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Grit Design

1938 Franklin St
Detroit, MI 48207

Andrea Livingston

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
We have attended many conferences over the last couple of years - primarily the majors, like Apple Developers Conference, Google I/O, SES Expo, SXSW and several others. We plan on becoming more entwined with the happenings of local events this year.

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
Our first customer was GroupeSTAHL. They are a global company headquartered in Saint Claire Shores - who are excellent clients/partners. They remain our primary customer. We were introduced to GroupeSTAHL by Jan Starr, the former Ogilvy Detroit Head of Of?ce and the current CEO of GroupeSTAHL. We consider ourselves highly fortunate to have this opportunity.

Where did you find your first employee?
We knew our first official team member for many, many years before founding Grit. He was our had-to-have guy who is exceptionally savvy and insanely smart. Most of our team members have worked with us in the past. That was one of our initial pre-requisites as we didn't want to take any risks on our quality.

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
We haven't had any interns but do plan to in the next year. We have hired a full-time team member straight from school. We consider ourselves highly fortunate to have snagged such talent.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
We have not sought any outside capital. We have a lot of sweat equity. We worked at night and on weekends to start the company, while having day-time jobs. We did this for quite some time before formally founding.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business here?
Go for it. You don't always need capital or large investments. You do need a lot of drive and determination. This is a great time for many reasons. For starters the past few years have forced larger companies to cut their overhead requiring that more and more work be outsourced. If you have a viable product or service that you believe will help others than now is the time. Detroit not only has fabulous talent but is also made up of folks who are more than willing to roll up their sleeves to make a difference. Detroiters are also eager to help others make it. That's key.

What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
We are all responsible for the growth of Detroit, not just the local leaders. We wouldn't want anyone to miss the experiences of other cities and industries. That's what helps all of us learn. We would, however, love to see those bright minds come back home and make their footprint and impact. Detroit is like wet concrete to those who are willing. Let's take advantage of that. Perhaps local leaders could partner with Detroit entrepreneurs to market the potential of the area targeting those who seem to have the moxie. Let's display the empowerment.

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