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Turning Makers Into Entrepreneurs

Lesa Mitchell, Vice President, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

The 31st of July the Henry Ford Museum supported by sponsors like the Kauffman Foundation, Ford Motors Co and New Economy Initiative launched the first of what we hope is an annual Maker Faire event in Detroit. Twenty-five thousand people showed up to check out the makers who came out of their garages to share their wares at the Henry Ford Museum grounds.

So why is this so special?

First of all, Detroit was the launching point for inventors decades earlier. The SE Michigan area has more than their fair share of engineers due to the auto industry but not enough of those engineers have ventured into the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Maker Faire is not about entrepreneurs per se - but it is about what could be considered pre-entrepreneurs - makers or inventors. Remember shop class, well most people don’t because it went away many years ago but Maker Faire is like going to one big shop class. What was also awesome about Maker Faire was that it brought a number of entrepreneurs back to Detroit to take part in the fun.

Jules Pieri for one was from Detroit and came back to visit for the kick-off of Maker Faire. You could call Jules’ company the connective tissue that helps turn makers into entrepreneurs. Funny enough, this weekend there was an entire article about Jules company in the NYTs that provides clarity about what they do to highlight and help scale the work done by individuals one might find at a Maker Faire in your city. Those of you in NY City look out – a Maker Faire is coming Sept 25th and 26th. At the Kauffman Foundation we talk a lot about the fact that entrepreneurship is a messy business, it is iterative not linear. If you want to see messy and let your kids get messy trying to make stuff – go to a Maker Faire and take your kids.


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