At our recent all-company meeting Dan Gilbert, the chairman of Quicken Loans, officially announced his plans to help revive the economy in Detroit by building Bizdom U, an educational program for young entrepreneurs.
It’s the passion and determination of people like Dan that have the potential to make a real difference in a community that has been down on its luck for so many years. He realizes that the only way to revitalize the economy in Detroit is for people to believe in and invest in the city. Dan is going to help make this happen by committing about $10 million of his own money to Bizdom U. The program is basically a boot camp for young entrepreneurs who want to base their business in Detroit.
The full-time, year-round, two-year Bizdom U program will provide students with practical business knowledge, culminating with the development of a business plan for each student. Dan’s Bizdom U program will even help fund the students’ businesses, investing between $25,000 and $500,000 over time, based on milestones and business performance. Did I mention this entire program is completely free to admitted students?
Bizdom U will be headquartered in Detroit’s Cultural Center at a state-of-the-art training facility, including free housing, meals and high-tech business tools like laptops and Blackberries. “I’ve always hoped that I — we — could do something that we could fund ourselves, something different, based on the philosophies we have about how wealth is created,” Gilbert told the Detroit Free Press.
Dan is challenging the status quo when it comes to picking out the traditional, successful business type. He believes the most promising business leaders of the future are not necessarily high-achieving, college-bound high school students. Instead, Bizdom U students will have street smarts and a high school diploma, but otherwise may not necessarily be a good fit for a 4-year college degree. “We love PhDs,” Gilbert told the Free Press, “but a specific kind of PhD—poor, hungry and driven!”
Dan hopes teachers from the real business world will make the difference for his Bizdom U students. He hopes to bring in instructors ranging from NBA commissioner David Stern, to mortgage brokers, sports agents and professional athletes who own their own entrepreneurial businesses.
Bizdom U will launch in January 2007 with an inaugural class of ten to twenty students, ages 18 to 22.