Oztalay has two words for Metro Detroit: early adoption. In the eyes of this downtown Birmingham- based entrepreneur, it’s a key phrase that will go a long way towards reinventing the region’s economy for the 21st Century
Oztalay started SmartFinds Internet Marketing in the early 1990s as an Internet service provider, getting in on the ground floor of the economic juggernaut that changed the world. His 13-person company specializes in everything from search engine optimization to mobile application advertising. He’s kept his firm at the forefront of technology trends, sometimes dragging Metro Detroit’s conservative business culture with him.
In the early years of his company, Oztalay couldn’t help but fantasize that he’d be retired on a South Pacific island if only he had set up his business in California instead of Michigan. Why? Because the dynamic entrepreneurial culture on the coasts doesn’t just make early adoption a priority, it makes it a necessity. Oztalay believes Michigan needs to be bolder, become a trendsetter instead of just waiting on the sidelines to see if something takes off.
"We're just not open to innovation that is outside of our manufacturing space," Oztalay says. He adds that introversion has broader implications than just job creation and profit margin expansion. "It's difficult to change that culture," Oztalay adds. "That goes to the fact that we're not able to retain our next generation here in Michigan. Their future is not our past."