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Inside Downtown Detroit’s Madison Building With Josh Linkner

December 18 2012 | 1 comment

It’s a new day…and a new way of doing business in the “D.”

And the incubator of this new model is here–inside the Madison Building.

“We think entrepreneurship is the most important economic driver for our city’s revitalization,” said Josh Linkner, CEO of Detroit Venture Partners.

Linkner built e-Prize into a tech success story. Now as CEO of Detroit Venture Partners, he’s helping others create companies, fulfill dreams, and simultaneously, rebuild a city.

“I believe that very quickly Detroit’s going to become known as one of the most important start-up cities in the United States,” Linkner told Detroit 2020.

Within the walls of the Madison Building, you’re beginning to see that come to life, with companies such as Quikly, Doodle Home, and Detroit Labs.

“They are building mobile apps for some of the biggest brands and companies in the world. It’s a company we launched only a year ago. They’re already profitable. They have millions of dollars in revenue, 30 some employees and it’s all happening right here in the ‘D’, Linkner said.

And it’s all happening in a cool workspace.

The Madison Theatre is gone, but the building was preserved after decades of decay. Cement floors, exposed brick, and steel beams give it an urban feel. Some of the graffiti, courtesy of urban explorers, also remains.

“This is a city with a soul and to have that grit and determination that allowed our city to prosper in the first place–and re-applying it in the tech world today–I can’t think of anything more exciting,” Linkner said.

The Madison is one of 15 downtown buildings businessman Dan Gilbert has purchased since January of 2011. Gilbert is also a general partner in the venture capital firm. They’re driven to make a difference.

“The nice thing about an entrepreneur building their company here rather than someplace else, is you can actually leave your fingerprints, you now. If I built a company in Silicon Valley, nobody would care. Here in Detroit, it matters. Everything you do matters,” Linkner said.

A driving force for change. That’s the goal.

Here’s a list of companies located in the Madison Building:

  • Twitter: A real-time information network that connects people to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news
  • Skidmore Studio: A leading creative design firm occupying 9,780 square feet of space
  • Detroit Venture Partners (DVP):  A venture capital firm specializing in funding early stage technology businesses
  • Detroit Labs: A leader in the development of Android, iOS and web-based applications
  • UpTo: A new social platform focused on the future tense, allowing users to easily share calendar events
  • A website that brings the word-of-mouth referral process online
  • Chez Zara: A full-service espresso bar that specializes in exceptional espresso drinks and organic teas
  • Bizdom: A non-profit entrepreneurship accelerator for budding web and tech-based startups in Detroit and Cleveland (Bizdom Detroit was previously housed in Wayne State University’s Tech Town)
  • Are You a Human: The answer to frustrating CAPTCHA entries, Are You a Human uses fun games to verify the authenticity of people completing online forms
  • Doodle Home: An online interior design destination serving customers, designers and manufacturers of luxury home furnishings
  • TextsFromLastNight (Detroit office): An accidental startup born out of a viral sensation, now one of the leading user-generated content sites for 20-somethings
  • FLUD: A news-reader application for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices that helps users save time by delivering content they’re most interested in
  • Ludlow Ventures: An angel and seed-stage venture capital firm investing in web and digital technologies
  • Roqbot: A social jukebox app that lets you be the DJ at your favorite bars, restaurants, gyms, and stores
  • LevelEleven: Developed SalesContestBuilder, a hybrid of a Facebook, fantasy football, and online gaming, to create goal-based competitions
  • Exxodus Pictures: A production company whose first feature film, Jinn, is now in post-production
  • Cup of Zup: Uniquely amusing pop-culture e-newsletter and website
  • Quikkly: Short-term deals exclusively for college students
  • Wedit: A fun, easy, and affordable way to capture, edit, and share wedding memories through the use of HD Flip cameras
  • Tapjoy:  A mobile ad network that lets you discover apps and get in-app rewards when you engage with ads
  • Thrillist Detroit: Free weekly email that finds the best of what’s new in your neighborhood and on the web
  • Facility Matrix Group (FMG):  The area’s pre-eminent provider of office furniture
  • Apigee:  Enables businesses and developers to deliver well-designed, scalable APIs and apps, drive developer adoption, and extract business value from their API ecosystem
  • Dandelion Detroit: A venture philanthropy consultancy and civic innovation lab
  • 1st & Goal Recruiting: Provides advanced statistical analytics and performance prediction for college football recruiting
  • A website that allows you to have real-time rap battles around the world
  • Backstitch: Provides a clean and consistent experience for managing your personal web
  • Whip Hand Cosmetics: Cosmetic company that celebrates today’s modern women while being manufactured in Detroit, Michigan
  • Brys & Edgewood: A company that produces DIY fondant kits and cupcake kits that are easy enough for anyone to make at home
  • Chalkfly: An office and school supply company that is rooted in giving back to teachers across the nation while providing customers with quality office supplies, innovative technology, and exceptional service
  • eBabEx: Cloud-based international foreign language translation and interpreters marketplace
  • GuidesMob: A mobile app company that creates college guides for iPhones and Androids


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  1. Liz Wolff December 19, 2012

    It’s so exciting to see such innovative growth and entrepreneurship in the city of Detroit.


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