What Is Detroit Venture Partners?

December 13, 2011 — 0

After I posted about Josh Linkner, a bunch of readers emailed to ask about the VC Fund he runs with Magic Johnson, Dan Gilbert and Brian KermelinDetroit Venture Partners.


Launched in 2011, DVP backs purpose-driven seed and early-stage technology companies.  (You can view their portfolio by clicking here.)  In DVP’s words, its mission is “to help rebuild the Detroit area through entrepreneurial fire.  We view business building as a palette for creative expression and an opportunity to make a difference and change the world. If not, why bother?”

If you’ve been to Detroit lately, you know it’s hard not to root for guys who “look at venture investing as a full-contact sport, and are ready to do whatever it takes” to help their portfolio companies win.  Will this work?  Not sure yet; so much depends on factors beyond their control.  But they’re making bets, having fun, sparking innovation and giving the people of Detroit (and Mayor Bing) some hope.

DVP’s website itself is refreshing for a VC.  Smart, new, well-designed, pasisonate and fun.  Now watch their dramatic intro, a case for Detroit 2.0, and decide for yourself…

Here’s the introduction of Magic Johnson as DVP’s newest partner…


Josh Linkner, Louis CK & The Power of “Why?”

December 11, 2011 — 0

Our new friend Josh Linkner stopped by last week.  Josh is a good dude; and with all the time I spend in Detroit, it’s a wonder it took us this long to meet.

We had this funny moment in the big board room.  Josh was being introduced to the group before his presentation, and we all started laughing, even Josh, about how long it was taking to just get the intro over with and let the man freakin’ talk.  That’s because mofo has done so much, and I’m not sure if he’s even 40 yet.  Por ejemplo: 

  • Founder, Chairman and former CEO of ePrize, the largest interactive promotion agency in the world providing digital marketing services for 74 of the top 100 brands.
  • Founder and CEO of three other successful technology companies
  • Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Detroit News Michiganian of the Year
  • President Barack Obama Champion of Change award recipient
  • Columnist for Fast Company and Inc. Magazine, and his work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, and The New York Times
  • Berklee-trained professional jazz guitarist performing regularly in jazz clubs throughout the United States

See what I mean?

When I got home that night, my son asked what I did that day.  I tried to explain about Detroit Venture Partners, and that’s when the “Why” questions started flying:

D: “What’s a ‘venture partners’?”

Me: “A group of businesspeople who invest in companies, like startups.”

D: “Why?”

Me: “When someone has a great idea for a new business, they need funding to support it.”

D: “Why?”

Me: “You know, like, money to get the business going.”

D: “Why?”

Me: “I don’t know, like, office space.”

D: “Why?”

Me: “Because you can’t have your whole staff work in Starbucks.”

D: “Why?”

Me: “Because the city is struggling.  And there’s not a lot of free wifi in Detroit.”

D: “Why?”

Me: “Because of the economny in Detroit, the infrastructure, the crime.  Everything, really.”

D: “Why?”

Me: “Because the city is having an existential crisis.”

D: “Why?”

That’s when I stopped the conversation, told my son I needed to show my wife something, and played this clip that Josh showed in his presentation.  Watch it and you’ll get, um,  why


General Motors Announces Partnership with MTV’s “Creative SWAT Team” Scratch

August 7, 2011 — 3

Last week, GM’s North America President, Mark Reuss, announced the company’s groundbreaking partnership with Scratch in Traverse City, Michigan.   The goal? Help transform Chevrolet to win with Millennials.

Here’s an excerpt from Reuss’ speech:

“We can re-establish Chevy as an automotive icon for those who remember the glory days, yes. But there are even more people who don’t make that connection, who are unfamiliar or only vaguely familiar with the brand.

And I’m not talking about people in Europe or Asia, although they certainly qualify and are all encouraged to become customers.

I’m talking about people right here in North America… young people.

They are smart, discerning and open to trying anything they perceive as cool.

They are people under 30, who the marketers call “millennials,” who are 80 million strong and by next year will make up 40% of the car-buying public.

To better understand them, to better reach them, Chevrolet has established a strategic partnership with MTV… specifically its creative “SWAT team” called Scratch.

Scratch gives us an all-access pass to examine MTV’s creative assets and expertise – across programming, sales, marketing, music and research – to gain consumer insights and ultimately establish our youth strategy in pursuit of one goal – enticing Millennials to fall in love with Chevrolet.

I don’t claim to know how young people think.  Just ask