Report Index


Cavan Canavan, MBA '12
CEO, Focus Solutions

Grant Hughes, MBA/MS '13
Chief Marketing Officer, Focus Solutions

In May, Michigan-minted start-up Focus Solutions made its financing pitch to an audience of leading angel investors and venture capitalists at the 32nd Michigan Growth Capital Symposium. The annual event, co-sponsored by the Zell Lurie Institute, put co-founders Cavan Canavan, MBA '12, and Grant Hughes, MBA/MS '13, in the sweet spot for raising $1 million in seed round funding to bring their Focus digital personal trainer to market. “The early round of funding is always the hardest to get,”says Hughes, the company's chief marketing officer." The MGCS helped to streamline that process by putting us in front of people who want to invest in emerging technologies.”Their innovative product uses a high-tech wristband and a smartphone application to help physical-fitness enthusiasts track, evaluate and guide their workouts. Canavan hatched the concept for Focus at the Ross School last year and hired two Michigan electrical-engineering students to develop the initial prototype and proof-of-concept algorithm. To gain a competitive edge, the two entrepreneurs commissioned Hollywood celebrity trainer Ashley Conrad and former Wolverine athletic strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis to create customized workouts and training programs. Following the company's launch in July 2012, the partners leveraged the Institute's resources, including the Mayleben Venture Shaping and the Dare to Dream grant programs, to tone up their business plan and hone their focus on the resistance and body weight training market, an underserved niche. With coaching from the Institute's Tim Faley and Sarika Gupta, the company catapulted to a first-place finish in the final round of the 2013 Michigan Business Challenge, winning the $20,000 Pryor-Hale Award for Best Business. “If you build a product that you believe in, and that your customers really need and want, then you'll be successful,”say Canavan and Hughes, who anticipate their final product will be shelf-ready by year's end.