Metro Detroit Startups Get Support from William Davidson Foundation

Startup Genome in San Francisco and Endeavor in New York City are working together to study and support the Detroit region’s entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem development.
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Startup Genome and Endeavor are working to support the Detroit region's entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem. // Stock Photo
Startup Genome and Endeavor are working to support the Detroit region’s entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem. // Stock Photo

Startup Genome in San Francisco and Endeavor in New York City are working together to study and support the Detroit region’s entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem development.

With support from the William Davidson Foundation in Birmingham, the parties collaborated to assess the current entrepreneurial climate for growth and tech-oriented startups with the goal to identify key gaps and opportunities to actively support founders.

Detroit recently was recognized as the No. 1 Emerging Startup Ecosystem globally in Startup Genome’s annual Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2022.

With successful companies from metro Detroit that include Airspace Link, Autobooks, Bloomscape, DUO, Floyd, The Lip Bar, Our Next Energy, StockX, and Workit Health, it became clear a data-driven assessment was needed to spark an overarching movement, supported by research and driven by founder engagement.

With more than 125 clients across six continents in 45-plus countries to date, Startup Genome is a leading research and policy advisory organization for governments and private institutions committed to advancing their startup ecosystems.

Using a combination of proprietary methodologies, including 50 founder surveys, Startup Genome, Endeavor, and local project lead and Detroit-based entrepreneur Justin Mast, conducted an in-depth analysis and defined priority recommendations in close coordination with key community partners.

Local findings include:

  • The ecosystem improved its ranking in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report from 2021 by 12 spots, now counting about 1,500 active startups across the region and producing several billion dollar exits in the last five years.
  • The Detroit region’s founders are well connected with local peers, investors, and experts, a leading indicator for startup growth and success, according to global research by Startup Genome
  • Founders feel there is no clear strategy leading the region’s efforts and believe support organizations (accelerators, incubators, and other ESOs) are disjointed and have provided limited services to support growth and scaling.
  • In terms of exits and scaling, founders aim lower in comparison to other national and global regions, limiting the outlook and potential of success. Despite this, the Detroit region has produced more $100 million-plus exits than its peers in the U.S.
  • Founders believe local angel groups and investors could provide more support and adapt more current practices focused on growth and scale; there is not enough capital to deploy, too few active investors in the region, and too few that take necessary risks on emerging companies.
  • In comparison to its peers, the area shows a low success rate of companies securing seed funding and an even lower success rate in securing Series A funding. Those who do secure Series A rounds show smaller valuations on average than those in peer cities.

“We are thrilled to support the people of the Detroit region in creating a thriving and inclusive startup ecosystem as an engine of growth and wellbeing. The region has all the ingredients it takes to build a world-class environment for startups, but is missing a cohesive, data-driven strategy. Our work together will drive clarity and focus going forward,” says Marc Penzel, founder and president of Startup Genome.

Endeavor has outlined initial areas of opportunity based on the assessment findings. These actions include convening and aligning the region’s efforts around a more unified strategy, ensuring efforts are founder-led and founder-focused, advancing policy and advocacy efforts to drive more federal, state, and local funding into early-stage investment, targeted support for high-performing ESOs and those requiring technical assistance, providing more transparency around accelerators, incubators, and ESOs’ performance, and advancing the region’s storytelling to drive momentum and provide greater visibility and investment.

“We believe Detroit has the potential to become one of the world’s premier locations for high-growth entrepreneurship. This study offers actionable insights to help us get there,” says Diana Callaghan, managing director of Endeavor.

On January 25th at 11:30 a.m. (EST) a webinar will be hosted to cover major findings, community reactions, and include a Q&A. All are welcome to attend. RSVP here.

For more information about Startup Genome, visit startupgenome.com.

For more information on Endeavor’s Detroit affiliate, visit endeavordetroit.org.

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