A decade or so ago, nobody could really tell where Detroit was heading. A major shifting in the automotive industry left the Motor City in confused state, and the effects of the recession were evident in every part of the city. Foreclosures on homes and commercial properties became an everyday occurance, leaving a path of abandonment that was felt by those in the city – and even those in the surrounding metro area. Times were troubling and the future looked bleak. Many wouldn’t have predicted that the city known for its automotive manufacturing would break one day breakout as Detroit Startup City. When everyone was packing up and leaving the city in droves, no one would have guessed that it would one day be a place where investors flock to invest hundreds of millions of dollars, or that it would one day be a hub of new tech innovations. Detroit startups are driving the city forward, and if you’ve chosen Detroit as the headquarters for your tech startup – you’ve chosen the right place.
Why You Should Launch In Detroit
For us at ThinkLions, there is nothing that makes us prouder than serving Detroit startups. While our business plan writers and app developers have served clients around the world, there’s always something special about working with awesome entrepreneurs right in our city. Amazing things are taking place in Detroit, startups everywhere are taking notice – and we love being a part of that.
Why are so many startups now migrating to the Motor City? The simple answer is – because Detroit startups are smart and they see the many advantages to launching and operating here. With a seemingly endless number of benefits, there is major value in being a part of the Detroit startup scene. Some of the major advantages to launching your tech startup in Detroit include:
- Office Space is Cheaper: In most metro areas, office space can be ridiculously expensive; and for a startup, rent can be one of their largest fixed expenses. Detroit startups however, are able to access cheaper office space than most metro areas around the nation. Although rent prices are on the incline in recent years, there is still plenty of vacant office space all throughout Detroit where rent is super affordable for a new startup. Not ready to take on a full office space of your own? Maybe you’d be interested in joining one of the many many co-op and shared workspaces like Bamboo, WeWork, Regus or SpaceLab. There are also several startup and app incubators that you can join to help move your startup forward like SPARK (nearby Ann Arbor) and Techstars Mobility.
- It’s Where The Investors Are: Ever since Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert began investing millions and millions into the downtown Detroit area several years ago, investors have been flocking to get in on the action. From real estate to startups, investors are now buying into any and everything Detroit-based that can provide a great return. According to a new report by Michigan Venture Capital Association, there are 35 active venture-backed Detroit startups representing 25% of the startup companies currently growing in Michigan. While 2009 brought in a whopping $131 million in total venture capital investment – this was minimal in comparison to the $222 million that was invested into Michigan startups in 2016.
- The Talent Is Immense: There was never a question of whether talent lives in Detroit; just flip through the Billboards Top 100 anywhere from the 60s through the mid-70s and you’ll see that the city isn’t referred to as the Motown for nothing – real talent lives here. From amazing artists and musicians to incredible marketing firms and app developers; there are thousands of top-notch talent providers that can help you progress your startup.
- You’ll Love The Scene: One of the best things about being a Detroit startup is working in Detroit. Downtown is buzzing with awesome new restaurants, museums and exhibits, fairs and festivals, and things to do. Any Detroit startup owner in the downtown area will tell you – there is always something awesome to check out, whether it’s the food trucks on Campus Martius or the city’s beautiful architecture.
Why Detroit? Detroit startups get the rare chance to be a part of something new. Sure, you can run to Silicon Valley and be a small fish in a huge pond of sharks; or you can be a part of Detroit startup success and build your business here while the opportunity is super advantageous and the resources are thick for any new startup.
Who’s Leading The Detroit Tech Startup Scene?
There are hundreds of startups now operating in Detroit; many of which are growing rapidly and helping Detroit progress it’s startup tech scene. We’d love to go through and give a spotlight to all of them, but here are 3 of our favorite standout Detroit startups!
Greenlancer is an awesome Detroit startup that “facilitate[s] the design and fulfillment of permit-ready plan sets for the solar industry.” The startup uses proprietary technology and their network of engineers to help clients design and sell clean energy systems. Providing services like feasibility studies, concept designs and permit packages, Greenlancer uses standardized templates and workflows to create solar design documents. With a network of qualified freelance green energy designers and engineers (or “Greenlancers”), the platform manages all information as it passes from each each expert until the documents are completed.
Greenlancer has raised over $5.5 million in investor funding to date from 5 investors over 2 funding rounds.
BoostUp’s mission is to “remove the anxiety associated with life’s biggest purchases”. Using automatic deposits and purchase roundups, BoostUp allows users to quickly save up for big purchases like cars or homes. Furthermore, this Detroit startup has several partnerships with major brands like Hyundai and Quicken Loans who dollar match for discounts up to a certain amount.
BoostUp has raised around $1.7 million during 3 investment rounds.
This startup helps businesses transform employees and customers into brand ambassadors. Located in Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit (and the Ambassador Bridge), Ambassador allows businesses to incentivize those who refer their friends and associates from social networks. Ambassador has served several high profile customers like PayPal, Spotify and Progresso, among others.
Since inception, Ambassador has raised $5.2 million over four rounds of funding.
Is Detroit Right For Your Startup?
Yes… but maybe I’m biased – I grew up here, I live here and I run a business here. The true answer is, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking to be in a super established cut-throat market where thousands upon thousands of startups are pitching a handful of investors, check out Silicon Valley or New York – Detroit doesn’t have that vibe. Detroit is a place where startups are working together towards the goal, all fighting to get Detroit on the map; and to succeed as innovators while doing it. Low rent, a buzzing startup scene… these are only a few of the many benefits of being a Detroit startup, but being a part of the camaraderie of a rapidly growing startup economy, that’s the quality you won’t find anywhere else.
When you get here and start setting up shop – make sure to contact me, I’d love to have a coffee and learn more about your company! And of course, if you’re launching an app startup, give us a call – we’ve helped dozens of app startups raise millions of dollars and launch their innovative app tech through our business consultancy and app development services. If you have an app idea, and especially if you’re a Detroit startup (but even if you aren’t) — we’d love to help you bring it to life. Contact us today and let’s discuss your project.