Detroit Hosts Largest Inaugural Startup Week in History

Detroit is in the midst of a renaissance. It is a city that was once thriving and has seen more than its share of hard times in recent decades. But in the last few years it has become an opportunist’s dreamland. The hardworking backbone that created the Motor City is still visible and entrepreneurs are rediscovering that spirit and building upon it.

Organizations such as Grow Detroit and The Build Institute are hard at work evolving the city’s startup ecosystem. Grow Detroit helps connect the city’s entrepreneurs with one another in an effort to make the city a vibrant startup hub like Boston, Chicago, or Boulder. And The Build Institute is creating tomorrow’s entrepreneurs out of the city’s unemployed and underemployed through training programs and continuing education.

The fact that Detroit is hosting the very first Detroit Startup Week could be a sign that the city truly has turned a corner. Next week’s event in Detroit will be the largest, first-year event in the global brand’s six-year history.

“Our city is unlike any other, with both ingenuity and a welcoming spirit, brilliance and grit, and opportunities abound. Detroit Startup Week is designed to glue together those opportunities, celebrate what’s already working, and lay the groundwork for what’s to come,” said Kyle Bazzy, lead organizer in a statement.

Detroit Startup Week will kick-off on Monday, May 23 by the city’s mayor, Mike Duggan, the executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, Bill Ford, and Tamara Warren, Senior Transportation Reporter for The Verge. This opening session will feature Mayor Duggan highlighting entrepreneurial opportunities in the city, Bill Ford sharing a bit of history, from back when Ford was a startup in the city of Detroit, and the state of the startup ecosystem in Detroit today, and Tamara Warren will talk about mobility and why it matters to everyone.

The week will feature over 100 events with an expected attendance of 2500+. Marquee speakers include:

  • Jennifer Piepszak, CEO of Chase Business
  • Danielle Weisberg & Carly Zakin, co-founders, theSkimm
  • Tami Door, president and CEO, Downtown Denver Partnership and co-founder of Denver Startup Week™
  • Mike Duggan, mayor, city of Detroit
  • Jason Mendelson, co-founder, Foundry Group
  • Pamela Lewis, director, New Economy Initiative
  • Eugene Richards & Patricia Lay-Dorsey, artists, Facing Change: Documenting Detroit
  • Devita Davison, co-director, FoodLab
  • April Boyle, director, Build Institute
  • Garlin Gilchrist II, deputy technology director for civic community engagement, city of Detroit

The week’s events (which are free to all attendees) will include 10 learning tracks that will be offered to entrepreneurs at all levels. These tracks include technology, entrepreneurship 101, mobility, music, food-preneurship, art+design, civic innovation, neighborhood collaboration, social entrepreneurship and the Internet of things (IoT).

“Entrepreneurs are playing an invaluable role in Detroit’s comeback,” said Jennifer Piepszak, CEO of Chase Business Banking, in a statement.  “Detroit Startup Week is a great opportunity to recognize small businesses’ importance to the city’s recovery and to ensure they gain access to the necessary resources to support and grow.”

Events will take place at venues all over the city including Civilla, Grand Circus, Techtown, Bamboo Detroit and others. Event headquarters are at the historic Masonic Temple, known for the week as Chase Basecamp. The Basecamp will be available every day from 9 AM to 5:30 PM. Attendees can stop by for refreshments, networking or just to recharge your phone and computer. There will also be tons of activities including Happy Hours, speakers, panelists and one-on-one mentor sessions featuring CEOs, entrepreneurs, and developers from all around the city.

Detroit is one of 25 cities around the globe hosting Startup Weeks to bring together the innovators, entrepreneurs, business people, and supporters that keep these ecosystems thriving. Chase is participating by sponsoring the 8 cities that they determined to be the most burgeoning and unique startup ecosystems, and Detroit made the cut.

To learn more to register for Detroit Startup Week, visit


This article is part of a Startup Week content series brought to you by CHASE for BUSINESS. Startup Week is celebration of entrepreneurs in cities around the globe.CHASE for BUSINESS is everything a business needs in one place, from expert advice to valuable products and services. Find business news, stories, insights and expert tips all in one place at

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Kristin is an aspiring entrepreneur who is enthusiastically navigating her way through the DC startup space. She has an unending passion for learning and is never satisfied with the status quo. During the day she is an ops, biz dev, and marketing maven for Fission Strategy
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