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Tree Fort Bikes

1866 Whittaker Road
Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Alan Barnosky

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
Our first customers found us through our original website, which was actually launched before our doors opened. These first customers found us online, liked our selection, and purchased bikes ahead of time.

Where did you find your first employee?
Craig and Scott opened and ran the store for quite a few years for local customers. As we started to grow, our first employees were customers of ours who liked the shop and wanted to help.

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
We have not worked with interns, however, in the future as we continue to grow hope to make it a possibility.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
We prefer to grow slowly and carefully rather than risking it from the beginning, so we have been mostly self-sufficient throughout the years. However, we have worked with the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center to help raise capital and promote growth.

What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
At our business, the culture and enthusiasm drives our success. The most beneficial asset we have is a positive work environment, characterized by a strong sense of community where employees are all part of the growth. With so many career choices outside of our region and state, it's often the little things that end up keeping people here.

What do you see in Metro Detroit that other people who live outside the area don't?
We have found that companies willing to work creatively with limited resources are the most likely to be successful. In the past, Detroit has been the best in innovation and new technology. This rich history and spirit is our greatest strength, and one that must continue to be utilized throughout the coming years. As we transition out of the period of the auto-industry and into a global market, we don't want to loose that entrepreneurial spirit. We see Detroit as having an excellent opportunity for growth, and the bulk of this growth can be through jobs that are technology focused in the online sector and in research and development.

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