Business, Engineering and LSA students from the University of Michigan collaborated to form Upstart, a team that recently won the Social Impact Challenge, a contest held by the Center of Social Impact. Now, the students are talking with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation to implement their plan and to provide a boost to Detroit’s retail industry.

The DEGC is an organization that aims to help entrepreneurs establish short term pop-ups. According to a press release, members of the DEGC say they hope to utilize the teams’ ideas.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s economy has improved over the last several years, but the city still struggles to maintain retail stores. The Social Impact Challenge gives graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to work together to develop solutions to real life social issues, such as Detroit’s retail industry.

Upstart is encouraging the DEGC to acquire longer term leases with building landlords so that pop-ups will be attracted by shorter term leases. The team also proposed including renovation grants and training for entrepreneurs.

Upstart member Brie Riley, a Business junior, said the group’s goal was not just to create a pop-up, but to help sustainable business.

“We hope we’ll get the opportunity to work with DEGC and see these ideas implemented,” Riley said in the press release.“We don’t want to just create a pop-up. We want to create long-term sustainable shops.”

Kyla Carlsen, DEGC small business financial manager, said the organization is looking into ways to incorporate the winning students’ ideas to promote Detroit business and to add sustainability to stores.

“We saw a need for this interim opportunity for entrepreneurs to try out their product, to set them up for long-term success and lower the barriers for people to locate in our neighborhoods,” Carlsen said the release.


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