Ann Arbor mobile software company working to 'keep the smart people' in Michigan
Angela Cesere | AnnArbor.com
That’s the approach one mobile software firm in Ann Arbor is taking to help solve Michigan’s talent disconnect — an issue company officials say is at a critical tipping point in the state.
It’s been discussed time and again: Michigan has some 80,000 job openings and not enough qualified workers to fill them. Politicians and business executives have expressed the crucial need to retain and attract talent to the state.
But what’s a small local company to do?
For David Koziol and Keith Bourne of Arbormoon Software — a mobile development and strategy company located on South Fourth Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor — meeting with area developers, organizing events and training workers in the mobile industry is a step in the right direction.
“We really believe there’s plenty of opportunity to continue to raise the water, so to speak, here in Michigan,” Koziol said. “It will raise Arbormoon’s boat, but also other companies’ boats, and that’s fine.”
Arbormoon, which Koziol founded in 2004, specializes in mobile application development. It once operated out of the Tech Brewery on Jones Drive in Ann Arbor, but has since moved downtown. The company now has more than a dozen people working on various projects and it is eyeing growth in the coming year.
Bourne joined the Arbormoon team earlier this year to expand its mobile strategy division, and he was also recently appointed as a mobile strategy advisor for the state of Michigan’s chief information office. He works with clients to figure out the best ways to integrate mobile technologies to either reduce costs or boost revenue.
Some of Arbormoon’s development projects include the Wunder Radio and KNBR sports radio apps, an A2Y Chamber app, a XanEdu app for tablets, and FlockTAG apps for the Ann Arbor-based community merchant loyalty program.
But aside from working with dozens of clients on mobile development and mobile strategy, Arbormoon is at the forefront of some of the state’s training and development groups.
The company is part of a team that launched Develop Detroit this month — a 12-week program that trains 20 to 30 people on iOS and iPhone development in downtown Detroit. Companies like Compuware and Quicken Loans are promoting the program with the goal of hiring some of the trainees.
Arbormoon also hosts CocoaHeads Ann Arbor — a monthly meeting and technical talk for iPhone, iOS and Mac developers — and Bourne co-founded Mobile Monday Ann Arbor — a monthly meeting that highlights mobile strategy and marketing. It also plans on launching an Android development group that will be hosted in the Arbormoon office.
The goal of the programs: Get workers in Michigan better adapted to current job openings, and develop a strong mobile community in southeast Michigan.
“We’re trying to help people when we can and create more opportunities for people,” Koziol said. “We have that sense of community, and we have content here that people want and the opportunity to share and learn more. We want to keep the smart people here.”
The duo also recognizes the mobile industry is growing tremendously. A recent study by mobile operator association GSMA predicted jobs in the global mobile industry will reach 10 million by the end of 2015, with industry revenues growing from $1.5 trillion dollars in 2011 to $1.9 trillion in 2015.
Bourne and Koziol think Michigan, and Ann Arbor in particular, can be at the forefront of that growth.
“Michigan is one of the most active states in mobile,” Bourne said. “We’re seeing it daily; the growth in mobile and what a big industry it’s become for Michigan.”
Koziol added: "The Detroit tech market is growing really fast. There are also so many great groups in the Ann Arbor area that can help people with a mobile career transition. I'd love to see more people come to Ann Arbor to take advantage of those things, too."