Kate Catlin, Emerging Entrepreneur, Tells What She Gained During Year 1 in Detroit

September 12, 2014, 2:45 PM

Techonomy, a national business conference organizer based in New York, promotes next Tuesday's third annual Techonomy Detroit event, by profiling one of the young innovators "driving the city’s re-emergence as a center of innovation."

Kate Caitlin: "Surrounded by tech people, . . . I could actually see myself as one of them." (Twitter photo)

The self-profile is by Kate Caitlin, who tells how she moved here from Redmond, Wash., after earning an economics degree last year from Gonzaga University in Spokane and earning a Venture for America fellowship. It was reposted at Forbes magazine's site.

The West Coast transplant, reflecting on a whirlwind year of new experiences, says the fact that she's living in Detroit and starting a tech business "would have shocked the college-aged Kate Catlin." Her fledgling venture, which raise $4,544 in online donations last month, is Assemble, an online platform to help small businesses connect with each other to share advice, do cross-marketing, share delivery costs, rent spare equipment or warehouse space, and collaborate in other ways.

In this week's post, the newcomer -- now an apprentice learning Java and Android mobile development at Detroit Labs on Woodward downtown -- tells how she got here and how she has changed:

There is no way I’d be in Detroit if not for Venture for America, a program in which young people spend two years in the startup trenches in lower-cost cities. . . . The goal is that fellows become “socialized and mobilized as entrepreneurs moving forward.”

After being accepted as a fellow, I interviewed with several Venture for America-approved companies across the country and one, called Grand Circus, caught my eye. A member of the Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network, Grand Circus is a Detroit startup that promotes tech startups in the city while providing tech trainings for all skill levels.

I accepted their job offer and moved to the Motor City. . . . Being surrounded by tech people, I came to the unsurprising conclusion that the stereotypes were wrong: Coders are actually cool and socially skilled people, not just weird dudes with comic-book tee shirts. I could actually see myself as one of them.

Reflecting on her first year in Detroit, Caitlin expresses gratitude for "all the open-hearted Midwesterners I now call friends" and for "invaluable opportunities in this city — opportunities that don’t really exist elsewhere."

 Techonomy Detroit: Sept.. 16 at Wayne State University, 7:45 a.m.-6:45 p.m., $195, register here

-- Alan Stamm

Read more:  Techonomy

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