March 2, 2022 - 1:15 pm

Registration opens for Northern Michigan Startup Week, presented by 20Fathoms and community partners

By 20Fathoms

Happening May 9-15 in Traverse City, Northern Michigan Startup Week offers an action-packed week celebrating entrepreneurship and innovation. Events are scheduled for each day of the week and include Techstars Startup Weekend, three pitch competitions, and events featuring local space industry experts, investors, and the broad startup community. 

Northern Michigan Startup Week is a collaborative initiative organized by local startup and tech ecosystem leaders 20Fathoms, TCNewTech, Newton’s Road, and Northern Michigan Angels. Funding is provided by lead sponsors Boomerang Catapult, Hagerty, Northwestern Michigan College, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Media sponsorship is provided by Interlochen Public Radio.

“The momentum of the startup community in Traverse City is building and at 20Fathoms, we are seeing record membership and interest in our startup incubation services,” said Eric Roberts, Executive Director of 20Fathoms. “Our community is resilient and we have a lot to celebrate, so we’re proud to work with our partners to host Northern Michigan Startup Week this spring” 

Calendar of Events

Registration for all events opened March 1. Events are open to the public and will offer opportunities for both students and adults to learn about tech entrepreneurship and the startup ecosystem, make new connections, and develop new business ideas.

  • May 9: Space NightA social gathering and panel discussion for space professionals and local space enthusiasts. Hosted by Newton’s Road, in partnership with ATLAS Space Operations and Northwestern Michigan College.
  • May 10: Funding Innovation LuncheonFounders and early-stage investors are invited to learn about the role of angel investment in healthy startup ecosystems and the future of early-stage investing in our region. Hosted by Northern Michigan Angels.
  • May 11: Startup Expo & Community Celebration Gather at Northern Michigan’s hub of entrepreneurship for an evening of celebration and discovery, featuring an awards presentation and business expo. Hosted by 20Fathoms, in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
  • May 12: University Idea ShowcaseParticipating universities will showcase their best student ideas to compete for cash prizes and a traveling trophy. Hosted by TCNewTech. 
  • May 13: Northwest Michigan Student Pitch Competition Watch student teams from local high schools and Northwestern Michigan College compete for prizes in two entrepreneurial pitch competitions. Hosted by Newton’s Road and Northwestern Michigan College, in partnership with Northwestern Michigan College Foundation.
  • May 13 – 15: TechStars Startup WeekendLearn how to think, work, and build like a startup in 54 thrilling hours. This will be an exciting and immersive foray into the world of startups. Hosted in partnership with Techstars.
  • May 15: TechStars Startup Weekend Pitch CompetitionAttend Demo Day, the grand finale event of Northern Michigan Startup Week, to watch the Techstars Startup Weekend teams pitch their startups to a panel of judges for a chance to win cash prizes. Hosted in partnership with Techstars.

“You don’t need to be working at a startup to attend these events,” said Keri Amlotte, Director of Marketing at 20Fathoms and spokesperson for Northern Michigan Startup Week. “Everyone is invited and the events will be of interest not only to startup veterans, but to anyone who is curious about entrepreneurship, has an idea for a new business they want to explore, or those who simply want to learn about some of the exciting things happening in our local startup scene.”

Growing Tech & Startups in Northern Michigan

Northern Michigan Startup Week is built upon the success of a more narrowly focused event called Traverse City Startup Weekend that happened in 2014. Since then, the region’s tech and startup ecosystem has grown significantly: 

  • Founded in 2015, TCNewTech hosts monthly pitch competitions for local tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.
  • Founded in 2018, 20Fathoms provides startup incubation and a coworking space for entrepreneurs and tech professionals. 
  • In 2020, Northwestern Michigan College opened the West Hall Innovation Center and Michigan Tech University opened a research hub in Traverse City.
  • Numerous startups have been founded and scaled in the Grand Traverse Region including ATLAS Space Operations, Birch Infrastructure, Interactive Aerial, SampleServe, ActionGlow, FirstIgnite, Promethient, and Naveego.
  • Members of Northern Michigan Angels have substantially increased their investments in emerging companies.
  • Newton’s Road has significantly increased access to STEM education resources and increased awareness for tech careers. 

The idea for Northern Michigan Startup Week came from Bradley Matson, Administrative Director of Northern Michigan Angels, and Keith E. Kelly, Engineering Technology faculty member at Northwestern Michigan College. 

“The startup ecosystem in our region has grown a lot since the initial Startup Weekend in 2014,” said Bradley. “We wanted to plan a community event that showcases that growth and the opportunities available. We expect this to be an annual event with a broader regional focus in the future.”

“Startups and tech entrepreneurship are an important piece to our region’s economic development strategy because they lead to high-quality job creation, additional business opportunities, and an overall vibrant community,” said Keri. “The momentum is building in Traverse City. Through Northern Michigan Startup Week, our goal is to provide education, inspiration, and open the door to the next big ideas.”