In the span of an eight-week class, D:hive is helping both aspiring and established entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground in Detroit.
Some students who have enrolled in the class don’t yet have firm names or plans or haven’t talked to developers. Some people have ideas but no clue where to start. Anita Marsee, who plans to launch her business Deta’s Dandy Candy, which specializes in peanut free cookies and sweets, is one of the participants in the fall season BUILD class. While she developed her name and perfected her peanut butter alternative recipes, she was less clear about the nuts-and-bolts numbers aspect of her new venture.
D:hive starts with a nationally recognized curriculum, but tailors it specifically to opening a business in Detroit, and its starts from the ground up.
What is a business plan?
How do you come up with units?
How do you do your overhead?
Instructor and D:hive’s Executive Director Jeff Aronoff teaches the concepts and gives lots of illustrative examples. “He has a few people come to class and talk about their own examples, products and units,” Marsee says. “Everyone’s unit is different. For some it would be a few products, others a service, depending on what it is. So you figure out how much you need to make to break even, make a profit.”
The first four weeks of the class are focused on building and tweaking a solid business plan. “Some of the people in the class already had businesses, and for whatever reason they didn’t have a business plan,” Marsee says. “But I think down the road it will be helpful because having a business plan is what you need to get funding—whether it’s a loan or grants.”
After students tackle the numbers side of their business ideas the class moves on to marketing, funding and legal.
“Being able to ask questions was very helpful,” Marsee notes. “We have questions all the time and Jeff, being an attorney, has some of the answers and knowledge. If he doesn’t, he’ll find it.” During the course of the eight-week class, an attorney and several self-starting entrepreneurs come to visit the class and answer generic questions.
The classes are open to a wide range of people … from those who might already have businesses running to those forming their business plans to someone who simply has an idea. The range of business ideas is wide, too. The current class caters to a few different people doing apps, culinary endeavors, apparel, non-profits and other seeds of concepts. “The class is open to people who just want to have a business sense even if they don’t have a clear business or product in mind,” says Marsee. “There are people who come in and then discover ‘oh, maybe I want to do this’ just through talking to other people.”
More than getting the ABCs on what it takes to start a business, it’s this connection to other entrepreneurs that Marsee finds so valuable. “This is really getting me pumped. When I leave the class at night I get so excited after other people are talking to me,” she says. “We’re running ideas off each other. They become some of your connections, sometimes even like family. Everyone is working with each other and giving so-called ‘discounts’ on their services to help. People are so much in love with the city of Detroit and want to come to the city that they’re all willing to help each other.”
The next three fall sessions of the class are booked, but if you’d like to learn more about BUILD or apply to join the next open class session, you can visit their website.