TechTown Hosts First “MITX Up Detroit” For Startups

11/13/12Follow @XconomyDET

The Boston-based Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX), a trade organization representing the digital marketing and IT communities, will expand its programming outside of Boston for the first time with a MITX Up Detroit event that it’s hosting with Wayne State incubator TechTown tonight.

“We wanted to go to a place that wasn’t getting all the headlines; an exciting place, but not as loud as New York or San Francisco,” explains MITX president Debi Kleiman of the decision to come to Detroit. “We wanted to go where entrepreneurs had their heads down working super hard and give those guys some extra help.”

MITX Up events in Boston have become very popular, and the organizers wanted to see what happened if they took them on the road. Prior to the event, MITX (pronounced “My-tex”) reached out to Google, a company it works with often in Boston, for suggestions of an incubator to team up with in the Motor City. Google suggested TechTown, and MITX screened TechTown startups for participation and matched them with local marketing and communications professionals recruited by Digitas and TechTown.

MITX Up Detroit will be sort of a meet up-hackathon hybrid. The selected Detroit startups Pill Pouch, RegainGo, TSP Enterprises, and University Pharmacy will break off into meeting rooms with the marketing professionals for approximately two hours of discussion, in which the startups will receive real-time marketing, communications, and business development ideas. There is no expectation of an ongoing relationship between the startups and the marketers they’re paired with, although Kleiman says that does sometimes happen.

Kleiman points out that MITX’s philosophy is that if startups get marketing mentorship early, they have a much better chance of really taking off. “It’s a marriage of the innovation economy and the creative economy,” she says about the Detroit event, noting that a lot of founders don’t realize how much help they need with marketing. “They get free access to marketing experts from different parts of the marketing world, and they get great advice on moving forward.”

Kleiman says that depending on how tonight’s event goes, she’s very hopeful that this will be the first of many MITX Up Detroit events in the future. The eventual goal is to work with all of the accelerators and incubators in Southeast Michigan and to catch the startups when they’re at the mid-cycle point of their incubation.

Beyond helping startups succeed, Kleiman says the strength of MITX Up events is that they plug people with a lot to add—marketers, mainly—into the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which might not happen otherwise. “They get to experience how wonderful it is, and they might become an entrepreneur or an investor themselves. It exposes a whole new group of people, and that’s something we really need.”

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

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