NEI Story Quick Facts
Grants: Accelerator Program, Bizdom, and Bizdom U Fund
Grant Amount Total: $1,700,000
Grant Period: 7/8/2008 - 3/31/2014
- Support entrepreneur training programs and startup funding for Bizdom companies
Before Bizdom, we were bootstrapping. Getting to Bizdom allowed us both to come on full time.
- Jordan Warzecha, co-founder of Backstitch
Bizdom is an entrepreneurial accelerator that provides training and mentorship to tech startups looking for the help and funding they need to grow their ideas into profitable businesses. In exchange for an 8% equity stake, Bizdom gives program participants an intensive three-to-six month training program and awards $25,000 in startup capital to each accepted applicant. When training is complete, Bizdom companies can utilize free office space in downtown Detroit and access more capital funding.
NEI has been working with Bizdom Detroit since 2008, and NEI’s grant dollars have helped Bizdom launch additional training programs in Detroit to support local entrepreneurs. Bizdom is searching for the next great tech start up in Detroit, and NEI believes they have created the perfect platform to give the next great idea the best possible opportunity to succeed.
We are inundated with information every time we use the internet. Jordan and Stefanie Warzecha, husband and wife co-founders of Backstitch, saw an opportunity in the chaos. With Backstitch, they are working to create a platform for a personalized view of the web. Before Bizdom, Jordan and Stefanie were bootstrapping. She could give nights and weekends, but she had to keep her day job, and Jordan was making the rounds between the library and local coffee shops.
When they were accepted into Bizdom, they were able to dedicate themselves completely to their company. Not only did they have time and funding for BackStitch, they had access to needed mentorship, collaborators, office space, and resources. Being in Downtown has been great for BackStitch. Bizdom has given them the opportunity to take their business to the next level and learn about all of the fantastic opportunities that Detroit has to offer.
Many startups give lip service to improving their neighborhoods, but few make it part of their business plan like Chalkfly, a company that sells office and school supplies online while donating some of the profits to teachers in need of supplies for their classrooms. Chalkfly found that teachers in America collectively spend $1 billion out-of-pocket on supplies for their classrooms. Ryan Landau and his partners at ChalkFly believe that they can do good while doing well, donating five percent of each purchase to teachers and schools. Customers can select a teacher they would like to help or let ChalkFly decide.
Chalkfly launched about a year ago, and Bizdom has been there every step of the way and has helped them grow their idea. Now they have 15 employees and $2.5 million in revenue. Being a technology company, they could have started anywhere, but they chose Detroit because of Bizdom and the culture of entrepreneurship that is taking root here. There’s a movement in Detroit, and Chalkfly doesn’t want to miss it. Neither does NEI, and that’s why we support Bizdom and their entrepreneurs.