5 Quick Questions For Alain Piette, Small Business Development Center

Courtney Overbey

Monday, January 27, 2020

Want to learn more about the resources available to support your startup, or how to set yourself apart from the competition? Check out these 5 Quick Questions with Alain Piette of the Small Business Development Center to learn more.

Alain Piette specializes in agriculture start ups, the transportation industry, international marketing and business development for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) of Michigan. Read below to learn how Alain and his organization can help take your startup to the next level. 

Why should a start-up connect with the SBDC?

The Michigan Small Business Development Center is a state-wide organization that offers expert assistance at no cost to entrepreneurs looking to start, grow or divest of a business. The consultants at the SBDC are subject matter experts who will guide the clients on strategic reflection, sales and marketing development, operational assistance and preparation for funding opportunities.

What is the SBDC’s role in Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem?

The SBDC is a catalyst that brings expert knowledge, connects to resources and focuses on helping companies reach their ultimate potential. It is complimentary to Michigan SmartZones and Accelerators, and it aims to be part of the support system that educates and prepares companies on what it will take to be successful from a commercialization or fundraising perspective.

Alain Piette.jpg

What’s the first thing you say to a start-up when they contact you?

“Your success is the State of Michigan’s success and that is how the SBDC measures its success.” We explain to start-ups that without providing any guarantees, we will make every effort to make them successful and connect them to all relevant resources available in the state.

What are the most common mistakes start-ups make that the SBDC can help them avoid? 

Potential clients assume they can be successful without proper preparation. Start-ups are based on dreams and ideas, and entrepreneurs assume the rest of the world will readily embrace their enthusiasm. For those ideas to become reality, a thoughtful reflection needs to take place on how to convert these ideas into actionable items. We support the start-ups in identifying and addressing what problem they are solving in the market place; what is the unique solution they will be selling; what will the sales and marketing strategy be; what will the manufacturing option look like; how will the company and its potential investors make money; and finally, we address if the management team is complete and capable of reaching success. We will guide them in the writing of the executive summary and the preparation of the pitch deck.

What impresses you most about Michigan’s ecosystem?  

Firstly, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and their Entrepreneurship and Innovation team—they recognize the need for ecosystem support and have created different financial vehicles to assist the early stage companies that qualify. For example, MTRAC support (Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization funding), the Emerging Technology Fund (a financial contribution to SBIR approved projects), the Business Accelerator Fund (a grant awarded by the SmartZones), the First Capital Fund and Invest Michigan. In fact, and to my knowledge, the State of Michigan has the most early-stage support as compared to the other states.

Michigan also has an active network of Angel and Venture Partners that are always receptive to hear a well-prepared pitch. To improve company visibility, there are very prestigious pitch events—such as the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium and the Accelerate Michigan Pitch Competition, which are both supported by the MEDC and the most visible result of the collaborative nature of our ecosystem.


Contact Us

To contact a business development specialist, click here or call 1.888.522.0103.