Our story: Why did we start the Garage?

When a part time inventor first makes the leap to turn their idea into a full fledged business venture, there are many unknowns:  How should we approach early funding?  How do we balance product development with revenue generation?  How quickly will we grow?  And as Ansgar Strother, co-founder of local startup A2B Bikeshare, recently said, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”   Add to all of this, in a real estate market like Ann Arbor, acquiring initial office space under these conditions can be a challenge.

Inspired by their own journey in co-founding the tech company Menlo Innovations, and ability to relate to the current challenges of early stage startups, Rich Sheridan and James Goebel decided to run an experiment.  Starting back in 2012, they opened Menlo’s doors to companies needing their first out of home office, inviting them to set up their own pod alongside the various Menlo project teams.  

3 years and 5+ successful companies later, the experiment graduated to a dedicated startup co-working space in June 2015.   It’s directly connected to Menlo through a set of glass paneled garage doors, evoking the journey from inventor to full-time entrepreneur.  The early stage technology venture capital firm, eLab Ventures, resides within it.  The University of Michigan’s Tech Arb, a student startup accelerator, is located next door.  

The close proximity to Menlo Innovations is intentional to share the energy and buzz of the open and collaborative environment Menlo embodies, as well as access to more resources, proven processes, and a culture of innovation.  It also exposes each startup company to the 4000+ annual visitors who come to experience Menlo firsthand, as Menlo tours include a visit through the Garage.  

With the expansion of the dedicated co-working space, companies have freedom to establish their own company identity and room to grow, as well as greater access to conference rooms, phone booths, and other resources.  It also provides increased capacity:  15 - 20 companies can reside at the Startup Garage, including services, consulting, and a limited number of manufacturing teams.


Meet the Founders


Rich is the author of Joy, Inc:  How we built a workplace people love.  He serves on advisory boards at the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum, Hacker Fellows, and SPARK, and was the United Way of Washtenaw County 2015 Campaign Chair.  In addition, Rich serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, College of Engineering, Center for Entrepreneurship, and is on the National Advisory Board for the Department of Engineering and Computer Science at University of Michigan.


James serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, College of Engineering, Center for Entrepreneurship.  He also serves on the advisory board for the dean of the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University.  Throughout his career, he has mentored dozens of startups as well as executives of large companies.

Curious about Menlo Innovations?

Menlo Innovations is an innovative consulting company serving the tech industry through:

  • Education and training 
  • Cultural transformation
  • Software design work to achieve user adoption
  • Software development work that maximizes quality and project management agility
Menlo's mission:  End human suffering as it relates to the creation and use of technology.