Art in Motion is a ceramic studio and gallery located on Detroit’s famous Avenue of Fashion. After participating in Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s REVOLVE Detroit program, which matched businesses with empty storefronts, owner Marlynne Kay Willingham became one of TechTown’s first SWOT City clients, where she gained the resources needed to further grow and sustain her business.…
Like many entrepreneurs, Jason Wolfe-Greer’s startup idea stemmed from personal experience.Training to be an RN while caring for his fiancee’s grandfather in hospice, Wolfe-Greer recognized that stressed and overworked family caregivers need a break. So he developed Care PRN, an app that matches caregivers with qualified respite providers. Greer’s journey with CarePRN is a true reflection of Detroit’s robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. He formed his team at a TechTown-hosted hackathon, honed his business model in DTX Launch Detroit’s summer accelerator and is now refining his product in the TechTown Business Incubation Center. CarePRN has gone on to win three startup awards including “Best Student Team from the US” from Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit, On Your Mark Award from the Detroit Technology Exchange Showcase, and second place in the student category in the Accelerate Michigan competition.
What inspired you to launch your own business?
The launch of CarePRN came from personal need. When I was helping to care for my fiancée’s grandfather at home, there was no good source to turn to in order to find trustworthy home care. I did not need the constant care of a home healthcare agency and did not want some stranger from Craigslist. The desire to be able to get a break from the care demands of caring for a loved one at home and knowing they would be in the trustworthy, competent hands of a background-checked, certified caregiver is what drove me to start CarePRN.
Given what you know now, what would you have done differently in the beginning?
I would change my expectation on how easy it would be to get an idea from concept to market and how long that would take. From when I started working on CarePRN, I thought I would be to market in under a year, but there are many challenges and obstacles that must be overcome to keep an idea moving down the path to market.
What has been the most surprising aspect of entrepreneurship?
What surprised me the most is how exciting it is to take an idea and bring it to life. Sure, the hours are long and the work is hard and intense, but when you surround yourself with good people it’s very enjoyable. However, I do not think this process would be as enjoyable if I was not passionate about CarePRN, and how I think this company could make a positive impact in people’s lives.
What was your experience as part of the DTX Launch Detroit program?
My experience at DTX Launch Detroit was crucial in teaching me the fundamentals of the lean launch concept. It also showed me how business ideas are similar to scientific hypothesis and must be tested and proved before resources are expended to bring them to market. The only way to test your hypothesis is through the potential customer of your business. DTX allowed me to spend a summer testing and modifying my business hypothesis until I felt I had achieved a market fit. Each week I was forced to defend my finding, which allowed me to grow as a speaker and become more comfortable talking about my business. DTX prepared me to move CarePRN forward from being a concept to attempting to bring it to market. DTX prepared me by arming me with knowledge and the fact that I had tested and proven my business hypothesis on potential customers.
Why did you choose theTechTown Business Incubation Center?
CarePRN was started at TechTown at an event called Hacking Health. From there I entered the DTX Launch Detroit summer program to hone the idea of CarePRN. This allowed me to spend a lot of time at TechTown. I fell in love with the atmosphere and the can-do attitude of the place. The mentorship and guidance I have received has been pivotal in allowing me to further CarePRN as a company. Opportunity is constantly being placed in front of me due to the network of TechTown and the incubation program. I also liked the idea of being in Detroit and being part of the story of how Detroit made its great comeback thanks to small business owners and startups. Really, I’m thankful TechTown Incubation program chose me.