What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
I'm an avid reader of business-oriented books, especially the works of Pat Lencioni.
Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
I was lucky enough to have a handful of loyal clients that came with me at founding, but perhaps the technical first was AGIS
, an insurance agency in Birmingham.
Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
What is one thing Michigan does better or has going for it that other more successful regional economies don't?
There is an exciting and long-overdue groundswell of innovation and diversification in Michigan, and a vibrant start-up community that is mixing well with an equally enthusiastic venture capital community. There is a lot of energy, ideas and money that have been on the sidelines for too long, and people are now recognizing that Michigan is fertile ground for growth.
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?
It’s true of the country, it’s true of the world, and it’s certainly true of our region. We’re starting to see some genuine energy and growing momentum in that regard, but it’s never fast enough. Detroit has established for itself a very real loyalty among its populace, whereby the business community and the community at large are ready and willing to do whatever is necessary to scratch our way out of the economic doldrums, and we are being reminded everyday that you just can’t ever count Detroit out.
What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
If Detroit were a stock, it would be on nearly every investor’s buy list. Having gone through what our region has, you can see the turnaround being sponsored and advanced by much of the business community, from companies both big and small. For now, real estate and leasing opportunities are immensely affordable, access to capital is prevalent, and the innovation that is coming out of our existing talent is remarkable. We may not recognize it for a few years, but we will all look back at this point in history as the turning point.
If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
Detroit and Michigan in general have not historically had the most business-friendly climates for employers and entrepreneurs. I would like to see a continuation of the very recent trend to create business-friendly tax environments for all businesses (such as the elimination of the MBT). We saw from the film incentives how this works. But instead of targeting niche industries, we need to create a competitive market across the board, for not only our existing entrepreneurs but for companies outside of our state, to encourage businesses to set up shop here, recruit and retain our in-state talent, and ultimate buoy the entire region’s economy.