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For Business
June 16, 2015

Co.llaborate: Detroit: Microsoft helps small startups revitalize a city

Microsoft’s ecosystem of devices is at the heart of collaboration between 1701 Bespoke and Paramita Sound that is energizing their local communities.


Detroit was one of the hardest-hit cities in America during the recession with unemployment rising to 20 percent in 2011. That figure may have gone as high as 50 percent if you include people who stopped looking for work.

In addition, the city’s population fell by 25-percent between 2000 and 2010, leaving entire neighborhoods distressed in the aftermath of Detroit’s decline.

Since 2010, however, recent studies show that millennials are flocking to this urban center. Detroit has become ground zero for a movement by young, community-conscious urban entrepreneurs to revitalize the city by launching start-up enterprises geared towards rebuilding their community.

Suits and sound

Enter 1701 Bespoke and Paramita Sound, two young companies that have put hip, technology-laden spins on seemingly anachronous trades.

1701 Bespoke is the only clothing boutique in Detroit that specializes in custom-made garments for discerning men.

“I didn’t set out to start a business,” said 1701 Bespoke co-founder Tom Daguanno. “I set out to look for the perfect suit to get married in and ended up starting a business.”

Since 2012, 1701 Bespoke has provided well-tailored, affordable suits to Detroit natives. Today, the company has four employees and two shops, and sold 250 custom-made suits last year.

Paramita Sound is a new-era vinyl shop that focuses on merging new technologies with a century-old format. The company doubles as an independent record label that works exclusively with Detroit and Michigan-based artists.

Owner and head curator Andrey Douthard took advantage of resources designed to nurture a new wave of Detroit entrepreneurs, taking classes at D:Hive Build and TechTown’s Retail Boot Camp before opening Paramita Sound in October 2014.

“For someone that hasn’t started a business before, the guidance is priceless,” said Andrey. “The records are how we pay the bills, but really it’s about opening a dialog.”


The collaboration between 1701 Bespoke and Paramita Sound began months ago, when Tom and Andrey were trying to figure out an authentic way to meld their talents.

“When [1701 Bespoke] got the opportunity to work with Microsoft, it was a perfect fit for them to explore this relationship with us,” Andrey told us.

Now, through the seamless integration of Microsoft devices into their businesses, the two companies are creating something uniquely Detroit.


Paramita Sound has tapped its vast, curated music library to develop a customized playlist inspired by Detroit—specifically, a moment in time following the riots of 1967 in which the city experienced a cultural shift.

In turn, 1701 Bespoke has designed a men’s line of suits and accessories inspired by that music, with its suits on display at Paramita Sound.

New technology, classic style

While many people might not expect a clothier and a vinyl record shop to have complex technological needs, the truth is that technology goes to the core of their DNA.

“Our reliance [on technology] really begins when a customer makes an appointment,” noted Tom. “That was the first place we realized we needed to automate because it was taking up so much of our time.”

“The biggest change for us was taking this business that was all paper forms and fax machines, and turning it into a simpler, digital automated solution.”

–1701 Bespoke’s Tom Daguanno


In addition to booking and tracking appointments online, 1701 Bespoke records a client’s measurements—over 25 of them—using a Surface and takes photos of customers wearing try-on garments using a Lumia phone.

“There is one thing people think is pretty cool: When we measure the slope of a customer’s shoulders, we use the Microsoft Level app on our Lumia phones to measure the degrees of slope.”

For Paramita Sound, technology allows the company to reach new customers. It needs to take transactions, order product, stay connected to distributors, collaborate with artists, and form strategic partnerships.—much of which happens on the Internet.

In-store digital listening stations also allow customers to sample music on vinyl records without having to open physical inventory.


“A really big part of what we do is give our customers the opportunity to experience music on other formats,” said Andrey. “Digital music is always going to be present in the music industry and within the culture of listening to music.”

Leveraging Microsoft’s vast ecosystem of devices has allowed both companies to collaborate efficiently and effortlessly.

“It allowed us to stay connected on a cohesive platform,” said Andrey. “With all of us having Lumia phones and Surface Pro tablets, it gives us the ability to speak clearly through all our devices.”

For more on this inspirational collaboration, head over to to check out its four-part feature and full video about the partnership between 1701 Bespoke and Paramita Sound.

How do Microsoft devices allow your business to collaborate better? Tell us your story in the comments below.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the suits and playlists created by 1701 Bespoke and Paramita Sound were for sale at Paramita Sound, and that the proceeds would benefit the Detroit Music Hall. This information is not accurate. We regret the error.