Brazen Global is excited to introduce Monica Wheat, the new Director of Brazen Detroit!
I sit and type this from my hotel room in Istanbul, Turkey where I’m serving as part of the U.S. delegation to the Global Entrepreneurial Congress. This group was brought together to recognize top ecosystem developers from around the world and allow them to teach, learn and scale their ecosystems together.
The spaces I now sit in, like this one, were not always open to me. As both a female and an entrepreneur of color, I know firsthand the immense barriers that members of both of those groups face in launching businesses, gaining funding, and securing partnerships. As I walk the halls and speak on panels and judge global competitions, I’ve been doing a ton of reflection on how I arrived at this point in my career. More importantly, I think about how my path could have been expedited if a group like Brazen had existed when I was making my journey.
I started my first profitable company when I was a teenager: a simple, city-wide babysitting service. We had dozens of customers across Oakland County, Michigan and made several thousand dollars in a short few years that I split with my co-founders (also teenagers). The company was what would now be called an “on-demand model” with processes and systems set-up with the technology of that time. Yes, pagers and land line telephones! Although certified, organized, and very profitable, we were never encouraged to grow our budding company or continue on our entrepreneurial path. We had no examples of other women who had launched businesses to follow. We were counted out literally before we began. We were smart and ambitious and shuttled directly to corporate careers because that’s “what smart girls do” with their lives.
Fast forward to almost two decades later and I’m now known as a serial entrepreneur. I’ve launched and led several different entities across technology, entrepreneurship, and corporate partnerships with very few female members in my network or in the rooms I’ve sat in. I have led global companies, brokered multi-million dollar deals and helped entrepreneurs launch their own businesses as Director of Startup Boost Detroit, a global pre-accelerator with locations in Detroit, Toronto, New York, London, Ireland, LA and Seattle. I have led ecosystem development as lead of Techstars Startup Programs in Detroit and tech education as Entrepreneur in Residence at Grand Circus Detroit and as Founder of Digerati Girls, Inc. exposing over 6,000 youth to STEM and coding careers.
I enjoy and simply thrive in the process of developing entrepreneurial ecosystems. I’ve held roles and executed programs in multiple cities throughout the U.S. and abroad. But Detroit is close to my heart and my home base — I am fiercely determined to see movement for its entrepreneurs and will work diligently to understand what they need. Detroit is a prime example of a Renaissance City, both rebuilding and building new industry for the past several years. We have focused on encouraging talented and ambitious folks to take their business ideas from paper to initial profit. We are prime for the next stage.
Even with all the advancements and investments moving into the City, I still see a gap for women entrepreneurs who want to scale their businesses and grow them to the next level. How can we offer consistent, growth-focused programming for women? How do we better advance women, who typically earn the short end of the stick in access to resources, meetings with key players, and less than 4% of venture capital? That’s where a group like Brazen comes in.
I am proud to have been tapped to help Brazen Detroit bring this type of programming to the Detroit market and launch these much-needed opportunities for Detroit area women. Detroit is “hot” and that is positive for our region – but women need a focused lever to fully tap that momentum. Through Brazen, I’m planning to equip Detroit female entrepreneurs with a network, programs and resources to help them continue to grow in our Renaissance City. Join us in welcoming this amazing new group to Detroit!
Detroit just got a lot more Brazen! CLICK HERE to become a Member today. To schedule office hours with Monica and learn more about Brazen Detroit, CLICK HERE. Keep in touch with Brazen Detroit happenings on Facebook and Brazen Global on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.