Forged in Flint: Kalm Clothing and Kumute
Peter Deppe and Scott Spitler / Kiara Tyler
Based in Flint, Michigan, 100K Ideas is a nonprofit with a mission to make the process from ideation to commercialization easier on innovators. Supported by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, 100K Ideas is a community of student professionals who provide entrepreneurs a helping hand in business development. As of February 2020, 100K Ideas has helped grow 481 ideas and given out 340 assessments. Two startups that have grown to fruition as a result of 100K Ideas are Kuhmute and Kalm Klothing.
Mandy and Michelle Walters have been designers and sewers for years—growing up participating in 4-H, a youth development organization where children learn hands-on life skills such as sewing, cooking, crafting and more. Today, they have put these skills to good use through their startup, Lumi, a handcrafted, earth-friendly line of women’s clothing made in their Marquette, Michigan, studio.
Ron Aho, a sheet metal worker in Marquette, Michigan, knew there had to be a better way to drive cleats than traditional, manual hammering. After years of shoulder damage forced him to undergo rotator cuff surgery, he invented a hammer-drill attachment that could do just that: the Tinknocker Tool.
Erik Kiilunen has been manufacturing products for nearly 30 years. Today, he leads Neuvokas Corporation, a startup located in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula that is focused on high-speed processing of fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) rebar — an environmentally friendly alternative to many traditional materials.
JT Weis moved back to Michigan from Paris (yes, Paris!) to lead Abcor Industries, an innovative company disrupting the building and furniture markets with its powder coating technology. The inventive products, collaborative environment and supportive nature of the region drew him in—for good.
Entrepreneurs like Chris Williams are at the core of Flint’s revitalization. Williams is the founder and president of C3 3D, a C3 Brands company. C3 3D is elevating traditional manufacturing to the next level using advanced 3D printing applications.
A Michigan mom of two, Karen Smoots needed a solution for the wet winter gear that never seemed to dry out no matter what method she used. Through creativity, enthusiasm, a supportive network and a commitment to Michigan manufacturing, Karen invented the GreenGloveDryer — a favorite for any outdoorsy family.
Ann Arbor, Michigan is one of the top swimming cities in the country. It’s also a hub of entrepreneurial activity and high-tech startup support, making it the perfect place for Fares Ksebati to develop MySwimPro—the first mobile app of its kind specifically made for swim training.
What started as a personal project to improve his own fishing experience turned into an exciting entrepreneurial journey for Travis White of ProNav Marine.
Danny Ellis of SkySpecs knows it takes a village to raise a startup. His software company has the potential to impact several major industries by changing the way large infrastructure is inspected. He shares his story, lessons learned, and advice for budding entrepreneurs.