Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Detroit, MI


Home multiple automobile manufacturing companies, Detroit has earned the nickname the Motor City. Despite filing for bankruptcy in 2013, the city has recovered and is becoming a hotspot for entrepreneurship and innovation.

Detroit, MI is the largest city in the state and the 23rd-largest in the country. Home to a number of automobile manufacturing companies, Detroit has earned the nickname the Motor City. Despite filing for bankruptcy in 2013, the city has recovered and is becoming a hotspot for entrepreneurship and innovation, with several promising startups leading the way.

In 2018, WalletHub ranked Detroit 74th on their list of the best large cities to start a small business (4th overall in the “Business Costs” category) and 65th on the list of the best and worst metro areas for STEM professionals (with top-40 rankings in both the “Professional Opportunities” and “STEM-friendliness” categories). Finally, according to a survey of more than 400 social entrepreneurs, the city was one of the 20 best cities for social entrepreneurs.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Coffee Talk for Business Professionals hosts casual business networking events on a monthly basis.

The Entrepreneurs Network of Michigan hosts networking events and helps organize business resources for entrepreneurs in the city and the Tri-County area.

Through a variety of panels, workshops, and other events, How to Start a Startup is a group that promotes and support entrepreneurship.

The Innovative Business Network is a networking and peer support group for executives and entrepreneurs in Michigan and the surrounding area.

By organizing regular networking events and workshops, the National Entrepreneurs Association of Michigan aims to support area entrepreneurship.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

One of a number of annual startup week events hosted around the country by Techstars, the program is a five-day conference celebrating and supporting entrepreneurship.

An organization supporting entrepreneurship in the area, has a calendar listing major entrepreneurial and small business events.

The Indus Entrepreneurs organization hosts regular conferences supporting entrepreneurship in Michigan and the Midwest as a whole.


Startup Competitions:

Hosted in the city, the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is open to entrepreneurs from around the state.

Organized by Hatch Detroit, the contest rewards the winning brick-and-mortar retail business with a $50,000 grant to help them continue to grow.

The NEIdeas Challenge awards $10,000 each to 26 promising established businesses grossing less than $750,000 annually in the area.


Co-working Spaces:

The organization offers both traditional co-working space and private offices for individuals as well as teams.

Junction440 is a co-working space organized by TechTown Detroit, a group dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in the area.

Designed specifically for those in the building industry, this co-working space offers a variety of membership plans to best meet the needs of its members.

Synchronous Solutions offers a variety of membership plans and a number of on-site amenities and services to serve its members.

The city is home to two WeWork locations, both of which include desk space and private offices for large teams.


Maker spaces:

A community-led maker space that offers access to tools and equipment as well as hosting regular classes and workshops.

Located in the Baldwin Public Library just down the road in Birmingham, MI, the Idea Lab contains 3D printers, laser cutters, and other tools for small-scale manufacturing.



Automation Alley is a nonprofit association that supports manufacturing and technology businesses and entrepreneurs through programs and services.

Organized by the Detroit Garment Group, the Fashion Incubator is designed to help fashion designers and others in the industry start and grow businesses.

An organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in the city through a number of programs and other services.



Detroit is home to one location of the Backstage Accelerator, a 3-month program that serves underrepresented entrepreneurs in a handful of cities across the world.

Hosted by TechTown Detroit, DTX Launch is a 10-week accelerator program for college students and recent graduates interested in launching technology startups.

gBETA, a program run by the well-regarded gener8tor accelerator, is a seven-week accelerator.

Techstars, one of the largest network of accelerator programs in the world, hosts a program in the city for mobility startups.



Henry Ford Community College offers a certificate program in Small Business Management & Entrepreneurship.

The University of Detroit Mercy’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship organizes programs and services to support entrepreneurship in the student body and community.

Wayne State University’s offers undergraduate and graduate programs as well as an MBA concentration in entrepreneurship and innovation.


Angel Groups/VCs:

This venture group works with promising seed- and early-stage startups in the city and the surrounding Michigan area.

Ludlow Ventures is a venture firm that aims to make personal connections to help its portfolio companies grow and succeed.

With offices in Ann Arbor and Detroit, Renaissance Venture Capital Fund provides venture capital and support to startup companies across Michigan.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

This organization offers a number of newsletters covering business, entrepreneurial, and other news from around the city and the state of Michigan as a whole.

DBusiness, Detroit’s business journal magazine offers an e-newsletter covering its main headlines and news.

Offers newsletters on the city’s business news as well as one based on automobile manufacturing.

Among the newsletters offered by Detroit News are one with a wide view on business in the state and one specifically focused on automobile production.

The MLive news network offers a wide variety of newsletters, including ones focusing on business in Ann Arbor, the metro area, and the state as a whole.

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Detroit not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Ann Arbor, MI, Buffalo, NYChicago, IL

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.