Here, in Detroit, I feel like in some ways I have been learning how to walk again, except that neither the path nor the destiny belongs to me. I am not a Detroiter, not even American, and I had never truly had the freedom to explore a world as alive and raw as Detroit – a tale of two cities, one developed and one not, and a story of overcoming and relentlessness that no one ever really told. And despite all of that, despite of all the orientation sessions on how we would never leave an impact in the city, despite of our alien status in Detroit, there is no way of saying what we are doing here is not a story for years.
In our time with Build Institute, Marc and I have been relentlessly researching the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Detroit and the world, trying to find a way to quantify and qualify the impact of the organization in the greater community. We spent weeks creating new metrics and evaluating past alumni surveys, analyzing past organizational reports, and working with organizations across the nation in obtaining the most updated information on entrepreneurial activity in urban environments. We prepared class materials, staffed conferences and market bazaars, and celebrated with some cake whenever a new set of companies – entrepreneurs – graduated from Build Institute. And out of all the things we learned, one rises above all: it takes a village to start a company.
Build's efforts and results are with everyone and everywhere, and go well beyond any economic impact report we could possibly aspire to produce. It's in Ponyride and its tireless entrepreneurs who are redefining innovation in the Motor City, and it's probably in that new boutique opening around the corner, that food truck that just popped up in the park. It's in Downtown, it's in the neighborhoods. But most importantly, it's not just for now – it's for the future.
Build itself is a village, a hub made of 1100 seasoned and aspiring entrepreneurs who won't stop at a first funding setback or lack of a proper brick-and-mortar location, people who will do anything in their reach to help others bring their own ideas to life through entrepreneurship. And although Marc and I are simply interns, foreigners in this community, every single interaction we have with a Builder and every single new metric we finalize further solidifies this village. Our time here does have a deadline, but perhaps Build, or at least the impact caused by this organization, doesn't seem to have an expiration date, at least not depending on all the ideas that started with Build.