Detroit Startup Week is less than 20 days away, which means it’s crunch time for the dozens of us that have been working since January to put the event together. The flurries of texts and emails between meetings at the office have ramped up to record speed, and I’ve started more than one morning this week making a mental note to follow up on some logistical detail. It’s not often that a volunteer group like this comes together to attempt something as audacious as a brand new celebration of entrepreneurship in a city like ours with hundreds of events and thousands of attendees. Except that it is. And that’s what makes this (un) remarkable.
Startup Week exists in cities around the world — from Boise to Amman and Dallas to Port-au-Prince — with the sole purpose of uniting founders, local leaders, and friends to build momentum, establish connections, and create new opportunities. As we near the finish line here, others just like me continents far away are also assembling bios, gathering head shots, and booking travel.
Of course, Detroit Startup Week is not about me or any one person. It’s about us: together.
As a planner who jumped in early as track captain for civic innovation programming, I hoped we could dig in and talk about topics that matter to Detroiters and have been thrilled to see the community rally around the idea. Brought about by dual forces of budget constraints and digital technology, this type of entrepreneurship is a fundamental shift in the way citizens, the private sector, and government work together. We wanted to explore the diversity of new ideas, technologies, and engagement methods focused on improving current systems to solve problems at the community level.
The sessions have been shaped by conversations with dozens of community members who have pointed me and my fellow organizers in the right direction, and I’m excited to continue that dialog during Detroit Startup Week. Here are just a few of the sessions that will be taking place:
- A discussion of broadband access and digital equity
- An open data panel and breakout session with Data Driven Detroit, Loveland, the City of Detroit, and January Advisors
- A special Urban Sustainability Happy Hour Meetup conversation on data empathy, equity, and mapping
- Alex Alsup’s challenging Google street view project “A Hurricane without Water“
Oh, and I’ll be chatting on great panel exploring “Why should mobility companies be in Detroit?”
We’ve surely overlooked, been blind to, or otherwise forgotten many of you who are doing great work. It’s not too late to get involved. Register for a session, tell a friend, and follow us on Twitter.
Photo credit: Open Data Institute