SPARK Ann Arbor

As part of my AS-L fellowship at Eastern Michigan, I have to volunteer with an organization throughout the semester and keep a journal of my activities. I approached SPARK Ann Arbor, a non-profit organization whose mission is to start, grow, and retain businesses in the Ann Arbor/ Ypsilanti area. One of their most noted successes was helping Google open an office in downtown Ann Arbor. Google now has over 250 employees with plans for significant growth.

This post details my interaction with them.

Last week, I contacted Amy Cell, Talent Enhancement, at SPARK. Over the phone, I explained what I was doing and why I was interested in establishing a relationship with SPARK. First was for the immediate need of volunteering my services. Second, was to establish a relationship with them such that we might be able to match student groups performing real world class projects with businesses in need of information systems. She forwarded my information on to their team and set up a meeting with me to meet.

The next day I received a call from Scott Olson with regards to the first need. SPARK conducts an Entrepreneur Boot Camp for new businesses. In this boot camp, participant companies are partnered with industry mentors to help them with questions and advice they may have. This sounded like an exciting opportunity and agreed to be a mentor. It would be a great way for me to connect with businesses, build a reputation as an expert in the field, and establish a positive relationship with SPARK.

I met Amy face-to-face yesterday, along with Greg Fronizer, and we further discussed how I could build a relationship with SPARK. When I experienced interest in being an IT consultant, Amy’s eyes immediately lit up because that is one important role that SPARK provides to new businesses. She mentioned that my involvement with the entrepreneur boot camp is an excellent first step in building our relationship, especially if I want to be a consultant recommended by SPARK.

All-in-all, this looks like a great opportunity for me. I was a bit hesitant about the AS-L fellowship when I first applied, but it should work out tremendously for me in the long run.


  1. Thank you for describing your activities in this area. I find your description fascinating because I am a long-term, nonacademic student of history.

    What you are describing is what happens all over the world everyday: productive people set a goal, take action, make contact with others with whom they can do some kind of trade, and thus build networks of contacts.

    This is how businesses work, of course, but it is also how ideas--from technical to philosophical--flow through society.

  2. Absolutely correct Burgess. I did not always see the value in networking when I was young, especially when there was no immediate gain in sight. But I've slowly learned the value in building contacts throughout industry with whom I may trade far in the future or with whom I may recommend to others.

    Politeness, courtesy, and friendliness are all rational behaviors in any business. Building up contacts through such behavior provides businesses with many future avenues of growth. Contacts aren't everything, but they are important (and some may argue critical).