Do you have a killer business idea, a passion for Detroit, and a desire to impact and interact with
the community around you? There has never been a better time or place to launch a dream than in Detroit
at this very minute, and we want to help. Let’s build a business together. You and us. And him, and her,
and all their friends. We call it “crowd entrepreneurship,” and we think it is exactly what the D needs right
now. It is about engaging people, pooling ideas, talents and resources, and helping to “hatch” and support
businesses that will truly have a community impact. And did we mention that there is $50,000 in startup
capital up for grabs?
On Thursday, May 26, we launched our “early stage” Hatch Detroit website
(www.twitter.com/#!/HatchDetroit). The first step of the plan starts with the builders, dreamers and doers.
Beginning on July 1, 2011 and continuing for two months, we are calling all would-be entrepreneurs and
potential business owners to submit their ideas and business plans. We aren’t talking high-tech businesses
here. We want the bricks and mortar retail stores that are at the core of a vibrant downtown
neighborhood. Always wanted to open a coffee shop? Yoga studio? Home goods store? Art gallery? Tell
us—or better yet, show us. Do it any way you want. Send us a video, write us a letter, paint us a picture.
Be creative, be concise, and be persuasive! Make sure to give us the details of the business you want to
build, why it is important to the D, and why it will succeed. Remember, you are pitching your dream to
Detroiters and Detroiters-at-heart around the world. This is your shot.
Step two is where the fun really begins. A panel of business leaders, community leaders, and
visionaries will pick the 16 ideas that we think have the best chance of making Detroit a better, more
diverse, and more vibrant place to live. We will post the plans—and more importantly the people behind
the plans—on our sites for the world to see. Ask questions and poke holes in the ideas, and we’ll post the
responses directly from the participants.
Step three is all about engaging the community. Detroiters near and far will vote for their favorite
profiles, and will tell their friends to vote too. Early and often. After three weeks of voting, we’ll narrow it
down to eight semi-finalists, based on a combination of the public votes and the panel votes. The eight will
post videos that describe why they love Detroit, what they see for the future, and how their business will
positively impact the city and its neighborhoods. We’ll all vote again and narrow it down to the final four.
The ultimate challenge of this whole process is the Hatch-Off. The four finalists will get in front of a
panel of national and local judges for a five-minute pitch presentation followed by a Q&A session with the
panel and the audience. We’ll do it live at one of the D’s most vibrant hot spots. The whole shebang will be
streamed live for the world to see. From there, the voters and the panel will select whose dream we want
to make come true.
This isn’t your run of the mill contest, and we don’t see there being only one winner. We will be
promoting the plans and dreams of sixteen people to the world. Our sixteen contestants have an open mic
to talk to potential partners and investors, gain priceless feedback on their ideas, and interact and engage
with the community around them. In reality, everyone wins.
That said, we will award $50,000 to the idea that the voters think is most likely to have the biggest
impact on the revitalization of a neighborhood in Detroit. The money must be used to build the business in
Detroit within a specified time. We will also provide support and guidance through the start-up process
and beyond. There are a few other strings attached, but probably not what you would think. The winner
must commit to buy local, employ locally, help his or her neighbors, and remember that he or she is part of
a much bigger vision and movement.
How Can You Contribute?
So you don’t have an idea you are ready to share, but you still want to be involved? On our website
and social media sites you can learn more about what you can do to help make sure this venture thrives.
Thanks to the generosity of several community members, we are well on our way to raising the $50,000
prize, but we need everyone’s help. Please consider donating money to this Hatch-Off, or future ones.
Since Hatch is in the process of incorporating as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, we hope that donations will be tax
This isn’t just about fundraising though. What other things can you do to help our new business
succeed? Will you provide a workable space/free rent? Can you offer free or discounted professional
services? Will you donate original artwork to decorate the new space? How about volunteering your time
and effort to clean up, landscape, paint, or drywall? This is truly “Crowd Entrepreneurship”—we want to
utilize all of our skills and abilities to support the new businesses that we put in place.
We are Ted Balowski and Nick Gorga, and Hatch Detroit is our non-profit. We are passionate about
Detroit, and we want to give everyone a chance to play a part in the continued revitalization of the city and
region we call home. We have no personal agenda and do not expect, and will not accept, any personal
gain from this. We simply want to provide opportunities to entrepreneurs that share our vision of
neighborhood growth and holistic, community support and development. Please join us.