It's Accelerate Michigan week and we’re thrilled to be semi-finalists again at an event that is core to our hearts and has been pivotal in our path. What a difference a year has made growing our silicon-valley founded, venture-backed startup in Metro Detroit, where we have an intellectual community and the tightest of ties. Here’s why we’re proud to be here:
1. Our HQ is in Ann Arbor.
Ann Arbor is the smartest little town in America. Vigorous nerds in winter, what better taproot for the magic that is a new business in bloom. We love learning. Our coffee shops are stuffed to the gills with readers and they close at midnight, if not later!
2. We have grit!
People in the motor city don’t cancel on you if there is a blizzard. We give a heads up we might be 15 minutes late if they shut the highway down. We’re more Winterfell than King’s Landing. Startups are all about loyalty. Finding trustworthy partners. Standing your ground in the harshest conditions and looking to the light. There is no better place to find a worthy tribe.
3. The startups of the future will bridge the research to practice divide.
Michigan is a research powerhouse with a thousand interdisciplinary centers and programs. We know how to find the white spaces between the disciplines and make them into magic. Staying relevant matters to us so we cross-pollinate with the coasts and often have a presence there. Because we are smaller geographically we are more focused on the implications of our actions in the industry. Our VCs are deeply collaborative and generous with intros across the ecosystem because they are conscious of this. We are better companies for it and our landscape overall is better for it. More ethical, more sustainable, with less fleeting talent.
4. We work hard without losing sight of our human touch.
We still work like dogs and make shifts when we need to to stay on the performing edge required of all venture-backed startups, but we do it with the constant clarity that we will all meet again many times in our paths. We are a family, partners, collaborators.
5. We have “open governance.”
The Michigan Venture Capital Association provides invaluable research on the ecosystem and transparently publishes deep landscape reports on our rapidly expanding space. This year’s report revealed that we are a powerhouse of women founders, but that we still get less funding despite greater representation. Onward women founders (mockingjay nod to each and every one of you).
6. We have incredible economic development programs that keep pace with our rapidly evolving ecosystem.
Our policy leaders consciously deploy and iterate on inclusive programs to support our growth. AMIC for instance draws conscientiously on diverse startup pools from all of our regional accelerator programs. At Workit, we owe a debt of gratitude to a host of Midwest-based players: the MEDC, the SBDC, Ann Arbor Spark, the New Enterprise Forum, The University of Michigan Business Engagement Center, Seamless Internet of Things Accelerator, Inforum, the Michigan Springboard Program, the Hacker Fellows Program and the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic at the University of Michigan, Invest Detroit, Wakestream Ventures, Impact Engine (among so many others). Thank you for being our village.
7. We have seen our largest metropolitan metropolis gutted by the rise and fall of industry.
By change. We see beauty in its resurrection and we’ll never stop coming back. What is a startup but the ability to look with new eyes on the world and make something from nothing. Build a new channel no one saw coming. We have eyes that see a new Detroit humming with new models. We imagine that steam emanating for our weird manholes is just our engine revving again. Watch out when it kicks into gear. We have birthed whole industries. We can do it again.
So hey rust-belt, I'm looking at you Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee. Keep on rising silicon prairie. Free-range entrepreneurship looks good on this country. It works if you workit.
Love, Workit Health. Made with love in the dirty glove :)
Here's What We Built Here: