Collaborations Matter

TechTown’s SWOT City team is a customized support program for brick-and-mortar small businesses in Detroit neighborhoods. As part of this support, SWOT City team members (Portfolio Managers) connect small businesses to a rich network of subject matter experts in support of their coaching efforts. This group of professionals cares about strengthening Detroit through a unique approach to commercial corridor revitalization, job creation and economic development.There are many important aspects to running a small business. In today’s competitive omnichannel sales environment, a website that connects you to customers, represents your brand, provides sales opportunities and enhances your online presence is vital.On July 3, TechTown partnered again with Rebrand Cities, a global civic design partnership with Wordpress.com, and Venture for America Fellows (VFA) to host a hackathon style event, in which 30 Detroit small businesses were assisted in developing their first websites. Two hundred VFA Fellows created new websites for businesses, led workshops and provided one-on-one sessions to help educate business owners on brand building, domain research and design.Six SWOT City businesses (including a Retail Boot Camp graduate) worked in partnership with VFA Fellows to produce new websites:Razzle Dazzle Nail Supply, Chasity Jones | razzledazzlesupply.com Triangulo Dorado, Adrian and Karina Torre | triangulo-dorado.comMangonadas del Barrio, Antonio and Maribel Hernandez | Mangonadas del BarrioLa Rosita, Angelica Saenz | larositarestaurant.comEl Caporal, Antonio and Aracely Canchola | elcaporaldetroit.comQuince Primaveras, Eulalia Piña | 15primaverasllc.com“For so many years I tried to have a website for my business,” said SWOT City client, Eulalia Piña, owner of Quince Primaveras.” This seemed almost impossible since they are very costly. Finally, I have a website where customers from Macomb, Oakland and Wayne County can see the variety and brands of gowns we carry. I am really loving my website.”SWOT City Portfolio Managers at TechTown are here to support, encourage and connect businesses with other professionals who will offer the specific expertise needed to grow your business.  TechTown has a broad network of tools and resources, including subject matter experts, workshops and the Accenture Skills to Succeed online learning platform. At TechTown we know, collaborations matter!

Next-Level Pop-up Merchandising

With a little planning and purposeful decision-making, you can create a visually stunning pop-up display that can be scaled for a variety of spaces, make a strong statement about your brand and gain the interest of new customers.Pop-ups are a great way to test products, broaden brand exposure and awareness and gain new customers. Unfortunately, many vendors underestimate the value that well-executed visual merchandising can have on gaining new customers and increasing sales. If your display is boring or unattractive, customers will keep walking by, but if you can gain their attention, you have an opportunity to convert them to a customer for life.The effort you put into your pop-up display can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Visual merchandising is an art. It doesn’t need to be complicated, simply make thoughtful and purposeful choices and create a set of tools to convey your brand story to potential customers.TechTown now offers a custom fixture library to vendors at our monthly pop-up, The SHOP, to help entrepreneurs learn and practice these three tips for next-level pop-up merchandising:

How to identify the right Microloan for your business

Most people believe that when you apply for a microloan the “one fits all” concept will be the norm. With microlending, this is not true. Microlenders lend up to $50,000 with slightly higher interest rates than bank loans; however, they have a much more flexible underwriting criterion. Are microlenders lending in Detroit? Absolutely. They are providing access to much-needed capital for entrepreneurs throughout the city. Microlenders usually will lend to entrepreneurs if they don’t qualify for traditional small business loans, but what we are seeing in Detroit is that microlenders and traditional lenders are partnering on loan deals with entrepreneurs. Community lenders are filling in the lending gap between microlenders and traditional lenders (i.e. Detroit Development Fund, Invest Detroit and other similar lenders).

Design Guide: Neighborhood Business

Design directly impacts the bottom line of the business, which directly connects to its ability to serve the community long-term. A business is rooted in its brand design, and each of the other design mediums speaks to each other – from the digital voice on social media, to the colors on the wall to the size of the table and the tabs on the website – to all directly to serve the customer. Which is why TechTown (has been or was) proud to collaborate with Design Core Detroit and its network of design professionals on creating the Design Guide for Neighborhood Business to help brick-and-mortar businesses, from pop-up to permanent, think about design for their business in an intentional way.