Five Qs: Brian Davis of Bamboo Detroit

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Brian Davis, co-founder of Bamboo Detroit, a co-working space in a historic building along Brush Street near the Music Hall, spoke with DBusiness Daily News about technology trends, startups, outreach efforts, modular homes, and spacesuits. On Nov. 20, Bamboo Detroit will host its first networking event outside the city — a roundtable discussion about the city’s startup community at the Skyline Club in Southfield.

1. DDN: What brought about your first outreach program?

BD: We do a big community event about once a month, and this is the first time we’ve done something like this outside of Detroit. We’re trying to get the young tech startup community (in Detroit) to interact with the more corporate, sort of big business (community) — which is what Skyline Club has. The goal here is to say, “OK, OK, where is the (connection) between the corporate community, and (an organization) like Bamboo Detroit, where you have a lot of upstart businesses, (or) people who are just getting off the ground and want to navigate doing business with a larger, more traditional business.” It just seems (as though the city’s startups) are a bit (separated) from the surrounding region. So we want to try and bridge that gap.

2. DDN: Why are you hosting the event in Southfield?

BD: As a business, we’re seeking opportunity. It’s not all necessarily completely Detroit-focused. We’re (asking), “How can we as a region move forward and support the entrepreneurial and startup community?” Detroit is a great place. It’s full of cool stuff, but (we should) allow that prosperity to filtrate throughout the entire region.

3. DDN: Why is it important for the startup and corporate communities to collaborate?

BD: I think we can all learn from each other. (Corporate businesses) could learn from us on how to create cultures of creativity. And as smaller businesses, we can learn from these bigger businesses about how to have structure and how to be disciplined in our workday and things like that. We don’t really know. I mean, this is an experiment. We’re trying these things because we think that there’s some type of conversation, or some type of dialogue, that can be had, but the truth of the matter is we don’t know. 

4. DDN: What else does Bamboo Detroit run?

BD: We’re trying to test the marketplace for modular homes. (It’s) something that has been around for a very long time, but we think by repositioning it as something that’s cool and innovative and fresh, we can actually create buzz around building houses in more sustainable ways. 

5. DDN: What’s the timeline for the project?

BD: Let’s just say, in the next six months, we’ll know how we’re doing. It doesn’t physically take a lot of time to build a modular house. For us, (we’re asking), “How do we organize the marketing around it before we start construction? How do we engage the community and people around it?” So that people can start changing the way they talk about these things. And hey, we might fail, and we’re OK with that. If this doesn’t work, we haven’t risked the farm on it, so we’ll keep going and try something different. Maybe a year from now we won’t even be doing modular houses. Maybe we’ll be doing spacesuits or something. As long as were moving forward and making this region a place that people can see as an innovative hub for the world, then that’s good with us. 

For more information about the upcoming roundtable discussion, moderated by DBusiness and DBusiness Daily News editor R.J. King, visit bamboodetroit.com/events.

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