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 #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 #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 #19 – Detroit Kitchen Connect

detroit-kitchen-connect1As you are well aware of, opening a business is risky. The amount of overhead required to open a brick and mortar store-front is immense to say the least. This is especially true for those of you who are opening a food business. The additional equipment needed to run a successful food business that meets the customer’s needs and the state’s health regulations, adds a lot to the cost of opening. Kitchen Connect aims to reduce this overhead by making commercial kitchens available for food entrepreneurs to prepare their product in and to establish a community of kitchens across Detroit.

The benefits of being able to rent out a fully fledged commercial kitchen opposed to buying all new (or even used) equipment is obvious. Kitchen Connect knows this and offers their services at a reasonable cost. An application process is required and can be started here. Located in the Osborn community of Detroit, the Matrix Human Services kitchen is available during the organization’s normal business hours: Sun: 9a-5p, Mon & Tue: 9a-7pm, Wed & Thurs: 9a-10p, Fri & Sat: 9am-5. Peter & Paul kitchen, located in Southwest Detroit,  is available Monday – Friday 24 hours per day.

Each entrepreneur must meet the requirements posed by the state and Kitchen Connect in order to be considered during the application process. a “ServSafe Food Certificate” is required and can be obtained by attending a day of instructor-led training and taking the provided test. Insurance and a $200 deposit to Kitchen Connect are also required to use their sponsored facilities. Visit Their website for contact information and be sure to reach out to kitchen connect and their partners with questions and concerns. The best way to get advice is to attend Friday office hours, 8-10am at the Green Garage, 4444 Second Ave., Detroit 48201. Email or call them in advance to confirm:, 313-799-3280.