What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
As a co-founder of M-Wrap, we are part of the TechArb
(Session 7) portfolio. As a result, M-Wrap has had the opportunity to receive unparalleled guidance, networking, entrepreneurial business advice, legal resources, and support from fellow entrepreneurs. The energy in the TechArb space is incredible and the cofounders of M-Wrap encourage other budding entrepreneurs to apply to TechArb's fall and summer terms. As entrepreneurs, we have great days and bad days. The community at TechArb knows how to cheer you on during the great days and how to support you and send you in the right direction on your bad days.
Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
To date, the company has raised $9,250 from a few sources. The team received most of its funding from the Michigan Clean Energy Venture Challenge
in prize money, but the company has also received the Jump Start Grant as well as the Small Company Internship Award. The company is also applying for TechArb's $10,000 Ventures Grant. This would allow the company to be able to pay for manufacturing contractors as well as direct expenses for initial production.
What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
Doing business has helped our company reduce initial costs by starting out here. We have extraordinary resources for student entrepreneurship here in Ann Arbor. I can think of the Center for Entrepreneurship and TechArb, just to name a few. In addition, start-ups in Ann Arbor get the opportunity to showcase themselves in ways that might not be readily available on the West Coast. Top-notch mentors are readily available in this area. I can’t imagine where M-Wrap would be without our mentors Max Shtein, John Halloran, James Goebel, and Moses Lee.
Name an idea, policy or mindset from elsewhere that you would like to see this region adopt?
Detroit is the Rocky Balboa of cities. We're nowhere near perfect and the city itself has quite a few issues to resolve. Revitalizing the city is going to require a community-wide effort. The problems aren’t going to be resolved overnight. My sister goes to school at Wayne State University so I have had the opportunity to witness the campus and student efforts to improve the city. In addition, Cedric Tai is a man behind the revitalization of Detroit through art. He is the son of my former supervisor so I had the first-hand opportunity to learn how art and culture are being used to improve the downtown. Finally, TechArb had a trip to Detroit Venture Partners
and we had the opportunity to see how entrepreneurs can shape business and economy in a region as hard hit as Detroit. We’ve got our bruises, busted bones, and years out on the bench, but we’re going to be ready for the ring with the help of trainers, backers, and community support.
What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
Instead of thinking that you need to attract more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit, I would focus on creating programs that introduce, sustain, and enhance entrepreneurial thought and innovation in young people. Get more young people, especially females, into engineering so that they can be introduced and familiarized with the tools that will allow them to build ideas into reality. I grew up in Michigan and, as an entrepreneur, I want to give back to the community that I have seen grow and support me from birth.
Take people like me and encourage our bright ideas. Mentor us. Give us the opportunities to shape our innovative ideas and you might find yourselves surprised by the ingenuity of youth.
What do you see in Metro Detroit that other people who live outside the area don't?
I see a city that is doing its best to clean itself up and get ready for its turn in the national spotlight.
If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
That’s easy. I would MacGyver myself a weather machine and find some way of regulating the Michigan weather.