January 9, 2023 - 10:20 am

Startup Spotlight: FirstIgnite

By 20Fathoms
FirstIgnite logo

In this new monthly series, we’ll be featuring startups based in Traverse City. Get to know who is building companies in Northern Michigan and what advice they have for those just getting started.

This month, we talked to Chase Bonhag, Co-founder & CEO of FirstIgnite.

What problem does your company solve?

FirstIgnite is a marketplace where companies can search, find, and partner with university innovators around the globe from any technical discipline. Prior to FirstIgnite, it was difficult for companies to find and partner with university professors on a global scale. We solve this by leveraging scientific literature, in the form of patents, grants and research publications, in order to quickly find professors with the exact needs of any company.

What was a recent win or milestone for your company?

FirstIgnite tripled revenue year over year and our customers include Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins APL, Whirlpool, Lotus Pharmaceuticals, and many, many more. Other wins include our first customers in the continents of Europe and Asia. All of this is mind blowing for a little company on the shores of Lake Michigan.  

What piece of advice would you offer other entrepreneurs? 

Be consistent and keep going. I think the key to entrepreneurial success is to wake up and get your work done every day.  Take consistent steps towards your goals because little steps lead to compounding results. Additionally, focus on finding customers above all else. You can’t grow or raise investment if you can’t build a product that customers want to pay for.  

How has being a member of 20Fathoms helped your business? 

Being part of 20Fathoms makes us feel like we’re part of something greater and inspires us to keep going. 20Fathoms has been instrumental in providing space, services, and support that has helped us continue to grow our business.  

How can someone learn more about your company? 

Visit or find us on LinkedIn.

Behind the scenes with the FirstIgnite team