did something last week that many local entrepreneurial conferences often come up short at: creating excitement.
The one-day event at Wayne State University generated a buzz among its participants and the growth of the local new economy start-up scene that is starting to gain traction in recent years.
"We have the opportunity to fill so many gaps that there is an opportunity in every empty space," says Leslie Smith, president & CEO of TechTown
Smith was one of the panelists at a break-out session that compared what is going on in Detroit to the creative-class revival taking place in Berlin. The packed room, several dozen strong, spoke about not only what the Motor City can learn from Germany's capital but also how locals should focus on Detroit instead of over comparing to other vibrant cities.
"Let's just celebrate who we are and celebrate it as a community," says Josh Linkner, CEO of Detroit Venture Partners
, another panelist. He adds that Detroiters need "to look at all options, not just the incremental ones but the disruptive solutions, too."
There were a number of big-names speaking at the event. They included both local start-up stars like Quicken Loans
Chairman Dan Gilbert and national icons, like Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. However, the breakout sessions and side conversations seems to attract most attention from attendees looking to have some interesting conversations -- such as comparing Detroit to Berlin.
"There is a lot of opportunity here," says Matt Clayson, director of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center
, one of the other Detroit v. Berlin panelists. "What Berlin got right is it listened and learned."
Source: Leslie Smith, president & CEO of TechTown; Josh Linkner, CEO of Detroit Venture Partners and Matt Clayson, director of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.