Posts about Technology

New Detroit Startup: Jewel

June 28, 2017


Living in Detroit comes with all sorts of little-known perks. For instance, hearing about up-and-coming Detroit startups before the rest of the world. One such startup is Jewel. Founder Andrew Landau developed a clever way to connect luxury retail with online shopping, while saving shoppers money. Plus, he donates 1% of sales back to charity.

Let’s take a closer look at Jewel by talking to its founder, Andrew Landau:

What is your startup all about?

Jewel is a luxury, ecommerce, loyalty site. We help customers earn money by shopping at their favorite luxury brands. Customers who shop through Jewel earn cash-back on all of their purchases.

Cool! Is eCommerce a happening space in tech? What about luxury?

Luxury is one of fastest growing segments in the ecommerce  space –– the luxury ecommerce market is expected to be over $80B by 2025 (according to a study by McKinsey & Co). By helping customers save money and helping retailers to access new online customers, Jewel hopes to capture some of this fast-growing market.

Who is going to benefit from your model?

We hope everyone can find something they love on Jewel. We’re working with over 100 retailers, and if you’re going to shop, we’d love you to shop through us. You get cash-back every time you make a purchase. Jewel is free, there’s no membership fees and anyone can sign up.

Plus, we give 1% of all of our sales back to charity. It’s a great way to make a difference and earn money at the same time.

Jewel is working with some of the top brands and retailers in the industry. From high-end department stores to indie labels, you’ll find everything you need (and want) at Jewel.

What are your thoughts on the Detroit startup scene?

We’re fortunate to be embraced by the Detroit startup community. From Grand Circus to Detroit Startup Week –– it’s great to be part of what’s happening in Detroit. We believe that if you focus on culture and strive to create a company that’s focused on more than profit, anything can be done.

There’s no better place to start a business than in Detroit, and we can’t wait to see where the future takes us.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’ve been involved in entrepreneurial activities since a young age. When I was younger my brother and I started a carnival concession business (Carnival Extravaganza) and I continued my entrepreneurial drive throughout the years. Since college I spent a little over four years at Google, co-founded a Detroit based

 startup, Chalkfly, and most recently acted as a Business Development leader at It’s been great being back home and have really enjoyed exploring all that’s new in Detroit.

I’ve been fortunate to spend the majority of my life in Detroit. My grandfather had a pharmacy Downtown and from a young age our whole family spent time downtown. Over the years, it’s been incredible to see the resurgence of the Detroit. There is a unique determination, passion and energy about Detroiter that makes this city truly special.

We’re always looking for great people to join the team and if you’re looking to be part of our startup, we’d love to hear from you.

Check us out at

From UseJewel to Waymark and beyond, Detroit startups are alive and vibrant. Are you a Michigan startup looking for a space to grow? The coworking space at Grand Circus might be right for you! Meet Detroit’s movers and shakers, get access to free workshops and more. Learn about our coworking space.

Startup Spotlight: Fathom Drone

December 13, 2016

Meet the team from Fathom!

What mysteries await below the waves? Thanks to a new startup in the Grand Rapids area, exploring the depths of the sea, or just your local pond, just got easier. Fathom Drone offers the world’s first affordable modular underwater drone, allowing users to explore depths of up to 150 feet with stunning 1080p quality video. Similar to aerial drones, Fathom’s underwater model is controlled via a mobile app or a physical controller and can capture HD video and pictures that users can share directly to their favorite social media channels. Thanks to the Fathom Drone’s streamline design and the manufacturing methods, it is able to offer the Fathom One model for the price of $600.


7 Keys to Unlock Your Full Gmail Potential

September 2, 2016

These tips will make you the master of your inbox

Do unread messages make your skin crawl? Does the thought of setting up email filters make you break into a cold sweat? Did accidentally hitting ‘reply all’ send you into a mental tailspin? If you replied ‘YES!’ to any (or maybe all) of the above, you’re not alone.

With nearly 1 billion active users around the world, it’s safe to say that Gmail is one of the most popular email services out there. Google’s email powerhouse is relied upon by businesses, universities and everyday people. What is the reason for such widespread popularity you ask? With a killer mobile app and sensational plugins, features and settings, Gmail allows users to create an inbox experience that is unique to them. But true Gmail masters are few and far between. Such a feat takes years of careful practice, preparation and a borderline obsessive amount of labeling. No matter if you’re looking to become a Gmail deity or just looking to add a little extra productivity to your day, here are a few tips to help you tackle your inbox.


Decoding Diversity in Tech: A Practical Guide

August 8, 2016

Grand Circus shares insights on diversity in tech and how to make it a company priority

Diversity gets talked about a lot in tech circles.  It’s not a new issue but one that has become especially topical since Google’s famous (and damning) 2014 employee survey.  The survey results laid bare Google’s record on diversity; only 30% of Google’s workforce are women, 3% Hispanic and 2% Black.  Not good.

So why does this matter?

At Grand Circus, we think that the tech industry should reflect the diversity of our broader community.  We’ve baked this idea into our core values and it guides how we hire team members, recruit students and design programs.  I’m proud of our record but in city where 90% of the population is Black or Latino we have more work to do.


5 Michigan Companies that use .NET

August 4, 2016


At Grand Circus, we know that people want to know where they’ll be able to use their skills once the bootcamp is over. One of the awesome things about learning .NET at Grand Circus is that there are lots of local companies that use this framework every day right in our own neighborhood. Here’s a brief sample of a few companies that use .NET where bootcamp graduates could possibly work.

Quicken Loans

Located just down the road from Grand Circus, Quicken Loans is an online mortgage lender that employs hundreds of developers. Quicken Loans was recently listed as one of the top 5 places to work in America by Forbes. The company has a large development team, so there are tons of seasoned developers to learn from as bootcamp graduates grow in their careers. Dozens of Grand Circus alumni currently work for Quicken Loans in a variety of positions—everything from interns to software developers!


10 Things to Know About the .NET Framework

July 22, 2016

If you are considering becoming a .NET developer through our .NET (C#) Development Bootcamp, here are 10 things to know about the language you should know before you embark on our bootcamp:

1. I heard that .NET was only for Windows or PC users. Is that true?

Not anymore! Thanks to .NET Core, a set of tools consisting of the runtime, library and compiler components, you can create apps that run on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. .NET Core runtime, libraries, and compiler are all open source on GitHub and are taking contributions. (more…)

10 Things You Can Build with JavaScript

April 22, 2016

According to a recent survey conducted by Stack Overflow, JavaScript is the most popular language on earth. What is interesting about these survey results, is that even for developers whose primary responsibility is the back-end (server-side code) they are still more likely to research questions about JavaScript than any other language. That’s largely because JavaScript is inescapable. Ask any of our Java or .NET bootcampers and they will tell you that for their final projects they had to get to a basic level of proficiency with JavaScript. This is also true in the working world. Any teams that do not have dedicated front-end developers, have to do it themselves.

build this with javascript

Atwood’s Law states that: “Any application that can be written in JavaScript, will eventually be written in JavaScript.”

Jeff Atwood was making a joke at JavaScript’s expense, but it has turned out to be more true than not. With advances in browser technology and JavaScript having moved into the server with NodeJS, JavaScript is capable of so much more than it was just a few years ago. Here’s a quick run-down of what you can do with JavaScript. Some of it is pretty obvious, other things less so.

10 Things You Can Build with JavaScript


Part 2: Using the Command Line for Beginners

January 11, 2016

You’ve already learned the basics of using the command line for beginners in Part 1. It’s time to get a bit more advanced. Now that we can move around and see where we are in our file system, we can use the file systems to create new files and directories. Personally, this is one set of commands that I find to be much faster than any method of creation offered by the operating system.

Typing into the Command Line

Setting up new directories & files

mkdir <new-directory-name> – This command is short for Make Directory. It may come as no surprise to you that this command creates a new directory. Like cd, mkdir needs an argument to use for the name of the new directory.

CMD-Demo - MKDIR make directory example
touch <new-file-name>
– Similar to mkdir, touch creates a new file. Also similar to mkdir, touch requires an argument to use for the new file’s name, including its suffix.


Preparing For Your First Tech Talk

January 5, 2016

We’re taught to believe that there is a logical progression when it comes to our careers, that there are just certain things you can’t do in entry-level positions. One of those things is undoubtedly speaking at conferences. Conference speakers, in this collective narrative, are subject matter experts with years and years of experience under their belts. They know their stuff better than just about anyone. I’m here to tell you that, at least in tech, this isn’t always the case. You can start speaking like a developer quite early on in your career!

Aisha Blake Speaking at a Conference

Public speaking is one of the things we as human beings fear most. Even if you’re comfortable in front of a crowd, you might not feel qualified to talk about something you’re still in the process of learning. Newsflash: you will always be in the process of learning to be a developer! All any of us can do is keep pushing to hone our skills and share what we know with others who want to keep improving. Speaking needn’t be entirely altruistic, however. Preparing for a presentation is, in and of itself, a great way to learn! You’ll want to make sure you know your material inside and out, which often means researching and figuring things out that you might not have known before. There are tons of benefits to be reaped from the experience. Conferences can be incredible opportunities for networking, especially as a speaker. A larger event is likely to have at least one gathering specifically for speakers. It’s valuable to just get your name out there as well. You never know who’s in the audience. You might get your next contract or job or investor because someone saw you present.

One important thing to keep in mind is that not all events are created equal. Not every single opportunity to speak is going to be worth your time. Do your homework on the organization running the particular event you’re interested in speaking at. If the event is far away, will the organizers pay for you lodging and/or travel costs? Do they have a code of conduct? Is it robust or does it feel more like they’re checking off a box? Are there scholarships available for people who wouldn’t be able to attend otherwise? Do they offer childcare? Perhaps the most important thing to consider for you as a person new to speaking is how willing the conference organizers are to work with you on your talk. Many will be very happy to help you come up with a snappy title, craft your session description, and outline your talking points.

That being said, the preparation is really on you, so pick a topic you care about! It’s a lot easier to learn and talk about something that you have a vested interest in. You don’t have to be the world’s leading expert. Conference organizers will very likely ask what your intended audience is. If that intended audience is composed of managers or designers or other non-technical people, you needn’t worrying about getting too deep into the nitty gritty of the subject. Give them a starting point to build on! Your slides should be an even further distilled version of the points you want to make. No one wants to read a wall of text or, even worse, watch you read a wall of text to them. Keep those slides short and sweet, then elaborate verbally. This will become easier and easier as you practice your talk. (Because obviously you’re going to practice it over and over and over again, right?) Show it to your reflection in the mirror, your stuffed animal collection, your family, your friends, coworkers, random people on the street… Just practice! You’ll develop a rhythm and it will eventually be easy to fall into even if distractions come up.

But where to start? Some conferences have resources specifically devoted to new speakers. These present an incredible opportunity to get a foot in the door. Future Insights puts on excellent events and is very to their new speakers. Their Rising Stars program is a great avenue for new speakers to put their ideas out to an international audience. AlterConf is a series of smaller events in many different cities that focuses on diversity in tech and gaming. Self.conference is an awesome event here in Detroit that welcomes new speakers as well as more seasoned professionals. My very first tech conference (as well as my first speaking gig) was there! Interested in finding more events to submit talks to? Check out @CallbackWomen on Twitter. They have a constant stream of information on great events to attend and calls for proposals.

No matter what you choose to talk about or where you choose to do it, whether your presentation is five minutes or fifty, remember that this whole process is about learning. Just as we as developers are constantly challenging ourselves to get better at the things we don’t know, it’s important to share the things that we do know. Even if it seems like you don’t know a whole heck of a lot right now, it has value and you can use it to help someone else along on their own journey!