Start Up Weekend: Detroit Style


A few months ago I blogged about how Detroit and its surrounding region were fertile grounds for start-up businesses. With low rents, versatile workspaces, and a deep talent pool, many companies are looking at the Motor City as a great place to set up shop.

On February 17-19, the national Start-Up Weekend program blew into town with a lot of hope, energy, and passion for making something happen. By all accounts the event was a major success, as more than 100 participants gathered at downtown Detroit’s Madison Building Friday evening to pitch their ideas. Teams assembled around the approved ideas and raced against other groups to make the most progress from Friday night to Sunday midday.

The Huffington Post reported that:

“On Sunday, LiveSnip was chosen as the winner of Startup Weekend by five judges from Michigan’s business community — Maria LaLonde from Bizdom U, Jim Xiao from Detroit Venture Partners, Dan Izzo from Fathead, Jonathon Triest from Ludlow Ventures, and Steven Robert from Billhighway. The judges listened to the contestants’ short presentations and asked probing questions, making their final decision based on project execution, research into and feedback from potential customers, and overall business model.”

In addition to a tour of the Madison Building, Cahill’s team won a one-hour business model consulting session with business incubator Bizdom U, a one-hour meeting with venture capitalists Ludlow Ventures, and tickets to the Michigan Lean Startup Conference in May.”

Carl Winans, a member of the winning LiveSnip team, was struck by the weekend’s level of energy and enthusiasm:

“The next big thing will come out of initiatives like Start-Up Weekend because it’s the perfect place to vet ideas quickly in front of your peers and industry leaders, but more importantly because it provides the right atmosphere to take massive action and get some amazing things done in a short period of time.”

Personally, I think events like Start-Up Weekend signal a renewed focus on entrepreneurship, creativity, and workforce development. This is how positive change happens, when clever people take risks in an effort to build something new, different, and yes, profitable.

It’s going down, right here in the Motor City.