketing platform, Quikly empowers marketers to consistently acquire, activate and retain customers—which leads to better ROI. They’re big on leveraging elements of consumer psychology, hosting webinars about how neuroscience can help brands effectively communicate with their customers. They’ve been a thought leader in marketing and engaging with customers during the pandemic and times of uncertainty. In late 2020, they launched a new digital product to help brands acquire and retain customers.
Located in Metro Detroit, Nuspire is an established company with startup vibes. They’re a part of the thriving cybersecurity community in Detroit and Ann Arbor, and they’re one of the best places to work.
Ever need to reach out to a coworker but not sure how to find them or contact them? Sift is an online workplace directory that makes it easy to find and connect with the people you work with. In 2020 they raised $3 million, and we’re excited to see where it takes them in 2021.
22. Genusee Eyewear
Though located outside of Detroit in the city of Flint, Michigan, Genusee Eyewear is a sustainable eyewear manufacturer that’s making a difference in the Flint community—and the fashion industry. Founded by Ali Rose VanOverbeke in 2017, Genusee makes eye frames out of recycled singled-use plastic water bottles. Ali Rose is a Michigan native who saw how devastating the Flint water crisis was to the community and to the earth; so many plastic water bottles were being used because the people of Flint didn’t have access to clean drinking water. Using the waste stream from the crisis, Ali Rose created a company that designs, manufactures, packages, ships, sells (and everything in between) eyewear right there in Flint. According to their site, “Every purchase upcycles 15 water bottles and creates jobs for returning citizens in the Flint community.” This e-commerce startup is revolutionizing eyewear and fashion, and doing a lot of good for the community, too.
23. Blue Wheel Media
Based in Birmingham, Blue Wheel Media is a digital marketing agency unlike any other. The company grew into a Top 8 Figure Seller on Amazon in less than two years, which is something less than 1% of new Amazon sellers have achieved. As one of the fastest-growing digital companies in the U.S., Blue Wheel is making a big impact on digital advertising and helping brands and businesses grow.
Once called “a Waze for event food,” WaitTime is an app that uses patented AI to deliver real-time crowd intelligence. And even though major events and crowds have been put on pause, crowd intelligence has become all the more important in the pandemic. Now, WaitTime has partnered with Cisco to support the safe reopening of large-scale entertainment, event and sports venues following the pandemic.
Litter boxes are gross. It’s just a fact. That’s why AutoPets made the Litter-Robot to make the job easier and a lot less gross for pet owners. The company based in Auburn Hills is constantly innovating new, highly functional and connected pet products. The company is led by top innovators like COO Jacob Zuppke, who was named one of Detroit’s 40 under 40.
Payment processing, customer engagement, point of sale systems… SpotOn is creating all the tools businesses need every day to keep growing. Which is especially important as small businesses overcome hurdles during the pandemic—their technology shouldn’t be one of them. While they are headquartered in San Francisco, they have a Detroit office—and yes, they are hiring!
27. Boon Health
Founded in 2020, Boon Health is a new Metro Detroit startup that’s helping businesses and executives prioritize employee mental health. Boon’s holistic, personalized mental health platform gives employees the opportunity to increase resilience, productivity and engagement. That mission is all the more important as mental health issues continue to rise amid the pandemic and isolation, and we’re looking to see how this company grows in 2021.
28. Flow Video
Founded in 2016, Flow Video is a company that’s passionate about helping brands and organizations tell their stories through video—and take their business to the next level. Because the world has shifted to a virtual format and video is more important now than ever, the company has seen a lot of growth since 2016. The company helps with everything from design to production, editing to marketing. We’re excited to see what’s in store for Flow Video in 2021.
Benzinga is a media and data technology startup that’s on a mission to empower a new generation of investors. They connect the world with news, data and education to make investing and financial prosperity accessible to everyone. Benzinga is consistently ranked one of the best startups in Detroit and a great place to work.
31. Red Ventures
Media company Red Ventures has a vibrant Detroit office that’s one of the best places to work. The Detroit team is a tight-knit group of engineers, business leaders, financial experts, creatives, and other talented folks leading the Bankrate brand. They’re like a cross between a fast-growing startup and a global company.
Detroit Startup GreenLancer is the leader in solar permit design and solar engineering. Their digital platform offers solutions for special solar applications, commercial site acquisition and solar project management consultation. As renewable energy becomes more and more important, so do startups like GreenLancer. We’re looking forward to seeing what they do this year.
33. Detroit Labs
As a custom software development company, Detroit Labs has been designing and building mobile and web products (and the teams behind them) since 2011. Their culture of growth, teamwork and opportunity is at the heart of everything they do. They specialize at helping clients—and their employees—grow and develop.
34. Petram Data
The Petram team is committed to helping businesses grow by leveraging data insights. Their best-in-class AI technology and tools are used by tech companies like Quicken Loans and Lemonade. Jibreel Lockhart, co-founder and CEO of Petram, is an experienced engineer who’s passionate about using data and technology to decode customer behaviors. He’s also a leader in the Detroit community for career coaching and has helped create a culture of growth at Petram.
At CatalystXL, they’re putting knowledge into people’s hands—literally. The cloud-based content management platform helps administrators organize information, content, important documents and communications, all in one place. The app is used by people working in the auto industry, manufacturing, professional services for communication, sales and more. Founded in 2018, they’ve raised over $1 million and are continuing to grow.
Vectorform is a platform designed to help organizations invent digital products and customer experiences. They’re a more established tech company with 20 years of tested experience, but their constant innovation and company culture have some major startup vibes. We’re excited to watch them keep growing in their mission to close the innovation execution gap.
Founded in 2020, Keyory is a brand new Detroit startup that’s innovating emails and meetings. Their technology helps companies increase meeting productivity and automate team check-ins. As they continue to grow, we’re excited to see what’s next for this new startup.
38. Petal Transport
Petal Transport is a manufacturing and tech startup founded in 2019. They build cargo e-bikes to help deliver goods via their mobile apps. As delivery becomes the norm, having an environmentally sustainable delivery solution is all the more important.
Founded in 2019 by Armando Arteaga, Jose Romo-Puerta and Sergio Rodriguez, ToDoolie is an app that helps people find and hire local help with yardwork, routine cleaning, moving and more. The app is designed to empower young individuals with access to formative work experiences.
40. Slalom Consulting
Slalom Consulting is a business and technology consulting firm helping clients solve business challenges. It’s an established tech company with offices all over the world, including Detroit, and they’re hiring for many open data and engineering positions in the city. Because of its open and inclusive culture, it’s also consistently named one of the best companies to work for.
With their HQ (and deep roots that go back to the 60s) in Detroit, OneMagnify is a global marketing analytics firm, helping clients with actionable analytics and data; compelling marketing communications through brand strategy; and technology solutions.
42. X by 2
With 20 years of experience, X by 2 is a seasoned consulting firm that’s just getting started. They put tech, problem solving, and—of course—people first to deliver amazing results to their clients. They’re also one of the best places to work in Detroit with a culture rooted in empowerment and excellence.
Backboard is a new startup, founded in 2020. The platform offers easy communication tools for teams in the restaurant, retail, healthcare industries and more. Their hands-free communication technology is all the more important for front-line workers. We’re looking forward to some big moves from Backboard in 2021.
44. Stealth Venture Labs
Stealth Venture Labs is a seasoned team of e-commerce and marketing pros, and they’re hiring in Detroit. The team uses technology to grow brands and revenue—and give back. They have one of the happiest teams (because their culture rocks), and we’re excited for them to join the community in Detroit.
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