Stik.com Moves from Silicon Valley to Downtown Detroit's Emerging Tech Hub - Company bringing word-of-mouth referrals online joins other technology companies in the M@dison Building -

DETROIT, Sept. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Stik.com, a website that uses Facebook to bring the business referral process online, today announced it is moving from San Francisco to downtown Detroit's growing technology district to grow its business. The company will move into the M@dison Building, a tech hub designed to encourage collaboration among local entrepreneurs and their budding companies.

Company co-founders Jay Gierak and Nathan Labenz are both from the Detroit area, and attended Harvard University where they were classmates and housemates with Mark Zuckerberg and the other founders of Facebook. Gierak and Labenz moved to Silicon Valley after graduation to build Stik.com, which launched in 2010.

Stik.com helps small companies that heavily rely on word-of-mouth referrals to acquire business and build a reputation through testimonials. The site also helps consumers find professional help they can trust when making important purchases such as a mortgage or insurance, directly through Facebook. Now, the men are returning to their roots to further grow their personalized referral business.

"Downtown Detroit is developing something special around its burgeoning tech community, and we want to be part of it," said Labenz. "We are excited to collaborate with other Detroit-based companies that are making a positive impact, and we are eager to grow our business with some of the best tech talent in the country."

Stik.com will join many other prominent tech and creative companies in the M@dison Building, such as Twitter, Detroit Venture Partners, Skidmore Studio, and Detroit Labs, which are committed to making Detroit a technology hotbed.  Stik.com currently employs six team members, however the company plans to hire more software engineers when it lands in Detroit.

"The fact that Stik.com is moving to the M@dison Building from Silicon Valley is more proof that downtown Detroit's energetic tech core has something to offer up-and-coming technology companies," said Dan Gilbert, Founder and Chairman of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans.  

"It's promising companies like Stik.com that will continue to strengthen the city's tech environment -- and downtown Detroit as a whole -- as more people relocate and bring bright ideas with them," Gilbert added.

Rock Ventures LLC, the umbrella entity formed to provide operational coordination, guidance and integration of Dan Gilbert's portfolio of companies, investments and real estate, purchased the M@dison Building in 2011 and transformed the 1917 theatre, originally designed by C. Howard Crane, into a collaborative entrepreneurial hub. Located at 1555 Broadway Street in downtown Detroit, the building is 100 percent occupied. Bedrock Real Estate Services LLC, Rock Ventures' full service real estate firm, is the leasing agent for the M@dison and other downtown Detroit properties. For more on Bedrock, visit bedrockmgt.com/madison.html.

For more information about Stik.com, please visit stik.com.

About Stik.com

Stik.com is a website that brings the business referral process online. The company helps small companies that heavily rely on word-of-mouth referrals to acquire business and build a reputation through testimonials. Stik.com also helps consumers find professional help they can trust when making important purchases such as a mortgage or insurance directly through Facebook. The company was co-founded by Jay Gierak and Nathan Labenz in 2010, and is located in the M@dison Building in downtown Detroit. For more information, please visit www.stik.com.

About M@dison

M@dison is an entrepreneurial tech hub located at 1555 Broadway Street in downtown Detroit. Originally designed by architect C. Howard Crane and constructed in 1917 as part of the Madison Theater complex, the historical Madison Theatre Building is now a creative center designed to encourage partnership among local entrepreneurs and their budding projects and companies. The building was purchased in January 2011 and has since been renovated and transformed into an open, colorful and collaborative space. The building is 100 percent occupied by companies such as Detroit Venture Partners, Skidmore Studio, Detroit Labs and Doodle Home, which are committed to making Woodward Avenue a technology and web centered corridor of growth and activity known as "WEBward" Avenue.

About Rock Ventures LLC

Rock Ventures LLC is an umbrella entity formed to provide operational coordination, guidance, and integration of Dan Gilbert's portfolio of companies, investments and real estate.

***Note to editors: Pasted below is Rock Ventures' Detroit 2.0 Chronology and the list of companies that have moved in to Rock Ventures-owned buildings since late 2010.

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Detroit 2.0

Timeline

January 2007: Dan Gilbert founds Bizdom, a non-profit entrepreneurship accelerator for budding web and tech-based startups in Detroit.

January 2009: Gilbert and other business leaders invest in M-1 RAIL, a 6.8-mile light-rail system that will link key neighborhoods to Detroit's riverfront, the business district, and educational, cultural, entertainment and medical institutions along Woodward Avenue.

July 2009: Quicken Loans announces it will relocate its headquarters to the Compuware Building in downtown Detroit in 2010.

August 2010: Quicken Loans and five of its sister companies move 1,700 team members into the Compuware building in downtown Detroit.

November 2010: Gilbert, together with entrepreneurs Josh Linkner and Brian Hermelin, launch Detroit Venture Partners, a Detroit-based venture capital firm that invests in seed and early-stage technology companies to be located in the city.

January 2011: Rock Ventures, the umbrella entity formed to provide operational coordination, guidance and integration of Gilbert's portfolio of companies, investments and real estate purchases Detroit's historical Madison Theatre Building and begins transforming it into a collaborative tech hub to encourage partnership among local entrepreneurs.

April 2011: Rock Ventures acquires the 13-story Chase Tower located in Detroit's downtown central business district and immediately begins renovation to reflect Quicken Loans' culture.

April 2011: Rock Ventures buys Two Detroit Center, a 1,095-space parking garage located in the central business district.

May 2011: Skidmore Studio, a graphic design firm located in a nearby suburb, announces it will become the anchor tenant in the Madison Building when it opens in Fall 2011.

June 2011: Quicken Loans hires 200 interns to work in the Detroit office to expose students to the city and help end Detroit's "brain drain."

July 2011: Earvin "Magic" Johnson joins Detroit Venture Partners to help fund start-up tech companies.

July 2011: Quicken Loans and four other downtown Detroit companies unveil the "Live Downtown" program, which offers financial incentives to team members who live in the city.

July 2011: Quicken Loans sponsors the debut of Somerset Collection's CityLoft, a pop-up shop open the last weekend of each month in downtown Detroit with mini-versions of upscale stores, to bring retail back to downtown Detroit.

August 2011: Rock Ventures purchases Detroit's First National Building to house more team members as well as other businesses.

August 2011: Rock Ventures acquires its fourth building, the 101-year-old Dime Building located in downtown Detroit, and the Financial District Garage, a 983-space parking structure adjacent to the Dime Building.

August 2011: Rock Ventures purchases the Madison Parking Lot on Broadway, adjacent to the Madison Theatre Building.

September 2011: Quicken Loans hosts a job fair to fill 500 positions in Detroit within the Family of Companies, 2,500 line up around the building to apply.

October 2011: An additional 2,000 Quicken Loans team members move into the newly renovated Chase Tower.

December 2011: Rock Ventures completes the acquisition of three additional properties in Downtown Detroit – the historic Wright-Kay brownstone, the Lane Bryant and the Arts League of Michigan Buildings.

January 2012: Rock Ventures adds two more buildings to its real estate portfolio - the Historic Federal Reserve Building, and 1550 Woodward Avenue, a one-story building to be utilized for retail or commercial use.

February 2012: To encourage Detroit's "brain gain," the Quicken Loans Family of Companies announces it will hire 600 paid interns - 500 to work in Detroit to discover all the great things the City has to offer.

April 2012: The Quicken Loans Family of Companies begins a recruiting campaign to hire more than 1,400 team members, and launches Valley to Detroit, a campaign aimed to bring laid off Yahoo technology professionals to Detroit from Silicon Valley.

April 2012: Rock Ventures and Chrysler hold a press conference to announce that Chrysler will lease the top two floors of Rock Ventures' Dime Building and rename the building Chrysler House.

June 2012: Quicken Loans partners with other Detroit businesses to create "IT in the D," a program to give local university students real-world experience to prepare them for tech jobs in Detroit.

July 2012: Title Source, the largest independent provider of title insurance, property valuations and settlement services in the nation, begins move of 1,500 team members to downtown Detroit's First National Building.

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Companies that have joined Rock Ventures in Downtown Detroit since August 2010

Over the past 25 months, more than 60 companies have moved to downtown Detroit in a number of Rock Ventures-owned buildings. These businesses include:

M@dison Building (50,000 sq. feet; 100 percent occupied):

  • Twitter: A real-time information network that connects people to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news
  • Skidmore Studio: A leading creative design firm occupying an entire floor in the building
  • Detroit Venture Partners (DVP):  A venture capital firm specializing in funding early stage technology businesses
  • Detroit Labs: A leader in the development of Android, iOS and web-based applications
  • UpTo: A new social platform focused on the future tense, allowing users to easily share calendar events
  • Stik.com: A website that brings the word-of-mouth referral process online
  • Chez Zara: A full-service espresso bar that specializes in exceptional espresso drinks and organic teas
  • Bizdom: A non-profit entrepreneurship accelerator for budding web and tech-based startups in Detroit and Cleveland (Bizdom Detroit was previously housed in Wayne State University's Tech Town)
  • Are You a Human: The answer to frustrating CAPTCHA entries, Are You a Human uses fun games to verify the authenticity of people completing online forms
  • Doodle Home: An online interior design destination serving customers, designers and manufacturers of luxury home furnishings
  • hiredMYway : A company disrupting the traditional "job board" concept that provides an exceptionally better value and experience for both job seekers and employers
  • TextsFromLastNight (Detroit office): An accidental startup born out of a viral sensation, now one of the leading user-generated content sites for 20-somethings
  • FLUD: A news-reader application for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices that helps users save time by delivering content they're most interested in
  • Marxent Labs: Creator of ShopWith.It, a new app for social shoppers that makes it easy to take your Facebook friends shopping
  • Ludlow Ventures: An angel and seed-stage venture capital firm investing in web and digital technologies
  • Aria Ventures: A company specializing in developing and funding startup ventures
  • 313 Ventures: Stock trader-turned-angel investor, partaking in the rebuild of Detroit, one deal at a time
  • Vineyard Capital: An investment firm for later-stage private companies, partnering with various groups throughout the Midwest
  • Roqbot: A social jukebox app that lets you be the DJ at your favorite bars, restaurants, gyms, and stores
  • Savorfull: Monthly samples of allergy free, nutrient dense foods, delivered right to your doorstep
  • EBLI: A proprietary system that teaches people of any age and skill level to read to their highest potential
  • Exxodus Pictures: A production company whose first feature film, Jinn, is now in post-production
  • GreenLancer: Web-based company that provides businesses a model for cutting development and engineering costs in clean energy projects
  • GumShoe: A game where players compete against friends and a community of sleuths to solve mysteries, and earn awards, social cred and the occasional real life cache along the way
  • Quikkly: Short-term deals exclusively for college students
  • Wedit: A fun, easy, and affordable way to capture, edit, and share wedding memories through the use of HD Flip cameras
  • Tapjoy:  A mobile ad network that lets you discover apps and get in-app rewards when you engage with ads
  • Thrillist Detroit: Free weekly email that finds the best of what's new in your neighborhood and on the web
  • Facility Matrix Group (FMG):  The area's pre-eminent provider of office furniture

Chase Tower (505,000 sq. feet; 100 percent occupied):

  • Quicken Loans: The nation's largest online mortgage lender
  • One Reverse Mortgage: The largest reverse-only mortgage lender in America and second largest retail provider of reverse mortgage home loans
  • In-House Realty: A real estate services company matching Quicken Loans clients with pre-screened agents in their community

First National Building (800,000 sq. feet; 93 percent occupied):

  • Title Source: The largest independent provider of title insurance, property valuations and settlement services in the nation
  • Aerotek: A leading staffing agency that matches qualified candidates with top companies worldwide
  • Roasting Plant:  New York-based coffee company with unique Javabot roasting technology

Chrysler House (Former Dime Building; 320,000 sq. feet; 92 percent occupied):

  • Quicken Loans: The nation's largest online mortgage lender
  • Chrysler Group LLC: Automotive company that produces Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Mopar, SRT and Fiat vehicles and products
  • Just Baked: Specialty cupcake shop and bakery
  • Rehmann: A company offering accounting, tax planning and financial consulting services
  • Allied Printing Company: Provides printing, information management, and warehouse & fulfillment services
  • Hubbard Snitchler & Parzianello PLC: Provides world-class legal service
  • Professional Movers.com: Moving company that specializes in providing local, long distance, and international relocation services for people and businesses
  • Elite Fire Safety: A one-stop-shop for fire safety needs
  • EverStaff: Recruits the most skilled and qualified professionals for organizations of all sizes
  • FNC Holding Company: Provides insight into the property backing a loan with its data and analytic solutions
  • GSI: A company specializing in security, network and system integration
  • Metro Consulting:  A full service civil engineering and land surveying consultancy
  • Reliance One: A full service staffing firm
  • SCI Marketview: A lead management company for automotive dealers
  • Corby Energy: Providing construction, engineering and support services to utilities and related businesses
  • Campus Commandos: Connects clients with the college demographic through the use of student brand ambassadors
  • Core Merchant: Easy and convenient credit payment solutions for businesses

Compuware (1, 088,000 sq. feet; Rock Ventures leases four floors; 100 percent occupied):

  • Quicken Loans: The nation's largest online mortgage lender
  • Rock Ventures: An umbrella entity formed to provide operational coordination, guidance, and integration of Dan Gilbert's portfolio of companies, investments and real estate
  • Fathead: The Real.Big. brand of officially licensed sports and entertainment graphics products
  • Bedrock Real Estate Services: Rock Ventures' full service property management firm, specializing in purchasing, leasing, financing, developing and managing of commercial space
  • Rockbridge Growth Equity: A Detroit-based private equity firm that invests in mid-stage financial and business services, consumer-direct marketing, and sports, media & entertainment industries
  • Rock Gaming: A gaming partnership formed with an initial focus to develop full-service casinos in two of Ohio's largest cities, as well as to explore other potential gaming opportunities elsewhere
  • Rock Companies: A real estate investment, development, construction and management company focusing on commercial, residential single and multi-family investments in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio
  • Quizzle: Website that gives consumers a complete understanding of their credit so they can make better financial decisions
  • Cup of Zup: Uniquely amusing pop-culture e-newsletter and website
  • Picket Report: An online neighborhood research tool

1528 Woodward (45, 146 sq. feet; former Arts League Building):

  • Sachse Construction: Offering premium commercial construction services nationwide

SOURCE Rock Ventures LLC




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