DTX Launch Teaches Young Grads Entrepreneurial Skills

Opinion

TechTown Detroit—in partnership with Bizdom, Invest Detroit, the Detroit Creative Corridor Center, the Henry Ford Innovation Institute, NextEnergy, and Techstars Mobility—recently ran the 2015 DTX Launch Detroit program, a 10-week summer accelerator for college students and recent graduates aspiring to launch a technology startup. This year’s cohort comprised 11 teams, with 26 participants from 10 Michigan universities.

DTX Launch Detroit’s core curriculum is based on The Startup Owner’s Manual, a step-by-step business development guide written by famed serial entrepreneurs Steve Blank and Bob Dorf. The key focus of the program is for the teams to speak with potential customers for their products (before building them!) to discover if there is a real market need. This is a proven process, one used by the National Science Foundation (NSF) iCorps program, and it has been shown to dramatically increase the likelihood that the business will become successful.

In addition to the core curriculum, each week, the cohort met with different experts from a variety of different fields, from successful entrepreneurs to lawyers to marketers. According to Paul Riser, TechTown’s Managing Director of Entrepreneurial Services, the engagement of experts from all over southeast Michigan demonstrates the collaborative nature of the program and speaks to the potential future growth of the region.

As the culmination of the DTX Launch Detroit program, TechTown Detroit hosted the DTX Launch Detroit Showcase event on July 30. Approximately 200 people attended, with visitors coming from as far away as Kalamazoo.

At the showcase, each of the 11 teams made a seven-minute presentation and received feedback from a panel of experts. Following is a very short summary of each team’s product/service:

Assistive Robotics: A stability-enhancing lift device that aids a person in standing with their own power from a seated position in the therapist’s office.

CarePRN: A trusted digital marketplace providing easy, immediate access to certified in-home care professionals in moments of crisis.

COSA: An online collective of student artists’ portfolios to advance their art careers.

DineRoll: A community-focused marketing platform for driving new business to local restaurants through food events.

MySwimPro: A mobile application that delivers individualized swim training and tracking for master swimmers and triathletes who are focused on improving their performance and health.

Optis Creative: A video game crowdfunding service that protects donors, also known as backers, by overseeing development and financing of funded projects.

RealTime: A platform for college students to create and find local pop up events.

SteerPeer: A mobile platform that matches college students with peer tutors.

Student Connect: An app that allows international students to get their non-academic questions answered faster than contacting an advisor.

Syntheslide: An inexpensive digital pathology solution that allows pathology staff to scan and share microscope slides with their smartphone to help remotely diagnose patients.

The Broke App: A mobile, personal finance tool that allows banks to reach and teach college students how to build wealth for the future based on their current spending habits.

Two of the teams received awards at the event: The Broke App, which received the Get Set Award , given to the team that did the best job preparing for the event; and CarePRN, which received the On Your Mark award, given to the team that is best focused, sharp, and knows the goal/finish line.

Gerry Roston serves as the CEO of Civionics, a University of Michigan startup that delivers intelligent sensor-based systems to manufacturers to help them minimize unplanned downtime; and as an Executive-in-Residence at TechTown Detroit, where he helps entrepreneurs transition their ideas into sustainable businesses. Follow @techtowndetroit

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