DETROIT (WWJ) — TechTown Detroit has opened applications for the second session of its Blocks Retail Boot Camp with the announcement of $10,000 in cash awards, plus one month of rent-free pop-up space in Detroit.
The eight-week program, which runs from Sept. 23 to Nov. 11, prepares serious entrepreneurs with strong retail concepts for the successful launch of their Detroit businesses within six months to one year of program completion. Weekly sessions facilitated by business development and retail experts are designed to be Detroit specific, with topics ranging from choosing the right location, to government regulations and processes, to taxes and insurance and sound fiscal management.
TechTown will dedicate $2,000 to the achievement of business milestones as participants progress through the program. At the end of the eight weeks, participants will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges at a showcase. The first place winner will receive rent-free pop-up space during the prime retail month of the December, which will include a software-based point-of-sale system courtesy of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.’s Revolve program, and $5,000 from TechTown to support the development and execution of the popup.
The second place and third place winners will receive start-up funds of $2,000 and $1,000, respectively.
“Despite the recent boom in Detroit’s downtown and Midtown neighborhoods, the city still has a severe lack of independent retail establishments,” said Leslie Smith, president and CEO of TechTown. “Our Retail Boot Camp works to fill this void by helping its aspiring entrepreneurs capitalize on one of the city’s greatest opportunities. “The financial support — not only at the end but throughout the program — plus the DEGC-sponsored pop-up space, move our clients to market much faster than classroom instruction alone. This pop-up opportunity allows them to test the waters by validating their concept, customers and location before investing in a permanent storefront.”
For this fall session, TechTown will accept 15 companies, eight of which will come from D:hive, Hatch Detroit, ProsperUS Detroit and the DEGC’s Revolve program. These eight spots will be given to entrepreneurs who successfully engaged with the partner organizations through their respective entrepreneurial programs. The remaining seven seats will be filled through TechTown’s application process.
Outcomes were strong for the first session of the Retail Boot Camp, which ended in July. Of the 10 entrepreneurs that graduated from the program, half are working on key next steps to opening their businesses — two participants are working together to prepare to popup in an existing business, one is working with a Midtown stakeholder to open a storefront in Sugar Hill, and two others are working to receive funding. TechTown continues to meet with all of the graduates each month to give them advice as they continue to move their businesses forward.
Applications for the fall session of the Retail Boot Camp, which can be found on TechTown’s website, will close Sept. 11. Classes are held on Mondays from 6 to 9 p.m., with an orientation on Sept. 20. The fee upon acceptance is $499.
TechTown’s Retail Boot Camp is subsidized by the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan.
TechTown is the most established business incubator and accelerator in Detroit – founded specifically to develop and grow sustainable, technology-based businesses. Today its work supports industry verticals that are specific to the region’s inherent assets and address the
city’s identified needs, supporting not only tech-based businesses but also retail and neighborhood enterprises for a more holistic approach to economic development. TechTown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and is located within the Woodward Technology Corridor SmartZone.
To learn more about TechTown, visit http://www.techtowndetroit.org.