When Model D first spoke with Jason Raznick, he talked about hiring, specifically about how his startup Benzinga
needed software developers. He said he would give Tigers playoff tickets as a finder fee for a connection that led to the hiring of a software developer.
That was a little more than three years ago
. Benzinga was gearing up to move into his fledgling financial news company into its new offices in Southfield to accommodate its growth. At the time the company employed 15 people -- about one for each month of its age -- and was hiring.
Today Benzinga is more than double that size (35 people) and is planning to move to downtown Detroit. Over the last year, Benzinga has hired a dozen people (mostly software developers and journalists) and currently is looking to hire another five people. In fact, look up Raznick's LinkedIn page
and his job is listed as "CEO - We're hiring!"
Those new jobs are coming to the Campus Martuis area of downtown next spring. While the firm hopes to contribute to efforts to rebuild the Motor City by relocating downtown, an even bigger reason for the move is so the company can grow by leveraging the urban core and downtown Detroit’s emerging tech scene to attract talent.
"We think we can have a big impact on Detroit," Raznick says. "And Detroit can have a big impact on us."
Benzinga is known as a online financial news publication in the vein of Bloomberg, selling information to stock traders toiling on websites. It makes its money from one of three sources: Benzinga Pro (its premium subscription service), selling data, and traditional advertising. Each new employee is given the freedom to come up with new ideas to generate revenue for the company. It’s part of a company culture Raznick likes to call a Doarchy. Check out a TED Talk he gave about it here
"We're not one business," Raznick says. "We're opportunists."
Others have taken notice. Benzinga received a nearly $2 million seed capital round led by Lightbank
, the Chicago-based venture capital firm started by Groupon's co-founders. Raznick has entertained offers for further investment that would require him to move the company to a different big city, such as New York, but he turned them down.
Despite refusing those offers, Benzinga has doubled its revenue several times, and Raznick thinks his startup is at the base of its hockey stick growth spurt.
"We're getting some serious revenue right now," Raznick says. "I don't think there is a limit to our revenue growth right now."
Source: Jason Raznick, CEO of Benzinga
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.