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Livonia, MI 48154

Justin Draplin

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
I have a Bachelors of Science Degree in Marketing from Michigan State University.

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
Holly Bartman, a stay-at-home mom and former special education teacher, started making superhero capes in 2007 from her residence in Farmington. We formalized our partnership and current company in 2010. Holly's 4-year old son was our first customer. Holly made one for him and his friends for his birthday when someone suggested she start to sell them, so she did.

Where did you find your first employee?
Our first employee, Nicole, is the mom of a classmate and friend of Holly's. After that we've found word of mouth to be our most reliable source of employees. Only two of our employees were hired from job postings on Craisgslist.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
We are entirely self-funded. We've spoken to banks and private individuals interested in investing in our company, however we have not yet had to raise any capital. We've been using our own cash flow to fund our growth.

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
Due to market conditions there is plenty of low-rent commercial space available and a large employee base, especially mothers who wish to work part-time to supplement their families' income. We've also had a lot of support from our family and friends which makes everything you do easier.

If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
I would like to see Detroit return to a busy, populated downtown with a thriving mix of retail, creative arts, entertainment and cultural venues, entrepreneurial businesses and strong residential base. These businesses and residences will need to be served by reliable city services and a viable K-12 education system. It's a shame what's happened to Detroit, but I think they've started to head in the right direction with Dave Bing, there is still some work to do with city council but one step at a time. My Mom works in the city of Detroit and must pay city of Detroit income taxes, but isn't able to vote for representation there. There are some very backwards things in Detroit that need to be worked out.

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