Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day today announced applications are live for its fourth annual entrepreneurial competition, the largest of its kind in the entire Midwest.
Applications can be submitted now through August 9 at DetroitDemoDay.com for the reimagined, online-only event showcasing Detroit-based entrepreneurs through episodic content released later this year.
Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day will provide more than $1 million in funding, which winners will receive in the form of grants, interest-free loans and equity investments ranging from $30,000 to $200,000. The online audience will once again play an important role in the event by voting for three recipients of $25,000 “People’s Choice” grants – one per category.
Finalists will be announced in September, and the finalists’ video pitches will go live in October. At that time, viewers will be able to vote online for their favorite business in each category.
“The ongoing pandemic has forced entrepreneurs across the world to be more adaptable and resilient than ever before,” said Laura Grannemann, Vice President of the Quicken Loans Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of Rocket Mortgage. “While this year’s Detroit Demo Day has also required transformation, during difficult times it is even more important that we provide local small businesses with the resources they need to adapt and persevere so that Detroit remains the ambitious, entrepreneurial city we all know and love.”
Categories and Requirements:
Given the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses will compete in two new and one reimagined category this year: Start, Build and Sustain.
- Start: These early-stage businesses are launching and finding traction amidst the current crisis, or have pivoted their business models to meet the needs of this moment.
- Build: These businesses have a unique business model and/or product that sets them apart as a business that is able to expand during the current crisis.
- Sustain: These longstanding, community anchor businesses have the aptitude to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and maintain their original business model, but require additional funding to do so.
Applicants must be a for-profit business with a product or service that is available for sale. Additionally, the business cannot have exceeded $2 million in annual revenue or raised more than $1 million in capital. To be eligible, companies must be based in Detroit or committed to relocating into the city.
Once applications close on August 9, the Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day Team will review all submissions to determine the top 100 semi-finalists. A diverse panel of prominent Detroit-based business leaders and entrepreneurs representing a variety of industries will select the 17 finalists.
Finalists will be featured in short video episodes hosted by James Chapman, Entrepreneur in Residence for the Quicken Loans Community Fund and CEO of Plain Sight, a mobile application that helps users make connections and support their local business community.
Healthy Roots is a 2019 Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day winner. Its founder, Yelitsa Jean-Charles had a vision of a toy company that creates dolls and storybooks that reinforce positive self-perceptions of the richly diverse, varying shades of complexion and natural hair textures among girls of color.
“The funding and ongoing support from the Detroit Demo Day team helped Healthy Roots Dolls have our first incredibly successful holiday season, and build out our customer support and marketing efforts,” said Yelitsa Jean-Charles. “When COVID-19 spread and social distancing measures went into effect, we were able to quickly pivot and double down on communication with our fans and customers – leading us to sell out our stock and recently go viral.”
Ongoing Support and Community Impact:
In addition to investing $3.4 million over the past three years through Detroit Demo Day, Rocket Mortgage’s philanthropic arm has a dedicated Entrepreneurship Team that provides ongoing support, networking opportunities and mentorship to Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day winners, positioning them for long-term success.
Rocket Mortgage and its affiliated companies have provided ongoing support during the COVID-19 pandemic by donating to food banks and emergency resources, sourcing critical PPE for area hospitals, contracting with private and cargo aircraft for supply delivery, vetting suppliers, forgiving rent of small business tenants for three months, launching a “thank you” campaign and providing food for frontline workers, helping small businesses adapt to do business online, donating call center operations and team members for appointment scheduling for the drive-up testing site at the Michigan State Fairgrounds, developing the technology for the testing site and providing critical logistical support for it.
Since 2010, Quicken Loans Chairman Dan Gilbert and his affiliated companies have directly contributed more than $200 million to Detroit-based organizations and programming. Additionally, team members have tallied more than 400,000 hours of volunteer service in Detroit.
4th Annual Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day Timeline:
- Tuesday, July 14, 2020 – Sunday, August 9 at 11:59PM EDT
- Applications are submitted through an online entry form at www.DetroitDemoDay.com
- Monday, August 10 – Early September
- All online applications will be reviewed, considered and narrowed to 17 finalists by the Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day Team, community partners and Detroit-based business leaders
- Finalists announced in September
Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day
- Finalist videos posted in late October
- “People’s Choice” voting occurs
- Winners announced and winner videos posted in early December