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Founders

Company

Brio Device

Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Hannah Hensel

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
I have participated in the Michigan Business Challenge at the University of Michigan's Zell Lurie Institute, Ann Arbor SPARK's Entrepreneur Boot Camp, Great Lakes Entrepreneur's Quest contest and coaching, the U-M Center for Entrepreneurship and the Bay-Area Trip & Pitch Competition. We are just getting started with New Enterprise Forum program.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
We have received grants from the FDA and Translational Research. We are seeking seed-round funding currently and having related discussions with angel investors. We are also seeking SBIR grant from National Institute of Health and state matching funds administered through Ann Arbor SPARK, such as the Michigan Growth Capital Fund.

Name an idea, policy or mindset from elsewhere that you would like to see this region adopt?
In other places around the country, employers give incentives for their employees to invent and create on their own for a portion of their work-week. This dedication to freethinking and learning and trying and starting things new creates a culture of fresh ideas. The results show expansion of big companies as well as the start of new small independent companies & entrepreneurship. This contributes to a thriving community. I wish there was as much support and encouragement wild ideas in any and all industries and disciplines as can be found in other regions.

What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
There could be tax incentives for professional service providers to extend services gratis or at greatly reduced fees to young start-up companies, so there would be an established network of professionals and/or a co-op for access to equipment that otherwise might require high a lot of start-up capital. Perhaps there could be some deferred student loan programs for young people who stay in Michigan and start companies or even some post-graduate stipend for people to start their companies for the cash-strapped youth. There could be a transfer of some of the current vacant homes and/or store fronts and/or bank repossessed parcels into potential homes for entrepreneurs in an urban contemporary version of the "Homesteader Act," so that people who live there and care for the property and turn it into something productive and useful for society rather than a blight on the community. If these programs already exist, there could be more publicity of the same.

What do you see in Metro Detroit that other people who live outside the area don't?
There are many of the resources of a big metropolitan area, including an active international airport very near. There is also access to waterways and open space and land very near by to enjoy rural life which is important for a healthy work-life balance for many people. There's a great arts scene attracting the best of talent from around the world and spectacular venues to enjoy the arts. Because of the number and variety of universities and colleges, there is talent nearby with incredible depth of knowledge in a wide variety of specialties.

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
The cost of living is better here than in other parts of the country.

If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
Mass transportation. This region really needs a massively better mass-transportation system.


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