When Natalie Bruno started working in downtown Ann Arbor, a mutual friend suggested she connect with Jenn Cornell Queen, Ann Arbor SPARK vice president of marketing and communications. “It was as much a personal referral as it was professional,” said Natalie. “I had just moved to the area and was starting to build my network.”
Natalie moved to Ann Arbor from the Detroit Metro area to
work at Jottful, an Ann Arbor-based
startup founded by Dawn Verbrigghe that provides website design and hosting
solutions for small businesses. While chatting with Natalie, Jenn was inspired
by what she heard. “It was great learning more about Jottful, a woman-founded business
that was providing impactful solutions for other small businesses — it had all the
makings of a great origin story.”
This fortunate meeting was not the first time Jottful had
intersected with SPARK, either. Prior to Natalie’s hiring at Jottful, Dawn was
working with SPARK’s entrepreneurial services team. “We love SPARK,” said Dawn.
“The support we received through business accelerator grants helped us get all
the legal stuff in place that we needed. We have big plans and will continue
working with SPARK as we grow.” Business accelerator grants are funded by the Ann
Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA) and managed
by Ann Arbor SPARK.
After meeting Jenn, Natalie sent a follow-up email which Jenn
passed through to some regional media contacts. “It was just a few weeks after
my coffee with Jenn that we sat down with a reporter,” said Natalie. “Once the
article was published, we saw an immediate uptick in website visits and
Jottful also received a few valuable leads as a result.
“Someone I knew years ago shared my LinkedIn post about the
article,” said Dawn. “Someone within his network read the piece and thought
we’d be a perfect solution for her small business located in Vancouver, British
Columbia. The funny thing is, at the end of the article we mentioned our goal
to expand internationally in a few years. We’re thrilled that as a result of
connecting with SPARK, we moved that timeline up significantly!”
Check out more stories featuring the women leading some of the Ann Arbor region’s successful startups.