Posted in Blog on November 01, 2018

10/31/2018 // ZEELAND, MICH–Entrepreneurs and those who support them gathered to celebrate strides forward IMG_3263.JPGfor startups and the entrepreneurial ecosystem Thursday, October 25 at the Holland Civic Center as part of the second annual SURGE Celebration. SURGE connects startups to resources available locally and regionally, including the Holland SmartZone, and is powered by Lakeshore Advantage, the region’s non-profit economic development organization. 
“SURGE is like a warm hug, wrapping entrepreneurs in the support and services they need and providing the necessary connections to move their startups forward,” said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. “These startups are the primary employers of our community’s tomorrow. We have a growing entrepreneurial base here, which will continue to flourish when we open our networks, share their stories, and engage through mentorship.“
Gentex, the title sponsor for the SURGE Celebration, brought their leadership team and a Polaris RZR vehicle equipped with Gentex technology and announced they were joining the SURGE Mentor network, inviting other more established employers to do the same to continue to grow a culture of innovation in the community. 

“Gentex is Ottawa County’s largest employer. But just 44 years ago, we were a startup in our founder’s garage” IMG_4766.JPGsaid Neil Boehm, Chief Technology Officer at Gentex. “A culture of innovation must thrive not only at Gentex, but also in our community, keeping ideas fresh, challenging the norm, creating better technologies and a smarter vision for tomorrow.”

The SURGE Celebration brought together over 100 business and community leaders. As part of the evening’s events, seven area startups participated in the SURGE Showcase, bringing with them their products or technologies and sharing their stories. Since the beginning of SURGE support, 94 startups have been assisted through SURGE. 
“When we hosted a launch event in August, SURGE was a collabortive partner and sponsor,” commented Matt Baxter, founder of Wedge and SURGE showcase participant. “Between resources and connections including that to Symposia Labs, who worked oIMG_4761.JPGn our first project, and just a great leadership team, SURGE and Lakeshore Advantage have been incredible assets for a start-up founder in the West Michigan area.” 
Two business service providers, Timothy Haines, founder and projects manager with Symposia Labs and Daniel Morrison, founder of web development company, Collective Idea, were recognized with “Yes &” awards for going above and beyond to assist entrepreneurs with projects as part of the SURGE Entrepreneurial Support Network. Business service providers in this network offer discounted or pro-bono services to entrepreneurs on a project basis. IMG_4797.JPG
Four local startups were recognized with “Catapult Awards” for achieving milestones that resulted in catapulting growth for their companies. These award recipients include:

  • Jim TenBrink, Owner, Encoris
  • Tom Guarr, Chief Scientist, Jolt Energy Storage
  • Jack Johnson, Co-founder, Volta Power Systems
  • MaxOne, CEO and Co-founder, Jason Mejeur 
The SURGE Celebration was presented by Lakeshore Advantage and sponsored by Gentex, Grand Rapids Community College, and The Michigan Venture Capital Association.