(Detroit, MI, May 10, 2012) - TechTown, Wayne State's business incubator, hosted top White House economic advisors on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 for a no-nonsense dialogue with 14 of its Detroit-based entrepreneurs. The start-ups represented a broad spectrum including everything from hair and beauty products to IT, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, biotech, graphic design, medical device and entertainment companies.
Gene Sperling, Director of the White House National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and Greg Nelson, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, said their purpose in meeting with the group was to gain insight and ideas about how the White House can better support entrepreneurship in economically challenged urban communities like Detroit.
"What I really want is to hear more about you and your companies," Sperling said. "I want to better understand your experience how you have worked with TechTown."
A majority of the attendees provided Sperling and Nelson with anecdotal examples of how TechTown's programs, which provide business coaching, workshops and support services, have been crucial to the growth and sustainability of their companies. Several spoke of how TechTown helped them obtain necessary financing, talent and knowledge.
"I want Mr. Sperling to understand the value of TechTown and the myriad of services it provides," said Paul Angott, a serial entrepreneur who is currently perfecting a breast cancer detection device for use in physicians' offices. "TechTown helps with everything -- the elevator pitch, executive summary, business plan, market research, building a prototype or finding investors...TechTown does it all," he said, "and it's phenomenal for networking. The White House should know that this model exists in Detroit and it works."
Difficulty in obtaining startup capital was the most commonly expressed frustration among members of the group. Many suggested novel ways for the federal government to address the funding gap such as financial support for business incubators like TechTown.
"Every startup has a need for additional funding," Angott added. "Whether it's angel funding or grants or eventually VC, funding is typically the biggest hurdle that every entrepreneur faces and we do create a lot of jobs. That's the message we want Mr. Sperling to take back to Washington."
TechTown is a community of passionate, diverse people and businesses driven by an entrepreneurial spirit to pursue extraordinary opportunities. Entrepreneurs join TechTown to gain guidance and get connected with resources needed for success. TechTown offers entrepreneurs unique access to Wayne State University's research, academic and technology assets. By reigniting an entrepreneurial culture, TechTown is fueling business growth, job creation and the revitalization of Detroit's Midtown and beyond.
For more information visit: TechTown http://techtownwsu.org/.