Cathryn Coleman, the 2023 Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest winner, looks forward to bringing a one-stop party rental shop experience to the city and beyond.
The years 2017 and 2023 have been pivotal for Cathryn Coleman, owner of Bouncing Around The Motor City (BATMC), a Detroit-based business specializing in balloons, decor, event planning, and party rentals. The year 2017 was all about planting the roots of her legacy; Coleman quit her job in the City of Detroit’s water and sewage department and dove headfirst into learning the skills of extravagant balloon decor and event planning. She founded BATMC that same year and her husband bought a vacant building in Detroit’s Bethune neighborhood that the two have since been rehabilitating.
Fast forward six years later, 2023 has been all about seeing the fruits of Coleman’s labor and continuing to make an impact in the community she was born and raised in. BATMC is the winner of this year’s Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest by TechTown, through which it won a $100,000 grant courtesy of Comerica Bank to go towards opening a brick-and-mortar business.
BATMC is now traveling internationally. This year alone, the business is heading to Colorado, New Orleans, Amsterdam, the Bahamas and London for various balloon conferences and events. One of these events is the Big Balloon Build, a traveling event that brings balloon artists worldwide to create larger-than-life installations that benefit charities. Coleman says she’ll be working with Big Balloon Build on events through 2026 and is in talks with the organization to potentially bring the event to Detroit.
And no matter where BATMC takes Coleman, she knows her husband, their five children (ages 2 to 22) and Detroit will be there every step of the way. “I didn’t realize how much bigger it is,” Coleman says of her business and its success. “[BATMC is] way bigger than Detroit, but it’s only offered from and always will be in the heart of Detroit.”
Coleman, who is also a 2019 Retail Boot Camp alum, tells us more about her experience participating in the Contest and her plans for opening Bouncing Around The Motor City’s storefront later this year.
TechTown Detroit: How would you describe BATMC’s mission to folks unfamiliar with the business?
Cathryn Coleman: Bouncing Around The Motor City has become a platform to inspire and encourage. We’re making a direct community impact. And one of the things that [differentiates] Bouncing Around The Motor City from other companies is that I’m from the neighborhood, so I’m like an everyday person. Usually, you hear success stories of somebody who is from this place or that place, and they’re creating a new life or they’re starting something new in the city — I never left. I knew that I wanted to do it in the city. I went to a Detroit preschool, elementary school, high school, even college; I’ve always been committed to the community and the city. So, when I saw Bouncing Around The Motor City taking off, it sparked something in me, and I noticed that this was going to be something bigger than just an everyday balloon company. This was going to be something that came through unapologetically and inspired the community and neighborhood.
How would you describe your experience participating in the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest by TechTown?
I think the Contest was game-changing. The Contest was so fast-paced, but the whole time I got people pulling up from the community, praising me and telling me how they’ve been watching my story. Even when I did the application for the Contest, I think I submitted it the night before [the deadline]. It was 3 a.m. in the hall of my hotel room [Coleman just came back from traveling], with the door popped up because I just got [my] baby to sleep. And I did a video; it was straight-up raw, unapologetic, “This is who I am; this is what I want to do. But if you helped me, this is what I can do.” I’m trying to change people’s lives and change the community because I’m from here, so I know what we need.
What lessons did you learn throughout the Contest that you’ll take with you as you run your business?
This experience has positioned me to take on anything in life, whether it’s personal or business. I’m about to be 40 this year, so just to accomplish something like this, to see my kids and to actually have the possibility of being on the playing field, it’s incredible. Before you expect anybody else to believe in you, believe in yourself. And take the opportunity to [participate in] TechTown’s events because they give you so much opportunity even before you do the application. Be inspired and [participate in] the TechTown experience and know that anything is possible. I’ve proven that.
The moment that you heard BATMC was the winner of the Contest, how did you feel?
It was unreal. When they said my name, my mind was racing like, “Oh my God, they said my name. I did it!” And that’s when the emotion took over me because I knew if I were to win this contest, it’d literally take me across the finish line [to opening my storefront]. Before we did the pitch competition [during the Hatch Off], I prayed and I said, “God, I need you to do me a favor. I know you want me this far, but I need you to prepare me if I don’t make it. Just be happy for the next person.” Because we all deserved it.
You plan to open BATMC later this year in Detroit’s Bethune neighborhood. Can you tell us more about your plans for the building?
The space is 3,900 square feet. We also bought all the buildings across the street; we own all the lots with another building. Once we get this building up, I’m going to focus on just the retail space and turn the smaller building into storage. And then the buildings across the street, we’re looking to sell those to neighbors [people in the community who’d like to open their businesses].
Learn more about Bouncing Around The Motor City’s services. Interested in the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest by TechTown? Learn how Hatch Detroit makes entrepreneurs’ physical storefront dreams a reality.