What you missed at NewCo. Detroit

Have you ever wanted to pick the brain of executives and founders of successful and influential companies?  If you are like me, you would jump at this opportunity.

Enter NewCo.  newco logo

Have you heard of it?  If not, it should definitely be on your radar.  In the spirit of community over competition, NewCo. grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns and laid out a unique experience for anyone to meet with the founders and senior leadership of innovative companies inside their actual businesses for candid conversations.

If you weren’t one of the 500 of attendees able to make it to NewCo. Detroit, here’s a brief summary of my experience and the companies I visited which hopefully will encourage you to attend one of these upcoming events.

First stop: Detroit Bikes
Detroit wooed a native Canadian with its manufacturing capacity, affordable real estate, and skilled labor to call Detroit home.  Thus proving you don’t have to be sexy to win the girl.  It became clear to me that Detroit’s resources are the foundation for Detroit’s next generation of manufacturing success.

Next stop: Gensler
It was amazing to see how Gensler, a design firm, focuses on designing spaces based on how humans interact with their environments.  This completely and intuitively changes how building and offices are configured, and made me re-evaluate my own work space.

Onto Downtown Boxing Gym
This is the truly inspiring story of Kahli Sweeney who turned his life around and went from living in a car to starting a business which would fulfill the needs of a community filled with high risk youth who were just like him.  Even more remarkable is that this business, which provides academic support in addition to its boxing program, operates solely on donations.  I don’t think there is any other business that truly embodies the spirit and need of Detroit.

Last Stop:  Detroit Creative Corridor
I attended a program by the Detroit Creative Corridor and learned how the recent designation by UNESCO of Detroit as a City of Art (who knew?!), can help transform the city and help it become world renowned for its art, architecture, design and culture.

In talking to other attendees, listening to the passion of these business owners and directors of organizations, I learned there is an inexhaustible supply of passion and commitment to making Detroit great, helping it grow, making the next generation more prosperous and more optimistic.  At Downtown Boxing Gym I walked away humbled by the selflessness of our community, the vision of what the city can look like in the future, and the talent and skills of people who can make this happen.  As a suburbanite, it makes me feel, admittedly, somewhat embarrassed to live in my sheltered little world.  This experience has reinvigorated my commitment to find areas where I can contribute and make an impact on our great city.

Visiting Detroit Bikes and Gensler gave me first hand insight on just how Detroit is fulfilling industry demands for talent and innovation.  It was easy to see why NewCo. picked Detroit as a host city.  Yet, it is not the work of one great institution or one great monolith that will change our city (although Dan Gilbert might be the exception), but rather, the commitment and passion of many, many individuals who contribute in their individual way, both small and large, to bettering Detroit.

NewCo.’s mantra: Learn, Connect, Celebrate easily summarizes my experience.  For information on upcoming NewCo. events where you too can be inspired check them out here.