Tech Town sits in a nondescript building off of Cass, north of Wayne State University. Nestled between midtown and the New Center Area, if you don’t know where to look, you probably wouldn’t know it’s there, but the area is a hotbed of early stage start-ups in The D.
Hundreds of small companies are being spawned out of this building, and while many of them won’t grow into much, just a few big winners could be huge for Southeast Michigan.
The goal is to create 1,200 feasible companies over the course of 3 years, and the hope is that the collaborative effort of the companies, and the sharing of resources, knowledge and connections that each company will be better prepared to succeed.
In addition to the talent in Tech Town from other entrepreneurs, the partnership with Wayne State University offers a vast resource of students that can be leveraged by the companies for countless things. But the students are not the entrepreneurs, for the most part. There is a good mix of men and women, but most of them are 35+ and already have a degree. These are generally well trained individuals that had good jobs that were lost in the Great Recession and have decided to become master’s of their own universe.
Started in 2004, Tech Town appears to be hitting its stride lately becoming one of the largest business incubators in the US. Thus far, it has directly invested $700k new start-ups and helped secure over $14 million in VC money as well. The project is managed by Wayne State which has sunk almost $3 million of its own money into the project and also works with the businesses to secure state and federal grants.