BLP Funding Symposium A Big Hit!
Blackstone LaunchPad gives WSU entrepreneurs access to funding experts
· Amy Kaherl of Detroit Soup, a self-described “democratic experiment in micro-funding” through which donors attend a monthly dinner and vote on projects to fund after hearing pitches. Typical grants range from $800 to $1,200, and the target market consists of Detroiters seeking positive change for the city.
· Elizabeth Garlow of Kiva Detroit, through which the non-profit group Kiva works with community organizations and lenders to provide microloans to local small businesses. Kiva Detroit provides loans of up to $10,000 to people without access to traditional banking systems. “Character-based loans” recipients must be nominated from within the community, and receive help crafting a personal and business narrative to make their case for funding.
· Erin Grant of Detroit Development Fund, which provides loans and technical assistance to small business owners, developers, building owners, contractors, and subcontractors who are unable to acquire the levels of capital they need from traditional financing sources. Recipients must be in business for at least one year and generate a minimum of $100,000 in sales. Loans range from $50,000 to $250,000.
· Ronald Dickerson of Fifth Third Bank, one of the largest money managers in the Midwest with more “stringent” criteria for lending than local, more flexible organizations. As Dickerson noted, banking regulations preclude Fifth Third Bank from lending to certain industries, however it does given money to alternative lenders through its Foundation Office. Dickerson said startups should begin cultivating relationships with conventional lenders early in anticipation of the day they are prepared for bank funding.
· Chris Blauvelt of Patronicity, a localized crowdfunding platform that helps local businesses raise small amounts of capital through online donors, who in return receive goods, services, or other rewards. Patronicity clients need only “a story and a network,” said Blauvelt, adding that an organization has more than a 50% chance of meeting its goals when using Patronicity or a similar service.
· Kory Scheiber of Detroit Micro Enterprise Fund, which provides micro-loans to start-up and established small businesses that lack access to traditional financial sources. Dm-ef, as it is known, serves clients in Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Ecorse, River Rouge, Pontiac, and Lincoln Park, and provides up to $10,000 for start-ups and up to $35,000 for firms that have operated for at least two years. Its programs include the Dm-ef Core Loan Fund, the Wayne County Urban Loan Fund, the Detroit Food Movers Fund, the Green Enterprise Fund, and the Women’s Empowerment Fund.
· Vanessa Rucker of the Center for Empowerment and Economic Development (MI CEED), which supports women and minorities through business development training, supplier certification, business-to-business networking, and capital assistance. Rucker said MI CEED provides five-year loans in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to Detroit entrepreneurs with a business plan.
· Han Peng of the First Step Fund, a partnership of the Invest Detroit Foundation, TechTown, Ann Arbor SPARK and Automation Alley that supports a revolving loan pool financing emerging and newly-formed small businesses in southeast Michigan. Recipients must complete a training program through a qualified regional business incubator.
· Jim Xiao of Detroit Venture Partners, which describes itself as a venture capital firm “on a crazed mission.” The firm backs seed and early-stage technology companies seeking to rebuild Detroit.
Pitch it quick