At TechTown, I have been learning a lot about the key concepts of entrepreneurship and how to be a more innovative thinker. One key idea is customer discovery- learning more about what problem potential consumers have that can be alleviated through your service or product. This same method of thinking, when applied to a community or society's problems, is social entrepreneurship.
All entrepreneurs hope to create a profitable business. Social entrepreneurs pursue a second motive, a positive social impact on their surrounding community. As I have observed during these first few weeks, Detroit residents are fiercely proud of their city and willing to work hard in order to change it for the better. To me, this strong sense of community is what makes a great social entrepreneur. Thus, Detroit is a prime place for social entrepreneurship- and a place that really needs it. Ever since Henry Ford's invention of the automobile, Detroit residents have continued to develop innovative solutions to the city's problems. Although recently portrayed in a more negative light, Detroit has always been a symbol of innovation.
A few days ago, I witnessed this firsthand at the Green Garage, an environmentally friendly co-working space for new business ventures. Community builders from across Detroit gathered for a community lunch with a special guest, Mayor Duggan. They discussed the "spirit of Detroit" and suggested ways to make the city stronger. As I listened, I couldn't help but notice their love of city and how much they wished to contribute to its revival.
As I continue to spend more time familiarizing myself with Detroit, I've begun to learn more about the problems this community faces. I am beginning to see the importance of interacting with many different people in order to gain a holistic perspective of Detroit's struggling population. I am also learning that eight weeks is not enough time to do this. Luckily for Detroit, there are numerous residents who have chosen to take an entrepreneurial approach to resolving a certain social issue in Detroit.
I met one of them this past Friday at TechTown. Julie Andreae is one of the founders of Secure Beginnings, a company that produces breathable mattresses for infants. This product ensures babies can breathe safely if they roll face-down during the night. This is one of the causes of SIDS, a syndrome that took the life of her niece prior to Secure Beginnings' launch. In addition to saving lives, Andreae's product helps bring manufacturing jobs back to Detroit. I was inspired by her savvy business skills and commitment to her product and community. I can't wait to meet more social entrepreneurs as I continue my adventure in Detroit.