TechTown Hires Paul Riser Jr. to Run Tech-Based Entrepreneurship
Last week, the Detroit-based business accelerator TechTown announced it had hired Paul Riser Jr. as its new managing director of technology-based entrepreneurship. Riser replaces Charlie Moret, who left earlier this year to lead the new nonprofit Invest Michigan, which manages the Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0.
Riser has an extensive background as an entrepreneur, information officer, systems engineer, and technology executive. He’s worked with startups as well as global entities, most recently serving as chief technology and information officer for Innovative Health Technologies, a Detroit biotech startup focused on biomimetic medical devices. Riser has also run his own technology consulting firm, Riser Group, for the past 12 years. He’s a founding member of the Legacy Associates Foundation and serves on the board for B.L.A.C. magazine, New Detroit Coalition, and Detroit Youth Connection.
“The collage of my past experiences has made me well-suited for this position—from IT to social entrepreneurship to entrepreneurial technology consulting,” Riser says. “Most recently, I’ve been involved in the process of capturing ideation and moving it to market. I can bring value to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs in order to vet their ideas and connect them to the right resources.”
Riser says that though he feels TechTown has done a “phenomenal” job building programs like SWOT City and the Labs Venture Accelerator, he plans to come in and analyze what works. “Some things don’t need breaking, but there’s always the opportunity for new ideas and innovation,” he adds. “Not enough people know about this gem, and I want to get the word out.”
Riser says he and TechTown CEO Leslie Smith have explicitly discussed ways to make sure the incubator’s clientele represents Detroit’s demographics. TechTown feels very strongly about inclusion, he says, whether it’s finding opportunities to place tech startups in up-and-coming neighborhoods outside of the downtown area, or solving Detroit’s challenges through technology. Riser says he also wants to do a better job reaching out to communities of color, women, and other groups traditionally underrepresented in the tech startup ecosystem.
Riser, a Detroit native who’s the son of one of Motown’s legendary Funk Brothers, emphasizes that, above all, his door is always open to entrepreneurs in the community: “We want people to be aware of what we’re doing and the resources available to them.”