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15 Detroit businesses in running for national grant contest

Several Detroit businesses have made the semi-finals of a national, small-business grant contest. "The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest will award $25,000 and $7,500 in FedEx Office print and business services to one grand prize winner," writes Stephanie Steinberg in an article for the Detroit News

15 Detroit businesses have made it this far, but are competing against approximately 1,000 others nationally. After a round of voting that narrows the total to 100, FedEx will announce the three winners on April 25.

One of the local businesses profiled in the Detroit News piece is Detroit Bridal House, a clothing store that sells wedding gowns. "If she wins, London says she'll use the funds to move into a building on Livernois' Avenue of Fashion or in Woodbridge or Midtown."

Voting period for The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest ends April 5. 

Hamtramck community space Bank Suey to host local marketplace

Bank Suey, a community space in Hamtramck, has hosted a number of creative events in its brief history. We're really excited about this latest one.

Dubbed "Shop Suey," Bank Suey will be hosting its first local marketplace. There will be clothes, jewelry, housewares, and plenty of food and drink for sale. 

Bank Suey is a flexible event space. Previously, it's hosted musical shows, art exhibits, speeches and discussions, and various popups. 

Shop Suey takes place on March 11, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at corner of Joseph Campau and Caniff. For more information on vendors, check out the Facebook event page


Startup Story Night accepting submissions for Detroit storytelling event

Everyone has a story to tell. And Southeast Michigan Startup and the New Economy Initiative want to help entrepreneurs tell theirs.
 
The two organizations are presenting Startup Story Night, the first of its kind in Detroit. It'll be a night of storytelling, hosted by a nationally renowned storyteller, and will take place in a unique venue in the wonderfully diverse city known for creation, creativity, boundless ideas—and the resolve to never quit.
 
The night will shine a spotlight on five local entrepreneurs who will share their "a-ha" moment—when they realized their idea or product would work despite the challenges. And readers who have attended Southeast Michigan Startup's High Growth Happy Hours or followed coverage of entrepreneurs who are scaling their businesses will have the opportunity to share their story and learn from their peers.
 
Here's how the process will work:
  • Submissions for stories are open until Dec. 9. Stories must not exceed 10 minutes.
  • A local committee will narrow down the submissions to five entrepreneurs and their stories.
  • The five entrepreneurs will be announced Jan. 3, 2017.
  • Startup Story Night will take place Jan. 19, 2017.
In addition, Detroit native Glynn Washington will be the featured host and storytelling coach. Washington is the host and executive producer of the WNYC-produced podcast Snap Judgment. Washington, a University of Michigan graduate who also received a law degree from U-M's law school, has a background of supporting and working with entrepreneurs. From 2007 to 2010, Washington was the director of the Center for Young Entrepreneurs at Haas, also known as YEAH, a program at the University of California Berkeley's Haas School of Business that serves at-risk students in middle and high schools.
 
Washington has received national acclaim in publications like The Atlantic, which called him the "fastest-rising public radio star in memory."
 
In addition to his hosting duties, Washington will conduct a workshop exclusively for the selected entrepreneurs to help them polish their stories and advise them in the art of storytelling onstage, under the bright lights and in front of an audience.
 
To submit a story for consideration, head over to Startup Story Night and fill out the short submission form.

Women innovators speak at next High Growth Happy Hour

The world of mobility is changing fast in Detroit. In recent years we've seen world-class incubators like Techstars mobility opening, and the big automotive companies investing in mobility startups like Lyft. What new technologies in transportation could be next?

Two Detroit startups are leading the way and the conversation at our next High Growth Happy Hour on Tuesday, October 25th in Midtown at Traffic Jam & Snug. Tatiana Grant Co-founder of Flash Delivery and Anya Babbitt Founder of SPLT will share with you how they’ve started up and are scaling in the region.

Tatiana's Flash Delivery just saw record growth, managing a fleet of drivers who deliver food and groceries to Detroit residents. Anaya's SPLT has won national and internationally honors for their ride-sharing technology.

Join us at this free, casual networking event to meet other entrepreneurs and learn from those scaling up in the city. RSVP to join us!

TechTown awards ceremony to recognize excellence in entrepreneurship

TechTown Detroit, a business incubator located in New Center, has done a lot to support entrepreneurship since opening its doors in 2004. And at The Salute! Awards, which takes place on October 13 at TechTown, they'll recognize a few of those standout entrepreneurs.

This year's winner of the "Entrepreneur of the Year" award will be given to Sean Ainsworth, CEO and founder of RetroSense Therapeutics, a biotech company that develops "life-enhancing gene therapies" based on research conducted at Wayne State University. Ainsworth and the company have received numerous accolades in the past, including being named one of the "50 Smartest Companies in the World" by MIT Technology Review.

The ceremony will recognize other people who've contributed to Detroit's business ecosystem. James Feagan IV will receive the "Business Champion of the Year" award for his consulting work with NEIdeas, Motor City Match, and more. Three current or former TechTown clients will receive Lab (technology) and Block (neighborhood) awards as well.

The finalists for the awards were nominated by a committee of "leaders in the startup and small business community."

"There is so much happening in Detroit's entrepreneurship and small business community, we could have given a hundred of these awards," says Ned Staebler, president and CEO of TechTown, in a press release.

Food, dessert, and drinks from local businesses will be served at the event.

The Salute! Awards will be presented at TechTown’s annual Toast of the Town celebration of entrepreneurship on Thursday, October 13 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at TechTown, 440 Burroughs, in Detroit.

National startup boom reaches Detroit

Conditions are just right nationally and in Detroit for a startup boom, according to a Detroit Free Press article. And that's exactly what we're seeing.

The article begins at the business incubator and coworking space TechTown Detroit, where "the interest is so intense from start-ups seeking space there that the organization may need to find more to squeeze them all in," writes Frank Witsil. "The co-working space … is nearly full at 67 companies; many are start-ups. At this rate, it could eventually overflow."

The article then gives national figures demonstrating that startups are being founded at the highest rate in seven years.

Several economic conditions are just right for the recent startup boom: people have found greater work stability (unemployment has decreased 5 percent since 2009) and homeownership is on the rise. In Detroit, many grant-giving competitions and foundations, like Motor City Match and Hatch Detroit, have arisen to support the small business community.

The article concludes with this hopeful quote from Lester Gouvia, owner the food truck businesses Norma G's. "Detroit is coming back from such a place that it was in a few years ago that I think the excitement level and opportunity, while it's similar to the rest of the country, is even greater. There's so much to be done. There's a lot of opportunity here."

National business leaders bullish on Detroit, Kresge report indicates

The Kresge Foundation, a national nonprofit that supports America's cities and offers numerous Detroit-specific grants, recently released its "Detroit Reinvestment Index," which gathered data on what national business leaders think about Detroit and how the city compares to perceptions of cities generally.

Overall the document offers some hopeful conclusions. Perhaps the most encouraging is that 84 percent of those surveyed—senior leaders at global companies of over 250 employees—believe that Detroit "can become a great city again."

In a letter about the index, Kresge Foundation president Rip Rapson writes, "With caveats, I think it's fair to say that Business is very bullish on Detroit."

Other "key findings" include...
  • Business leaders believe Detroit has a number of assets, like "its racial, ethnic and cultural diversity, rich cultural history, effective local government, low cost of living and low taxes as key reasons."
  • Surprisingly, "Only 16% of business leaders are aware that Detroit is out of bankruptcy."
There's a lot more to digest in the 43 page report, which is available for download on the foundation's website.

Small businesses multiply, crime declines along Jefferson Avenue corridor

A recent article in Crain's Detroit Business details the rapid growth of five neighborhoods extending along Jefferson Avenue, stretching all the way to the Grosse Pointe border.

A number of new businesses have opened up along the Jefferson Avenue corridor recently. "Beautiful Bridal, along with a new Caribbean restaurant, a Christian yoga center, women's clothing boutiques, a casual branded clothing store, a used record store, and a coffee shop and bakery, are a few of the more recent businesses that have planted roots along the eight miles between downtown Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park," writes Marti Benedetti.

Some significant numbers accompany these developments. The most salient is the approximately $1 billion in new investment since 2009.

Also notable, writes Benedetti, "Since 2014, crime along the Jefferson corridor declined more than 31 percent. In 2015, there was a 38 percent drop in auto theft and a 22 percent reduction in robberies, according to JEI's 'Safe Jefferson' program."

In addition to new businesses, several apartment and housing developments are finished or underway. Lakewood Century Apartments, for example, is a $7 million, 35-unit project at Lakewood and Jefferson—no opening date was mentioned.

There's also the Jefferson streetscaping, which will include the first protected bike lanes in the city.

Josh Elling, Executive director of the economic development organization Jefferson East, Inc., credits economic development in Detroit's greater downtown area, as well as "business-supporting" institutions, for the economic spillover taking place in the Jefferson corridor.

Final year of NEI's challenge to grant local businesses a total of $500K

On April 20, the New Economy Initiative (NEI) kicked-off the third and final year of the NEIdeas challenge, "a two-tiered challenge awarding $500,000 to existing small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park for their ideas to grow," as described in a press release.

The half-a-million dollar sum is divided into two grant tiers. For businesses that gross under $750,000 annually, NEI will award 30 grants worth $10,000. And for businesses that gross between $750,000 and $5 million annually, NEI will award two grants worth $100,000. Applying is as simple as explaining, in 500 words, an idea to expand your business that requires investment and is "impactful, courageous, interesting, achievable, and understandable." The application deadline ends June 1.

A key component of the NEIdeas challenge is that these grants are for existing small businesses -- those three years or older. So much reporting and grant-giving is devoted to new businesses that it's refreshing when a challenge like this rewards established businesses that haven't benefited as much from renewed interest in Detroit entrepreneurship. 

"This is a really special challenge that has had an incredible impact on local businesses and communities," says NEI communications officer Matthew Lewis by email. "In fact, we think NEIdeas is the only philanthropic challenge in the country that directly awards small businesses for their contributions to neighborhoods."

Past winners include Goodwells Natural Foods Market, which invested their reward in growing their inventory and marketing services for new bulk herbal apothecary offerings; The Hub of Detroit, which made improvements to the appearance of its storefront; and many, many more. They also released a fun hype video featuring some of those past winners

NEI will hold a series of informational events throughout May to help applicants. The next one takes place on May 4 at the Matrix Center in Osborne on Detroit's Northeast side. Click here for a complete list of those events.

NEI is a philanthropic effort that supports small businesses and entrepreneurs. It's funded by a host of foundations and institutions, and, since 2009, has awarded over $96 million in grants.

Disclosure: Matthew Lewis is a former managing editor of Model D. 

Week of events celebrating and supporting Detroit entrepreneurs starts May 2

Are you a Detroit small business owner? Then you have no reason not to attend at least one of the many free offerings during Detroit Entrepreneur Week (DEW), a six-day festival starting May 2 that takes place across three Detroit neighborhoods through events, workshops and seminars.

Each day of the festival, which is in its fifth year, is themed. Friday, May 6, for example, is dubbed "Show Me the Money" and focuses on financing a small business. The final day, May 7, "The Small Business Legal Academy," is hosted by the Wayne State Law School and will have a series of panels covering legal nuances in real estate, intellectual property, non-profits, and many more. 

Wednesday, May 4 will focus on social entrepreneurship. The morning session takes place at Tech Town and features a keynote address by New York Times best selling author Shaka Sengor, a leading voice in criminal justice reform. Following is a panel discussion composed of local social entrepreneurs, social impact investors, and resource providers.

The afternoon and evening festivities take place at Build Institute, a small business support organization. Build will host a curated dinner and pitch night in partnership with Detroit SOUP, an organization that awards microgrants based on the votes of attendees. The SOUP pitch winner will receive a cash price and suite of professional services valued at over $3,000. 

From DEW's website: "This grassroots approach to entrepreneurial development is truly transformative and will position Detroit as a beacon for entrepreneurs citywide. Detroit Entrepreneur Week’s network of resources provides and community leaders will ensure that entrepreneurs of today and the generations to follow will have access to the necessary tools, supportive communities and culture to succeed."

DEW is presented by Comcast Business.

To reserve a spot at any of the festival's events, go here

Build Institute hosts speed coaching event for small business owners

If you're a beverage, food, or hospitality small business owner, you should consider attending a free coaching event at the Build Institute Wednesday, April 13.

Dubbed "Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Speed Coaching," entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to get advice from experts in marketing, finance, legal advice, and much more. Attendees can sign up for stations most relevant to their business needs and receive quick consulting sessions. The organizers encourage entrepreneurs to bring samples of their product and come prepared with specific questions to facilitate the process. 

The proceeds begin at 6:00 p.m. with networking, and light fare and beverages, followed by speed coaching. 

The event takes place the Build Institute, a small business support organization that helps small businesses through classes, networking events, mentorship, and connecting owners to resources. 

Attendance to the American Dream Speed Coaching event is free. You must be over 21 to attend. To learn more, visit the facebook event page. To reserve your spot, visit the eventbrite page

How to do Small Business Saturday the easy way


With the holiday season (and all of the shopping it entails) upon us, there's good reason to feel stressed. Thankfully, several Detroit nonprofits are teaming up to make shopping easy and enjoyable, all while promoting city-based small businesses.

This Saturday, Nov. 28, the Downtown Detroit Partnership is hosting its 12th annual Shop Detroit event in conjunction with American Express's Small Business Saturday. Participants will be able to hop on busses at any of nine pickup locations around the city and be shuttled to a handful of retail districts, including the Cass and Canfield district, the shops at the Park Shelton, the Fisher Building, the Livernois Avenue of Fashion, and downtown. Along the way, the good folks at the Detroit Experience Factory will provide background on the shopping options, as well as historical tidbits about the city. The best part? The tours and shuttles are free and open to the public.

In conjunction with Shop Detroit, the Build Institute will be hosting a Build Bazaar in the atrium of One Campus Martius. Build Bazaar is a rotating pop-up marketplace celebrating emerging entrepreneurs from Build Institute's small business development program. To learn more about Build Institute's Shop Detroit Build Bazaar, click here. Can't make it this Saturday? Check out one of the other Build Bazaars happening between now and Christmas.

To RSVP for Shop Detroit, click here.

Slows Bar B Q turns 10

Model D's not the only Detroit institution celebrating its 10th birthday this year. Corktown's Slows Bar B Q turns 10 on Wednesday, September 16, and you're invited to celebrate.

According to Susan Selasky of the Detroit Free Press, Slows will be "giving away 200 free limited edition commemorative 10-Year T-shirts from the Dirt Label, which is donating its fee to charity (while supplies last)"; "donating money from all purchases of The Reason sandwich and mac & cheese to D-Town Farms, the urban agriculture initiative of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network;" and "charging $2 for all Michigan draft beer."

Want to learn more about the Slows story? Check out this Model D special report about the growth of this iconic Detroit business and its impact on its neighborhood.

Slows' 10th anniversary party takes place this Wednesday, September 16, from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.

Read more: Detroit Free Press

Urban Bean Co., a Capitol Park stalwart, looks for help to modernize equipment

 
Capitol Park is one of the hottest areas in downtown Detroit. The neighborhood, which is home to some of downtown's oldest and most inspired architecture, is seeing the development of high-end apartments and arrival of new businesses at rates unheard of in recent decades.
 
Before Capitol Park's current boom began, however, Josh Greenwood was making a big investment in the future of the neighborhood. He started renovating his space on the northwest corner of Grand River and Griswold in 2005. By 2008, he was finally able to open the Urban Bean Co., only to see it close shortly thereafter, a victim of the national economic downturn.
 
In 2013, however, Greenwood and a new partner were able to re-open the shop.
 
Today, as new competition moves into the neighborhood, Greenwood and the Urban Bean Co. are hoping to secure a crowd-funded, interest free Kiva Zip loan of $5,000 to modernize its equipment and remain competitive with national chains.
 
"Now other organizations are looking to move in, which is great," writes Greenwood on Urban Bean Co.'s Kiva ZIp page. "But as an independent retailer, we need to upgrade to compete to stay in this neighborhood."
 
According to Kiva Zip, "Repayments on the borrower’s loan will be in monthly installments of $208.33 over a period of 24 months. The first payment will be due from the borrower one month after the loan has been fully funded and the funds have been disbursed to the borrower.
 
At the time of this writing, Urban Bean Co.'s loan is 67 percent funded.
 
Read more: Kiva Zip

Fortune Magazine highlights growth of black women-owned businesses in Detroit

 
The number of women-owned businesses is on the rise in the U.S., having grown by 74 percent over the last 18 years.  The number of businesses owned by black women, however, is growing at an even more astounding rate of 322 percent over the same period. That makes black women the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country, according to a recent story by Amy Haimerl for Fortune Magazine.
 
Haimerl highlights Build Institute, an organization dedicated to helping local entrepreneurs grow their businesses, and Detroit small business owners Danielle Smith of Detroit Maid and Carla Walker Miller of Walker Miller Energy Services.
 
Writes Haimerl:
 
"In Detroit, where city leaders, foundations, and even President Obama have promoted entrepreneurship as an economic development tool, a tiny nonprofit is making outsize efforts at helping black women become business owners. Since it was formed in 2012, the Build Institute has graduated nearly 600 students from its eight-week courses, which teach the basics of starting and running a business, including such topics as money management and how to determine your break-even point. Nearly 70% of those students are women, and 60% of them identify as a member of a minority group."
 
Read more: Fortune
270 Entrepreneurs Articles | Page: | Show All
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