Fast Company: Paxahau's Jason Huvaere Dishes as Movement Gets Things Shakin' Downtown

Some music fans dream of finding a path to nudge their way into the business. Jason Huvaere, president and co-founder of Paxahau Event Productions, actually found it, and we all get to dance to the result this weekend.

Huvaere started off just as a fan of electronic music. He formed Paxahau as a passion project in the late 90s. The side project turned into full-time gig and eventually a full-time start-up.

Today Paxahau employs 10 people, 20 interns, and since 2006 has run Detroit's electronic music festival, Movement, which takes over Hart Plaza downtown this weekend. The annual festival attracts an international array of musicians and electronic music fans each year.

Huvaere is at the center of it all. The 35-year-old has plans to further expand Movement and Paxahau with a record label and other Internet-based features.

Describe your business in two sentences or less?
In 1998 we turned our love for electronic music into a career when we launched Paxahau is now a full service events and promotions company that is capable of producing large-scale events such as Movement and corporate events such as the Auto Dealers After-Party we did for the 2009 NAIAS.

Why did you decide to set up shop in Detroit?
I was born in SE Michigan and Detroit is where I consider home. Downtown Detroit has been a source of inspiration and interest since we first started dabbling in events back in 1993. I am not sure if I can accurately describe the "bug" once you get it, but no other place feels like Detroit. Despite all of its challenges, when a great thing happens here, you can really feel it. Detroit is a big small town, and it feels more like family than a city sometimes. I like work getting noticed here, whether it’s ours or the work of someone else. Detroit is just a unique place to do something special and it makes a difference.

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
The small town aspect really helps communicate ideas and promotions here. I like being able to come up with an idea and execute it within a short time period. You can really wrap your arms all the way around Detroit, and that is a special feeling.   

What do you see in Detroit that other people don't?
I don’t know if it’s a "see" rather than a "feel." Detroit in my generation has always been about one thing more than anything else -- hope. This feeling of hope is what fuels the ideas, events and overall vision of our organization as well as most people we know that are actively involved in Detroit.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about doing business here?
Don’t get too arrogant no matter how good you think you are or your idea is. Look into the long vision not the short, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice or hire an experienced consultant. Detroit is a blank canvas right now in a lot of areas and it’s a great opportunity for anyone willing to take the risk and love Detroit.

If you could change one thing about Detroit, what would it be?
The population. Although we are great small town, the emptiness of downtown is one of Detroit’s biggest challenges. All things economically relate to commerce, and commerce relates to population and market. The suburbs can be downtown's biggest cheerleaders, and a lot has been done to promote Detroit, but without hundreds of thousands of new residents or the city being cut up into smaller cities, we will always have the same challenges we have now. We need a huge injection of people and energy to change the chapter into the vision most people refer to when discussing Detroit’s renaissance.

Jon Zemke's Fast Company profiles -- spotlights on Detroit entrepreneurs -- appear regularly in the Innovation and Job News section of Model D. Send feedback here.


Jason Huvaere

Movement 2008

Photographs by Detroit Photographer Marvin Shaouni Marvin Shaouni is the Managing Photographer for Metromode & Model Contact Marvin here

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Jon Zemke is a news editor with Model D and its sister publications, Metromode and Concentrate. He's also a small-scale real-estate developer and landlord in the greater downtown Detroit area.