To put it bluntly for the people behind it: since technology grows in minutes and venture capital combines dollar signs with the day, the success of a startup hub is no longer a situation.
The next Silicon Valley is a tedious narrative, when the beginnings of reality seen, invented and created differently around the world. In that comment, my colleagues spent the last few months digging into the Detroit market in Michigan:
- How StockX became the stock market of hype
- The StockX EC-1
Although StockX is the initial darling that has put the region in the general spotlight, I soon learned that the story of this city began and was not the sneaker marketing company that ended. Instead, it started a little more on the ground level. Detroit Technologies has consistently pointed to billionaire Dan Gilbert, co-founder of Quicken Loans and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the reason behind the region’s early growth.
It made me immediately wonder if what it takes to build a startup ecosystem is deep pocket. It turns out it is a bit more complicated than that. Gilbert has poured at least $2.5 billion into rehabilitated buildings across Detroit. He then invested in companies taking office space in those companies, restaurants feeding new families in the area, and retailers that would fill side blocks. It not checked by a millionaire, but instead was a measurable and consistent approach to trying to re-emerge Detroit as a city of innovation in the United States.
I think one of the founders put it best: “There are a lot of people who hate him, but the reality is that when he wasn’t the only millionaire in town, he was the only one who invested heavily in Detroit.” Even outside of Gilbert, the animation spread to different sectors. Entrepreneurial firm in the early stages of a 12-year-old always placed the first bet on dynamics as an investment thesis; Have a rich garden startup; and there a hardware company that, despite its remoteness, is finding a place to scale:
- A quick peek inside Fontinalis, one of Detroit’s best-known young venture firms
- Building tech for worker safety, Guardhat Technologies is a company that could only come from Detroit
- Hardware is still hard in the Motor City
- Detroit’s native son, billionaire Dan Gilbert, makes the case for his town