On May 4, GS3 CEO and founder Lisa Lunsford participated in a panel discussion on the future of tech in Southeast Michigan.
Techweek Detroit is a series of events that runs May 2 through 8 at various iconic Detroit locations. Who attends? According to techweek.com, “Techweek serves the entire technology ecosystem, from Fortune 500 CEOs looking to tell their innovation story, to bootstrap founders looking to meet co-founders or investors.”
Lunsford was one of four thought leaders who had been invited to review – and discuss – data from a technology industry report that says local tech companies can expect good things in 2016.
Host and moderator Tom Kelly of Automation Alley began by asking the big question: “Could Detroit be the next Silicon Valley?” He referred to an industry study of 75 Silicon Valley tech execs and 75 SE Michigan tech execs; it revealed that local execs are more optimistic about 2016 growth than their Silicon Valley counterparts.
The stakes are high, as the car is ‘the last great mobile device,’ ranging in price from $40,000-60,000 per vehicle. A lively discussion ensued.
Samit Ghosh of P3 North America stressed that “Southeast Michigan isn’t just automotive – it is advanced manufacturing. The west coast companies are interested in what’s happening in Detroit. Detroit knows how to make things.”
Success is dependent on many factors – from finding, hiring and training a tech base to finding ways to keep the talent here.
Kelly asked the panelists about Southeast Michigan being a great place to live. All have thriving businesses, all are passionate about the future of tech in Detroit. Richa Goel, Business Process Consultant at P3 Group is from India, Samit Ghosh of P3 North America is from Germany and Bill Camp of Detroit Labs returned to midtown from San Francisco.
While Lunsford is originally from North Carolina, she’s a long-time Detroit resident. She said “It was tough moving here, but there’s great support here.”
Today she pays it forward, acting as a support within the community. “We’re training up and bringing folks in to grow our own talent. There is so much talent to harvest, we’re always on the hunt. We find them in high school, people who may not be able to do the four year track in college. We ask – ‘Why not gain a skill?’”
During Q & A one attendee singled Lisa out. “I’ve watched your growth, I’m just your biggest fan. I’ve seen what you’ve been able to do. If anybody can wear that crown of having made it, it’s Lisa. So I have to ask you, how’d you do it, what’s your secret sauce?’”
Lisa responded, “Just when you think you’re ready to throw in the towel, stick with it; persevere! Believe it will grow. You’re going to have some bad days and you’re going to have some sunny days. The bad days will teach you how to leverage the sunny days. Things will change, but just stick with it.”
While others dream of starting a tech business, Lisa is working towards moving GS3 from Livonia to Detroit.
“You have to go with your gut, go where you passion is. We have passion for the city. We have a vested interest, everybody in our company wants to be there. They see it’s just the place to be.”
And she doesn’t see her business in just any building; she dreams of a smart building. “When you leave your car, the door opens, your computer starts and your coffee is ready.”
The future of tech in Southeast Michigan? The panelists agree – expect good things. And know that Detroit is the place to be.
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