Startgrid Aims to Grow Detroit’s Entrepreneurial Community

By Amanda Lewan on June 9th, 2014 / Comments

“Three of four years ago there wasn’t a lot of conversations about entrepreneurship as a method to grow economies in Detroit,” said Ben Erulker Vice President of Economic Development for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Now, Ben says he’s excited to see that conversation has changed drastically. Detroit in terms of economic development is very much interested in supporting and growing entrepreneurship, to lead in innovation once again.

The growing interesting in entrepreneurship helped sway the Detroit Chamber’s decision to bring a new online resource for entrepreneurs to Detroit. Along with financial support from the New Economy Initiative, Startgrid is now piloting their community in Detroit.

Startgrid offers an easy way for entrepreneurs to build a community around their company, with larger hopes of eventually connecting startup communities around the world. Founder Peter Gardner began developing the online community while working in Silicon Valley, but saw the opportunity to bring it to Detroit. Detroit, he says, appeared ready to embrace it.

“There’s a culture change in Detroit around entrepreneurship,” said Ben. “We hope to see with Startgrid that various segments will grow and emerge together to create a larger market of entrepreneurship in the Midwest.”

Peter believes Detroit is the right city to pilot their platform. There’s enough entrepreneurs to pilot the program here and an open mind.

“I really feel like in many ways Detroit is leading what entrepreneurship can mean today,” said Peter. While in Silicon Valley Peter became very active in building communities. He joking called himself a student of growing entrepreneurial communities. One thing Peter felt lacked in these communities was collaboration across the board.

Startgrid aims to provide one place for all incubators, entrepreneurs, and mentors to collaborate together. Right now you can go to www.startgrid.com/detroit/ and sign up for beta. As a user you can post questions, create a page for your business, and connect with other like minded folks in one well-designed home. There are over 100 entrepreneurs from the Detroit area using the website currently.

All entrepreneurs across industries are invited to participate. Tech, retail, social and early or later stage entrepreneurs are welcome. It’s a platform aiming to serve them all.

“We’re just beginning to build awareness with the Detroit community. The long term goal is create a long term destination for entrepreneurs,” says Peter. “We’re still looking for feedback anytime.”

A humble student himself, Peter appears to be willing to make changes and learn from the entrepreneurs locally in Detroit who can have a say in what they’d like to see.

What entrepreneurial pain points does Startgrid help solve? Possibly, it can serve as a neutral space for all entrepreneurs in the region to collaborate, an inclusive place for conversations and support. In the future, it can hopefully help connect entrepreneurs to mentors too. These are two pain points we hear often.

Either way, Startgrid is a step in a new direction leading the conversation that both Ben and Peter believe is now absolutely vital to Detroit’s economic development.

“We are very fortunate to have received funding for the project from the New Economy Initiative. We have many, many good conversations about entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Peter.  “Now, there’s a platform and opportunity to bring those conversations together into a community that’s obviously doing all sorts of things but united by one mission.”

Peter says he plans to keep the platform free for entrepreneurs. Sign up today and let us know what you think. What would help you grow and connect with folks in the region?

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.