Today I am driving to Detroit. It’s around a four hour drive. I am headed up to be on a panel for Detroit Startup Week. I am happy to do it. The better the startup community gets in Detroit, the better it is for Chicago and the rest of the Midwest. It also gives me a chance to catch up with my sister and some old friends.
In the Midwest we tend to drive lots of places instead of fly. It’s just easier. By the time I pay for and hop a flight to Detroit I am 2/3 of the way there. Heck, the TSA lines at Midway are 2 hours long. By the time I rent a car and figure out where I am going, I am there. Living in Chicago, I can get almost anywhere in 2-4 hours. I can get everywhere in 6.
When I get there I am headed to the Detroit Tigers game with my buddy Mike Spehn. We have known each other since we were 10. My brother in law and nephew are also going to be at the game. I am excited to see the Tigers ball park. I haven’t ever been there. It’s always interesting to go to ballparks in other cities. One thing that I like about the Tigers is their uniforms haven’t varied much through the years. That’s unlike that Chicago south side team that seems to change it’s uniforms every ten years or so.
Detroit’s problems are legendary. Political mismanagement and bad public policy took the town down. The lack of foresight from the Big 3 automakers didn’t help-and the unions that worked for the car companies really didn’t help either. But, the town is starting to turn around bit by bit. Their startup community is a bright spot. They have a Midwestern can-do attitude. There are great bones in Michigan to build off of.
My friend Neil Kane recently moved there to run the Entrepreneurial program at Michigan State. The University of Michigan turns out great graduates and is one of the top public schools in the country. There is talent in Michigan. It’s Big 10 country.
Thursday I am on a panel that will talk about marketing and startup growth. Prior to our panel, esteemed venture capitalist Jason Mendelson of Foundry Group will give a keynote. After, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilberts is going to talk about why Detroit can be a Fin Tech hub.
I will be all ears for that since I am highly interested and focused on Fin Tech. Given that Detroit has credit corporations that service car companies, it has some decent roots. Oh, and then there is that Quicken Loans company.