Hoping for Better Things in 2015By Amanda Lewan on January 2nd, 2015 /
As we head into a new year, we can only hope for better things. That is the official slogan for the city of Detroit (Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus / We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes) and it often captures the energy of those building and aiming to create something great.
Across the state there has been pockets of entrepreneurial activity and new companies launching every week. We believe Michigan is poised to amplify it’s innovation and new business growth next year. What good things did we see in 2014? And what can we hope for next year? Here’s our recap below.
The Buzz. People are talking about entrepreneurs. The story of entrepreneurship and “rebuilding” Detroit has captured national attention. Entrepreneurship was the topic of this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference, and Mayor Duggan announced more support on the way for entrepreneurs in the city. Buzz can provide awareness, by increasing the perception and the conversation which is a starting point for action. It attracts new companies to consider the region as a place to start a business. Let’s hope to see more action from the buzz in 2015.
The Funding. The past year we did see a lot of investments, including new funds at the University level, and innovative support such as the state grant matching up to $100K through Patronicity. Venture capital in Michigan continues to grow, which will help startups scale fast.
The Strengths. This past year we saw more support for our two greatest strengths as a state: mobility & manufacturing. An internationally acclaimed accelerator, Techstars, opened their Detroit Mobility program which will help new companies innovate in transportation. Automation Alley also announced new support to help entrepreneurs enter the world of manufacturing.
The Makers. As a manufacturing state, we have the opportunity to create products quickly. Customers are interested in products made locally, and internationally customers are interested in products made in Detroit. People are manufacturing physical products like the Grand Rapid’s geeky furniture producer and hand made leather company launched in Detroit this year. Other manufacturers see the strength in Michigan with some new ones relocating their manufacturing here.
The Events. You can’t grow a creative community without bringing people together to learn, share, support, mentor, and connect one another. Each year we are seeing more startup and business networking events. Last fall it was almost overwhelming how much was happening in Detroit. The nationally known conference Techweek hosted their first Detroit event and is returning in 2015, and we also can’t wait for the region’s first large tech conference Reboot Detroit.
But…Hoping for the Best
The Post-Bankruptcy Opportunity. As Detroit emerges from bankruptcy, there will be many opportunities for new businesses to form. The cost of rent is still low, the support and buzz is there, and the talent is here to support business growth. We hope to see our diverse community in Detroit continue to innovate across sectors. There has never been a better time to start a business in Detroit. Warren Buffet himself said that a city post-bankruptcy is ripe for investments in a recent visit to the city. A stronger core city may positively influence a stronger region for business growth.
The Needs. Earlier this year we polled readers to see what entrepreneurs wanted most in Michigan cities. Unfortunately, we learned that many perceive our cities to need more support. Though talent and low costs were cited as major advantages, most survey responses wanted to see more of everything. We hope for more support along the way for entrepreneurs in 2015.
What do you hope to see?