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Maestro in the News: Kalamazoo Gazette features Maestro growth and move downtown

Kalamazoo high-tech firm Maestro eLearning celebrates fifth anniversary with move downtown

Article originally appeared in April 24, 2012 issue of the Kalamazoo Gazette Written by Yvonne Zipp:

KALAMAZOO, MI – Food Dance is getting new upstairs neighbors: Maestro eLearning, a Kalamazoo-based high-tech firm, is moving into a 5,200-square-foot space above the restaurant at 401 E. Michigan Ave. in early May.

“We’re so excited,” said Jen Randall, 39, president and co-founder of Maestro. “Who can beat being on top of Food Dance? I think we’re going to have to increase our food budget.”

Maestro, which designs high-tech training and support materials — a majority of which are for the iPad, is making the move downtown because, frankly, it needed more room. It has been located at Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s M-TEC facilities in Texas Township.

“The main inspiration is that we’ve outgrown our incubator space over here at the MTEC,” said Randall. “But the secondary reason was to find a space that was going to be an extension of our brand. We’ve got an eclectic group of 30 employees, and our brand and our culture is really important to us. We were looking for more of an open, collaborative space.”

The company, co-founded by Randall and Josh Little, 36, in 2007, grew 111 percent last year, with 40 percent of that strictly mobile-based technology, Randall said.

“We create a lot of training or sales support materials,” explained Randall, whose staff includes graphic designers, instructional designers, strategists, programmers and iOS developers. “We work with marketing teams, as well as training teams, as they try to increase sales or roll out products.”

With more than 75 clients to serve, including Stryker Corp., Facebook, Dannon Yogurt, Amway and Johnson & Johnson, Maestro has added 11 new employees since November and plans to add nine more by September – more than doubling in size from 18 to 38. Randall estimated that Maestro built 30-plus apps last year alone, most of which are proprietary.

In 2010, Maestro was named one of 50 Companies to Watch by the Edward Lowe Foundation and was a winner of a Main Street USA Best Small Business Award. Before founding the online training company in 2007, Little was a national training officer for Stryker, while Randall was a sales manager and regional tranier at Johnson & Johnson. Both have education degrees.

The new office looks almost like a ballroom, with a wide-open floor plan, hardwood floors and a wall of windows overlooking the old depot. There’s enough space to fit everyone, including the company pool table.

“We’re looking forward to being part of downtown Kalamazoo, part of that hustle and bustle,” said Randall.

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