Unusual post today: short thoughts and some shout outs.
Jake Cohen generously gave me an hour of his time yesterday answering questions about Detroit Venture Partners (DVP), the Gilbert family of companies, and rebuilding Detroit through entrepreneurship. At the end of our conversation, he mentioned some other people to talk to. One was Jerry Paffendorf, a name that was completely new to me. After a bit of Google stalking, I’ve learned that he’s doing some truly interesting things including crowd sourcing the ownership of land in Detroit for a buck an inch. My is-this-synchronicity side noted that he tweets under the name WELLO, the same name as Cynthia Koenig’s company to deliver water to the poor of India. I’ve been interacting with and supporting Cynthia for several years.
invests in software and digital companies poised for rapid growth. A “sister” company in the Gilbert / Quicken Loans family, Bizdom, is a nonprofit that helps smaller entrepreneurs get off the ground with funding, support, and space. Oh, and connections to other companies in the extended family.
Bizdom and hare space in the beautifully restored M@dison Building along with other companies connected to the family in some way. One, WedIt.com, has a small business doing crowd sourced home videos for weddings. I spoke with its founder, Brett Demeray, about the kind of connections he’d benefited from.
Among others were:
- support from Quicken Loans’ director of marketing in launching an AdWords campaign
- introduction to Crowne Plaza Hotels so that WedIt could be in on all the weddings that took place 11/11/11
- HR training from the head of Quicken’s HR department
- a mockup of the packaging WedIt could use for the cameras they’d send in the mail, courtesy of Fathead, a company in the family.
The fee for any of these? “Nothing. You wouldn’t ask your cousin to pay you back, would you?”
I had a check-in meeting with David Merritt this week. David continues towards the launch of his amazing fashion brand — one that will give 20% of its revenues (yes, revenues) to support poor kids attending college. David’s company, Merit, shows how a for-profit company can have, at its heart, an unmistakable ambition to make a big difference. MERIT is currently exploring its best options for manufacturing its line of clothing and is raising capital for its product launch.
I also had a check-in with Teresa Fisher who, along with co-founder Gilliam Henker, is leading the efforts of DIIME to develop health technologies for infants and mothers in Ghana. DIIME has developed a life-saving, affordable blood transfusion device which has recently been proven effective by independent lab tests and is awaiting animals trials. DIIME is hoping to do clinical trials with its partner, the Komfo Anoyke Teaching Hospital in Ghana, by the end of the year.
DIIME is hard at work preparing for future tests and raising the necessary money to support them.