Applications are open for businesses interested in participating in Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day competition through April 22nd. The final pitch competition will be held on June 22 at downtown Detroit’s Music Hall. The event is open to the public and investors are encouraged to attend.
Demo Day is more than a competition it is part of a broader philanthropic strategy to invest in housing stability, entrepreneurship, education, employment, public space activation and community sponsorship in Detroit. The mission behind this event extends beyond helping fund small Detroit based businesses. The company looks to bring together for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations in addition to celebrating entrepreneurship in Detroit.
“We want to see the most innovative companies led by the most driven entrepreneurs take the stage at Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day. These are the kinds of companies that help communities throughout Detroit thrive,” said James Chapman, Director of Entrepreneurship for Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund (QLCIF). “Each year, this $1 million investment helps open opportunities for entrepreneurs to have access to the capital and mentorship they need to take their businesses to the highest levels, and in turn create jobs and prosperity for Detroiters.”
Last year the competition received upwards of 600 applications, and the number is expected to double this year. That means that the completion is stiffer so entrepreneurs will need to bring their A game and be ready to compete. Chapman offers a few pointers to potential finalists.
“We really want to encourage the entrepreneurs to take your time and don’t rush through the application. You want to make sure you answer all questions completely because you only get one shot. There will not be another opportunity to apply this year so take your time and be sure to give the full story of your business,” said Chapman.
Eligibility for Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day requires companies to be based in Detroit or committed to relocating into the city. They also must be a for-profit business with a product or service that is ready for sales. Additionally, the company may have up to $2 million in annual revenue and have raised up to $1 million in the capital.
Once the application period closes on April 22nd, the QLCIF Entrepreneurship Team and community partners will review all submissions and narrow the pool to the top 100 semi-finalists. A group of established Detroit-based business leaders — from a variety of industries and sectors — will then select the finalists who will advance to the Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day.
From the hundreds of applicants, fifteen entrepreneurs will be chosen to pitch their company live, on stage at the Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day competition. After the small business owners pitch their companies, a panel of nationally-recognized entrepreneurs will pick seven winners who will receive a share of $1 million to invest in their business. The winnings will come in the form of grants, interest-free loans or equity-like investments ranging from $50,000 to $300,000. The audience in Music Hall will also vote on the “People’s Choice” grant recipients.
In 2017, eight winners walked away with $50,000 – $200,000 in funding. Demo Day winners included: Social Club Grooming, Detroit Training Center, Ash & Erie, Recovery Park Farms, Eli Tea, The Farmer’s Hand, Social Sushi and Good Cakes and Bakes.
“Along with providing capital, my company also received helpful mentoring and access to opportunity that has made winning Detroit Demo Day a life-changing experience,” said April Anderson, founder of Good Cakes and Bakes on the city’s northwest side. “I was born in Detroit, and I love that I am now a part of the growth of the city.”
Chapman’s parting words for the entrepreneurs who make it to the pitch stage, “Be authentic! People tend to get a little nervous on stage under the bright lights and gaze of the audience, just remember that you know your business better than anyone else, so be true to yourself and the culture of your business, and you will do well.”
To apply for Demo Days competition click here.