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Detroit Materials

Detroit, MI 48226

Pedro Guillen

Pedro Guillen took a newer route to running a tech startup. The CEO of Detroit Materials, a startup creating stronger steel, ended up in his position after serving as the entrepreneur in residence at a local small business accelerator.

Guillen had helped create two other businesses, including Kinetic Partners, before becoming the entrepreneur in residence at Detroit Innovate, an early stage investment fund in downtown Detroit focused on the growing Metro Detroit’s new economy. A friend working in tech transfer at Wayne State University told him about it and the opportunity to launch a startup from it.

"We found this material (to commercialize) that was pretty interesting," Guillen says. He adds that Detroit Innovate "pays for at least a little bit of your time so it’s better than going it alone."

That material turned out to be the technology is the basis of Detroit Materials business plan today. It promises to create a high-quality steel alloy that is both lighter and stronger than current options. It was first developed at Wayne State University.

That steel alloy is what attracted Guillen to the program but he went into it about a year ago with the idea of evaluating a number of different technologies that could be commercialized. He evaluated numerous others for six months before deciding to run with the Detroit Materials steel alloy.

"The goal was to look for technologies, see what's available, and find the best one," Guillen says. He adds, "this fit my background. It fir what the fund wanted to do."

There are three entrepreneurs in residence at Detroit Innovate, working from the fund's offices in the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. They are all taking a structured approach to finding the best technology to build startups around. These startups often leave with the financial backing of early investment funds like Detroit Innovate.

"It makes life a lot easier to make something like this happen," Guillen says. "It if happens by yourself it's all a little bit harder."

- Written by Jon Zemke

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