Landmark Entrepreneurship Initiative Launched at Wayne State University’s “TechTown”


DETROIT, June 9, 2009 — A historic entrepreneurship initiative unfolding in the heart of the Motor City may become a model that can cities nationwide can replicate to spur America’s economic recovery over the next decade. On June 24, Wayne State University’s TechTown business incubator in Detroit, Michigan will host more than 500 prospective entrepreneurs for a free, day-long seminar called “FastTrac to the Future: The First Day of Your Entrepreneurial Adventure” at Wayne State’s Community Arts Auditorium from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Funded May 18, 2009 by the New Economy Initiative in partnership with the Kansas City-based Marion Ewing Kauffman Foundation, FastTrac® is a premiere business development program that has been operating for 15 years. More than 300,000 participants throughout the United States have been through the program. FastTrac® is comprised of quick, intensive 3-to-10 week training initiatives for unemployed or underemployed individuals seriously considering entrepreneurship instead of finding another job. It is estimated that 800 individuals will enter the Detroit FastTrac® program annually, creating 400 new start-ups per year over three years.

“As Michigan knows from its rich history, entrepreneurs are the base of our nation’s economic recovery during down times,” said Lesa Mitchell, Kauffman Foundation vice president for Advancing Innovation. “The Kauffman Foundation is dedicated to providing the expertise and tools that help people advance their talents and ideas towards building businesses and creating new jobs. With the nation’s highest unemployment rate, perhaps nowhere is this work more critical than here.”

Although the June 24 event is not a “job fair,” “FastTrac to the Future” will provide an interactive mechanism for the displaced, unemployed, underemployed and undecided to acquire the guidance and free resources they need to explore entrepreneurship. During “Curbside Consulting,” for example, every attendee is given an opportunity to pitch a new business idea to an expert in a relaxed, informal setting.

Attendees will benefit from the insights of local and national experts through sessions that address the challenges of starting a new business:

  • Topic 1: Intellectual Property Do’s & Don’ts, plus an introduction to I-Bridge
  • Topic 2: Facebook and Twitter and Blogs, Oh My! Profiting from Social Media
  • Topic 3: Organization Expo–Introductions to SBTDC, FastTrac, TechTown, Ann Arbor SPARK, Urban Entrepreneur Partnership, and more
  • Topic 4: Curbside Consulting–Got an idea for a new business? Come spend a few minutes with some startup experts.
  • Topic 5: Money Tables–Bootstrapping, raising money, grants; roundtable discussion on funding your idea
  • Topic 6: Pitch & Comment–A facilitated session where people with ideas pitch to the group and get constructive comments, feedback and maybe even team members!
  • Topic 7: Anatomy of a Startup–Diversity Dogs Hotdog Stand
  • Topic 8: What’s Your Role in a Startup? Find your place.
  • Topic 9: Clean Tech Energy–Entrepreneurial Opportunities
  • Topic 10: Medical Technology–Entrepreneurial Opportunities
  • Topic 11: Logistics–Entrepreneurial Opportunities
  • Topic 12: FastTrac Programs Overview

Attendees can indicate their desire to continue with the FastTrac® process by signing up for award-winning courses, designed by the Kauffman Foundation and delivered over a period of several days or weeks, including:

  • 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.

“FastTrac to the Future: The First Day of Your Entrepreneurial Adventure” on June 24 includes lunch and is free and open to the public.  Registration is required and early registration is recommended as space is limited.

An agenda, a complete list of breakout session topics and a link to the registration page can be found at A FastTrac to the Future Web page will be available shortly on the TechTown Web site with updates on the conference, including confirmed speakers.

Support for this event is being provided by TechTown, Great Lakes Angels, Ann Arbor SPARK, Ann Arbor Boot Camp, Cantillon, Entrepreneurial Initiative of Southeast Michigan, MIT Forum, the New Enterprise Forum, NextEnergy, Automation Alley, ConnecTech, the Small Business and Technology Development Center, SCORE, Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest, Wayne State University, Biotechnology Business Consultants, Detroit Micro-Enterprise Fund, Shorebank Enterprise Detroit, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, TiE-Detroit, Mid States Capital, Microsoft, Bizdom U and MichBio. New partners are being added every day.


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

About 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.

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. It also works to prepare students to be innovators, entrepreneurs and skilled workers in the 21st century economy through initiatives designed to improve learning in math, engineering, science and technology. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has more than $1.8 billion in assets. More information, visit <>, and follow the Foundation on

Wayne State University is a premier urban research university offering more than 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 31,000 students.

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