Many Michigan small businesses and startups are scrambling for resources to bridge the COVID-19 outbreak gap, or to pivot to thrive beyond the coronavirus shutdown. Resources for small businesses are often only known by those founders who have already been through the startup process, so in addition to recently posting a number of small business loan resources for Michigan tech startups, we wanted to catch up with someone who is known for mentoring founder through the challenging startup phase. Melanie de Vries, who mentors both at Desai Venture Accelerator in Ann Arbor and as Technology Business Consultant for the Michigan Small Business Development Center, was gracious enough to answer some questions about what it’s like helping business owners navigate challenging times.
The University of Michigan has a Princeton Review #1-rated ecosystem for student entrepreneurs and multiple venture accelerators, which is great support for budding startups in Ann Arbor and Michigan’s growing tech industry. But what really goes on behind closed doors? As supportive as the University of Michigan is for new businesses being spun out from faculty or run through funded programs with multiple levels of mentorship, this can all still look a bit opaque from the outside. As part of our mission to highlight the accelerating growth of Ann Arbor and Michigan regional tech over the past few years, we wanted to sit down with the Desai Accelerator run out of U-M’s Zell Lurie Institute at the Ross School of Business to hear how things work and what resources are out there for people looking to connect. This is a newer program, and still being shaped.