Breaking the manufacturing growth ceiling

Automation Alley, a nonprofit technology business association serving Southeast Michigan, offers a free assessment through its entrepreneurship program, the Automation Alley 7Cs™. The program is geared toward second-stage manufacturing and technology companies that want to grow, are looking for strategic or Industry 4.0 technology assistance or just want to know how they’re doing.

Dom Holmes, Automation Alley’s manager of entrepreneurship and innovation, says the assessment allows those companies that have hit a growth ceiling to reach their full potential by focusing on company culture, a clear strategy and the resources and systems required to execute. While these three elements are the keys to long-term profitable growth, it’s vital to prioritize which one a company needs to focus on first. And that’s where the assessment comes in, Holmes adds. 

“Participants who commit to report operational metrics will receive a qualitative profile, a quantitative analysis and a list of findings for improvement, prioritized by importance and urgency,” says Holmes. “Past participants have reported that the assessment provided their leadership team with invaluable insights.”

Automation Alley’s 7Cs™ program helps early-stage and second-stage advanced manufacturing and technology entrepreneurs seek accelerated commercialization for their product, service or technology. The program consists of a customized seven-step process that includes intense coaching and a firm commitment from Automation Alley to invest resources and capital. 

Here’s how the program works: 

Step 1, Concept: Companies meet with Automation Alley’s entrepreneurship team to determine if they are a good fit for the program. 

Step 2, Context: A business model is developed resulting in a working value proposition. 

Step 3, Clarity: The value proposition is refined through market research. 

Step 4, Customers: Companies develop a prototype to take to market for analysis and feedback, explore crowdfunding where appropriate and secure first beta customers. 

Step 5, Capital: With first beta customers secured, companies meet with investment entities to secure capital. 

Step 6, Commercialization: Companies will rapidly scale production, secure resources, create jobs and, in turn, mentor new Automation Alley 7Cs™ participants.

Step 7, Community: Companies become Automation Alley members in order to tap into the membership base.

The program also includes a component called First Look, a collection of two-minute sales videos promoting each of the Automation Alley 7Cs™ clients and showcasing their products and services. 

“The videos give potential customers a ‘first look’ at the innovative products and services offered by our 7Cs™ clients,” Holmes says. “This is an integral part of the program because one of the major challenges faced by entrepreneurs today is securing that very first customer.” 

To date, Automation Alley has invested over $9 million into 60 startups across Southeast Michigan. Those companies have been awarded more than $142 million in follow-on capital.  


To learn more, contact Dom Holmes at