Lansing, MI Startup Community - Klein's Assessment

by Klein Allison

Previously in this blog we showcased Lafayette, Indiana and Indianapolis, Indiana as fast growing hubs for new startup ideas. Another city that may not always come to mind when thinking of a new startup hub, is Lansing, Michigan. Like Lafayette, Lansing hosts a Big Ten school that has recently put a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship, both for its students and the community as a whole. 

One example of this community involvement in entrepreneurship can be shown in an event we attended organized by Spartan Innovations, Michigan State University's entrepreneurial arm.  The Lansing-based organization hosted the Greenlight Business Model Competition, an event that showcases the value that a city like Lansing can offer startup companies in Michigan. After attending the event, we wanted to share what amazing opportunities Lansing has to offer the startup community.

Community involvement and support:

First, Spartan Innovations, as well as The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), the NEO and host of associated organizations, provide enormous support to the startup community, both to MSU students and to entrepreneurs outside the MSU system. The Greenlight Event, held at the end of March, was open to all Michigan startups regardless of stage, showing the dedication of these organizations to the Michigan community as a whole. Furthermore, several events that are held monthly, like Innovate State and Startup Grind, focus on bringing in successful business owners to share their experiences and give their advice on how to succeed as an entrepreneur.

Resources available:

Startups often need funding and getting that initial investor is not easy. In Lansing, new businesses can find this funding from events like the Greenlight Competition and the Hatching, but also through city organizations. LEAP, a coalition of area leaders who focus on creating a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem through the support of new Michigan businesses, has created over 3,800 new jobs and $973 million dollars in direct private investment for the Lansing area. Furthermore, Lansing has provided many places for startups to find affordable office space, from MSU's the Hatch, Lansing's the Neo and Old Town's Co:Space, to help further cultivate ideas.

Ease of access to resources and mentors:

One major advantage to the Midwest in general is the willingness of people to help young businesses. While there is no denying that the East and West coasts have resources and mentors for new businesses, often there are significant hurdles to obtaining them. More people means busier mentors and less opportunities to get in front of investors. It can often take months with several calls to receive the support a startup is looking for. Entrepreneurs that have some startup experience in both the Midwest and the costal cites, have expressed the ease and willingness of Midwestern mentors and investors to help a business succeed. Each of the organizations mentioned exemplify the Midwestern helpfulness and are always willing to support Michigan businesses.

This year's winners of the Greenlight Competition was Orindi Ventures, the developers of a mask that helped prevent moisture loss and heat loss in cold environments. Their invention showcases a practical innovation to a uniquely Michigan need: staying warm while working in cold weather. As the Midwest continues to grow as a contender in the startup world, Lansing has already firmly planted itself as a location with opportunity and support for startup companies.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – klein allison

Klein Allison is an attorney at Gutwein Law. Klein earned his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M and his JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law. He focuses primarily in tax law, business law and estate planning in our Lansing, MI office. 

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