Grand Circus: Buy Training, We'll Train A Detroit Kid

MACKINAC ISLAND — Damien Rocchi first came to Michigan as part of a transition team when an Australian bank took over the former Michigan National Bank.

Now, Rochi is banking on Michigan — and its growth in STEM fields.

Rocchi is a co-founder of Grand Circus, a tech training company backed by Detroit Venture Partners.

Rocchi is spending the week on Mackinac Island at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference. And he says his company hits all three of the conference’s stated pillars: STEM education, entrepreneurship, and programs that make a real impact.

Grand Circus opened last year opening IT classes, mostly to entrepreneurs, in stuf like web and mobile app development. Now, the company has grown to the point where it’s offering tech training for companies, and community programs in middle schools and high schools, as well as community education programs.

Grand Circus’ latest program is called Buy One Train One. Under the program, for every company employee trained at Grand Circus, Grand Circus will train one Detroit student how to build a website.

“It’s not a new idea,” Rocchi said, mentioning Tom’s Shoes, which sends a pair of shoes to an impoverished child for every pair bought. “But we think it’s new for the training industry.”

More information about the program is available at

Grand Circus currently has 12 full-time employees and has put more than 400 people through its training programs. Most of its instructors are contractors.

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