Ann Arbor SPARK is committed to assisting startups as they navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship. One of our core values is to educate entrepreneurs and provide tools to propel early-stage businesses in driving industries such as tech, life sciences, and mobility. Clients who have benefited from our free services have experienced accelerated growth and greater success. Whether your company is in its infancy or your team is seeking mentorship to take your new business to the next level, we offer a range of supportive services and resources.

Interested in becoming a SPARK client? Complete our intake form and a SPARK team member will follow up with you. We are eager to connect and engage. 

Skills Training and Networking

As founders bring their ideas to life, there is a wealth of ways to formulate your business. It’s important that startups have the relevant information needed to make their business a reality. Similarly, connecting with others in the community — from first-time entrepreneurs to those with decades of experience — can grow your network. Fortunately, SPARK offers a host of educational resources and networking events to boost your skillset and broaden your contacts.

  • Entrepreneur Boot Camp: This two-month intensive program is designed to educate and support entrepreneurs as they ignite their business ventures and broaden their understanding of the market.
  • SPARK.ed: This introductory educational series covers the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. SPARK.ed workshops provide both soft skills training and expert guidance from experienced mentors. 
  • Funding 101: SPARK’s capital programs team offers a detailed overview of investing and the diverse funding sources for your business. Our advisors work to connect startups to financial grants and the proper investors, including angel investors and venture capitalists. 
  • Events: The Ann Arbor entrepreneur ecosystem offers a plethora of events to connect founders to the broader business community. From workshops to networking opportunities, many are completely free and serve as an easy avenue to gain new information and meet industry leaders. Explore our events calendar.

Marketing Strategy

Strategic marketing support is one of the most requested services by SPARK clients. Our in-house expert consults with startups on effectively reaching their targeted audience through intentional, tactical actions. 

  • Strategy and Planning: Benefit from guidance on brand development, product differentiation, competitive positioning, and key messaging.
  • Market Targeting: Work with our advisor to help define and identify ideal customers.
  • Communications: Receive support and advice on the execution of specific tactics – such as press releases, content marketing, and social media strategies.
  • Referrals: Connect with additional community resources.

One-on-One Client Check-ins

Every startup journey is unique and specific challenges require targeted solutions. Ann Arbor SPARK advisors can confidentially coach you through pain points and connect you to client resources, including:       

  • Service Providers and Recommended Vendors: Our database of regional businesses can give your company an accurate lay of the land. 
  • Partners and Collaborators: SPARK has nurtured numerous partners who are mutually invested in the business development of our region. 
  • Talent Needs: SPARK maintains a robust network of talent from both the business and education sectors. Our strong relationships with neighboring companies and universities help to easily connect you with the right people.  

Dedicated Support

Even after a company has established itself, maintaining consistent growth and achieving development milestones are important for maturing a business. These services are targeted toward moving your company forward and giving your business the edge it needs to remain competitive.

  • Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR): This program is aimed at growth-stage companies that are in need of high-level mentorship.
  • Internship Program: This program provides a win-win for both startups and college students seeking paid internships. With SPARK covering payroll for the interns, bootstrapped companies can get the additional support they need to achieve product milestones.
Large colorful Local Development Finance Authority logo

With funds earmarked by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and budget oversight provided by the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA), Ann Arbor SPARK’s entrepreneurial programs, services, tools, and resources support the growth of a vibrant startup ecosystem.