City Hustle: The Urban Entrepreneur Students’ Detroit Trek
In the heart of Detroit, David Tarver and Darrin Leppek’s Urban Entrepreneur Students embarked on DTREK, a weekend adventure into the bustling world of Michigan startups.
Their day kicked off at Detroit Blight Busters, a group on a mission to “Save the world, starting with Detroit.” With passion in their hearts, Blight busters are tackling the city decay by engaging the community and devising creative solutions for sustainable growth. Blight Busters showed students that they weren’t just tearing down buildings; they were building dreams, supporting local businesses, and creating spaces for the community to unite. The movement is striving for a brighter Detroit.
Next on the trek was The Lab Drawer, a brainchild of brilliance crafted by Alecia Gabriel Ph.D. and Deirdre Roberson, M.S. Their mission? To bring quality STEAM experiences to underserved youth. Imagine a subscription box filled with wonders, where every month, young minds could dive into STEM experiments, augmented reality adventures, and artistic escapades. It was an education in education.
“I really liked being able to learn about people who really started from the bottom and were working for the community. That they were encouraged and determined to help the community. Just getting to see them get where they are now and to know that its just getting better and better…very inspiring, so impressive.” — Nia Raé
Then, the students ventured into the eco-friendly realm of NexTiles, founded by the visionary Environmental Scientist, Madeline Miller. Here, textile waste from Detroit’s industries finds new life, weaving into the circular economy. NexTiles is not just about products; it’s about transforming lives, creating clean jobs, and championing sustainability. The threads of change are being spun right here in Detroit.
A stop at Newlab introduced the students to the cutting edge of technology. In a space that bustles with more than 900 entrepreneurs, they got a glimpse into the future. It a community where innovative minds collide, where ideas are nurtured, and where technologies are scaled to address society’s deepest needs. And in this vibrant hub, they participated in Black Tech Saturdays, an initiative by Johnnie & Alexa Turnage, empowering Black professionals, and entrepreneurs. It was a celebration of diversity, development, and community engagement.
“I think CFE did a great job showing us a variety of different businesses with different business models and ways to outreach to the community. It was a great experience.” — Joe
Finally, the day concluded with Venture for America at Campus Martius Park. Here, the students were challenged with a simple yet profound question: Who wanted to be a founder and start their own company? Venture for America is not just a program; it’s a bridge connecting passionate graduates with startup opportunities. Venture for America is promise of support, a network of investors and experts, guiding these aspiring entrepreneurs toward success.
The students had a day filled with excitement, inspiration, and endless possibilities. Detroit, with its heartbeat of innovation, had opened its arms wide, welcoming them into a world where dreams had the power to transform not just their lives, but the entire cityscape. It was a day where passion met purpose, and the future seems brighter than ever before.
Watch the video to see the students trek through Detroit.