One of the things I know for sure is Warmilu could not have been built anywhere else. Because of our roots in Ann Arbor and with the University of Michigan, we were able to access not only local entrepreneurial funding and resources but also resources in the Greater Midwest, connections to organizations like various chapters of the Department of Commerce, the export programs funded through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, that actually helped us go overseas. So we wouldn’t have been able to make our first trips to India or Kenya if not for some of the funding that came from these state of Michigan or Federal Government resources.
And because of the history here: something we experienced here was the "maker" mindset, and just how much of it we have here in Detroit and Ann Arbor. It’s not enough to come up with the idea. At Warmilu, from the early days when I was welding with a blowtorch and a piece of steel in a tech startup makerspace, to making our own chemicals, being able to get expertise from the P&G team in Cincinnati, and we even found experts in shipping right here in Michigan! We found shipping experts who helped us to get into international regions. And we found experts and partners, not just through the University of Michigan or Wayne State but also nonprofits who already served emerging markets and who had been working for 30+ years to export medical devices, supplies, and to donate them to hospitals and governments. So that particular resource was the Relief for Africa Foundation as well as World Medical Relief and the Global Health Services Network. And these were groups that had already been making donations overseas.
So as a startup, you can’t just send stuff overseas, and build the infrastructure from scratch, it’s very difficult, you don’t know the local people or who’s good to work with, and even logistically, how do you get something from the airport to a region that gets a shipment maybe once a week. So these are examples of partners that, before we were working with Doctors Without Borders, they helped us get infant warming blankets to hospitals and clinics. So in the Midwest, Michigan especially, we have a very collaborative feel. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been around for 30 years or 3 years, you find groups who are willing to work with you, willing to build things, to try shipping things out, introducing you to their partners. We began working with these governments, some of the largest national government run children hospitals, because of these groups and their willingness to introduce us and to partner.
I hope we've been part of a growing movement to change the perception of Michigan entrepreneurship.