Last month more than 70 students from U-M, U-M Dearborn and Eastern Michigan University were able to take an inside look at innovative companies making moves within two cities – Detroit and Ann Arbor. 

Students explored these Michigan startup ecosystems during the Detroit Discovery Trek and the A2 Discovery Trek, which both took place in February. 

These immersive treks gave students the opportunity to explore their interest in entrepreneurship while learning about different ventures and the impact on their communities. 

Want to know what these treks were like? Check out some of their stops:  

Detroit Trek 

The Detroit Discovery Trek is organized through the Urban Entrepreneurship Practicum course and is designed for students who want to understand more about the process of creating sustainable businesses that benefit people who live in urban communities. 

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“I understand now that you have to start small, with the local community. That means partnering with local people to start or run businesses.” – Detroit Trek Participant

Brightmoor Neighborhood 

Brightmoor’s revitalization is led by the Brightmoor Alliance, which describes the area as an innovative community where people, especially of modest means, can live, learn, work, commune, recreate and worship in a safe, healthy, culturally diverse and sustainable environment. 

Sweet Potato Sensations

Sweet Potato Sensations is an important anchor in the redevelopment of the Old Redford neighborhood. Along with The Old Redford Theater, and Motor City Java House, these three businesses help to create the most densely populated, and active business districts in Northwest Detroit. 

Fitzgerald Neighborhood

Founded in 1962, this community with its tree-lined streets and community gardens, lies within the Livernois and McNichols “Live6” corridor, giving community members access to Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion and various shops, art galleries, salons and restaurants. 


Live6 Alliance is a nonprofit planning and development economic opportunity in Northwest Detroit. The organization acts as a conduit between the institutions and their surrounding communities, with a particular focus on the McNichols and Livernois corridors. 

The Commons 

The Commons is a unique combination coffee bar and coin laundry that operates in a storefront space on Mack Avenue which is MACC Development’s new multipurpose space. 

A2 Trek

The A2 Discovery Trek in partnership with Ann Arbor SPARK showcases tech and innovation in the Ann Arbor entrepreneurial ecosystem through exploring local startup ventures and innovative companies.

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“I found continual reinforcement of entrepreneurial course topics and I also appreciated how, in the real-world, those lessons take on a different form.” – A2 Trek Participant

TechArb Student Venture Accelerator 

TechArb Student Venture Accelerator serves as the training ground for University of Michigan students to become tomorrow’s leading entrepreneurs. 

Menlo Innovations

Menlo started out as a software company, and is still the organization’s primary focus, but that is not all they do. In addition to designing and building software, Menlo is known as a workplace that creates joy for its employees, clients and end users by incorporating The Menlo Way.  

The A2 Startup Garage 

In 2012 Menlo Innovations co-founders Rich Sheridan and James Goebel opened Menlo’s doors to companies needing their first out of home office, inviting them to set up their own pod alongside the various Menlo project teams. 

Barracuda Networks 

Giving businesses an email-security solution that doesn’t cost a small fortune, Barracuda continues to disrupt the IT-security market with innovative solutions that every business can afford. 

Ann Arbor SPARK

Ann Arbor SPARK serves the greater Ann Arbor region as a catalyst for economic development. They accomplish this by building awareness of the region as a destination for business and manufacturing development and growth.