Margarita Barry Leads Army Of Young Entrepreneurs To Detroit
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money right away,” Simmons says.
But Ken Bloinks, another one of Barry’s Bizdom classmates, says Barry is not the type to sit on an idea.
“Her biggest asset is that she just goes out and gets things done,” Bloinks, a Detroit-area tech entrepreneur. “A lot of times we take too long thinking of an idea and trying to figure out every possible outcome, but she just does it and reacts to feedback.”
So far, I Am Young Detroit has done well enough for Barry to focus on it full time. She is also working to launch 71 POP, a space that will feature emerging Detroit artists and designers on a rotating basis.
“The difficult part is taking something that’s very niche and turning it into something that can sustain itself,” she says.
For innovative young people, Detroit is a place of opportunity, Barry says, an idea that might surprise people who read about the city’s woes. Detroit boasts cheap land, plenty of government and non-profit help, and a growing technology scene thanks to Compuware and Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, who’s creating an incubator and venture capital fund to support high tech startups.
“We’re going from this industrial based economy to something that’s more new and exciting,” Barry says. “Many entrepreneurs starting from scratch here, they feel like because of the collapsed automotive industry, you kind of are forced to take things upon yourself and create your own opportunities.”
Barry’s vision is starting to take hold, says Hajj Flemings,[An earlier version misspelled Flemings’ last name. We regret the error.] the founder of Brand Camp University an organization that hopes to train entrepreneurs in personal branding.
Flemings, who initially connected with Barry via social networking sites, compared I am Young Detroit to the famed Chrysler 200 Super Bowl ad featuring rapper Eminem, saying both offered a genuine image the city could be proud of.
“She’s helping to create a different narrative for the city of Detroit,” Flemings says. “I think she’s able to connect to the community with an authentic story; it has the ability to be able to take flight because now the story is very sharable.”
He says the site gives voice to younger residents, an important demographic that’s often marginalized by older politicians in charge of the city’s revitalization.
“They want to attract and retain young talent, but you need young talent to be a part of that conversation,” he says. “She’s become a voice that people respect and there’s quality in terms of what she does.”