DETROIT (WWJ) — When Detroit’s Madison Block area became one of seven hubs in the Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network, some people wondered what it meant, and why it was important.
Well, here’s one of the things it means, and why it’s important: One and perhaps two startups from Detroit will win the priceless opportunity to pitch their business ideas to Google and its investors in a new competition called Google Demo Day.
Each of Google’s seven tech hubs nationwide will be sending one startup to the competition. Three more “wild card” startups will be chosen from the second-place finishers, for a total of 10 teams competing in the national event in Silicon Valley in April.
The local competition will be hosted at Grand Circus, the tech training company that with the Madison Block is part of the Google for Entrepreneurs network.
Damien Rocchi, CEO and co-founder of Grand Circus, said startups have until Feb. 9 to apply at http://grandcircus.co/google-demo-day. A panel of expert judges will trim the entrants down to 15 semifinalists.
Then, the public is invited to a Best Startup in Detroit competition on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at Grand Circus from 6 to 8:30 p.m., where those 15 semifinalists will display their work in a trade-show setting. The public will pick their three favorites, who will each win the Pride of Detroit title and advance — along with two investor picks — to the next round.
Those five finalists will pitch their companies to judges from Detroit Venture Partners, Invest Detroit and Bizdom on Friday, Feb. 26 to determine who will travel to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
Rocchi has a background in consulting and startups in his native Australia, and has been working with startups in the Detroit area for several years. Through that work, he met Detroit Venture Partners management, who decided he’d be the right person — along with co-founder Brad Hoos — to establish a tech training company in downtown Detroit. That’s now known as Grand Circus.
Rocchi said the objective of the Google entrepreneur effort is “to create a strong entrepreneurial tech hub in southeast Michigan.” The hub offers several other benefits, including access to mentors, entry to Google events and tech discounts.