What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
I took a course through the University of Michigan's Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) called Social Venture Creation. None of this would exist without Moses Lee, Nick Tobier, and the CFE crew.Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
Tony James at Corktowne Market. We walked into his store, showed him the product, and it was love at first sight. We eventually pulled out for other reasons, but Tony has been incredibly helpful and supportive.Where did you find your first employee?
Jay Jenkins is the son of Marvin Jenkins, truck driver for Peaches & Greens. It was a perfect fit.Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
Not yet. I'd like to think it will happen soon, but we're probably at least a few months away. I wouldn't be surprised if we are able to take on 2-3 paid interns/employees by the late summer. Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
Kickstarter, partners and the University of Michigan. We're currently applying to the Detroit Microenterprise Fund, the Hebrew Free Loan Society, and the Accelerate Michigan Business Competition for additional funding.What do you see in Metro Detroit that other people who live outside the area don't?
Amazing people and community. I'm continually surprised by the incredible core of unique, ambitious, and caring individuals who live in this city. Whether a recent transplant or lifetime resident, everyone's got a story, everyone's got a lesson, and everyone genuinely cares. We smile in the streets, say hi in the stores. In many ways, I feel like Detroit has taught me how to be a real human being. There's a certain realness and togetherness that ties this city together, and it's a powerful thing to be a part of. What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
I guess it depends on the type of entrepreneur. Are we looking for tech entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, food entrepreneurs, craft makers, real estate developers, all of the above? I'm not sure there's one special sauce that covers it all, but forums like Detroit SOUP and Tech Town, which offer exposure and supportive networks, are steps in the right direction. Any entrepreneur will tell you that running/starting a business is an incredibly difficult and exhausting enterprise. The endless support from my friends, family and community have been absolutely essential to my sanity, and I imagine that all of us need the same support. In many ways, I know the city and community is behind me, but when things are rough, sometimes I wish I had a more tangible sign. Maybe a giant billboard that flickered "Keep it up, Slugger" would do the trick. It'd also be great to match young entrepreneurs with seasoned mentors in similar industries. Maybe a city-wide mentorship program. It would keep community leaders in touch with the youth movement and provide great resources for the young entrepreneurs. A win-win for everyone it seems.