In Collaboration With

e.Builders Forum

Hosted by: TechTown Detroit

Detroit, MI

September 17-18, 2018

Full Agenda Details



Encouraging thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems in unexpected places


This fall, entrepreneurial ecosystem builders will gather in Detroit for InBIA’s second Ecosystem Builders (e.Builders) Forum. Hosted by TechTown Detroit, which has become a hub of entrepreneurship in a city that is making a come back after several years of economic turmoil, this two-day event will combine InBIA’s seasoned practitioners with local industry leaders to share tools, resources, and success stories from communities seeking economic redevelopment. Much of the content will be geared toward communities in the U.S. and Canada that have undergone industrial sector collapse; have a scarcity of resources vital to the sustainment of small businesses; or have earning/wage levels below the national average. Revitalization of these communities through redeveloping spaces from traditional industries and identifying new resources to support entrepreneurship is a major theme of this event. 

Detroit, like other areas within the state of Michigan, has seen dramatic changes within its local economy over the last thirty years. While the automotive and metal production industries in the state were once thriving, in recent decades, off-shoring of production plans and workforce layoffs have caused a continuous economic decline. Massive buildings that once housed thousands of skilled, local workers are now vacant and potentially fertile ground for the burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem that is starting to take shape in the city.

For the most up to date agenda, speaker bios (click on speaker names), and more, please visit:

Full Agenda Details


Co-hosted and sponsored by:

America’s "Comeback City" - a Shining Example of Reinventing an Economy

After nearly two decades of challenges, Detroit has been nicknamed “America’s Comeback City.” Looking at the dramatic unemployment rate shrinkage – going from a high point of 19% in 2014 to 5.3% by 20161 – there’s a lot that can be learned from the economic development efforts deployed within the city’s ecosystem. Beyond the many exciting revitalization programs helping to fill in vacant buildings with both residents and new businesses, the city also has seen tremendous economic growth thanks to successful inclusive entrepreneurship programs.



According to Data USA, the population of Detroit is nearly 80%  Black, 10% White, and and 7% Hispanic. Given this diversity, Detroit boasts a host of initiatives to support disadvantaged entrepreneurs and also women-owned businesses. Please join us as Detroit-based practitioners and many of your peer entrepreneur ecosystem partners share their insights and success stories about the region’s modern-day Renaissance in economic development over two days of inspiring, powerful dialogue.



Monday, September 17

The first day of 2018’s e.Builders Forum will consist of half-day workshops during which deep dive sessions on specific topics will provide tools and resources tailored for entrepreneurship center managers and other ecosystem players. All participants will have the opportunity to sign up for one workshop in the morning and another in the afternoon. Workshops include:

Equitable Ecosystems: Creating Inclusive Ecosystems for Growing and Scaling Minority-Owned Businesses

9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Minority entrepreneurs face unique challenges in getting their companies off the ground. This workshop will provide best practices, strategies, and resources designed to increase the participation and success of underrepresented demographic populations of entrepreneurs beyond a single center/organization. Find out how to rally several ecosystem players to remove gaps and disparities in outreach, funding, programming, and accessibility of services for local minority entrepreneurs.  Expect new data and fresh perspectives on recent successes thanks to funding from JP Morgan Chase.

Where Are My Anchors? Building and Leveraging a Network of Local Corporate Strategics

9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., or 1:00 – 3:30 p.m.  

Many large corporations are looking to the entrepreneurial community for new innovations, and partnerships with entrepreneurship centers can be mutually beneficial for them and your clients. Find out how to attract and grow a network of these “corporate strategics” for the benefit of your program and the companies you support.  Also learn how nationally renowned organizations are implementing “anchor” strategies to maximize supplier diversity within large corporations.

Make Some Noise: Marketing Strategies to Differentiate Your Program from the Rest of Your Ecosystem

9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m

As entrepreneurs look for resources to help launch their companies, they often have several options of where to start within their regions. Learn fresh strategies to market your program most effectively while communicating your entrepreneurship center’s unique value proposition.  This workshop will focus on tried and true ecosystem methodologies, and will tackle everyday challenges entrepreneurship center managers and others organizing an ecosystem to benefit local entrepreneurs face. This workshop is also based on research funded by JP Morgan Chase.

Anchor Collaboration in Your Ecosystem: Strategies for Building Robust Local Supply Chains

1:00 – 3:30 p.m.

This workshop will start with an overview of anchors, including the theory and framework underlying anchor strategies, and how anchors can leverage their assets to create economic opportunity. The content will particularly focus on models for anchors shifting purchasing to local suppliers and partnering with small business support organizations to build capacity of these suppliers. Using case studies, presenters will explore how entrepreneurship centers can work with anchors to identify priority purchasing areas and play a role in building a pipeline of qualified suppliers. Representatives from a Detroit anchor and anchor collaboration will share about their experience in bringing together Detroit’s three largest anchors to encourage economic vitality. And another entrepreneurship center with a strong anchor relationship will share best practices based on experience. Throughout the workshop, there will be much opportunity for discussion and collaboration.

Regional Revitalization: Transforming and Adapting Existing Resources to Serve the Entrepreneurial Community

1:00 – 3:30 p.m.

A panel of industry leaders from Detroit will share some of the strategies they have employed and lessons they have learned in working to revitalize a city that had been on a long-term economic decline. Find out how the city is becoming a hub for entrepreneurship, and what you can do to help your community along a similar path.

Elevating Women Entrepreneurs: Boldly moving from “Think Different” to “Just Do It!”

1:00 – 3:30 p.m.

At its basis – entrepreneurship is another word for applying novel solutions to solving problems and creating value.  However, women entrepreneurs face unique challenges from early stages of considering entrepreneurship to growing and advancing innovative organizations. This workshop will share key best practices from leading venture capital to top entrepreneurship programs across education, mentorship, and funding with a specific focus on the softer skills that are critical for advancing successful women entrepreneurs.  Expect new data and fresh perspectives on recent successes thanks to funding from JP Morgan Chase.



Don’t miss out on the insights and savings!

 Click Here to Register!



Tuesday, September 18

The second day of e.Builders will feature more interactive programming than the first, with discussion sessions in four different, topical tracks: funding opportunities, redevelopment, inclusivity, and stage two company programming. You’ll have the chance to participate in three different discussions throughout the day, sharing your own insights while also learning from peers. Specific sessions include:

Funding Opportunities Track

Funding from Foundations

9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Foundation funding managers will lead the discussion on what they look for from grant seekers as well as how their organizations select funding areas. Participants will then share how to identify foundations with appropriate funding for entrepreneurship center operations or how to build a fund for your entrepreneurs. Additional topics will include ways to apply for and/or manage foundation funding.

Alternative Funding Sources

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Interact with a panel of expert entrepreneur coaches to explore atypical funding sources or strategies for your entrepreneurs. The discussion will investigate some new, alternative funding concepts to especially help populations of entrepreneurs that are less focused on traditional investment models, but more on unique equity takes, bartering, and loans.

Community Development Fund Institutions (CDFI)/Regional Seed Funds

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

This discussion, led by fund managers, will focus on what a CDFI is and how entrepreneurship centers can help clients access them. This funding resource is often underutilized – find out how to maximize the potential uses of such funds.



Revitalizing Communities Track

Innovation Districts

9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Many cities are forming innovation districts – specific neighborhoods or areas deliberately conducive to startups – to help encourage entrepreneurship to flourish. Join this discussion to talk about your experiences with this type of strategy and to learn from others what has worked and what hasn’t in a variety of cities across the US and Canada.

Workforce Development

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Shifting a workforce from traditional industries to focus more on small business and entrepreneurship is not always easy. Find out what strategies others have been using, and share thoughts on ways the workforce of a given region can effectively be redeployed or taught anew to found emerging businesses.

Place-Based Incubators

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

Place-based incubators focus on developing businesses that will stay in a certain neighborhood or community to create economic activity, notably in economically distressed regions. Discuss strategies for starting and/or running a place-based incubator or accelerator to help improve and develop the economy in your community.  



Inclusivity Track

Women in Tech

9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Find out about some of the models of programming for women entrepreneurs that are recognized in the industry as the most effective. Share your thoughts and hear from others on what hurdles women in the tech industry face, and how to help them overcome those issues to succeed in this traditionally male-dominated sector.

Minority Entrepreneurs

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Many programs have been working to address the challenges minorities face in starting companies – discuss what strategies have been most successful so far and how those strategies can be implemented in different communities. Talk about what roadblocks still exist and brainstorm ways entrepreneurship centers could help entrepreneurs get around them.

Veteran Entrepreneurs

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

More than 15 years after the start of the war in Iraq, there are hundreds of thousands of veterans who have moved on from the military and are looking for innovative ways to use their unique skill sets. Discuss ways to support and develop entrepreneurship amongst military veterans.



Stage Two Company Programming Track

Incubating Gazelles

9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Gazelles – or high-growth companies that are increasing revenues by 20% or more annually – have different needs from typical startups following more traditional trajectories. This discussion will identify some of those needs and how an entrepreneurship center can be prepared to meet them.

Stage Two Programming

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Explore how to best serve stage two companies – what programs and resources are most helpful for them? How do they fit into an entrepreneurship center? At what point do you encourage them to fly on their own? Discuss these questions and more.

Stage Two Founders/Executives

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

Working with the founders of stage two companies is much different from working with entrepreneurs who are still in the beginning phases of launching a startup. Discuss what these founders need most from you and how to be an effective mentor/coach to them.



Professional Development Course Add-on

Ecosystem Development Workshop

Wednesday, September 19 (8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) 

After the rich and interactive experience of e.Builders, stick around for an extra day to take advantage of InBIA’s Ecosystem Development Workshop on Wednesday, Sept. 19. Developed in conjunction with co.STARTERS, this in-depth course gives participants the opportunity to explore strategies and gather tools to better implement the knowledge and best practices discussed during the e.Builders Forum. The course content helps participants create or refine their communities’ entrepreneurship roadmaps through a number of exclusively developed exercises and proven tools, drawing on the experience of leading regional innovation ecosystem developers.

Course leaders will guide attendees through every aspect of the development of their roadmaps, including stakeholder/asset mapping (community discovery), program vetting and deployment planning, and early assessment resources (community health check-up). Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind, immersive workshop for entrepreneurship centers interest in deepening their connections with their local ecosystems.  

Click Here to Register!



Travel Information

Detroit is easily accessible via the Detroit Metro Airport (DTW), which offers several transportation options to and from the downtown area.


InBIA has partnered with Delta Air Lines to provide discounted rates to/from Detroit Metro Airport for the 2018 e.Builders Forum. Reservations and ticketing are available via or by calling our Delta Meeting Network Reservations at 800-328-1111 and using the InBIA meeting code NMSAZ.


InBIA has a discounted group rate of $159/night (plus tax) at the Hilton Garden Inn Detroit Downtown, just a few minutes away from e.Builders.  The hotel is located at: 351 Gratiot Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48226.

You can reserve your room by clicking on the following link: Hilton Garden Inn Reservations

Rooms are limited, and you must book by August  27th to receive the discounted group rate.

To learn more about travel from the airport

 Click Here



e.Builders Registration Fees

When you go through the registration process, you will have the opportunity to select the sessions you would like to attend. All are included in the registration fees listed below, as are breakfast and lunch.

**Early Bird pricing ends August 31st, so register now before pricing increases by $50.**

Registration Fees
$350 for InBIA members/ $450 for non InBIA members
An Ecosystem Development Workshop: Build Your Community Framework to Accelerate Regional Collaboration
$450 for InBIA members/ $550 for non InBIA members

Click Here to Register!

Cancellation policy

All cancellations must be sent in writing to [email protected] There is a $75 cancellation fee for requests received by August 24th, 2018. No refunds will be issued for cancellations received after August 24, 2018.  Substitutions welcome in lieu of cancellations!