TechTown’s New $5M Fund Only a Baby Step for FastTrac Entrepreneurs

4/23/10

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of them will fail. The $5 million? At $50,000 per company, that will pay for “100 bets, if you will,” he says.

And that $50,000 only gets them to the next stage. That will get their websites up and running, get them some basic market research, and cover attorneys fees and some of the other fundamentals of getting a business going. TechTown hosts companies targeting a wide range of industries.

“We’ve entertained students with ideas ranging from medical supply and logistics companies, to organic markets, PR firms, and digital Web designs companies,” says TechTown spokeswoman Nichole Christian. “More than half of the people who enroll in our courses come through via the new venture course, a 10-week-session designed for individuals with little more than an idea. Through the course work, the idea morphs into an actual business plan.”

TechTown has seen 1,300 people go through its doors for training since FastTrac was established about a year ago. Of those, 730 have graduated and are ready to set up companies. Another 600 are entering right now and about 100 serious inquiries for training come in every month.

“Take those numbers and you can see that we need to identify really significant sources for funding way beyond this $5 million,” Charlton says.

In late March, Charlton was looking to put together an angel network of high-net-worth people in Southeast Michigan, with the goal of raising a $25 million fund.

At the same time, he was also looking at how Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm will follow through with an agreement she made with the Michigan Credit Union League to provide about $43 million in loans to companies that have gone through the FastTrac programs.

“That would be a major step in the right direction,” Charlton says.

Charlton says that he would not say that he is “confident” additional funding will come through. Instead, “I would say we have no choice.”

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