In Detroit, A Collaborative Startup Scene Emerges
Choosing a city to start your company comes with many factors. An entrepreneur needs to consider cost of overhead, talent, funding opportunities, and other vital resources in the area to help the company grow. Detroit is a city emerging from a bankruptcy that offers a prime time for entrepreneurs to build their company here. With decades of population loss, the city has plenty of affordable work and living options for startups. Bamboo Detroit, is the city’s largest co-working community, offering memberships starting at $99 per month. This is a huge vantage point for an entrepreneur who can work, connect to talent, and grow their company from a shared space.
There are quite a few co-working spaces popping up now, some with their own unique focuses like Detroit’s Green Garage for triple bottom line businesses or Ponyride for shared manufacturing space. What’s unique about Detroit right now is all of our startup communities are open to collaboration. Inside these spaces and outside in the greater community you will always meet someone willing to help. Detroit is the biggest small town, and everyone knows the success of businesses right now are vital to the city. Even our co-working spaces have come together to form a travel pass, an act of “coopetition.”
These shared spaces act like micro-economies, allowing a company to get started very easily. But growing comes with it’s own set of challenges too. Many companies need top talent to grow. Detroit is home to Wayne State University, and nearby to the University of Ann Arbor and Michigan State University. Graduates are beginning to pay attention to the revitalization efforts in Detroit and are attracted to living in urban areas. Finding the right people to work with is always a challenge, but we are surrounded with a pool of great talent.
Funding and business resources are also a plenty in the Metro Detroit area. There are 56 resources providers alone that offer business training, classes, micro-funding and more. For the first time these organizations have been united and recorded on an easy tool for entrepreneurs called the BizGrid. All of these factors along with a collaborative culture are making Detroit a great place for startups.
Startups Making a Mark in Detroit
While the factors are here to make it easy to start a company, the types of companies we see emerging are very unique. Some companies are aiming to solve urban problems in one of America’s most challenged urban environments. There’s Loveland Technologies who is helping map Detroit’s massive blight issue and make this data accessible. There’s Rocket Fiber, a new Gigabit Internet provider who was able to take advantage of the M-1 rail development to launch their 100 times faster internet this year. Rocket Fiber has a greater mission to help solve the digital divide in Detroit.
Then there are the makers and the creators. In the state of Michigan manufacturing has dominated the sphere, but what else can we make? Original Stix shows us they can make unique sports themed iphone cases made from re-used hockey sticks. Shinola shows us that bicycle, hand crafted leather goods, and watches can be made here in the Motor City. There’s plenty of opportunity to create and continue to leverage our manufacturing experience.
Right now it’s an exciting time to be a part of the city of Detroit’s revitalization. There’s a community here that’s collaborating, supporting one another, and helping connect each other to resources. Though it can be challenging to startup in a city that’s smaller, the opportunity to capitalize on Detroit’s rebound is enticing.
Amanda Lewan is the co-founder of Bamboo Detroit a co-working space of entrepreneurs in Downtown Detriot, She is the Editor of Michipreneur.com the state's online community for creators and entrepreneurs.