TechTown Detroit’s “Toast of the Town” Returns Oct. 5 to Celebrate Local Entrepreneurs

Salute Awards ceremony set to honor Achsha Jones, Lydia Michael, Maria Mendez, Jerome Brown and Sam VanBuren


Sept. 7, 2023

TechTown, Detroit’s most established incubator and accelerator, located on the campus of Wayne State University, announced today that its annual fundraiser, Toast of the Town, will return Oct. 5 to celebrate Detroit’s entrepreneurs.

The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. (doors open at 5 p.m.) with the 8th annual Salute Awards at the Wayne State Industry Innovation Center. The event will continue at TechTown from 6 – 9 p.m., with immersive experiences, tech startup demos, displays from the trendiest independent retailers as well as tastings from food entrepreneurs.

Tickets start at $20 for the networking ticket and go up to $150 for the pay-it-forward unlimited ticket, which provides admission, unlimited food and drink tickets, and covers the cost of a budding entrepreneur to attend Toast of the Town. Tickets can be purchased at

“Last year, we threw a party for the books, and we’re going to make it even bigger and better this year,” said Ned Staebler, vice president for economic development at Wayne State University and president and CEO of TechTown Detroit. “Join TechTown as we celebrate Detroit’s amazing entrepreneurs and ecosystem partners that fearlessly innovate and accelerate progress of an equitable economy.”


Hosted once again by Orlando Bailey of BridgeDetroit, TechTown’s Salute Awards ceremony at the Wayne State Industry Innovation Center is open to all Toast of the Town ticket holders. Doors open at 5 p.m., and the ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. The Salute Awards will also be live streamed in English with simultaneous interpretation in Spanish.

Four 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: Achsha Jones, CEO and co-founder of TripSlip; Lydia Michael, owner of Blended Collective; and Jerome Brown and Sam VanBuren, co-owners of Detroit Soul.

Maria Mendez, small business accountant at Accounting Aid Society, will receive the Marlowe Stoudamire Small Business Champion Award. Mendez is a dedicated advocate who exemplifies Stoudamire’s spirit of collaboration, regularly partnering with TechTown and other business service organizations to catalyze community business growth.

More information about 2023 Salute Award winners can be found at


From 6 – 9 p.m., TechTown’s indoor and outdoor spaces will come alive with food, shopping, immersive experiences, and technology demonstrations — all provided by TechTown clients, alumni and building community members along with Hatch Detroit alumni. The Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest by TechTown is a retail competition that gives savvy entrepreneurs the chance to win a cash grant and package of in-kind services to open up their brick-and-mortar storefront in Detroit, Hamtramck or Highland Park.

This year, 36 businesses will be onsite to provide experiences for Toast of the Town — more than any year in the history of the fundraiser.

Entrepreneurs providing food, shopping, and experiences at Toast of the Town include:


  • BrownieDr
  • Cafecito Alvarez
  • Detroit Soul
  • For the Love of Cheesecake
  • Gajiza Dumplins
  • Ice Cream Detroit
  • J&T’s Kitchen
  • Konjo Me
  • La Terraza
  • Little Liberia
  • U Drink I Make
  • Waka by Baobab Fare


  • Black Rose Gallery
  • Boho Luxe Detroit
  • Halie & Co.
  • Lynzi
  • Naturally ILLustrated LLC
  • Not Sorry Goods
  • Quince Primaveras
  • Rosemarine Textiles


  • 482 Forward
  • Cocoon Technologies
  • Dovetail
  • Drone Capital
  • Featherstone
  • Genesis Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork
  • Global Ties Detroit
  • Grounded
  • My Beauty Kit
  • No Fear Café
  • Ooh La La Events & Design, LLC
  • The Damage Zone
  • Urban Electronics
  • Zero to Wear

Tickets and additional details about participating entrepreneurs and organizations are available at

Toast of the Town is made possible with support from Accenture, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, EY, Henry Ford Health, Michigan Central and Wayne State University.