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Brandon Chesnutt

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
To help Startup Weekend grow in Detroit and throughout Michigan, we've really relied on the relationships we have formed with organizations that share our vision for creating better entrepreneurs. This includes working with the MEDC, Detroit Venture Partners, TechTown, Quicken Loans and many other public and private institutions. Their support has helped our program provide attendees with an incredibly valuable, and intense, business boot camp experience.

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
Lately, there has been a huge push behind the idea of "investing in entrepreneurship" as a means to give back to the community. If "Going Green" was the big corporate responsibility trend last decade, sparking economic development is the new big thing. Locally, we've seen large organizations form new venture/investment funds or offer young companies access to free services. These offerings can be very attractive to startups and early-stage companies looking for support.

It's often said that Metro Detroit and Michigan need to reinvent their economies to be competitive. Are we making those changes, and if so are we making enough of them or doing it fast enough?
From the startup prospective, we're starting to see awesome things happening in Metro Detroit. Unfortunately, it will likely take another decade or more for us to see the true impact. Even the most successful startup communities were not built overnight.

If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
We need more hero companies. We’re fortunate enough to have some amazing success stories with companies like Ambassador and Benzinga. It's these types of businesses that inspire the next group of wannabe entrepreneurs to go for it.

Name an idea, policy or mindset from elsewhere that you would like to see this region adopt?
I'd like to see Metro Detroit shift from a risk-adverse culture to one that is more comfortable with early-stage startup investments. If we can offer ongoing education to individuals who could potentially become angel investors, similar to the angel boot camps that you would see in Boston or Los Angeles, I think there is a huge opportunity to change this mindset.

What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
Leverage the national media's love affair with Detroit's comeback and talk about the high-growth companies that are coming out of this area. This tactic may not only keep some of the local talent here, but also lure back those who left to the region.

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