What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
My educational background is in design. I recently took part in D:Hive's
inaugural BUILD program, which was a fantastic opportunity to get a crash course in what it takes to really help bring a business idea to life and make it successful.
Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
My first customer was a Detroit ex-pat living in Chicago. She purchased one of my Spirit of Detroit decals for use on her MacBook. She even sent me a note a few weeks later saying how many compliments she got on it even in Chicago, which may not be too surprising given all the ex-Detroiters living in the Chicago area.
Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
I started the business with savings that I already had in place, and as things have steadily improved and grown, I've been recycling profits earned directly back into the business.
What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
I feel like as of late, steps are being made to really help keep and attract new young educated citizens in the city. I have countless amounts of friends who went to school in the region, but when it came time to looking for employment and a fun place to live, left for cities like D.C. and Chicago. I think incentives to help attract homeowners to the core of Detroit are fantastic and will hopefully continue. I also like the idea of turning Detroit into a sort of technology hub for the region to help retain talented people from the area.
What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
I feel one huge advantage to doing business in Detroit is that the community really likes to see another Detroit business become successful. I've had so many that have offered support, and have given me contact information for someone they feel could be of help, that I normally would never come across. In a sense its as if Detroit is a big city with a small city mentality, in the sense that businesses look at other startups as a good things rather then added competitors.
If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
I would love to see a bigger effort by greater southeast Michigan to really work as one. I'm a firm believer that a strong region starts with a strong Detroit, and would love to see the senseless bickering between city and suburbs, and county vs county come to an end. Many people I know from suburban Detroit still view themselves as Detroiters, and it would be great if everyone felt the same way on a larger scale and helped to take steps to improve the whole region.
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business here?
I would say go for it. I think many people who've lived in Detroit for a long period of time have at some point heard prematurely that Detroit was on its way back, but I think we're at a point where it's finally true. The business community both small and large seem really dedicated to a revitalization of the city, starting in downtown and midtown and hopefully spreading to the rest of the city as well. I think its a fantastic time to invest in Detroit, and bring something new and unique to the area.
What do you see in Metro Detroit that other people who live outside the area don't?
I see a tight-knit community that really wants to see their hometown succeed. I think the difference between Detroit and other cities, is that when someone does something here: profit may still be a factor, but doing something good for the city is just as important.