Detroit Chamber Re-launches Online Entrepreneurial Support Platform


Starting Friday, local entrepreneurs and startups will be able to pick the brains of well-known business leaders through a new feature on Startgrid Detroit, an online community that aims to nurture and promote the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“We’ve recruited a group of well-known entrepreneurs from the area who can provide answers to individuals and companies that are facing challenges and questions on a daily basis,” says Jim Martinez, spokesman for the Detroit Regional Chamber, which is re-launching the program.

Experts in the “Ask Me Anything” feature include Rachele Downs, vice president of entrepreneurial strategies for Inforum Michigan; Mike Evans, founder and developer of Loveland Technologies; Angel Gambino, founder of Alchemists Collective; David Kirby, owner of Parker Street Market; Amy Peterson, co-founder of Rebel Nell; and Rick Williams, co-owner of Burn Rubber/The Social Club.

Devon O’Reilly, the chamber’s manager of entrepreneurship and Detroit engagement, says Startgrid Detroit will initially collect questions for Gambino and Downs. The platform will post video responses to selected questions starting in February, with a full collection of videos available by the Detroit Policy Conference, to be held Feb. 26 at the Sound Board venue at the MotorCity Casino-Hotel.

This online platform builds upon the initial iteration of Startgrid Detroit, which was launched at the 2014 Detroit Policy Conference. At the time, the program mainly focused on asking questions and getting answers in a general forum.

“That organic conversation that we started with the original launch will still continue,” Martinez says. “This just takes things to the next level.”

About 250 people utilize Startgrid Detroit, which is supported by local organizations and partners including Techtown Detroit, Detroit Venture Partners, Bizdom, Ann Arbor Spark, and PonyRide, Martinez says.

“We’ve got so many organizations and people doing great things in Detroit’s emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he says. “Startgrid is looking to help connect those relationships and strengthen that ecosystem.”

The chamber will demonstrate the new feature and others helpful tips for entrepreneurs on Friday at Punch Bowl Social, at 1331 Broadway St., in Detroit.

 To register for the event, to be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., email your name, company, and email address to O’Reilly at

For more information about Startgrid Detroit, visit