My Picks for NewCo Detroit in April


Last fall I had the great pleasure of moderating a conversation featuring four Detroit companies that showcased a community of businesses on a mission. I was impressed by the collective imagination and grit in the room. I am looking forward to returning next month when we hold the citywide NewCo Detroit festival on April 13.

There are many ways to plan a full-day NewCo festival. In Detroit this year, there are two pre-planned tours, one focusing on women leaders and the other examining Detroit 2.0. Or you can plan your own route. One of my favorite — and most frustrating — tasks here is deciding which companies to visit during a NewCo festival. We often have more than a half-dozen simultaneous events. And they’re all great; we wouldn’t select organizations as NewCos if we didn’t think they were worth visiting. Choosing just one company to visit each hour is tough. But choose I must, so here goes:

The night before is easy, because there’s only one event. The VIP kickoff and reception, which will be held Tuesday, April 12, at 6pm at the Madison (which is where we held our event last fall).This is where host company founders, civic leaders, and VIP ticket holders kick off NewCo in style. We’ll start with a fireside chat featuring Paul Riser, managing director of TechTown Detroit, and we’ll continue with a conversation including six Detroit NewCos: Olga Stella, executive director, Detroit Creative Corridor Center; Eric Yelsma, founder, Detroit Denim; Gabe Jones and Joe McEachern, founders, Detroit Grease; Amy Peterson, founder, Rebel Nell; and Khali Sweeney, founder and program director, Downtown Boxing Gym.

I’m starting Wednesday at 930am at Digerati Girls/Digerati Kids, a non-profit dedicated to introducing digital innovation skill sets to youth, especially young girls. Wish I could go: Detroit Bikes (read our profile), Motown Museum, TechTown Detroit.

At 11am, I’ll be at Gensler, where I hope to learn about the future of architecture. (Did you know that Detroit is a UNESCO design capital?) Wish I could go: Detroit Farm and Garden (read our profile), Detroit Free Press, AMBR Detroit.

At 130pm, you’ll find me at Third Man Records. Its the second storefront of the forward-looking record company — and soon to be a place where genuine vinyl records are manufactured. Wish I could go: Rocket Fiber, Loveland Technologies, Build Institute.

At 3pm I’m headed to Downtown Boxing Gym. I’m eager to learn how the organization is using left and right hooks to hook kids on school. Wish I could go: Shinola Detroit, Bamboo Detroit, Techstars Mobility.

At 430pm I’ll be at Are You a Human, which is doing some amazing things with machine learning. Wish I could go: Benzinga, The Natural Market, The Work Inc.

At 6pm, I’ll end the day with our Festival Meetup at Grand Circus. After a full day of visiting companies, it’ll be time for drinks and networking. I hope to see you there!

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