Local Detroit entrepreneurs can now submit an application to compete for one of seven awards totaling $1.2 million at the 3rd annual Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day. Application forms will be accepted through April 22 at DetroitDemoDay.com. Fifteen finalists will be chosen to pitch their business live on stage at The Fillmore in front of a capacity crowd on Friday, June 14.
“Entrepreneurs and startup businesses are rebuilding the economic ecosystem throughout Detroit, from downtown to Midtown, to Corktown and the neighborhoods,” said Dan Gilbert, Founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans in a statement. “We make this commitment to these young, growing businesses because we believe that their success is critical to creating new jobs, economic activity, increasing the tax base and being a clear, identifiable example for future venturesome go-getters. Wealth and new jobs are created by people. Continuing to improve the environment for those willing to go all-in on their entrepreneurial dream is imperative for achieving the vision that we all have for the future of Detroit.”
Starting in 2017 and continuing this year, Detroit Demo Day gives awards in three different categories to allow businesses of different weight classes to compete for funding from the Detroit-based mortgage giant. The start, growth, and scale classes will offer grants, interest-free loans, and equity investments, respectively, ranging from $50,000 to $300,000.
“We want people to box in their weight class, so to speak,” said James Chapman, who manages entrepreneur initiatives including Detroit Demo Day for Rock Ventures. “The lessons that we learned is, if you take a company that is really established, serving national customers and you put them against a company that’s just getting started, the audience is going to automatically think that the later stage company is better.”
“We want to give people the opportunity to compete against companies that are in the same stages that they are, and we want to make sure the funds are setup in a way that’s going to be best conducive for the type of business.”
Last year, nearly 2,000 people attended the finals at Detroit Music Hall, where Grammy award-winning artist Common performed.
This year, attendees can also vote for three People’s Choice award recipients. A Quicken Loans Demo Day app will be available for the audience to either swipe left if they are not feeling the company or swipe right if they are. The most swipes in their favor in their particular category gets an additional grant of $25,000.
“We don’t want the audience to just come and watch and celebrate,” Chapman said. “We want them to get in on the action, because these are going to be businesses that are in their neighborhood, they know who the founders are, and we want to get the audience in on the act. It almost makes them a mini investor.”
Detroit Demo Day also supports businesses of color in the area. Winners of the first cycle in 2017 included Social Club Grooming Company, a barbershop where people come together to bond, socialize, and exchange ideas and Detroit Training Center, which provide adults with the knowledge, tools, and skills needed to add value to their communities and families.
“Detroit Demo Day has had a tremendous impact on our business,” said Sebastian Jackson, co-owner of the Social Club Grooming Company. “Funding and support from Quicken Loans has allowed us to expand our barbershop to a second location, seizing opportunities like partnering with the NFL and the credibility to raise additional capital for our business – helping us plan and execute on growth opportunities.”
April 23-May 25 all online applications will be reviewed, considered, and narrowed to the top-15 finalists by the Demo Day Team, community partners, and Detroit-based business leaders. Finalists will be announced on May 28. Applications will be judged on team, advantage, scale, and strategy.