Necessity is the mother of invention. It's also often the inspiration for new businesses. That's the case with DetroitFlags
Woodbridge resident and IT professional Jon Franchi started the company a year ago when he noticed how difficult it was to find a copy of the official flag of the city of Detroit.
"You really didn't see it anywhere," Franchi says. "It was really prevalent (on downtown buildings and hotels) and I kept looking and looking (for a company that sold them). I got fed up and thought, 'I will go ahead and make these myself.'"
This proved to be about as difficult as finding a seller. The city's flag is detailed and has several colors. It’s far more intricate than the flags of other cities, such as Chicago’s
, which features two stripes and four stars.
Franchi did eventually find a local source for the flags, but they were expensive, costing close to $100. Franchi commissioned a flag maker to produce a cheaper nylon version that would work as a simple porch flag. Users can now order a 18-inch-by-30-inch nylon flag for $20 or a 3-foot-by-5-foot nylon flag for $35. Franchi even offers bicycle delivery to local customers, weather permitting.
"I cancel the shipping fees and just take it over there on my bike," Franchi says.
Franchi says much of his clientele is based outside of the city limits. He often gets orders from the suburbs. About a third of his orders come from former Detroiters living out of state.
"There are a lot of ex-patriots who want to have a piece of Detroit history," Franchi says.
Source: Jon Franchi, owner of DetroitFlags
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.