Build a Local Detroit Business with D:hive

By: Toni Cunningham | February 11, 2013

As the population of Downtown Detroit increases, it’s no surprise that entrepreneurs are flocking to the area. If you’re looking to open a business but don’t know where to start, D:hive is here to help.

Open City forums are a great non-committal way to get some entrepreneurial advice. The events occur once a month and serve as a resource for local entrepreneurs to meet new people and hear experts discuss certain topics, according to April Boyle, Director of Recruitment at D:hive.

“It’s a great way to check out what’s happening in the business, entrepreneurial or retail side of things,” Boyle said. “If you’re new in town or exploring opening a store or something, it’s a great way to meet people and see what’s going on.”

The events are open to the public, free of charge, and focus on a specific business topic. The next Open City forum, “Lean on Me: The Importance of Mentorship,” will be held on Monday, February 18 at Cliff Bell’s. The forum, featuring successful Metro Detroit entrepreneurs as guest speakers, will focus on the importance of having a business role model.

Entrepreneurs from successful local businesses including Supino Pizzeria, Good People Popcorn and Wheelhouse Detroit have all participated in D:hive’s Open Forums in the past.

This January marks the one year anniversary of D:hive’s BUILD program, an eight-week business course. The classes have been incredibly successful, requiring D:hive to double class capacity for this year.

“The BUILD program has 100 people on a waiting list, and we have 30 to 40 people (enrolled) every season,” Boyle said. “People are just really interested in creating a job for themselves… (They) are certainly curious and want to be a part of the energy that is transforming Detroit right now.”

Fees for BUILD classes are determined by household income and family size, and the goal is to give aspiring business owners the skills they need to bring their ideas to life. No matter what type of business you’re looking to open, D:hive’s workshops and classes will be beneficial.

“It’s a very diverse group of businesses and business ideas,” Boyle said. “Anything is possible at this point if you do it well and you do it right.”

Noelle Lothamer, a D:hive BUILD grad and founder of Beau Bien Fine Foods, has expanded her jam, preserve and condiment business to Eastern Market and other retail locations since participating in the program.

“One of the nice things about the course is that they bring in people from different fields, such as real estate or marketing, to speak to the class and share their experience and expertise,” Lothamer said. “Getting the feedback of our classmates was also a valuable tool, since everyone came from different backgrounds and had different types of business ideas.”

Thanks to the tools she learned from D:hive, Lothamer now has her MDA license and sells her products to more than just friends and family. Furthermore, she hopes her product will become more widely distributed in the Metro Detroit area, ultimately becoming a regionally recognized brand.

Like Lothamer, Boyle thinks Detroit provides a ton of great resources for people who want to start a business of their own. She, like all D:hive residents, would like to see more mom and pop businesses develop in the city.

“I feel like we’re building on this entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Boyle said. “We’re creating a community that supports small business and appreciates small business.”

For more information on D:hive’s BUILD classes and Open City forums, visit http://dhivedetroit.org.