FiveQs: Romy Gingras on Detroit’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

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While the growth of new businesses in metro Detroit in recent years has been a good thing, it has also brought on more, and tougher competition. Enter, Romy Gingras, the founder of Gingras Global, a business consulting firm in Auburn Hills. Gingras helps businesses, specifically social enterprises, stand out in the crowd. DBusiness Daily News spoke with Gingras about the entrepreneurial scene in Detroit and her work with women business owners and entrepreneurs with a social mission.

DDN: How did you get your start in consulting?

RG: I started in a very traditional route in the financial industry, learning about selling insurance, stocks and bonds, and mutual funds, and then slowly moved into financial planning. I had the opportunity to be a consultant for large firms and run my own businesses, allowing me to learn the financial industry from the inside out. I ended up with a fascination about why some businesses fail and why some are successful. I fell in love with problem solving for people, then I fell in love with helping businesses become more profitable.

2. DDN: What are the trends you see about Michigan businesses?

RG: There are tons of potential entrepreneurs. It’s not just one or two; there are thousands of creative ideas in the early development stages. Many new businesses in the toddler stage and need parents. They’ve got brilliant ideas; they just need help getting on their feet to walk. A running theme I’ve noticed is a lot of them need money to do concept testing for their product or idea. They don’t need much, just enough to take the next step.

3. DDN: What Michigan businesses have you worked with?

RG: In Detroit, Rebel Nell. They employ women from the homeless shelter and make jewelry from fallen graffiti in Detroit. Another one is Artisan’s Cooperative and Community Kitchen in the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit, which grows lettuce and basil using vertical indoor hydroponic farming. They specifically set up in that neighborhood to help the local youth who don’t have transportation. They don’t just give the local (youth) jobs, but they teach them how to be entrepreneurial and launch their own businesses. There are hundreds of businesses that apply the same thing, usually dealing with work force development and skill-based training, so they are picking up some of the social needs from the system, creating employment, and transitioning them into taxpayers.

4. DDN: What have you noticed about women in business?

RG: I find that women, in general, are really self-empowered and empowered to help other women. They tend to come up with an idea that would help them, and then share it in community. Women tend to do a lot with very little, like getting multiple uses out of a coffee cup. They’re very creative, and that creativity breeds all kinds of inventions.

5. DDN: You also do podcasts, what is your overall message?

RG: The podcasts started in early March as a platform to shine light on the stories of what the average person is attempting. Every one of our podcasts usually has a guest talking about what they’re doing in their new small or medium-sized business. We will add other elements as it grows, but we just wanted to pilot it and see if there was interest. It turns out there is quite a bit, with over 1,000 listeners last month from the United States, Morocco, and Vietnam. We get a lot of comments about these businesses being real, like “I love that these are all average people who just had an idea.”

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