A Home (and Castle) in Detroit

During her first two years at Davidson College, Amanda’s post-grad plans focused on the kind of stable corporate jobs she thought would make her family happy. Then she began a communications internship at Davidson’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, and a new world opened up. Working at the Initiative dispelled all of her assumptions about entrepreneurship: that it took a specialized, niche skill set; that it required a lot of money to get started; that it was out of her reach. Plus, working on a small team was so satisfying—her work counted, every single day. Suddenly, startup life seemed a lot more compelling—and when she found out about VFA (through helping to plan an info session!), she knew she wanted to take the leap.

Eyes on Detroit

Eyes on Detroit

VFA appealed to Amanda in part because she knew she wanted to live in Detroit after graduation. Her older brother moved there after college, and when she visited him during the fall of her senior year, something clicked. It was the right size—small enough that she could grow to really understand it, but big enough to broaden her horizons. The people she met were welcoming, encouraging, and took pride in making their city stronger. It was exactly what she wanted: to become a part of a community that was solving problems together.

Building at Castle

Building at Castle

Amanda joined VFA’s class of 2015, but by Training Camp, she still hadn’t found the right job. She had applied for roles at several Detroit-based companies, but nothing felt quite right—until Castle. Castle—founded by three 2012 Fellows!—works with landlords to make property management simple and affordable. Amanda knew next to nothing about real estate or property management, but the opportunity to join Castle’s small, scrappy team spoke to her. She thought working for Castle—still in its very early stages—would give her the chance to make a genuine daily impact. As part of Castle’s operations team (at the time, a team of two), her job is people-focused—she works with landlords, tenants, and contractors every day, while simultaneously improving Castle’s processes to make the experience better for everyone. It’s a lot to juggle, but it feels like the job she never knew she wanted. 

Working at a small startup is an amazing experience. You're really at the bottom lines—your voice is so important in those early stages to actually shape that company and impacting the long term vision.

– Amanda Silver '15
Winter at Y Combinator, and new challenges in Detroit

Winter at Y Combinator, and new challenges in Detroit

Just a few months after Amanda joined the team, Castle was accepted to Y Combinator, one of the most competitive accelerators in the country. She and the rest of the Castle team moved to Silicon Valley for three intense months—they spent their days and nights working to grow and improve Castle and barely came up for air. It was a productive season, but she missed Detroit—the people, the VFA community, the types of problems being solved. Returning felt like coming home. Now she’s back in Michigan, heading up Castle’s Detroit operations on her own—something she couldn’t have imagined when she joined the team just over a year ago. 

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