Metro Detroit is not Silicon Valley, says Tom Kelly, Automation Alley's Director of Entrepreneurship. He argues that startups looking for investment need to be crafting their products and strategies around actual customer demand rather than speculative innovations.
Ten years ago the concept behind crowdfunding barely existed. Today, it's a mainstream source of investment for businesses, artists, communities and real estate. Which means, a new, growing industry of crowdfunding platforms has taken root in metro Detroit.
"Make new friends and keep the old..." is more than just a nice sentiment, it can be a smart business strategy. Pairing the energy and creativity of young entrepreneurs with the experience and contacts of elder business leaders has proven to be a powerful tool for several metro Detroit firms.
Some people want to make money. Others want to change society for the better. Social entrepreneurs want to do both. But in the Darwinian world of venture capitalism, convincing investors to compromise on profits for greater social good can be a tough sell. Metromode looks at how socially oriented startups can bridge that gulf.
Like many people, Walter Blake Knoblock has a sweet tooth. But instead of simply acquiring cavities, this entrepreneurial 25-year-old decided to turn his passion for snacks into a business. Each month BoCandy sends subscribers sweets from around the globe, providing old faves, international confections and exotic discoveries.
The flipside of economic development and gentrification is escalating housing prices, where those making moderate incomes can't afford to live in the communities they serve. It is often up to nonprofits to ensure that communities maintain this rich cultural and work ethic. Tim Ruggles, CEO and executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County, fills us in on the housing struggle in one of the nation's wealthiest regions.
A hybrid breed of business that puts its profits to work for the social good is a new option for incorporation in Michigan. Reconsider CEO Angela Barbash tells us why the For-Benefit sector is where the money's at these days.
This point cannot be labored enough: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office affirmed Detroit's growing manufacturing and knowledge economy by opening its first-ever satellite location in Detroit. Metromode examines the U.S.P.T.O's activities in the region, and what its presence means for the area's economy.
Chris Leinberger is a smart guy. A senior fellow at the Brooking's Institute, U-M professor, and real estate developer, he brings on-the-ground experience to urban planning theories and research. Metromode's Kim North Shine chatted with Leinberger about metro Detroit's suburban communities and how their DDA's can pave the way to a more prosperous and vibrant future.
Lots of creative ideas and investments for transforming communities around the nation are meeting with economic success, and can be used as models for others to replicate. Issue Media Group launches a monthly series that asks: "What's working in cities?" At bat, a creative incubator that's winning fans in Chattanooga, TN.
In the shadow of this past weekend's Big Chill hockey extravaganza, The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition --an American Idol-style contest for start-ups-- was held in Ann Arbor. More important than the $1 million in cash and support handed out was the collaboration exhibited by regional business leaders. Is there a new age of cooperation dawning in SE Michigan?
"Game changing technologies". "Thinking outside the box". "Bucking the status quo". Business is big on innovative jargon, but what does it really take to remake the economic landscape? Whether it was the automobile a hundred years ago or last year's iPad, disruptive thinking is more than just risk-taking entrepreneurship, it's the business of course-altering creation. And the financial impacts are staggering.
Adversity is the mother of invention. Or so they say. And Michigan is
proving them true. While the rest of the country has seen a decline in
business formation, cities like Ann Arbor are experiencing a start-up
Detroit property is cheap. Not just cheap, it's really, really cheap,
and abundant. The Euro is stronger than the dollar and that bodes well
for foreign investors. They can pick up property along the riverfront or
right downtown for the price of a small car.
Innovative ideas? Check. Enthusiastic management team? Check. Capital? Er... working on it. For all Michigan's talk of developing a new economy, its start-ups still need local investors. More specifically: Angel investors. Now, a few VC-savvy players are trying to encourage a new way of thinking in the state's old world entrepreneurs.
A veteran of both Wall Street and Silicon Valley, Terry Cross is WSU's first Entrepreneurial Executive in Residence. Metromode sits down with him to get his thoughts on economic reinvention and what lessons Michigan can take from the coasts when it comes to investment and transformation.
Metro Detroit might want to look to the Basque region of Spain or Bologna, Italy for ideas on how to rejuvenate our local economy. Both communities have turned community-based enterprise into impressive long term successes.
Howard Brown has gone from Silicon Valley veteran to pure Michigan. As the ultimate trailing spouse, this starter of start-ups and founder of CircleBuilder brings a world of entrepreneurial experience to the region. Metromode sat down with Brown to discuss the state of our state and where he sees its toughest challenges and best opportunities.
Like many rustbelt communities River Rouge has seen better times. But one man's urban decay is another man's opportunity. Enter urban pioneer Rick Manore, co-founder of the former C-Pop gallery in Detroit. Working with municipal leaders, he's converted the former offices for U.S. Steel into the Red River Artist Center. The goal? To build an arts incubator that helps revive the city's downtown.
Only 18 months old, the state's film production tax incentive has begun to redefine start-up culture in SE Michigan. Beyond the hit-and-run productions that breeze in and out of the region, a real industry is starting to take root. Metromode sits down with Genre Film Partners, a company intending to shoot 8-10 movies here over the next four years.
If Michigan is to transform into a knowledge-based economy it means greater investment in local start-ups. Kelly Williams is a managing director with Credit Suisse, the investment firm that heads up the Venture Michigan Fund. Metromode sat down with her to discuss the state of our venture capital community and where it's headed.
NY Times Columnist Thomas Friedman popped up in Ypsilanti last week to chat about his new book and talk about alternative energy, green innovation and how Michigan could reinvigorate its economy. Michigan Now's Chris McCarus had a front row seat.
The handwriting is on the wall: SE Michigan's economy needs to develop new industries in order to thrive. Given the power and prestige of our local research universities and the fact that biotech startups are popping up like dandelions, some see the life sciences industry as our next best hope.
New economy start-ups need banks that offer new economy know-how. Enter Bank of Ann Arbor's Technology Industry Group, the only program of its kind in Michigan. Modeled after the ground-breaking Silicon Valley Bank, it supports local emerging technologies and entrepreneurs in ways corporate banking giants can't.
Once upon a time, Detroit's auto industry was founded on the visions of its leaders and the risks investors made supporting them. So, where do promising new local companies go today to raise the funds they need? For 27 years the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium has helped provide an answer. The annual two-day event starts today in Ypsilanti. Could it provide the missing link to Michigan's economic evolution?
Wunderkind Chris Rizik gives new meaning to the word, "multitasking." From his simultaneous careers as an entrepreneur and financier to the writer and publisher of the most popular soul music website in the country, this Ann Arborite's life has hit one high note after another.
North Carolina's Research Triangle Park is the largest R&D center in the world. It is seen as a model for how universities, government and private industry can work together to fuel a state's economic success. Rick Weddle, president and CEO of RTP has a frank discussion with metromode about what Michigan needs to do to emulate some of those successes.
There's a $100 million bet out on firing up the new economy in SE Michigan, and Kresge Foundation President Rip Rapson thinks it could be the region's ace in the hole.
Common sense would suggest that ecology and industry make pretty unlikely bedfellows. But where others see conflict, Portland, OR sees opportunity. Metromode chats with Tom Osdoba, coordinator of sustainable economic development in Portland's groundbreaking Office of Sustainable Development.
For 26 years the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium has paired exciting new start-ups with eager financiers. While a lot of attention is paid to those companies that find investment, it's the venture capitalists who provide fuel for the fire... and 75% of those who attend are from out of state.
With all our talk of nurturing talent, developing high-tech industries and emerging as an economic leader, maybe its time Michigan focused on its best and least utilized resource -- women.
Thinking of launching your own start-up? Looking to network or searching for a business mentor? There are a wide variety of local and national organizations dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs.
Like American Idol, each year local startups strut their stuff at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium, presenting in 'lightning round' pitch sessions for the attention of venture capital managers and angel investors. But support can mean more than just a quick infusion of cash, it can also spell success for Michigan's economy.
"Conventional Wisdom is often wrong." Whether he's writing about abortion, crack dealers or penalty kicks in soccer, "Freakonomic's" author Steven Levitt raises eyebrows and blood pressures with his findings. After a recent lecture at WSU, the rogue economist trained his sights on the Mitten State.
Brian Balasia is our guest blogger this week. Brian founded Digerati Solutions
while an aerospace engineering student at U of M. He currently sits on the board of directors for the Detroit Regional Chamber, WIRED, and the U of M Alumni Society. Check back here each week day to read Brian's thoughts on attracting talent to SE Michigan and nurturing innovation.
The time has come for Michigan to make bold choices about how to transform its economy, communities and culture. metromode offers up a trio of initiatives and ideas that challenge conventional thinking and dare the state to think big.
It's a small world after all. As Southeast Michigan plugs into the global marketplace, it finds a world of investors, partners and corporations interested in setting up shop here.
This money manager left the Golden State for the Midwest and got a chance to nurture Southeast Michigan's venture capitalist investment community.