TechTown Detroit announced Bricklayr, an online construction equipment rental platform owned by Brian Pollyn, has won first place in the first Start Studio Summer 2019 Showcase pitch competition. The platform allows users to compare rates from local equipment suppliers.
Start Studio’s experts helped participants test the viability of their business plans and mentored them through the initial stages. The showcase on Wednesday, Sept. 25 at Wayne State University’s Industry Innovation Center featured 12 teams that presented their work to judges. First, second, and third place winners were selected based on the feasibility of their tech creations.
All winners receive cash prizes and more than $10,000 in business support services from major companies such as Amazon Web Services.
Second place went to Brian Smith II and Jay Brown, creators of Gas App, an on-demand gas delivery app, and third place went to Danielle Smith-Parker and Donnell Smith, creators of Detroit Maid, an online marketplace for on-demand home cleaning services.
The 12-week pilot program began in July, and TechTown is now accepting applications for its fall Start Studio program, a seven-week incubator that begins Wednesday, Oct. 23. Click here to apply. The application deadline is at 11:59 p.m. today.
“Start Studio is TechTown’s answer to Detroit’s unmet demand for idea-stage tech business assistance,” says Marlo Rencher, director of technology-based programs at TechTown Detroit. “We’ve found that tech entrepreneurs often don’t have the time, tools, or expertise to take their ideas to the next level, and that’s where Start Studio comes in. We want to give Detroit’s next big tech startup every opportunity to succeed.”
Start Studio offers one-on-one coaching, technical assistance, and group learning to help entrepreneurs refine their ideas, providing a catalyst for tech concepts. Startups are guided through testing, research, and the creation of a sample product.
Judges for the summer showcase included Anna Brozek, CEO of Big Cartel; Chris Thomas, co-founder and president of Detroit Mobility Lab; Wendy Thomas, southeast region director for the Michigan Small Business Development Center; Lavea Brachman, vice president of programs for the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation; Lisa Katz, senior program officer for economic vitality and entrepreneurship for the William Davidson Foundation, and Paul Riser Jr., director of Detroit urban solutions at TechTown Detroit.
“For someone who wants to drive his or her business through tech, and they don’t know the next steps to take, Start Studio is the best place to go,” says Pollyn, an Oak Park resident. “A lot of people build platforms without really understanding their customer. Start Studio helps you understand who your customers are, discover their problems, and create the solution. The networking, resources, and mentorship were really phenomenal.”
TechTown Detroit was founded in 2000 by Wayne State University, Henry Ford Health System, and General Motors. It was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2004 and offers entrepreneurial services for tech and neighborhood businesses.