Story

After years of Detroit’s decline and being written off by outsiders, the Detroit Entrepreneurship Network (DEN) co-founders Aashka Soni and Ashley Lyles still believed in its revival. They understood that entrepreneurship was key to a better future for Detroit. Entrepreneurship brings with it increased productivity which allows business to boom. But how do you inspire entrepreneurship?

They discovered an innovative solution. By providing an entrepreneurial-based education and community to metro Detroit high schoolers, they could help youth start their own businesses. Passionate about the idea, they founded DEN in 2012.

After a small pilot run in Farmington Hills of what is now our Startup program, Aashka and Ashley wanted to scale their idea and offer the program to kids across metro Detroit. They joined optiMize, a nascent organization at the University of Michigan that challenges students to create projects that make a positive impact. With the idea for DEN in their back pocket, they participated in optiMize’s workshops and received mentoring. After pitching DEN and they were awarded optiMize Social Innovation Challenge finalists. With the funding they received, they expanded DEN and offered admission to students from all over metro Detroit.

Over the years, we’ve continued to support DEN’s original mission by expanding our programs, events, and resources. Aashka and Ashley knew the best way to support Detroit’s revival was to start with its youth. DEN has kept its commitment to metro Detroit students by helping hundreds of aspiring high school entrepreneurs start their own businesses. DEN has hosted over 50 workshops and. many additional events. From its humble beginnings, DEN grew into a student-led organization and to its present form as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

As DEN expands, our mission has and will always remain the same. To support youth entrepreneurship.

On March 26th, 2018 the Detroit Entrepreneurship Network became a nonprofit corporation.

On May 18th, 2018, the Detroit Entrepreneurship Network became recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) public charity.