Center for Advancing Social Enterprise to Support Startup Weekend Detroit





Startup Weekend Detroit
May 29th, 2015

As the first ever special edition event in Detroit quickly approaches we, as organizers and community members, have to take a step back and really take in all of the amazing support we have received from our surrounding community.

One organization, the Center for Advancing Social Enterprise – CASE for short – housed in the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University, stepped up in support of our Startup Weekend participants. They will be offering a consulting package to our top place winners valued at $1,000.

A little bit more about CASE as told by the Assistant Director for External Community Partnerships Jake Albers:

The Center for Advancing Social Enterprise (CASE) is the education, consulting, and research division of Eastern Michigan University (EMU) dedicated to the social sector. With entrepreneurship as a common theme, CASE grows and nurtures enterprises through consulting, workshops, conferences, and research geared toward helping social enterprises develop innovative funding streams, generate new sources of revenue, find creative solutions to operational issues, identify and capitalize on new markets, and more. 

CASE is a catalyst for connecting the social enterprise ecosystem to university resources. We leverage a team of faculty small business experts to provide professional one-on-one, small group, and organizational consultative services with knowledge transfer and sustainability in mind. The intellectual capital available to CASE through our faculty experts allows us to deliver tailored solutions to a variety of social enterprises. By providing business assistance we free up capacity for social enterprises to focus on making an impact.

Startup Weekend is essential to the mission of growing the social sector in Southeast Michigan and we are thrilled to participate!  CASE is excited to be a part of this weekend as it provides us with a platform to meet, engage, and support emerging social entrepreneurs. We hope to compliment the many talented coaches and mentors that make this event so unique.

Thank you Jake and CASE for playing a very critical role in our region and State.

We can’t wait to see all of our rockstar participants soon! Make sure you get your ticket before they’re all gone… visit: to save your seat!


We have some really amazing sponsors, there is just no getting around that. So a big THANK YOU is in order…

I have always been a fan of surprises, but I have never really been very good at keeping them! So, let’s jump in and learn a bit more about what we have up our sleeves for our upcoming weekend prize packages.


First place team will receive:

  1. A consulting package from Eastern Michigan University’s Center for Advancing Social Enterprise (CASE). This is valued at $1,000.
  2. A three month free trial of Bamboo Detroit co­working space. This is valued at $447/person. Trial membership includes access to all Bamboo Detroit amenities, such as: 24/7 access to Downtown Detroit location; Mailing address, conference rooms, free wifi & coffee; Additional Bamboo Detroit member discounts.
  3. A featured podcast episode on the Bonfires of Social Enterprise with Romy Gingras. 
  4. One full year of quarterly financial reporting through Gingras Global.

To be divvied up between the next two winning teams are the following prizes:

  1. Admittance into the Build Social class hosted at the Build Institute. The class follows a 9-week timeline and offers a curriculum with a strong focus on double and triple bottom line business practices.
  2. A legal consulting package from WSU Law Alumni.
  3. One full year of quarterly financial reporting through Gingras Global.

If that doesn’t get you pumped up for an amazing weekend then I guess you will just have to stay tuned for some of the other awesome teasers we have lined up!

Haven’t registered yet?! Well what are you waiting for?!                                              Visit: and save your seat!

See you soon!

Weed Tacos?!

Pitch Karaoke Detroit

April 23rd, 2015

We are still in awe of how awesome all of our pitchers did at this event! For those of us who had a front row seat to the madness, I think we can all agree that we cannot wait to eat some Weed Tacos that were delivered by Trans Global hot air balloons, on our Soar Board while wearing our Princess Tutus, drinking our White Beer, while our lawns our fertilized with Green Chemicals, and we wrap up all that awesomeness with a fresh pretzel from our trusty Pretzel Bicycle!

We kicked off the event with a half-baked icebreaker in which the audience shouted out random words as our organizers furiously scribed on a white board. Little did the audience know these words would be used to craft their first ever improv pitch….

Once audience members had a chance to pick two words from the half-baked list we kicked off the pitches.

The pitch deck contained ~18 slides which advanced after 20 seconds – participants were encouraged to sing and dance if need be to use the time most effectively, some actually did. However, beyond knowing their two words participants had no idea what the pitch deck would prompt them with. We are benevolent hosts, so participants were prompted with questions that would help them take their two words into a “viable” business concept.

We had some epic ideas let me tell you! And the groups favorite pitchers were given free tickets to our upcoming Startup Weekend for Social Entrepreneurs this May. Group favorites were: Weed Tacos and Princess Tutus. But, since these pitches we SO awesome, we ended up giving out two more prizes to Trans Global and Soar Boards.

We did also have a pitch coach on hand, Jay Rayford is a local social entrepreneur and he wrapped up the event for us with some words of advice on how to pitch — how he kept a straight face while doling out advice to these pitches is beyond us.

Check out some of the pitches from the evening:


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Overall, we had a great time and we think everyone there did as well. Stay tuned for the next round of Pitch Karaoke Detroit… and from the legendary words of one of our very own pitchers Bub, remember:

the first ride is free.



Startup Weekenders Bring the Impact in Detroit

Startup Weekend Detroit

May 29th, 2015

We are REALLY excited to have the first ever special edition Startup Weekend event in Detroit be for social entrepreneurs.

Detroit has a long history of innovation and entrepreneurship. It has certainly also had some rough times. The past five or so decades have forced many residents to innovate, muddle through, or “hack” their way through some serious challenges to sustain their livelihood, family, and neighborhoods.

Recently Detroit has seen an influx of new residents. This new wave of (often young) professionals, mixed with the amazing talent and grit of existing residents, lends nicely to a rise in social enterprise as a new approach to doing business.

I have heard many people say: “well, all businesses do good… they employ people, they set up shop in a community and of course they make an impact.” Completely fair, and it is true in most cases. But that does not necessarily mean that there is no value in events/programs/networks that support entrepreneurs and business owners in their efforts to employ sustainable business practices – even if they do naturally live by the “do-good business” code.

Social enterprise is not just about adding value to society… it is also about adding value to your bottom line. The trick is finding a way to do both simultaneously. Thus, hacking away at a Startup Weekend that is organized specifically to support your do-good business idea is a great place to start: get ideas, share ideas, meet talented people, disrupt something, innovate, and have fun.

This event is for any industry, any idea, a.n.y.o.n.e. Accept the challenge of coming up with a great business and finding ways to weave impact throughout your business model …

Why Social Enterprise Matters

Social entrepreneurship has become increasingly more mainstream over the past decade or so, and has great potentialto address and provide solutions to the many problems we face today.

What is interesting about social entrepreneurship, more so than typical models of enterprise, corporate social responsibility (CSR), or not-for-profit/philanthropic organizations, is that a social enterprise has the power, not only to provide a solution to a societal problem, but  to continue to do so irrespective of grant funding or the imitations of CSR. A social enterprise, which if it can maintain the balance of mission and business, can become a powerful tool to combat systemic issues and problems that manifest from local to global scales.

Social enterprise is a widely debated concept. While the definition may vary, several consistencies help frame the context for this growing practice.

First, there is a consistent distinction between social enterprise and social entrepreneurs. Organizations such as Ashoka and the Skoll Foundation, for example, promote this distinction not only in their definitions but also through their programming. This does not seem too far a stretch, after all entrepreneurs are the doers and the enterprise is the result.

Second, is the “why” the social entrepreneur is building a social enterprise. Rather than “maximize shareholder profit,” which is the typical enterprise objective, the social entrepreneur approaches business from the perspective of “maximizing social benefit.”  Money (profit) becomes one tool available to accomplish social goals.

One final consistency, for purposes of this discussion, is the reality that social enterprises must balance sustainable business practices with their mission-driven objectives, with the resulting and inevitable disruption of the business status quo.

This disruption is evidenced on many levels in the business world, however, the traditional financial/investment paradigms provide a good example for our purposes. Specifically, investors have struggled with how to structure the ROI for a social enterprise because of the dualistic nature of the business. In essence, raising the question of how to evolve the traditional investment paradigms in order to attract investors. And, like anything in the market, where there is a need something will fill it. Crowdfunding, local investing, impact investing, are a few examples of how the old paradigms have made way for new ones.

Given the inconsistencies in definition and shortfalls in managing and investing in a social enterprise, why then do they matter?

  1. As the world adjusts to major generational shifts, and the defining characteristics of the millennial generation permeate the fabric of our global economy, we will begin to see changing expectations with respect to how businesses operate, why they operate, and how they source their operations. While millennials have been ascribed with many negative attributes, they have demonstrated an increasing propensity to support causes through human and monetary capital. Meaning, they volunteer their time and vote with their wallets. Regardless of the varying discourse around the millennial generation, they are a huge portion of our population and the economy and society will adapt to their presence.
  2. Business is not inherently bad or wrong, however it has certainly contributed to many of our global constraints and challenges. Social entrepreneurship can marry the best parts of for and not-for profit organizations in an effort to assuage some, or all, of our global concerns over time.
  3. Social entrepreneurship is innovative. Sure, there are certainly shades of “innovation.” However, some of the most influential social enterprises have converged the high-tech innovation we covet (our widgets, gadgets, and social media) and the most challenging social issues of poverty, environment, energy, quality of life, etc. Just because a social enterprise has a mission does not mean it cannot be on the cutting edge of science or technology.
  4. Social entrepreneurship is refreshing. Nevermind the millennial influence, humans like to know that what they are doing matters. Human interconnectedness is essential but has been dulled by our consumerism. Is it not fitting then that our
    consumerism can drive the resurgence of community?

It is important to note that adopting a social enterprise model does not have to happen when the company starts up, but can be something a company incorporates into their business practices over time. Some may disagree with this concept, but the important piece is that social benefit is at the heart of the operations and is in balance with the business model.

Startup Weekend Returns to Detroit for First Ever Event Focused on Social ENTERPRISE!


Startup Weekend Detroit for Social Enterprise
May 2015

Join us this May for the first ever Startup Weekend focused on launching social enterprise’s in just 54 hours!

What’s a social enterprise you say? Well, we are glad you asked! A social enterprise is simply a not-for-profit OR for profit company that makes money all while producing or advancing a social good or social benefit.

Still fuzzy? No problem. We will be pumping you full of all sorts of great information on how to launch a social enterprise before, during, and after the event! So, stay tuned, but also ask us a question if you have one…

You should come to this event if you are CURIOUS! And of course, if you have an interest in business and coming up with some powerful and innovative solutions to today’s most pressing challenges.

Our goal in organizing this event is to bring awareness to social enterprise as a viable and revenue generating option for businesses. Why not do some good in the world and make some money. Uh… sign me up!

If you just cannot wait to learn more about what social enterprise is check out some of these resources:

Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA) –

Harvard Business School –

Stanford Social Innovation Review –


Startup Weekend Detroit 6 – Important Attendee Information

Startup Weekend Detroit 6 is coming up fast and we’re so excited that you registered!

This post contains important information regarding the event. Here are a few things you should do to get ready for Friday:

Know the schedule
Head over to and get familiar with the event schedule (start times, end times, coach bios).

For first-time attendees
If this is your first Startup Weekend, dedicate 15 minutes to watching this video. It covers an entire event from Startup Weekend Toronto and chronicles the opportunities and obstacles that are faced by teams when working against a deadline. It will help you be better prepared for the weekend! You can also read the Startup Weekend First Timer’s guide here.

Location and start time
Startup Weekend Detroit 6 is being held at Grand Circus. Directions are available by clicking this link. The entrance to Grand Circus is located directly off Woodward, just a few steps away from Witherell St. It will be marked with Startup Weekend branding. The event kicks off at 6:00 p.m. on Friday!

IMPORTANT: While Grand Circus is located inside the same building as the Broderick Tower Apartments, Startup Weekend attendees will not be permitted to access the facility via the resident entrance (located off of Witherell St.). Additionally, Startup Weekend will be taking place on the 4th floor of Grand Circus. All other floors are off limits!

Plan on where to park
There are multiple places to park near Grand Circus. Our recommendation is to park at the Opera House parking garage, located at Broadway Street and John R Street. Parking typically runs $10.00 per day for access. Street parking is also available. Additionally, Grand Circus is located a few steps away from the People Mover’s Grand Circus Park stop.

What to bring for the weekend

  • Energy and excitement! We can’t stress this enough!
  • Something to take notes on
  • Computer (Laptop preferred, but we’ve made desktops work!)
  • Power cords
  • If you registered as a student, please bring your valid student ID or current transcripts/transcriptions on Friday!

Remember: you will be taking home your personal items every night. Do not plan on leaving anything important (and expensive) at the facility overnight.

Global Startup Battle
UP Global, General Assembly, .CO and other companies are offering a chance to win some amazing prizes based on your idea! These prizes are up for grabs as part of the Global Startup Battle. Read more here! For attendees, check out the GSB information packet here. There are a number of great resources available in the document to help you take on the weekend and be productive!

Want to pitch an idea? Follow this format!
Pitches on Friday night will be in a “pitch-fire” format, which means you will have just 60 seconds to get the audience interested in your idea. You will have no slides or props -just your voice. You won’t have time to go over features, so just focus on the core of the idea and make your enthusiasm contagious. Here is the format for pitches that we recommend:

  • Who are you and what is your background? (5-10 Seconds)
  • What is the problem that your product is solving? Or, begin with a story (10-20 Seconds)
  • Explain the product and how it solves the problem (10-20 seconds)
  • Who do you need on your team (a developer, marketing, designer?) (5-10 seconds)
  • Finally, make up a name for your startup so the facilitator can give it a title

Can I pitch an existing business?
No. Startup Weekend is designed to be the most effective platform for growing a new business from the ground up over the course of a weekend. A key facet of the weekend – and a central value for participants – is the spirit of complete collaboration, buy-in and ownership. We’ve found that having existing businesses in the mix undermines this spirit, in addition to creating an imbalance between those ideas that are truly ground-level.

Have any important questions? Email us at

See you Friday night!

The Startup Weekend Detroit Team

Startup Weekend returns to Detroit for sixth event

Startup Weekend, the grassroots movement that has fueled the entrepreneurial energy of hackers, hustlers, dreamers and doers across the world, will return to Detroit the weekend of Friday, November 14, 2014. The sixth Startup Weekend hosted in Detroit, Startup Weekend Detroit will bring together Metro Detroit’s best and brightest to pitch ideas, form teams and launch startups over the course of just 54 hours.

The event will be hosted at Grand Circus, a technology, business and design training institute located in the heart of downtown Detroit. Tickets are now on sale.

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Additionally, this special event will celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014, the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. As part of this program, teams formed at Startup Weekend Detroit will go on to battle against the startups launched in more than 200 competing cities as part of the 5th annual Global Startup Battle.

Last year, not only took home 1st place at Startup Weekend Detroit, but also went on to win the Innovator’s Circle powered by .CO. We’re hoping to send another team to the finals again this year.