DETROIT- The needs of entrepreneurs have shifted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in response, TechTown Detroit today announced a strategic reorganization of its programs to better support small business owners and tech founders in reaching key early-stage growth milestones.
Led by TechTown Managing Director of Entrepreneurial Programs and Services Amy Rencher, the strategic reorganization of TechTown’s entrepreneurial programs and services includes new programs, personnel restructuring and the addition of key staff members. TechTown’s programs are now aligned into three business units highlighting the organization’s diverse public offerings: small business services, tech-based programming and entrepreneurial education.
“The cohesive reorganization of resources will help entrepreneurs and stakeholders more easily navigate TechTown’s robust suite of entrepreneurial programs and services,” said Rencher. “With a heavy emphasis on equity and inclusion, we’ve enhanced our services to focus on key early-stage growth milestones for our clients, including gains in cores business acumen and access to capital.”
Rencher, a six-year veteran of TechTown, has served in progressive leadership roles driving the development, implementation and evaluation of nationally recognized programs, including TechTown’s Stabilization Funds that provided $1.18 million in COVID-19 relief grants to small businesses. During her tenure, Rencher has shepherded over $10 million to TechTown, and is frequently tapped by funders and stakeholders for recommendations on micro- and small business technical assistance programming, strategic partnerships and policy initiatives.
The programmatic leadership staff serving under Amy Rencher embody the organization’s entrepreneurial spirit; each with a past or current business venture of their own. Marlo Rencher retains her position as director of technology-based programming and continues the work she began in 2019 to fill a gap in Southeast Michigan’s entrepreneurial programs and resources for early-stage Black and female tech founders. Lawrence Jackson has been promoted to entrepreneurial education director, utilizing his background in finance and business strategy along with his deep-rooted local connections to help entrepreneurs navigate Southeast Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Amanda Saab joins TechTown as director of small business services, where her experience as a former bakery owner and nationally recognized food entrepreneur will help businesses start, stabilize and grow.
To round out TechTown’s programmatic staff, new positions were created for marketing and capital strategists, and current job titles shifted to showcase strategist’s specialties: finance, food and beverage, language accessibility and retail operations. Distinguished entrepreneurs-in-residence, senior program facilitators and consultants continue to remain a hallmark of TechTown resources for entrepreneurs. To view TechTown’s staff, visit https://techtowndetroit.org/about/.
TechTown’s business strategists are available for free one-on-one consultations with entrepreneurs to discuss roadblocks, goals and direct them to the appropriate programs at TechTown and across Southeast Michigan’s network of business service organizations. Strategy Sessions, formally known as Open Office Hours, can be booked at https://techtowndetroit.org/strategy-sessions/.
“With the strategic restructuring of our programs, including new offerings and highly skilled and locally connected staff, we will continue to build bridges for entrepreneurs to succeed as we accelerate an inclusive and equitable economy for Detroit and Southeast Michigan,” Amy Rencher added.
TechTown programs at a glance:
Start Studio – Intensive idea validation for emerging founders with a tech-based business idea they want to test in the real world. This two-part program consists of online workshops/meetings and individualized coaching to help participants build revenue-generating prototypes.
Incubator – A 90-day program of individualized coaching and hands-on assistance for revenue-generating tech businesses preparing to scale their operations. Incubator focuses on strengthening sales, marketing, analytics, accounting and project management systems and processes.
Capital – An eight-week course for tech-based Southeast Michigan companies with a unique value proposition to increase knowledge about and access to capital. This program serves companies that raised less than $500,000 in private sector equity/revenue in the last year.
Traction – A highly focused program to help tech startups with a revenue-generating minimum viable product establish their path to recurring, predictable revenue. Traction aids founders in optimizing sales processes through biweekly meetings, weekly tracking and a sales leaderboard.
Small Business Services:
Retail Boot Camp (RBC) – An intensive, 12-week course with post-graduate coaching for entrepreneurs preparing to open a brick-and-mortar business in Detroit. RBC helps strengthen local businesses looking to thrive in today’s retail environment from pop-up stage to permanent location.
The SHOP – A monthly pop-up marketplace helping local entrepreneurs build skills and connect to new customers. Vendors receive support from TechTown strategists in technology, inventory management, merchandising, sales and operations.
313 STRONG – Customized, one-on-one coaching for small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park. TechTown strategists work with business owners for up to six months to build skills in finance, marketing and management and reach growth goals to increase revenue, create jobs and access capital.
Capital Access – Preparation assistance and lender referrals for first-time and repeat borrowers through one-on-one consultation and dedicated coaching, in partnership with local Community Development Financial Institutions and banks.
Strategy Sessions – One-on-one consultations with TechTown business strategists to discuss roadblocks and goals. Entrepreneurs will be directed to programs, resources and experts at TechTown and across Southeast Michigan’s network of business service organizations.
Ask an Expert – One-on-one guidance from industry experts in our Professional Services Network tailored to the specific needs of each entrepreneur. Experts answer questions about human resources, marketing, finance, legal issues, business operations and technology.
Training Series – Workshops covering business fundamentals and hot-button issues led by local and national experts. Topics are geared toward the needs of early- to growth-stage tech and small business entrepreneurs and include increasing revenue, connecting with new customers, accessing capital, and optimizing operations with systems and technology.
More information about TechTown’s programs can be viewed at https://techtowndetroit.org/small-business-startup-programs-detroit/.