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Erin Lewis

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
We have been in close contact with both the University of Colorado and the University of Michigan and we won both second place in the Accelerate Michigan student competition and top prize in the Michigan Business Challenge to help us gain experience, traction and publicity. We have two University of Michigan Executive MBA team members. We've also been active in the Rockies Venture Club and the Denver/Boulder Meet-ups with other entrepreneurs.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
So far we have bootstrapped the company with founder money but we will soon be taking on investment from the angel and venture capital communities of both Michigan and Colorado.

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?
I think that programs like Accelerate Michigan really highlight the amazing entrepreneurial spirit that is alive in Michigan. The right pieces are in place but need time and help to flourish: the Universities, research labs, local VCs and angels and the local entrepreneurs will help restore Michigan to its potential. I do agree that it will be a very different future for Michigan.

Name an idea, policy or mindset from elsewhere that you would like to see this region adopt?
I would like to see a proper incubator like TechStars in Michigan. I'd also like to see easier lending from banks without asking for personal guarantees, when entrepreneurs have already proven they have significant financial skin in the game and there are company assets that could be sufficient for a guarantee.

What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
This is tough and will take time but if Detroit is known as a place with good, inexpensive office or desk space for rent, close ties between entrepreneurs and the Universities, a strong and very active group of experienced advisers willing to pitch in and help, and financial support from investors, entrepreneurs will come, and they will stay.

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