TechTown Bringing Retail Startups to Detroit in 2013By Amanda Lewan on December 29th, 2012 /
When it comes to building up a rejuvenated city, there’s one word that Detroiter’s love to hear: retail. There’s no doubt that Detroit needs an urban core filled with retail to help make it a thriving place to live, work, and visit.
TechTown, a Michigan Incubator in Detroit, is hoping to help make that happen by launching a startup retail boot camp designed to give new businesses a shot of opening their store in the city. TechTown offers the resources an early stage startup will need, assisting with business planning, guidance, and development.
I spoke with Charlie Moret about their plans for making this happen. New to TechTown, Charlie comes from Connecticut where he managed business development and finance assistance for technology startups.
What’s your vision for Detroit?
“As an outsider coming in, I’m incredibly excited about what’s going on in Detroit. There’s so much opportunity, activities, and assets,” said Charlie Moret. “I’m just amazed at the beauty of the city and the great things it has to offer.”
Moret spent the past 26 years in Connecticut, with the last 15 working directly with tech based entrepreneurs. He wanted to come to Detroit to be a part of the activity he saw happening.
“What attracted me to Detroit was the tremendous amount of startup activity and new technologies right now,” said Charlie. “I really wanted to work in a city that was really on it’s way up.”
Charlie says his vision for the program is to continue helping startups grow, specifically rolling out “boot camp” programs for retail starting in Spring 2013.
How will the place-based boot camps for retail work?
“We’re working with a number of organizations to assess their needs, starting with the Downtown and Midtown area,” said Charlie. “What are the needs in the retail area? Once we can find where the real holes are, we’re going to have a call for entrepreneurs that are interested in starting and running those specific businesses.”
Specifically, the boot camp program will provide businesses guidance they’ll need with learning everything for opening a retail store in Detroit, from negotiating a lease to analyzing business demographics. TechTown’s program will also help them learn how to find the right location and setup up their store.
“Merchandising, marketing, and finances, everything that an entrepreneur could use assistance with,” said Charlie. “All with the goal of getting retail businesses that fit Detroit’s needs.”
What kind of startups would be an ideal candidate for this program?
Charlie says any early retail startup will be able to apply. Acceleration programs are like boot camps for entrepreneurs, typically running for three months. Startups can use this time to test out the viability of their retail business.
What are the main challenges for early stage startups that businesses incubators can assist with?
“Entreprenerus need to build teams around them, and need partners to share their vision,” said Charlie. “In some cases they can come up with the technology or product themselves, or we can help them find an opportunity that they can run with. The challenges are building a team up front and early, and that’s one thing we really help with and encourage.”
Have an organization that wants to team up or talk about the retail boot camp program? Reach out to TechTown and see if we can build up Detroit together.