Detroit Startup City

Derek Mehraban

Detroit Rock City, The Iconic KISS song is a symbol for the city known for great music, from Motown to Eminem and all that’s in between. Detroit is a city for music lovers, rockstars and rappers. Great music is born in Detroit. Don’t believe me, just give this classic tune a spin:

But are great startups born here too? Can we honestly say Detroit Startup City?

As Detroit Startup Week rolls on and thousands of entrepreneurial types roam the streets of downtown Detroit, it makes me ask the question. Are we now Detroit Startup City?

Is Detroit a cool, hip, edgy city with a history of grit and determination?

I think so. Detroit has always been a hub of innovation and growth. And it’s populated by some hard working midwestern talent that knows the value of hard work paying off.

Does Detroit have a history of successful startups?

Yes we do. Here is a list of current Detroit startups that are changing Detroit. And another great list of Detroit Startups. Plus we have success stories like ePrize (now Hello World) and others that help fuel the entire eco-system.

Does Detroit have a chosen Leader of the startup community?

I would say there’s many. And an opportunity for many more. The first name that comes to mind is Dan Gilbert. You know Dan Gilbert, he owns the Cleveland Cavaliers. And he’s the successful Michigan State University graduate who owns Quicken Loans, among others. Dan Gilbert has been a fixture of the Detroit Startup scene from the early days. You could call him old school.

And new leaders have now risen up to do great things. People like Martin Dober and Patti Glaza of Invest Detroit. Or Ned Staebler of TechTown Detroit.

Detroit People Mover. Coleman’s Train is ridden by many startup entrepreneurs these days.

How about Investors, are there enough investors in Detroit to fuel the startup community?

I think that is a work in progress. I always wonder where all the seed investors (for startups) are hiding in Detroit. From what I’ve seen there is an opportunity for more investors in Detroit to start investing in new companies and taking more risk, especially in non-traditional companies. West Coast investors are much more friendly on consumer products and mobile apps.

There are founders of many great companies in Michigan, that certainly have money to invest – Little Caesars and Ford Motor Company to name a few of my favorite Detroit brands. As startups, we are working to build the next level of legacy for the city of Detroit. And that takes some early stage funding, angel funding, and VC funding. Detroit needs to up it’s investor game.

Detroit Startup Cith

Detroit Lions and Ford Field are at the Center of Detroit Startup City.

Does Detroit have smaller cities close by that work closely to support its startup scene?

Yes it does. For example, Ann Arbor, Michigan where you’ll find Sports Fan Competition platform Fantelope. Ann Arbor is also home of the University of Michigan and world famous coach Jim Harbaugh – who will really love Fantelope once it takes off, as it’s all about sports competition. And Jim Harbaugh is very competitive.

Did I mention that I am a Spartan? My co-founder Satish Malnaik is a Wolverine, so it’s fair to mention Jim Harbaugh. But honestly, my favorite two coaches are Mark Dantonio for Michigan State Spartan Football, and Tom Izzo for MSU Basketball. Those two guys are solid gold. The best. #GoGreen

But back to Ann Arbor, with it’s own cool startups like Duo Security,  WorkIt Health, and Ad Adapted to name a few. And a fun environment with meetups like #A2NewTech and co-working spaces at the Tech Brewery or Workantile Exchange for startups looking for a home.

But frankly, nothing beats the vibe of a big city like Detroit. With the Detroit Tigers, Pistons, Lions and Red Wings all in downtown Detroit. And with the growing startup scene along Woodward and the Detroit QLINE, Detroit is poised to become known as Detroit Startup City. It certainly gets my vote!

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