The House that Entrepreneurs Built
How four Venture for America Fellows are turning a once-abandoned Detroit house into an entrepreneurial hub of their own.
What’s the logical next step for four members of the inaugural class of Venture for America (VFA) fellows in Detroit? Many would expect these young innovators to move out to the coasts and nurture their entrepreneurial dreams in a modernized office building with a skyline view. These four friends, however, like so many other Detroit transplants, felt a greater desire to become part of the community and contribute to the revival of one of America’s greatest cities. Tim Dingman, Sean Jackson, Scott Lowe, and Max Nussenbaum decided to convert an abandoned 7-bedroom house in New Center into a group home and co-working space that can become their own personal hub for entrepreneurship. Using the entrepreneurial skills they acquired through VFA, the group launched a $10,000 crowdfunding campaign to buy the house, and soon their reclamation project, termed “Rebirth Realty,” was a reality. While Rebirth’s fascinating tale of entrepreneurial ingenuity has earned national notoriety – you can read their story in publications such as TIME and Fast Company – the value of their experience resides in the example it sets for all of Detroit. The Rebirth project is a perfect microcosm of the commitment to community building and grit that has led the Detroit’s resurgence. In restoring their house, these four VFA graduates are not only helping to rebuild the community in New Center, but also building a micro-community for future VFA fellows for years to come. Even after the original tenants have moved on from the house, new classes of VFA fellows will arrive in Detroit with a place to live, socialize and innovate.