TechTown Detroit's Annual

TOAST OF THE TOWN

A virtual benefit celebrating Detroit's entrepreneurial spirit

Featuring the 6th annual Salute Awards

Three local entrepreneurs are set to receive TechTown’s highest honor for their embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit and leveraging the many resources found at TechTown and across Detroit’s small business community: Javier Evelyn, founder and CEO of Alerje;  Juan Carlos Dueweke-Pérez, director and founder of Featherstone; and Raquel Ramirez de Lozano, owner of El Popo Market. Carla Walker-Miller, founder and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services, will receive the Marlowe Stoudamire Small Business Champion Award for exemplifying Stoudamire’s legacy of building community to create opportunities for all Detroiters.

MARLOWE STOUDAMIRE SMALL BUSINESS CHAMPION

Carla Walker-Miller

CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services

Carla Walker-Miller was one of the first entrepreneurs to incubate her company at TechTown and a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. A member of the Executive Committee on TechTown’s Board of Directors, Walker-Miller was instrumental in the creation of a five-year equity plan for TechTown. Walker-Miller also serves as chair of Detroit Means Business. By centering and uplifting the voices of Detroit’s primarily Black small business owners, Walker-Miller is accelerating the pace at which Detroit tackles long-standing equity problems.

Javier Evelyn

Alerje

Javier Evelyn founded his company Alerje to improve outcomes and reduce the cost of care in the food allergy industry. An active coworking member making connections at TechTown since 2018, Evelyn also expanded his network through Detroit Urban Solutions’ MedHealth Summits. Alerje hit major milestones in 2021, including securing a patent for an epinephrine auto-injector for smartphones as well as for the recently announced Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant award from the National Science Foundation. To learn more, visit https://alerje.com/.

Juan Carlos Dueweke-Pérez

Featherstone

Juan Carlos Dueweke-Pérez started his multilingual and multicultural marketing and public relations agency in 2015 to build a business on his passion for helping other immigrant entrepreneurs. He joined TechTown’s coworking community in 2018 and volunteered as a member of the Professional Services Network, providing one-on-one support to TechTown’s neighborhood business clients as well as workshops held in Spanish on topics including strategy, social media and photography. To learn more, visit https://featherstonemoments.com/.

Raquel Ramirez de Lozano

El Popo Market 

The husband and wife team of Rodolfo and Raquel have owned El Popo Market in the heart of Mexicantown for six years. Prior to the pandemic, Ramirez de Lozano was enrolled in TechTown’s one-on-one coaching program for small businesses. When COVID-19 hit, she received TechTown stabilization funds to weather the initial upheaval and then enrolled in 313 STRONG to continue pivoting and adapting. Ramirez de Lozano collaborated with TechTown strategists and implemented significant changes to the store layout and merchandise display to optimize sales. These changes, along with a new website, increased sales and allowed El Popo Market to hire an additional employee. To learn more, visit https://www.elpopomarket.com/.

People's Choice Award Nominees

For the first time, virtual attendees of Toast of the Town will have the opportunity to vote live for a People’s Choice Salute Award winner during the event. Eight TechTown clients and alumni are nominated for this fan favorite award.

Voting for People’s Choice Salute Awards will open during the live event on 9/30.

2020 Retail Boot Camp Kickstart Award winner Crystal Rice is tenaciously fulfilling her vision of turning The Black Economic Exchange Group into economic independence and a brick-and-mortar store featuring Black-owned products and services. She’s turned TechTown support into revenue-generating pop-ups and pitch competition wins in 2021!

Ryan Salter, LaTresha (LC) & Marc Howland

Breadless

2020 Retail Boot Camp Kickstart Award winner Breadless® is a Detroit-based sandwich shop serving tasty sandwiches wrapped in fresh, nutritious greens instead of bread. With ambitions and plans to scale, the Breadless team raised $1.1 million in capital expects to open on Jefferson this fall.

Katrina Wilson

Crème Brûlée

Katrina Wilson dreamt of a multicultural luxury salon for everyone. Taking Crème Brûlée through TechTown’s 2019 Retail Boot Camp and SWOT City programs helped her find a location and funding from Detroit’s CDFIs. Her grand opening in July 2021 highlighted this glamorous new business with an inclusive mission.

Jerome B. Brown

Detroit Soul

Detroit Soul is a family-owned business opening their second location of fresh and healthy takes on comfort classics this fall! An active user of TechTown’s resources like Ask an Expert and an alum of WSU’s Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, Jerome Brown knew the 313 STRONG program could help Detroit Soul access the capital to grow in this difficult period.

The Vargas Lopez Family

La Jalisciense Supermercado & Taqueria

La Jalisciense Supermercado & Taqueria is a multigenerational market and restaurant on Vernor. Led by daughter Leslie, they’ve leveraged their participation in 313 STRONG to make significant progress, training nine employees to safely serve alcohol. The team also received human resources and financial acumen training and has implemented Salute Award winner Juan Carlos’ marketing recommendations to increase sales.

Justin Turk

Livegistics

Livegistics solves logistics problems for demolition construction businesses with a digital platform that tracks progress. TechTown’s Capital Access program helped Justin Turk fund the compliance and security audit that unlocked scalability and major contracts. Then, at the Pharrell William’s Black Ambition Competition this summer, Livegistics won the $1 million top prize!

Ronier Golightly

Motor City Popcorn

The pandemic forced 2015 Retail Boot Camp graduate Ronier Golightly to close Motor City Popcorn in Livonia and take a job at Amazon. At TechTown’s alumni virtual meet-up, he found support and inspiration to reopen where he’d always dreamt of being — his business is popping on 7 Mile and Livernois!

Robin Wright King & Dr. Ali Bazzi

Urban Docz

Urban Docz refined their plan to make reproductive healthcare affordable and accessible with a convenient telehealth platform at Start Studio this spring. After winning the Start Studio pitch competition and People’s Choice Award, they’ve connected to TechTown’s MedHealth Cluster and Capital Access programs to continue building their solution!

Voting for People’s Choice Salute Awards will open during the live event on 9/30.

Toast of the Town presented by Bank of America

With support from:

Jill Ford