“What’s going on here is historic.”
So says Jake Cohen, ’13, a partner at Detroit Venture Partners, a venture capital firm that focuses on early-stage tech companies. And by here, he doesn’t just mean his company; he means Detroit. The city has become a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity. People in the field, after all, are drawn to risks and what they see as undervalued assets. As one of the city’s entrepreneurs has said, “Where everything is broken, anything is possible.”
That spirit is part of what drew Glenn Oliver, ’87, to launch his company in Detroit. It’s paying off; his startup has enjoyed buzz from Fortune and Forbes, and it recently earned top honors at a start-up expo hosted by the prestigious Silicon Valley Forum.
Nick Gorga, ’02, also is involved in entrepreneurship, but in a different way: The hiring partner at Honigman, he wanted to make a direct impact on Detroit. He did so by cofounding Hatch Detroit, a yearly contest that helps local entrepreneurs open businesses.
The current entrepreneurial culture in Detroit is relatively new. But, as Oliver points out, entrepreneurship has deep roots in the city: “When people think of Detroit, they think of the auto industry as it exists today. But don’t forget that, long ago, Henry Ford was a Detroit entrepreneur with a startup.”