Jumpstarting Entrepreneurship in Your Community
Hosted by The Philanthropy Roundtable, in partnership with the William Davidson Foundation
This event took place on October 3-4, 2017. For a summary, complete with videos of the event, please click here.
Strong entrepreneurial communities are prized for their innovation, dynamism, job creation and economic growth. And while it’s easy to name a handful of prominent startup cities – San Francisco, Austin or Las Vegas, for example – all is not well on the start up front.
Fewer businesses launch each year, and the ones that do emerge tend to hire fewer people. Further, women and minority-owned businesses remain a small percentage of all startups.
How can philanthropy help reverse these trends by supporting the creation of vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems in their communities? To better understand the opportunities for strategic philanthropic investments, The Philanthropy Roundtable invited donors to explore this and other questions, including:
How is philanthropy helping to promote entrepreneurship and fuel startup communities? What kinds of investments are donors making in their regional areas and what are they seeking to achieve with these investments? What do we know about the impact of these efforts? What are some of the metrics and data that have been collected to assess impact? Where are the gaps in evaluation and analysis? Are there case studies that showcase lessons learned? What are the promising efforts on the horizon?
This event took place in Detroit, where local and national funders have embarked on the bold goal of returning Detroit to its position as a global economic leader. Recognizing entrepreneurship as a powerful means of diversifying and strengthening the region’s economy, they have invested in building a network of support for entrepreneurs across southeast Michigan. What can be learned from the ongoing Detroit experience and in turn, what can Detroit learn from others?
October 3, 2017
3:00-6:30 p.m. Site Visit and Reception
Experience Detroit’s “Grass Roots to High Growth” Entrepreneurial Community
Attendees toured Detroit’s TechTown, the innovation hub that brings together talent, technologies, and capital. Its recently renovated first floor space catalyzes entire communities of startups through business acceleration, incubation, co-working, and events. Donors mingled with area entrepreneurs to hear how local and national funders are supporting strategies to identify, support and nurture entrepreneurs in the neighborhoods and city of Detroit.
Panel: From “Grass Roots to High Growth” -- Meet local entrepreneurs and hear their stories.
Pamela Lewis, director of the New Economy Initiative, led a discussion among area entrepreneurs, who shared stories about their entrepreneurship journeys. What propelled them to start their own business? What have been their successes and challenges? How have funders been instrumental? How can they fill some of the gaps that continue to offer challenges? In a nutshell, what makes Detroit entrepreneurs tick, and how can philanthropy help them succeed?
- A.K. Bennett, Benkari, family-owned Detroit plumbing/mechanical contracting business
- Omer Kiyani, Founder of Sentinl, a biometric gun lock manufacturer
- Lana Rodriguez, Owner, Mama Coo’s Boutique
- Pamela Lewis, New Economy Initiative (moderator)
October 4, 2017
7:30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast
8:30 a.m. Welcome
8:45-9:15 a.m. Change the World by Changing Your Neighborhood
- Andrew Yang, Venture for America
9:15-10:30 a.m. Rebooting a Great American City: Philanthropy and the Startup Experience in Detroit
We know the benefits of a strong startup community, but what does it take to nurture, strengthen and sustain a startup community? In this discussion, funders shared lessons from Detroit investments to fuel a rebirth of startups in the city.
- David Egner, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation
- Benjamin Kennedy, The Kresge Foundation
- Mariam Noland, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
- Tosha Tabron, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Detroit
- Jamie Shea, QL Community Investment Fund
- Darin McKeever, William Davidson Foundation (moderator)
10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Beyond Detroit: Building and Supporting Ecosystems of Entrepreneurial Innovation
Partnerships with community colleges, helping kids become entrepreneurs, and strengthening capacity for aspiring entrepreneurs in underserved communities are just a few of the strategies donors pursue to support entrepreneurial development and success. What are the outcomes and impacts of philanthropic investments upon regional entrepreneurial success?
- Jon Bachura, Youth Entrepreneurs
- Deborah Hoover, Burton D. Morgan Foundation
- Jason Zylstra, DeVos Family Foundations
- Jeff Sandefer, Acton School of Business (moderator)
12:00-1:15 p.m. Lunch Program: Creating the Next Generation of Startup Leaders and Innovators
Children’s Business Fairs provide young entrepreneurs the opportunity to create, market, and sell a product. The Children’s Business Fair is supported by the Acton Academy Schools and Acton MBA program, two organizations which believe in the power of work and entrepreneurship to improve self-esteem and strong communities. Its Children’s Business Fair model has been replicated in cities across the country including Detroit. During this presentation, attendees heard from the co-founder of the CBF, organizers of the Detroit venture, and several of its young area entrepreneurs.
- Joseph Lehman, Mackinac Center for Public Policy
- Charlie Sandefer, Co-founder, Children’s Business Fair
- Young vendors from the Detroit Children’s Business Fair
1:30-2:30 p.m. Scaling and Impact: Lessons from the Field
How can philanthropy empower more entrepreneurs and help them succeed, particularly in traditionally underserved markets? How can donors assess whether a model is scalable? Or ripe for scaling? In this session, DRK, a global venture philanthropy firm supporting early stage, high impact social enterprises lead an interactive discussion about its ongoing experience applying these questions to EforAll, an organization that has developed an innovative small business/nonprofit accelerator model to strengthen mid-sized cities through inclusive entrepreneurship.
- Nathalie Kylander, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation
- Raj Melville, Desphande Foundation
- David Parker, Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll)
2:45-4:00 p.m. The Philanthropic Exchange: Perspectives from National and Global Funders
What’s on the horizon for entrepreneurship funding? What areas are ripe for future or additional support, collaborations or evaluations? In this session, national funders shared their strategies and focus areas, providing insights about the success and failures of past investments, and goals for future investments.
- Deborah Hochberg, Paul E. Singer Foundation
- Sarah Koch, Case Foundation
- Tony Tolentino, Blackstone Charitable Foundation
- John Tyler, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (discussion leader)
DoubleTree Suites - Detroit Downtown
525 West Lafayette Blvd
Detroit, MI 80202