DKE alum sets up shop in shant

By Scott Lindrup For the Daily

While Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity finishes renovations to its shant, alum Dick Beedon has returned to haunt the second floor and set up shop for his latest venture, Sporgit Technologies Inc.

Sporgit, which develops and markets speech recognition software, has temporarily placed its research and development laboratory in the DKE's 611 1/2 William St. house. DKE uses the house for various ceremonies and fraternity functions.

Breedon said he plans to move to a property on South Main Street by Dec. 31. "After that, we will have 30 or 40 employees so we'll have outgrown it," Beedon said.

While Beedon said he followed his heart to Ann Arbor in pursuit of a woman, he said wants to enhance Ann Arbor's technology industry now that he's here.

"There is not near the infrastructure here as on the west coast. I would like to bring what I've learned to the area but some people don't want to listen.

It's about finding the person with the right mojo," Beedon said.

Beedon, former president and CEO of University Netcasting, a college sports-oriented Web development firm, spent 25 years in California as a tech salesman and Internet entrepreneur.

His most successful project to date is a university sports Website,

Beedon is encouraging the University to become more involved, citing that students will tend towards the coasts where technology opportunities are greater.

Beedon formed a relationship with the Business School, speaking at two career sessions.

"We need capital to fund small start-ups but we need new ideas to get capital. It's the chicken and the egg."

Although Beedon does not retain close ties to the current chapter of DKE, he and some of his classmates provided $5,000 seed money to begin renovations and he continues to donate.

The house, built in 1879, has been used by DKE members for various ceremonies and meetings. DKE members moved into the shant after a fire destroyed its house in 1967. That fire forced DKE to close down in 1968.

DKE regrouped as "The Omicron Club" in 1971, once again in the renovated shant. The fraternity grew from there due in large part to the leadership of Beedon.

The shant remained the fraternity's home until they moved into their current house at 1004 Olivia.

Interfraternity Council President Adam Silver noted that "Alumni influence varies between chapters. Some alumni councils own chapter houses or sponsor events such as the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Mud Bowl."

The decision to rent DKE's shant was made by the DKE's alumni foundation, Rampant Lion Foundation, which owns the property.

"Obviously we don't like having someone else in the shant, but he is a DKE so that makes it a lot better," said Bill Gray, DKE treasurer.

"The rent is a one to one trade. It goes directly towards the renovations."

Originally Published in The Michigan Daily, September 22nd, 2000