4 Startups to Keep an Eye on in Kalamazoo - Awesome Mitten

4 Startups to Keep an Eye on in Kalamazoo

One of the most delightful things about Kalamazoo is the spirit of the people. This town is full of people that are willing to think outside the box and do things just a bit different. I mean, it’s “The Zoo,” right?

What new things can we expect out of Kalamazoo? Check out these stories below for 4 startups to keep an eye on. Caution: beer and undies ahead.

4 Startups to Keep an Eye on in Kalamazoo - Awesome Mitten
Photo courtesy of MI Bottle Opener

MI Bottle Opener

I think we can all agree that Michigan is something near and dear to our hearts. If you are from Michigan, chances are beer is pretty near and dear to your heart too. So why not combine the two into something simple, beautiful, and functional?

The MI Bottle Opener.

It really is the triple threat. Shaped like the Mitten, fits right into your wallet, and opens up your favorite craft brew in a jiffy. I am not shy to say that these were a part of nearly every Christmas gift I gave last year and I may or may not stock up on them so I am prepared for random gift giving opportunities…

The novelty product (which now comes in four Michigan varieties) is the first of many ideas that are designed to connect with people in that ‘how are we best friends, we just met’ kind of way. Check the MI Bottle Opener out on their website or Facebook page!


Have you ever watched Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk, “The happy secret to better work”? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. If you have, you’ll remember the message that Shawn sends about happiness. He says there is a link between happiness and success that he refers to as, “The Happiness Advantage.” In fact, science has proved that happy and engaged people perform better in almost every measurable area. It’s ideas like this that have influenced the idea for HappyGraph.

“HappyGraph is an app that uses brain science to help people measure and improve their happiness at work.” The improve part of that equation is key. HappyGraph doesn’t want to just tell you about your happiness, they want to give you the brain science tools to improve it.

Those involved would like to see it grow into a software company as fast as possible and ultimately “transform how people work.” According to HappyGraph’s, Daniel Jefferies, “HappyGraph isn’t really even a company yet. It is more of an experiment that could develop into a company.” Nonetheless, keep one eye open Michiganders!

If you are interested in learning more about the research on happiness and success check out Shawn Achor and Martin Seligman‘s Ted Talks and read Joy, Inc. and Nudge.

4 Startups to Keep an Eye on in Kalamazoo - Awesome Mitten
Photo courtesy of Fido Motors

Fido Motors

After a failed attempt to find an electric scooter that could compete with modern gasoline scooters, Jeb Gast set out to make his very own. “I’ve rode, sold, and repaired scooters of all types for years. After a while, I realized I could build something better than what’s out there.” His goal is to create a simply designed electric scooter.

Everyone, meet Fido!

“Fido’s Tricks” include: 45 mph, 35 mile range (or 70 with the boost pack), selectable vrooooom tones, low maintenance, straight forward, and loyal. Fido will be debuted this November and manufacturing starts this winter for U.S. sales. Also, the Fido Motors crew just got a new home in a 115-year-old building in the Edison neighborhood of Kalamazoo.

What’s in store for the future of Fido Motors? They’ll start with sales in the U.S., then export to Europe over the next few years; ten years down the road, they will reinvent the scooter again.

4 Startups to Keep an Eye on in Kalamazoo - Awesome Mitten
Photo courtesy of Damn Handsome Grooming Co

Damn Handsome Grooming Co. 

There is a new way to have a beer, use it as your soap! Damn Handsome Grooming repurposes craft breweries brewed ingredients into “natural, healthy provisions” to make “intoxicating grooming essentials for the modern man.”

Their mission? “To provide men with damn good, hardworking products to help them look a just little more dapper, feel a hell of a lot more manly, AND to create a company that is as sustainable as it is beneficial.”

Don’t be fooled into thinking that beer + soap is just some cutesy combo. Brewer’s yeast, oats, hops, barley, and wheat all do amazing things for your skin – balancing the pH, regulating your skin’s natural oil, exfoliating, etc. This soap means business. So much so in fact that Damn Handsome Grooming Co is a Style Finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made contest!

Be sure to vote online September 15th – October 13th!

It’s exciting to see the startup culture in Kalamazoo continuing to grow. What is the rest of Pure Michigan up to? Comment with some of your favorite up and coming Michigan made startups!


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  1. Great article Sydney, glad we found a link on pinterest. I had no idea about any of these companies and are definitely going to check out that damn handsome grooming co. We’re based out of Kalamazoo too ( https://jar-z.com ) and love to see other start ups from our area making it out there and getting publicity.

    Now off to check out kzoo uncaged 🙂 Thanks again

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