PowerMoves@Detroit Sees Fertile Ground to Seed Inclusive Innovation

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to as a neighborhood boot camp—in Detroit, the catch-all phrase for the parts of the city not encompassed by the burgeoning downtown area is “the neighborhoods”—for 10 mom-and-pop retail businesses. This was done in partnership with the New Economy Initiative, Invest Detroit, and the DEGC.

The event also had a second boot camp for 17 pre-revenue tech startups from metro Detroit and beyond; participants spent six weeks doing online and conference call training plus three days of pitch preparation on the ground in Detroit, culminating in a demo day. The winners of both bootcamps, Ida Byrd-Hill ($10,000) and Warranty Ninja ($20,000), will head to the national summit in July to be held in New Orleans.

“There’s an incredible amount of entrepreneurial talent in Detroit thanks to a wealth of resources and impressive innovation economy,” Robinson said. “I hope what we’ve done has demonstrated the power and promise of an ecosystem inclusive to all Detroiters.”

Robinson, a longtime financial professional, feels it’s “investing 101” to understand that a diverse portfolio is inherently less risky than a non-diverse portfolio—and that diversity should encompass sectors, cities, gender, and ethnicity.

He also praised Morgan Stanley for getting involved in PowerMoves@Detroit, and lauded the evolution of the local participants in the boot camp. “I’m guessing a lot of them didn’t know what a customer acquisition plan was, or a business model competition,” he said. “Fast forward to now, and they’re in front of an audience pitching their businesses and eloquently talking about those things.”

Robinson said PowerMoves.NOLA and Morgan Stanley plan to continue their engagement with Detroit’s entrepreneurs in the future. “We’ve been discussing it with Bamboo Detroit and Invest Detroit, and we’re going to build something here that endures and is inclusive.” He said to expect the announcement of a Morgan Stanley-sponsored entrepreneurial fellowship in Detroit sometime in the next month or so.

Robinson agrees that Detroit has a unique opportunity to be a model city for minority entrepreneurs. “Detroit really has the chance to get it right,” he added. “You can build a city on cutting-edge technology with Fortune 500 companies and an incredibly diverse group of people innovating. My hope is that we can all partner together.”

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Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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