Yet, as our DukeEngage cohort went to tour Detroit with the Detroit Experience Factory and experienced the rich entrepreneurial scene here, it has been evident that the news does not accurately reflect the resilience and willpower of Detroit residents. Denizens of Detroit truly love their city, as we have learned through a scavenger hunt through downtown. Vibrant murals and inspiring graffiti abound on walls, all highlighting positive aspects of Detroit's history. Local startups and large firms exist in symbiosis, helping one another help Detroit residents. Transportation endeavors such as MoGo and the QLine connect Midtown to Downtown, allowing for low-cost, effective transit options. These companies are made in Detroit for Detroiters, to increase the quality of life within the city.
In fact, certain aspects of the Detroit community surpass their analogs within the Duke community. For instance, Detroit Soup is a program that allows new entrepreneurs to pitch their startup ideas in front of an audience, in which each person pays ten dollars to receive dinner. After pitches, dinner is served and the audience votes for the most impactful and realistic startup. The winner receives half of the proceeds (five dollars per each person in the audience) to launch the startup. Dinner is potluck style, which encourages the community to cook and share food. For many years, Durham (and Duke) had lacked this kind of support and networking for budding entrepreneurs, but DukeEngage Detroit alumni have recently launched this program in Durham.
Resurget cineribus is the latter half of the Detroit city seal: Latin for “it rises from the ashes.” To me, Detroit has already risen out ashes many times - like a phoenix being continuously reborn. Though the ashes may not be very flamboyant, the majestic bird is truly a sight to behold. In my short time here, I hope to demonstrate the same willpower and diligence Detroiters show everyday to help fledgling business launch and connect incubators and alumni. I hope that my work can contribute to facilitating a stronger network of entrepreneurs. All in all, I am excited to see what Detroit has in store for the next seven weeks.