Attend June 22 Pitch Competition to learn about resources and processes
Did you know an entrepreneur from Southeastern Michigan competed on ABC’s Shark Tank and received funding for his invention from billionaire investor Mark Cuban? Another launched a company that produces handmade shoes using surplus leather from the auto industry. Yet another has purchase orders with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for products that assist the physically challenged.
The names of these companies are, respectively, MaxPro, Pingree Detroit, and Wareologie. They have one important thing in common: All work with Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University, a full-service, business accelerator for Michigan based businesses, located in Southfield City Centre on the Lawrence Technological University campus.
To date, the Accelerator has helped launch more than 150 new business products and generated more than $24 million in contracts to Michigan suppliers. “Many people in the community are not aware of the resources available to start up or scale up a business,” says Dennis Shaver, an expert-in-residence at the Accelerator. “People have great ideas but then they get stuck and give up. We know how to vet and validate an idea early in the process.”
Centrepolis Accelerator is one of a handful of labs in the United States specializing in assisting inventors of physical products with the designing, developing, manufacturing and marketing required to launch and grow. City of Southfield Business Development and Centrepolis have partnered to establish the Southfield Evolution Lab which encourages the movement of underserved Southfield entrepreneurs – “micro businesses” and “micro-makers” – into a robust community through education and mentoring.
Daniel Hodges was one such entrepreneur when, as a graduate student at Lawrence Tech, he developed a new tool to purify and increase access to clean drinking water. A faculty member suggested he enlist the Accelerator team to develop and commercialize his invention. Hodges, who is founder and CEO of Meknology and also an expert-in-residence at the Accelerator, speaks from experience. “I can tell you the tools actually work,” he says, “because I’ve used them.”
Those interested in learning more about available resources can visit the Centrepolis Acclerator Programs page.
Those interested in seeing startup and scale-up entrepreneurs as they work to advance their businesses can virtually attend the Micro Makers Evolution Lab Pitch Event on June 22 at Centrepolis Accelerator. The event will feature three-minute pitches by Southfield and Wayne County startup and scale-up companies seeking funding for their inventions and showcasing their companies. The event also will feature a fireside chat with MaxPro founder Nezar Akeel who will discuss his experience working with the Accelerator team to manufacture and launch his MaxPro portable gym. The event is free; register here.
Centrepolis Accelerator has more than 30 experts-in-residence, representing a broad array of industries and expertise. They offer assistance in product design, prototyping, testing, tooling, materials and manufacturing, marketing, business and sales strategy and support, and entrepreneurship training to startups, established small businesses, inventors, product developers and service providers. “We offer one-on-one client service and support,” Hodges adds. To inquire, fill out the form on the Southfield Evolution Lab page. Responses usually come within three business days.
Centrepolis Accelerator represents a partnership between City of Southfield, Lawrence Technological University, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, New Economy Initiative, Oakridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Small Business Administration, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, William Davidson Foundation and others.