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Tech Leaders, Chamber Make Case For Detroit During Detroit Startup Week

Building on its work to position Southeast Michigan as a welcoming hub for tech startups, the Detroit Regional Chamber participated in several relevant panel discussions on the region’s impact during Detroit Startup Week. The event serves as a five-day celebration of entrepreneurship in the city by and for Detroit’s small business owners. From tips on connecting corporations with startups, to showcasing the region’s next-generation mobility ecosystem, read highlights from the sessions here.

Corporates and the Startup, Working Together

During this panel, MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens led a discussion on navigating strategic partnerships between large corporations and startups. The conversation addressed the difference in culture and experience between the two entities. The panel included Bedrock’s Kevin Bopp, Lyft’s Eliot Darvick, GM Venture’s Rohit Makharia, and SPLT’s Kristin Welch.

Key Takeaways:

  • Employees with corporate experience can help startups grow strategically.
  • Networking is key to strategic partnerships. Companies don’t just come to events like Detroit Startup Week to have a presence, they come looking for the next innovative idea. You never know when opportunity will come knocking.
  • Be authentic. Many partnerships don’t pan out because one side is trying too hard to appeal to the other. Don’t change your values based on who you’re trying to impress.
  • Corporations should identify champions within the organization that truly believe in the startup a company is partnering with. This maximizes opportunity for both sides.

Understanding Detroit’s Mobility Startup Ecosystem

As Detroit continues to establish its reputation as a hub for global mobility startups, it’s important that entrepreneurs navigate and utilize the variety of world-class services and opportunities available in the region. Chamber Entrepreneurship and Detroit Engagement Manager Devon O’Reilly joined the American Center for Mobility’s Soraya Kim, Bodman PLC’s Michael Melfi, Fontinalis Partners’ Chris Thomas, and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Seun Philips in a discussion on attracting startups to Detroit.

Key Takeaways:

  • The mobility ecosystem is deeper than just automotive. With connected technology, myriad industries have an opportunity to expand and innovate.
  • Michigan’s four seasons are a key advantage for companies that test and deploy automated vehicle technology.
  • It’s important to look at the way other places are innovating to improve Michigan’s ecosystem, in addition to finding potential partnerships. No one can lead the technology race alone.

Detroit Solving Global Mobility Problems

During this session, industry leaders that are solving some of the world’s most pressing transit issues came together to explore the world-changing power of smart mobility. The panel, moderated by Chamber Business Attraction Vice President Justin Robinson, included May Mobility’s Alisyn Malek, Detroit Economic Growth Corp.’s Kevin Smith, Ford Motor Company’s Andy Palanisamy, and Chamber Marketing Director Nick Mattar, who spoke on behalf of Condor Detroit.

Key Takeaways:

  • The issues the city faces from a mobility perspective are wide-reaching and diverse. The city is approaching each issue like a startup, creating several pilot programs.
  • Lowering insurance rates is key to continued innovation. New technologies will present unique regulatory challenges and insurance companies will need to evolve.

Infrastructure improvements go together with the rollout of innovative technology. As improvements go, innovation goes.