MadDog Tech moving 3 startups to Pontiac’s downtown

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Technology company MadDog on Friday will relocate three of its businesses to the historic Riker Building in downtown Pontiac, according to an announcement Thursday by chairman and co-founder Pete Karmanos Jr. and co-founder Mark Hillman.

Lenderful, DeliverMyRide and PerfectRealty are expected to move Friday into temporary space in the building near Woodward and Huron, while construction is underway on 15,000 square feet of permanent space on other floors.

“Rikers Properties has set us up in temporary space within the building until our permanent space is finished,” spokeswoman Adrienne Lenhoff said. “Right now, the 10th floor is the first floor of our build-out. It’s being gutted, ceilings opened up, etc., to build a world-class tech space for us.”

The three companies plan to hire more than 100 employees combined in Pontiac over the next 36 months, officials said. All three, plus MadDog, currently are based in Birmingham.

“There is a growing base of technology companies in Pontiac, and see Pontiac emerging as a technology center in southeast Michigan,” Karmanos said in a statement. “Being one of the first to invest in Detroit, we saw that technology companies can be the heart of an economic renaissance. We believe Pontiac can see the same sort of explosive growth in the short term.”

Karmanos, then the CEO of Compuware, moved that tech firm to the Compuware Building in Detroit’s Campus Martius in 2003.

Hillman said the companies’ new Pontiac location is “centrally located” near “top residential areas in southeast Michigan” as well as nearby Oakland University and Oakland Community College.

“It’s all about top talent. Software professionals are highly competed for across all industries, especially with the large scale investment in self driving car technologies. Pontiac is an outstanding location helping us compete for the best of the best technical talent,” Hillman said. “Oakland University and OCC have software technology programs that align to our growth plans and we look forward to partnering with them to grow and retain local talent.”

All three companies fall under the umbrella of MadDog, a business focused on creating and investing in technology startups.

Lenderful is a new online mortgage platform for customers to shop for rates online, learn about the mortgage process, and apply online. DeliverMyRide similarly allows customers to shop online, but for new cars while comparing prices across the market. PerfectRealty aggregates data on the housing market for people searching for a new home.

The companies are “are poised for rapid growth” in Pontiac, according to officials.

Pontiac’s Riker Building beat out an unnamed “competing site” in North Carolina, according to officials. The Michigan city offered support to the project by waiving building and other permits.

City officials appeared especially enthusiastic to welcome Lenderful, which plans to invest more than $1.75 million alongside additional contributions by DeliverMyRide and PerfectRealty. Lenderful also recently was awarded an $800,000 grant from the Michigan Business Development Program.

“Companies like Lenderful are enhancing our reputation as a high-tech destination,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “None of this would have happened without our great partnership with Pontiac and the (Michigan Economic Development Corporation) to keep this investment in Michigan.”

Pontiac’s mayor also singled out Lenderful in her statement welcoming the brands to the city.

“Pontiac is pleased to welcome Lenderful to join the technology cluster of enterprises that have chosen to locate in our downtown,” Mayor Deirdre Waterman said. “Lenderful is amongst a growing number of businesses that are discovering the amenities of our walkable, destination downtown.”

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