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Leadership

Five questions with the leadership team of TechTown Detroit….

 

Leslie Lynn Smith, president & CEO

What brought you to TechTown and what is your favorite part of working here? 

Detroit is home. Detroit is awesome. Detroit sucks. Detroit can lead other American cities to a new, powerful and shared reality. By having hard discussions, facing the truth and eliminating the structures and mindsets that divide us, we can create one Detroit where there is economic and social justice for all of her residents and a future rich with potential. Being a part of that is what gets me out of bed each day.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Detroit? Why?

Eastern Market food trucks during Tuesday market day.

If you could start a business what would it be? 

A manufacturing company. We need to make more stuff here. Innovation is directly tied to making, so are middle-class jobs. Americans with middle-class jobs consume products and services in America, thus creating more middle-class jobs. It’s simple really, we just stopped paying attention to it and let a lot of those jobs go.

Describe yourself in 10 words or less. 

Doing what I can to be the best version of me.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs? 

Take the first step.

 

Regina Ann Campbell, managing director, place-based entrepreneurship

What brought you to TechTown and what is your favorite part of working here? 

What brought me to TechTown is its open-source model as a best practice development that creates the opportunity to change American cities one at a time; sharing in ongoing experience for the greater good; my passion for working with small, neighborhood-based businesses; and matching this with my skills and desire to support building strong local economies at the neighborhood level. TechTown’s focus on including historically underserved populations in Detroit’s neighborhoods pulls at my heart! I love so much at TechTown, but my favorite is the innovation and risk-taking that takes place in order to lean toward solutions that change cities block by block.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Detroit? Why?

I have to say Rose’s Fine Food (one of our SWOT City companies). Every time I walk into the diner, there is a sense of community and a diverse mix of people from all walks of life. Families, white collar and blue collar workers are sitting enjoying food made from scratch, all while exchanging smiles, hellos and conversations.

If you could start a business what would it be? 

Currently, I’m working on a project in the low-volume manufacturing space.

Describe yourself in 10 words or less. 

Adaptable, unwavering optimist, seriously direct, creative, family-oriented, results-driven, passionate, smart and witty.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Be open to advice, seek best practices, understand there are no limits except those you place on yourself. Recognize the value in no rules, no direction or a clean slate. Think it, create it, build it! In ambiguity and a road less traveled, there is the flexibility to make magic, take risks, make mistakes and ask forgiveness later. Repeat!
 

Diana Goode, managing director, finance & administration

What brought you to TechTown and what is your favorite part of working here?

Luck brought me to TechTown. 100% being in the right place at the right time, and I am so glad to be a part of this team! My favorite part of working here is the staff, and the joy of seeing the city of Detroit recover to be the city that I remember as a child.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Detroit? Why?

That’s a tough one, but I lean to Sala Thai because they have amazing curry, sushi, Thai beer and sake. Plus, being near Eastern Market is always a great experience that brings me back to wonderful shopping and cooking memories with my grandmother.

If you could start a business what would it be? 

It would be financial, of course! I would provide accounting/financial assistance to the small businesses in Detroit. I would love to see those entrepreneurs focus on their passion and let me take care of the “money matters.”

Describe yourself in 10 words or less. 

I choose to live and be present … easier said than done.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Never lose sight of what made you want to start this business in the first place!

 

Paul Riser, Jr., managing director, technology-based entrepreneurship

What brought you to TechTown and what is your favorite part of working here? 

I would have to say an intersection of preparation and serendipity brought me to TechTown Detroit. My favorite part of being at TechTown is the unique opportunity to help write a remarkable chapter in Detroit’s history — one entrepreneur, one business and one neighborhood at a time.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Detroit? Why?

Baker’s Keyboard Lounge at Livernois & 8 Mile. The variety of quality selections, the unique atmosphere and rich local and national history is enough to identify this as my favorite, but I also have a different affinity to the restaurant. I’m the product of a family that is enriched with world-renown musicians that have arranged, produced and played with the most profound musical talents in the world. Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, being just blocks away from where I was raised, was a place that musicians in my family frequented and thereby developed their talents, while enjoying superb meals that can best be described as “soulful.”

If you could start a business what would it be? 

I actually did start my own business over 10 years ago with a focus on the delivery of information technology professional services, such as managed infrastructure and support and IT project management, as well as enterprise systems architecture design and implementation. In another vein, since my early 20s, I have always had the desire to create and operate a successful international commodity trading business that would also teach metro-Detroit entrepreneurs about the opportunities within import / export markets and international trade.

Describe yourself in 10 words or less. 

Husband, father, philanthropist, visionary, knowledge-seeker, optimist, focused, appreciative, techie, connector.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

With relentless and unapologetic passion, identify, own and pursue your destiny in life. Be better than you were yesterday, seek and embrace wisdom from mentors that earn your trust and always deeply appreciate the opportunity to be entrepreneurially great. Work hard, play hard (in that order), think globally and allow your faith to help you sustain an incomparable level of fortitude.