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In the year since I started my gig at the Detroit Regional Chamber I’ve been working to answer that question; diving into Detroit’s vast, sometimes fragmented, and always exciting entrepreneurial community to see where we as an organization could be more collaborative and supportive.

Devon O'Reilly
Devon O’Reilly

Trips to places like TechTown, Bamboo Detroit, Ponyride, and Build Institute have taken me to the connecting points to further one goal: Understanding what the Detroit Regional Chamber and the larger business community as whole can do to help startups and entrepreneurs grow and thrive in Detroit. That’s not to mention the many conversations, meetings, and cocktails with entrepreneurs that are helping redefine this city; the Niles Herons, Marc Hudsons, and Amy Swifts of Detroit.

It’s worth noting that the Chamber also recently launched the Startgrid Detroit platform aiming to be a free and comprehensive online community for entrepreneurs and thought leaders to share knowledge, grow ideas, and connect with resources and people in the Detroit entrepreneurial community and beyond. I’ll be using my resources via Startgrid to help guide this discussion.

My hope is that this column can be a place to answer and address some of the themes and topics that are vital to the success of entrepreneurs and small business in the Detroit community. To show off some of the success stories you might not have read about. To celebrate Detroit’s entrepreneurial scene.

Ultimately, it’s about hearing from entrepreneurs, innovators and the relentless rascals who won’t quit until their ideas are reality. It’s about seeing what they need to succeed. Below are a few themes I’ve gleaned from my conversations so far. Obviously this conversation is a bigger than one post or one organization, but this column can be part of that conversation.

So …. What do entrepreneurs want from the larger business community?

A Seat at the Table: The Big Issues Affect Us Too! – Entrepreneurs and small business owners want a voice in the greater business community. They want a seat at the table. Too often they feel marginalized or overlooked when it comes to how the big issues that affect them.

Mentorship: What’s a Little Failure Among Friends? – Being able to talk to people who have successfully navigated the start-up path before is invaluable. Almost every successful business started off as one or two individuals with a big idea. Hearing directly from them about their failures, pitfalls and ultimate success can be a tremendous motivator and guiding tool for entrepreneurs – and a step toward embracing the inevitable failure that comes with successful entrepreneurship.

Connections: Who Should I Be Talking to and Where Can I Talk to Them? – There are a lot of people trying to do a lot of great things, but too often they’re not making the right connection to the person or organization that can provide guidance and support or remove barriers. Entrepreneurs are looking for help to make those connections.

A Complete Story: Expose Us, For Who We Are – Spotlight. Exposure. The Shine. Whatever you want to call it, there is a sense that not everyone’s story is getting told and not every startup is getting their share of media attention. There are so many more stories than what’s printed – find it (and print it).

My hope is that this column can become a place to answer and address some of these and other themes and topics that are, and will become vital to the success of entrepreneurs and small business in the Detroit community. I look forward to continuing this discussion and welcome all the questions, feedback, and even snarky remarks you can throw at me.

This is a new recurring guest column from Devon O’Reilly, who is the Manager of Entrepreneurship and Detroit Engagement for the Detroit Regional Chamber. Submit your questions/issues/topics you’d like to see covered and answered in future columns and make sure to check out Startgrid.com/Detroit for updates, answers, and discussion centered on entrepreneurship as well as connect with Devon and the Detroit Regional Chamber team directly.

Editor’s Note: Daily Detroit welcomes guest contributions as a platform for furthering the Detroit conversation. If you have one of your own, get in touch.