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Hajj Flemings

Telling your story can be one of the most important skills any business professional can learn. Hajj Flemings knew that Detroiters, many of whom he saw as himself transitioning from a manufacturing job into a new economy, would need this skill to survive.

Flemings is an engineer by trade, but a brand strategist by necessity. He had been intrigued with branding and begin to work as a strategist on the side while working full time at an automotive company. Flemings published his first book on branding and started teaching night classes at Michigan Technological University soon after he lost his engineering job. He then launched his company Brand Camp, a series of conferences focused on branding and entrepreneurship.

"I saw the economy change and knew that I had to be here with what was changing locally," Flemings says. "That's what really got me into this business."

As Flemings says, a personal brand and story can help any employer stand out, and an entrepreneur grow. Establishing a brand helps an entrepreneur attract their founders, build their team, and pitch for investment money.

"It really helps for anyone to be able to better tell their story," Flemings says.

Brand Camp launched in 2008 in Detroit, and the daylong conference has now spread to five additional locations in the U.S. It was held in Detroit for its fifth year this past fall bringing over 300 entrepreneurs to gather downtown. The conference teaches branding, along with insights into the world of technology and entrepreneurship. Flemings saw an opportunity to not only help teach branding skill but to also expose local entrepreneurs to a larger network. The conference continues to draw founders and investors from tech communities like Silicon Valley and New York City to Detroit.

Flemings sees a growing interest locally for learning more about branding and entrepreneurship. Brand Camp Detroit 2013 in one day alone created an estimated 5.1 million online impressions. His vision for Brand Camp is to continue to encourage entrepreneurship locally through more events, workshops, and educational and networking opportunities.

"We saw a huge impact and interest in this online," Flemings says. "We do a few smaller events and workshops but we are really going to focus in the next year on engaging with the Detroit entrepreneurial community. It's really important in terms for growing and fostering a startup community."

Hajj Flemings also sees Detroit as having the opportunity to grow a diverse community of business leaders. He believes Brand Camp and contributing to this type of culture, featuring a special women in technology panel at the last conference.

"We really have a focus on diversifying the tech community," Flemings says. "We need to have female and diverse leaders to add value to the community."

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