Pair use Facebook, Twitter in their contest to find best new retail idea for Detroit
By Daniel Duggan
Crain's Detroit

Can people on Facebook and Twitter pick a Detroit retailer?

Nick Gorga and Ted Balowski think so.

The two are in the early stages of Hatch Detroit, a contest for the best new Detroit retail idea.

After taking submissions this summer, a winning idea will be selected through a multistage process, largely voting marketed through social media. The winner will get $50,000 and — the men hope — a lot of attention.

"The reason to do this is that we think everyone who has a stake and cares about the city needs to do their part to revitalize the region and draw people in," Gorga said. "We see this as a way for us to do our part."

Gorga said that while there are many incubator programs, Hatch Detroit is different because it is geared toward retail in the city and will be a grassroots movement.

Balowski uses the term "crowd entrepreneurialism." He said they plan to harness the close-knit community of people in metro Detroit to feed new business in the city.

"From a grassroots perspective, we wanted to look at how we can engage the community as a whole," Balowski said. "But I also wanted to look at this from the entrepreneur's perspective. How can we help?"

The Hatch Detroit team plans to start a marketing blitz in the coming weeks.

Starting July 1, they will begin accepting submissions for contestants through They are limiting the entries to businesses that involve selling something to consumers. Art galleries, coffee shops and retail shops are examples of the types of businesses they want included.

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