Applications for seven awards totaling $1.2 million in funding from the Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day became available Thursday. The competition is for entrepreneurs who have startup businesses in Detroit or who are committed to relocating to the city.
Submissions will be accepted through April 22, and 15 finalists will be chosen to pitch their business live at The Fillmore in front of a capacity crowd on Friday, June 14. The funding will be presented as grants, interest-free loans, or equity investments ranging from $50,000-$300,000 per winner. Three of the grants will be “People’s Choice,” with audience members voting.
“Entrepreneurs and startup businesses are rebuilding the economic ecosystem throughout Detroit, from downtown to Midtown, to Corktown, and the neighborhoods,” says Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans. “We make this commitment to these young, growing businesses because we believe that their success is critical to creating new jobs, economic activity, increasing the tax base, and being a clear, identifiable example for future venturesome go-getters.
“Wealth and new jobs are created by people. Continuing to improve the environment for those willing to go all-in on their entrepreneurial dream is imperative for achieving the vision that we all have for the future of Detroit.”
Eligible companies will be for-profit businesses with a product or service available for sale. Businesses cannot have exceeded $2 million in annual revenue or raised more than $1 million in capital.
The Demo Day team will review all submissions and determine the top 100 semi-finalists. From there, a group of Detroit-based business leaders and entrepreneurs will select the 15 finalists, which will be announced Tuesday, May 28.
On June 14, a panel of nationally recognized entrepreneurs will select the winners.
Last year, there were more than 500 applications, and the event drew an audience of more than 2,000 people. Last year’s winners included Cynt-sational Popcorn, a vegan gourmet popcorn vendor; Lush Yummies Pie Co.; Michigan Farm to Freezer, which makes frozen fruits and vegetables harvested from Michigan farms; Bloomscape, a potted-plant delivery service; Plum Health, a subscription-based health-care provider; Tait Design Co., an independent design studio; and The Ten Nail Bar, a nail salon.
“Detroit Demo Day has not only given my business a ton of exposure, but it has provided priceless resources that have helped propel us to the next level,” says Jennifer Lyle, owner of Lush Yummies Pie Co. “Quicken Loans and the Detroit Demo Day team has stood behind and given me limitless access to people, places, and opportunities. You cannot underestimate the value this brings.”
The inaugural Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day was held in 2017. The eight winners grew their annual revenue by 41 percent in 2018 and expanded their employment base by 51 percent, with the majority of staff residing in Detroit.
Since 2010, Quicken Loans has contributed more than $200 million to organizations and programming in Detroit through its philanthropic arm, the Quicken Loans Community Fund.
Applications can be submitted at www.DetroitDemoDay.com. They will be judged based on team, or the leadership skills necessary to grow a business; advantage, or the factors that differentiate the company and position it to succeed; scale, or the company’s long-term vision for growth; and strategy, or the viability a company has to achieve its immediate plans using the funding.
Detroit’s Quicken Loans is the nation’s largest home mortgage lender.