Xconomy is Looking for Detroit Innovation Champions

9/11/13Follow @XconomyDET

In 2010, Xconomy opened its fourth news bureau in Detroit, joining Boston, Seattle, and San Diego. Even though this was a time when record numbers of global media were parachuting into town and writing stories showcasing “ruin porn” and what they deemed as the hopelessness of the Motor City’s plight, Xconomy had a different mission in mind.

“Regular readers of Xconomy will recognize right away that Detroit doesn’t outwardly have the hallmarks of the other innovation clusters we cover,” founder and editor in chief Bob Buderi wrote in Xconomy Detroit’s inaugural post. “But the innovation story playing out in Michigan is just as important, and in fact, the stakes may be far higher … we think that by better telling the stories of entrepreneurs and innovators—be they at startups or automakers and other public companies, and be they stories of success or failure—we can help cultivate a culture of innovation that will help keep talent in the state.”

We have worked tirelessly in the three years since we launched to fulfill that mission. Every day, we capture the on-the-ground efforts of local innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors in metro Detroit. We also spend a lot of time in Ann Arbor, covering its remarkable innovation cluster and the commercialization of exciting research coming out of the University of Michigan. In so doing, we’re helping in our own way to build ties and foster collaborations along the Southeast Michigan innovation corridor and, perhaps more importantly, to bring word of what’s happening in Michigan’s major innovation communities to hundreds of thousands of Xconomy readers across our national network and around the world.

We see this as critically important, and something that is unique about Xconomy. Although we have a growing readership in Michigan, because of our expanding network, more than two-thirds of the readers of Xconomy Detroit stories live outside of the state. We believe that, more than any other news organization, we are spreading the word of the local entrepreneurship and innovation movement to readers in major innovation clusters across the U.S. and abroad—and telling more of the real story about what is happening in Detroit.

Yet this coverage is in danger. Back in 2010 when Xconomy Detroit launched, it was largely thanks to the underwriting support of major philanthropic organizations—support that was limited in duration and which has now come to an end. It is hard to continue on and grow without that support. But we are reluctant to scale back our efforts in Southeast Michigan, or to curtail the hard work we’ve been doing to bring our readers important stories about Michigan’s economic revitalization.

Instead, we’re going to try a crowdfunding approach similar to a very successful effort we launched earlier this year to help establish our Boulder/Denver bureau. We are, of course, continuing our normal sales efforts with large companies. But through the Xconomy Detroit Innovation Champions initiative we are reaching out to startups, other smaller companies, and even individuals who believe in our mission but may not have the marketing budget to take part in our normal offerings. We are hoping that these folks can help us continue our coverage by contributing a small amount: just $1,000 or $2,500. In return, we will highlight the companies’ and individuals’ logos and names on our site and offer free tickets to public events and admission to private gatherings, among other benefits. Please go to the Xconomy Detroit Innovation Champions page for more details, and, hopefully, to contribute.

I hope many of you can join this grassroots initiative, not only to build support for Xconomy Detroit but also to help us strengthen the ties that hold the Michigan startup community together and build connections with other hubs of entrepreneurship and invention. We want to keep documenting Southeast Michigan’s innovation and rebirth so we can continue to tell the world the amazing things that are happening here.

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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