Detroit is better known for its aging, debt-ridden car makers than innovative, young entrepreneurship. But as the New York Times reported last week, Dan Gilbert’s Bizdom U is aiming to change all that.
Gilbert is the founder of online mortgage giant Quicken Loans and the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. His concept for Bizdom U is a "boot camp" for other Detroit residents to hone their skills and learn how to turn their dreams into money.
"Through an intense and challenging series of training and feedback sessions, we work with our entrepreneurs to develop a business plan for a Detroit-based business," Bizdom says on its website.
The essential idea is not so much to teach entrepenurship as to give those with drive and talent a platform and some practical lessons.
Gilbert is helping to push back against the grim realities of Detroit’s post-industrial collapse and brain drain, trying to retain the city’s best and most motivated and keep them working inside of the city, rather than fleeing it.
The four-month program is completely free and offers some living stipends. There are also grants of up to $100,000 available to entrepeneurs, along with additional programs for promising ventures.
There’s even a referral program which pays $500 to anyone who refers a successful applicant.
The program is open to applicants who can demonstrate their entrepreneurial pedigree with a history of innovative and effective business concepts. Applications are available online at www.bizdom.com.