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Bizdom Tech Start-Ups Pitch Investors In Detroit

By Edward Cardenas

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) - Entrepreneurs looking to grow their start-ups pitched their business plans Thursday to about 170 investors and business leaders at Bizdom's Demo Day in the M@dison Building.

Their businesses, which range from event ticketing programs to online food concierge, took to the stage to give potential investors an overview of their business and their plans for growth.

"Bizdom wants to be a place where early-stage entrepreneurs have all the resources they need to build that business in the city of Detroit," said Ross Sanders, executive director of Bizdom.

This was the third time Bizdom has held Demo Day in Detroit since 2012. The 10 businesses who took part in the event entered the accelerator program received $25,000 up front in exchange for 8 percent equity to the Bizdom non-profit fund, and can receive up to $100K convertible note upon successful completion of the accelerator.

In addition to the funding, the entrepreneurs also receive three months of mentoring from business executives in the nearly 100 businesses in the Quicken Loans family of companies.

And by taking part in Demo Day, the entrepreneurs are seeking additional investors to help their business grow.

"The big power of Bizdom is the access to the Dan Gilbert Quicken Loan family of companies," Sanders said. "They are getting money, mentorship and customers."

Melanie de Vries, chief operations officers for Payment Scholar, co-founded her company in March to help parents and districts with paper work, payments and registrations.

She estimates schools could lose about $400,000 in lost payments, and parents lose countless hours filling out forms, standing in lines and registering for school-related activities.

"We are helping on both sides,"said de Vries, whose goal was to make the entire process more efficient.

She added that being part of Bizdom, and utilizing the resources available, has "really helped us take off."

A second business which presented was foodjunky, which was recruited from Chicago to Detroit to be part of Bizdom.

Founder Travis Johnson said he wanted to prove his business concept of making the food ordering process easier by allowing users to choose from restaurants, delivery options and cuisine type.

He added that when he told people that he was coming to Detroit, only one person thought it was a good idea. Now?

"Every one of the (other) 29 people said you made a great choice," he said.

Other businesses which presented included:

  • Cribspot, which helps college students find and manage their off-campus housing by aggregating thousands of properties into one location,
  • TernPro, a full service video company that partners with businesses to produce consistent, high quality, engaging, and affordable videos,
  • Birdhouse For Autism, an app designed for parents raising children with Autism to help make managing care easier and more effective. The app stores important info on medications and supplements, therapies and therapists, as well as a daily journal of the child's activities like sleep, medications and moods.
  • Tap.in2, a Mobile app that provides in-seat deliveries at live events,
  • Oarex, which finances businesses by purchasing their future Google AdSense and AdX revenues. This innovative way of financing offers small- to mid-size business owners a healthy alternative to equity or debt financing.
  • Passage,  an event ticketing system for niche events such as beer and wine festivals, renaissance fairs and more.
  • Greenlance, which provides the next generation of alternative energy engineering services.
  • Lendulink, which offers a free college savings program with the added benefit of qualifying customers for low-interest rate college loans.

During a break in the presentations, Sanders said in four years the city has gone from having no business accelerators, a small investment community and the foundation community was in its infancy. Now there are start-ups,  a large investment community and a spirit of entrepreneurship.

"The whole needle is moving in the city of Detroit we are going in the right direction," said Sanders.





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