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Posted on Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor mobile software company working to 'keep the smart people' in Michigan

By Lizzy Alfs


Dave Koziol, left, founder of Arbormoon Software, and Keith Bourne, who works on the mobile strategy division of the company, stand in front of a wall filled with the icons of mobile applications that Arbormoon Software has built.

Angela Cesere |

A rising tide lifts all boats.

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."

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 1:17 a.m.

kinda chuckled with the headline, I know some so called smart ones, who have no common courtesy or sense.


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

By the time many folks finish with all the college stuff they undertake, they are ready to live someplace other than an a college town... there is life beyond college, a fact many in A2 seem to forget. The married-with-children set used to be drawn here for the schools, although I'm not so sure any more. There isn't nearly as much nightlife here as there used to be for singles, except maybe for college kids - they roll-up the sidewalks at midnight except on weekends, at most bars and restaurants. The most frequently overlooked factor of all in attracting people here is the weather - most folks just do not want to live someplace where a cloudy winter lasts for eight months, most years, and then you broil in humidity for two of the remaining four. A2 will remain what it has always been - a medium-sized college town with lots of transients, be they students, or curiosity seekers, who come and go every few years.


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 6:55 p.m.

Even though the labor market is literally SCREAMING for a program to be developed by our community college system, WCC just continues on either training people for occupations that are no longer in demand or serves as a conveyor belt pumping students into Universities for 4 year degrees in occupations that are not in demand.


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

Makes sense for the State to be cutting education to the bone because of more mindless tax cuts.


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

I am a software engineer. I grew up in Dearborn but left Michigan in 1997. I just returned here from Chicago last year to be closer to family as I raise my own. I was delighted to find software jobs and ecosystem here. Now I am trying to hire software engineers and having a devil of a time. We need to reach out to people like me, talented experienced pros with existing local connections. Let them know how much opportunity and quality of life there really is here.


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 1:40 a.m.

How hard are you trying? From talking with area HR folks, the problem isn't just finding talent, it's that people keep turning down their (most likely low) offers. Employers are still living in a fog of the recession with below market salaries in mind when it's actually time to start offering the kinds of salaries and perks that haven't been seen in town (except perhaps at Google Ann Arbor) since the mid to late nineties when we had a robust ecosystem of product based companies. I haven't heard of the Silicon Valley type perks of four day work weeks, sabbaticals every five years, full tuition reimbursement, and double digit raises being the norm. A shortage of cheap talent is not the same thing as a true talent shortage.


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

CocoaHeads is great. There's a lot of programming talent here in Ann Arbor but in the past most of it moved away or was absorbed by the auto industry.


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

Alas - too late! Many have already left for greener pastures.

MD from ChiTown

Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

When I got married in 2001, one big decision was where we would live. He was living in Chicago. As a QA Analyst he didn't feel the job market in Ann Arbor provide enough job opportunities for him. I moved to Chicago. The general consensus here is that there is nothing to do in Michigan workwise or recreationally. Getting the right talent to move to Michigan is a hard sell.


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

True. How do we get them to come back? The pastures are much greener than they were ten or even five years ago.


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

The nice thing about UMich is that it brings a steady supply of talent into the area. The trick is to retain it.