DETROIT, July 2, 2009 — More than 500 people attended the June 24 FastTrac to the Future, a free conference designed to give budding entrepreneurs resources and guidance to help them create successful companies. Entrepreneurs in Southeast Michigan who weren’t able to attend the June 24 event are invited to attend the second session of FastTrac to the Future on July 25, 2009 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Community Arts Auditorium, Cass at Kirby on Wayne State University campus.
“The June 24 event was a tremendous success that surpassed our expectations,” said Judy Johncox, who orchestrated FastTrac to the Future. Johncox is also Director of Business Services for TechTown, the Wayne State University research and technology park. “We enrolled more than 300 Southeast Michigan entrepreneurs in training programs that will help them build better businesses. We had to turn away a lot of people from the event, unfortunately, because of the incredible demand, but we’re offering the July 25 event for those who couldn’t make it in June.”
The program features breakout sessions that will give guidance and free resources to people who think entrepreneurship might be right for them. This could include displaced workers, the unemployed and people looking for alternative employment options.
Renowned entrepreneur and bestselling author Christopher Gardner will be the keynote speaker at the event again. Gardner is the owner and CEO of the brokerage firm Gardner Rich LLC with offices in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Conquering grave challenges to become a successful entrepreneur, Gardner is an avid motivational and inspirational speaker, addressing the keys to overcoming obstacles and breaking cycles.
Gardner is the author of the 2006 autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness, a New York Times and Washington Post #1 bestseller that has been translated into fourteen languages. He recently published his second book, Start Where You Are.
This conference will include Curbside Consulting, a highly interactive session where every attendee will have the chance to pitch their idea to an expert in a relaxed, informal setting. Curbside Consulting will be available all day.
Local and national experts will discuss the challenges of starting a new business in 12 different session topics on entrepreneurship. These include:
• Intellectual Property Do’s and Don’ts
• Organization Expo—Providing introductions to existing entrepreneurial programs in the community, including the SBTDC, TechTown, Ann Arbor SPARK, Automation Alley and more
• What’s Your Role in a Startup?
• Pitch & Comment—A facilitated session where people with ideas pitch to the group and get constructive feedback
• Money Tables—Providing information on bootstrapping, raising money, and grants, plus a roundtable discussion on funding your idea
Attendees will have the opportunity to sign up that day for FastTrac®, award-winning programs for entrepreneurs designed by the Kauffman Foundation. Three FastTrac® programs, which will be delivered over several days or weeks, will be available locally immediately following the event:
• First Step FastTrac®—The desired outcome of this program is a written feasibility plan that helps you determine if your idea can be turned into a profitable business, and whether the life of an entrepreneur is right for you.
• FastTrac® NewVenture™—Designed specifically for entrepreneurs in the early stages of business development, this program helps you uncover answers and determine which questions to ask.
• FastTrac® TechVenture™—Take an analytical look at your business and discover what you need to consider in starting, operating, funding or growing a technology- or life sciences-based company.
The event is free, but registration is required. Only 500 spots are available, so early registration is strongly encouraged. Lunch will be provided.
An agenda, a complete list of breakout session topics and a link to the registration page can be found at http://wayne.edu/fasttrac/.
The community is pulling together to help refocus the talents of the unemployed and underemployed. FastTrac to the Future events are managed by TechTown. Support for this event is provided by Ann Arbor SPARK, Automation Alley, BBC etc., Bizdom U, Crain’s Detroit Business, Detroit Micro-Enterprise Fund, Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest, Entrepreneurial Initiative of Southeast Michigan, MichBio, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center, Microsoft BizSpark, MIT Forum, the New Enterprise Forum, NextEnergy, Oakland County, SCORE, Shorebank Enterprise Detroit, TIE-Detroit and Wayne State University.
The Kauffman Foundation is a key partner in FastTrac to the Future, providing resources and speakers for the event.
FastTrac to the Future is the first stage of the $9.25 million program funded by the New Economy Initiative, announced May 18. In partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, the program will assist automotive suppliers and advance entrepreneurship in Detroit.
“We are setting out to help establish 400 new companies in the next three years,” TechTown Executive Director Randal Charlton said. “That is a very ambitious goal, but if we are successful on this scale, we will have a major impact on the economy of Detroit and Southeast Michigan. This grand experiment can help lead Detroit and Michigan out of recession and provide an example to the rest of America of the way to rebuild our economy.”
ABOUT THE NEW ECONOMY INITIATIVE FOR SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN
The New Economy Initiative is one of the nation’s most expansive philanthropic partnerships dedicated to economic transformation in the region hardest hit by manufacturing job loss and the global economic crisis. NEI includes $100 million in funding commitments from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (Detroit), the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation (Southfield, Mich.), the Ford Foundation (New York), the Hudson-Webber Foundation (Detroit), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Battle Creek, Mich.), the John S. and James L .Knight Foundation (Miami), The Kresge Foundation (Troy, Mich.), the McGregor Fund (Detroit), the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (Flint, Mich.), and the Skillman Foundation (Detroit). The 10 participating foundations are leading the implementation and governance of the Initiative. The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, which initiated the collaborative, is serving as its administrative home.
TechTown is an urban community of entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and corporate partners creating an internationally influential village in Detroit. TechTown brings the resources of Wayne State University to high-technology startup companies so as to diversify and strengthen Michigan’s economy in high-growth emerging industries. For more information, visit www.techtownwsu.org
ABOUT THE KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to grow economies and improve human welfare. Through its research and other initiatives, the Kauffman Foundation aims to open young people’s eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, promote entrepreneurship education, raise awareness of entrepreneurship-friendly policies, and find alternative pathways for the commercialization of new knowledge and technologies. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has approximately $2 billion in assets.