Green Garage startups excel at Social Entrepreneurship Challenege

Model D Media
Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013

Detroit-based startups and organizations did well at the first Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, taking home $76,000 of the $93,000 in seed capital awarded.

A couple of those winners came from a local same small business incubator, Green Garage. The Midtown-based incubator describes itself a "a business enterprise, and a community of people dedicated to Detroit's sustainable future" on its website. It adds that its "principal business focus is helping triple bottom line businesses grow naturally." Triple bottom line businesses focus on the economic, ecological, and social aspects of their enterprise.

That focus means Green Garage attracts a lot of social entrepreneurs who are looking to improve their community through their business. One of its early clients, Fresh Corner Cafe, is a startup that is helping bring healthy eating options to corner stores in underserved areas of Detroit. The 3-year-old business took first place in the Emerging Company category of the Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. Noam Kimelman, co-owner of Fresh Corner Cafe, credits Green Garage's tutelage as a major factor in his company's win.

"Once you're in this space there are a lot of advantages to be had, ranging from networking to resources that allow us to grow," Kimelman says.

Fresh Corner Cafe has expanded its staff to 10 people over the last year thanks to three recent hires. The $20,000 it won at the Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge (the second largest prize) will go toward a larger fundraising round (with a goal of raising $50,000) to grow its reach even further.

Patronicity is another Green Garage startup that placed at the Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. It won the Millennial Social Innovation Prize (worth $3,000) for its crowd-funding platform that focuses on connecting local projects with local donors. Chris Blauvelt, the company's founder, believes Green Garage's entrepreneurial ecosystem helped significantly in Patronicity's win at the competition.

"Everyone supports one another," Blauvelt says. "We want to collaborate with each other. That mindset is powerful."