Weekly Resource #43 NEIdeas

NEIStart up businesses get a lot of love in the funding world. We’ve covered such things fairly extensively in previous blog posts. But what about the established businesses that need help growing? It can be hard to come by extra cash to push your business to the next level. NEI is here to help with that. In an effort to cater to the established businesses that have been a part of Detroit for years, NEI has launched a new funding initiative called NEIdeas.

A total of $500,000 is ripe for the taking. 30 businesses will receive $10,000 each and two businesses will receive $100,000 each. These two levels of funding are determined by the size of business entering. Businesses that are eligible for the $10,000 grants cannot have an annual gross of over $1 Million. Furthermore, to be eligible for the $100,000 award, businesses must gross over 1$ million and under $5 million annually. Check out the guidelines to see if your business meets the other criteria required for entry into the program.

You can submit your application online or by mail. It will be extremely beneficial to read over the NEIdeas’ website carefully and review the eligibility criteria as well as the fine details of the program. Craig Fahle has recorded a very informative interview with Dave Egner of NEI and Olga Stella of the DEGC regarding the program on his WDET show. Acceptance of applications opens May 8.

Weekly Resource #42 2014 Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

logoIf you are a social entrepreneur in the process of starting a new venture, Michigan Corps has a competition for you! This State-wide competition is meant to provide visibility and resources to it’s participants. Prizes for this competition consist of a cash prize ranging from $1,000-$5,000, admission to Michigan Corps’ social impact investment fellowship, and entrepreneur support services. Check out the list of awards for more detailed descriptions.

You can register for this event on the Michigan Corps website or by clicking here. Registration is open until April 30th but you don’t need all of your materials completed and ready to submit by then. Submission of your business plan is not due until May 30th. Templates and guidelines will be released on Michigan Corps’s website in the near future to help you with meeting these deadlines and submitting a business plan that best suites the competition. Keep tabs on the events page of Michigan Corp’s website to stay up to date with the competition and to attend helpful webinars and seminars that will help you with your business plan.

Weekly Resource #40 Business USA’s Veteran’s Resources

CaptureAs we here at InsYght know all to well, resources can be hard to come by for those who don’t know where to look for them. This results in many resources being underutilized and in some cases, completely ignored. As you probably know, Our goal is to connect entrepreneurs with the resources they need. Although our new system for this is under construction, other organizations have had the same idea of bringing entrepreneurs relevant resources based on their needs. In particular, Business USA has set up tool for business resources that are meant for veteran business owners and entrepreneurs.

The tool is extremely easy to use. To start, click here, and then follow the instructions on the next 4 pages. You will be asked to specify you veteran status and what type of resource you are looking for, be it funding, marketing, counseling etc. How you navigated through the first 4 pages will determine what will populate the final page. This page is the one with all of the results. Divided up into three board categories, “programs. services, and tools”, you can decide for yourself to focus on one or all of these resource types. The resources listed on this page are automatically selected based on how you answered the previous questions. Clicking on an individual resource will reveal some detailed information on it and most importantly, a URL where the resource exists. Another helpful source of information is the “similar programs” and the “similar services” sections of the resource detail page. This can help direct you to another place to look for what you need if the initial results you received did not fulfill your search.

Weekly Resource #39 MMIC Crowd Camp

rockethub-logo-squareCrowd camp is back! This time in Detroit. Brought to you by the MMIC, Grand Circus, Grow Detroit, yours truly, and The co-founders of Rockethub, Crowd camp is a weekend long crowd funding workshop. Co-founders of Rockethub Gustavo Rodriguez and Brian Meece will lead this workshop as they continue their crusade of empowering entrepreneurs to realize their funding aspirations through crowd funding.

This workshop will focus on the perks-based system of crowd funding which is based around increasing levels of perks being awarded to donors based on the amount of money they donate. This is opposed to an equity-based model of donations which will also be touched on briefly. It is encouraged to come with a business plan already laid out. This is not a business development workshop and you will gain much more from it if you come prepared with a plan that can be ready to launch as a crowd funding campaign come Sunday.

The workshop begins Friday, February 28th and ends on Sunday march 2nd. Although it is not required to attend all three days, it is highly encouraged. Like anything in life, the more you put into this workshop, the more you will get out of it. You may even get your idea funded!

Click here for more info and to learn how to register.

Update: Use the Promo code “Partner” when you are registering. The cost of the event will fall from $99 to $54 for the weekend-long event.

Weekly Resource #37 Junction 440

getlogoWe’ve covered incubators before, specifically, the University of Michigan’s Incubator in Flint. I always enjoy hearing about new incubators, which seems to be happening more and more regularly as of late. Incubators are popping up left and right to cater to all of the different business areas that you may find yourself entering as an entrepreneur. One Incubator that caught my eye was Junction 440, Techtown’s most recent addition to their collection of business resources.  Junction 440 is new, exciting, and most importantly, extremely valuable to those of you who need to rent office space to conduct your business.

Sporting an awesome looking, Google-Esq.  open floor-plan, plenty of rooms to invite your clients to, and in-office bike racks, this incubation space will satisfy the needs of many entrepreneurs. This is a fully equipped office space so you can expect the basic amenities that the modern office worker enjoys; freshly brewed coffee, printers, scanners, and Wi-Fi just to name a few. All of this is brought to you at pricing designed to fit into a small business’ limited budget. Multiple pricing plans are available based on your resource needs and your planned frequency of use. You can purchase day passes if you need to wow some clients for a meeting or, if like me, you find it hard concentrating at home and you need a more regular place to conduct business, monthly plans are available.


Weekly Resource #36 DTX Launch Detroit

One of my favorite things to do while listening to lectures in my business class, besides diligently taking notes of course, is thinking of ways to apply whatever is being talked about to “the real world.” These in-class brainstorming sessions provide an ample distraction for those less stimulating lectures and I often find that I come up with my best ideas while doing this. Many people say they think of good ideas while showering. For me, a boring class has the same effect. If you’re anything like me, you probably have one or two business ideas that you really like that could feasibly become a successful business. Well, If your idea is for a technology start up, clear your summer schedule because there is an accelerator for you to make that idea into a reality.

DTX Launch Detroit is 10-week, highly competitive, accelerator for College undergrads and recent graduates aspiring to launch a technology start-up. The course focuses on teaching entrepreneurial teams the skills and knowledge they need to develop their business. This will be done by exploring markets, developing business models, finding customers, and acquiring resources, just to name a few topics of discussion. Due to the intensive nature of the course, it is required that you are able to make the 10 weeks of this course a full-time commitment.

In order to be eligible, your team must be made up of current students of a Michigan college, Michigan residents attending an out-of-state college or university; and/or Michigan residents who graduated from a college or university within the last two years. At least two of these members must be able to participate in the program full time. You can find the application and additional information about DTX launch Detroit here. Registration is open until March 14th and the program begins May 28th.


Weekly Resource #35 Macomb-OU Export Series 2014

macomb ouHappy 2014! With a new year, there is always a roll out of new and updated resources from the many different providers from around the state. As part of this push, Macomb-OU Incubator has released the 2014 dates for their Export Series. Starting January 9th and continuing every Thursday until January 30th, This series of classes will cover many different topics regarding exporting.

The first class in the series titled, Market Entrance: Establishment of Local Sales Agency Relationships will discuss the legalities involved in conducting business with international partners and the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. Understanding the importance of local distribution relationships is the topic of the second class. The third class continues on to educate on how to set up subsidiaries, their employees, and utilizing them to the fullest to conduct trade outside of US borders. The series wraps up with a fourth class on the different forms of foreign joint venture including the advantages and disadvantages of having a local partner and the legal terms common to this relationship.

These classes are intended for experience entrepreneurs who are hoping to build a market overseas for their new or existing business. Visit Macomb OU’s website for more information and to register.

Weekly Resource #34 GROW Entrepreneure Training

logoGrand Rapids Opportunities for Women was established in 1989 and has  grown into a promising resource for people of all ages, ethnicity, genders, and incomes to utilize in order to pursue a goal of financial independence through entrepreneurship. This non Profit offers many resources ranging from entrepreneur training to financial support and networking. I’ll be focusing on the entrepreneur training resources that GROW offers in this weeks weekly Resource.

Firstly, if you are planning on attending any GROW classes, it is encouraged that you first attend an “Intro to GROW” event. This is a free orientation to familiarize you with  GROW and it’s programs. Some of GROW’s courses require this as a prerequisite so it is a good idea to attend this hour long introduction.

Start Smart is the most basic business workshop GROW offers. It is held monthly and will help participants understand the many costs and benefits of running their own business. This is another great resource for those of you who are not well versed in the life of an entrepreneur. Into to GROW is a prerequisite for this course.

The largest and most in depth entrepreneurial training that GROW offers is through it’s Small Business Growth and Planning Series (GPS). This Small Business growth and planning series is comprised of three separate “clusters” that address specific and varying topics related to the modern entrepreneur. These three clusters are the Business Basics cluster, the Marketing strategies cluster, and the Financial Awareness Cluster. In the Business BasicsCluster, you will learn how to create a blue print for your business and how to differentiate the different types of organizations. You will also receive a basic understanding of the legal and tax issues that may arise in day to day business. The Marketing Strategies Cluster will cover basic marketing concepts such as market analysis and targeted marketing as well as outlining the process of internet marketing and how to brand and sell your product or service. Lastly, the financial awareness cluster will cover basic bookkeeping, how to calculate the most widely used business formulas, identifying financial resources and learning the process of how to apply for them. Upon completion of one or more clusters, a participant has the opportunity to create a customized implementation plan with the assistance of a GROW Business Counselor.

Weekly Resource #33 Pitch Pit

stuffed animalsPitching your business can be nerve-racking. You need to explain your business, its goals, how your are going to reach those goals, what it will cost, etc. etc. All while facing a huge fear that many of us have; public speaking. If there is anything I remember from my high school public speaking class it is to stop fidgeting my hands and saying “um”, but more importantly and to the point, I remember how my teacher stressed the importance of practicing. However, public speaking is challenging to practice mainly because you can’t practically create an audience to practice in front of, unless of course you count the couch full of stuffed animals you arranged to listen to you. Unfortunately, unless your name is Calvin, your stuffed animals are not sentient and have no idea what you’re talking about so being able to pitch your business in front of actual people is (usually) preferable. This is especially true when doing so can win your business some cash and recognition. On January 30th, as a breakout session of ACE14, you can sign up to pitch your business in front of judges and an audience for the chance to win some recognition, a small cash prize, and gain some valuable experience.

Be sure to read the details and register by December 31st if you want to be considered for the event. Only four entrepreneurs will be selected for the event and of those four, one will be selected by the judges as the winner of the event. In addition, the audience will also pick a winner. The pot of cash, which starts at $100 and increases based on donations and audience attendance, is awarded to the judge selected winner while the audience selected winner gets to justify to themselves that the public opinion is far more valuable than a cash prize because it totally is, right? Regardless of how you place in the competition, this is a great opportunity for you to practice your elevator pitch. Four minutes go by quickly when that is all you’re working with to sell your business idea so practice your timing to prepare for the event! Maybe those stuffed animals are not too bad of an audience to practice in front of after all. Just don’t leave it up to them to operate the stopwatch. Stuffed animals don’t have opposable thumbs and they certainly could not tell time anyways.

Weekly Resource #32 Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation

DESCLogo“All employer services are offered at NO COST” is the first line you read on the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation’s (DESC)  employer support page. This should give you a good idea of the organization’s mission to unite employers with skilled employees in a way that encourages cooperation and networking in the local business community. DECS strives to attract employers by building a network of job seekers. Their multiple workshops and seminars geared around perfecting a resume, improving interview skills, and solidifying other valuable skills, helps to give job seekers the confidence and know-how to actively contribute to the workforce and standout above others in their field. This all means well for employers who are seeking workers.

The DECS can be a great resource for those of you who are looking for employees to satisfy your employment needs. They can help you with many things including  job postings, screening and assessment, instruction on writing job orders, help in developing screening criteria, space for on-site interviewing, immediate entry of job orders into Pure Michigan Talent Connect, availability of a centralized job order system which provides special services for large or unusual hiring needs, information on tax credit assistance, customized business solutions and employee bonding services. Acting as a personal HR department of sorts, the DECS offers a wide range of resources that can greatly increase the effect of your hiring and workforce development initiatives.