Motor City Meetup: A Startup Hotbed In The Making

We had a blast, Detroit. Thanks for having us.

On a brisk November night the city of Detroit — no, the entire Detroit region — turned out for our first Meetup in the Motor City. We took over all four floors of Hockeytown Cafe. The crowd was as eclectic as the area: app builders, makers, curious onlookers, seasoned entrepreneurs, and a surprising amount of venture capitalists, who are seemingly hungry to find (and fund) Detroit’s savior.

We spent just two days in Michigan. We meet with close to 50 companies/entrepreneurs at office hours held in Detroit and Ann Arbor. It’s very clear that there’s something special happening in the area. Compared to other cities, the VC money seems to flow a bit easier with better terms and the talent pool is incredible. Plus, you can essentially buy a skyscraper with lunch money.

The area’s goal seems to be retention. Michigan’s universities churn out hardworking talent at a rapid pace — and then people leave the state. University of Michigan is right down the road from Detroit; Michigan State is a bit farther to the north. There’s Wayne State, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, and the amazing Kettering University in Flint, MI. Just holding onto 5% of this talent base would do wonders for Detroit and Michigan as a whole.

This meetup was personal for me. I live in Michigan. Born, raised, and still residing just outside the city Flint, MI, I understand the pains of Michigan. But I also understand its many strengths. It was important to me to bring the scattered, often-beaten tech community under one roof, even if just for one night.

That’s the goal of all of our meetups from the tiny (but awesome) Greenville, SC meetup to the 1,200 people who turned out for Atlanta. There isn’t another tech event like a TechCrunch Meetup and Detroit made me proud to be a Michigander.

We’re wrapping our Northern tour tonight in Chicago. Come on out, talk startups, and have a great time.

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