Applications are now open for the 3rd Techstars Mobility program in Detroit.
We’re excited to announce that we’ve opened applications for the 2017 class of Techstars Mobility. We are looking for startups building technologies that impact how people and goods move around across all modes of transportation (including pedestrian). This encompasses a wide range of industries including automotive, transportation, smart city, energy, logistics, supply chain and travel. Technologies include software and hardware using artificial intelligence, machine/deep learning, VR, AR, robotics, autonomous, electric, shared, and connected. You can apply online here. Applications are open through April 9th.
We’re also excited to welcome next47, Siemen’s new corporate venture unit, to our consortium of corporate partners. This new partnership will further help us support companies in the smart city and mobility verticals. Learn more about the partnership here.
In early January, Techstars Mobility partnered with The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) to bring startups from all over the world to Detroit to showcase their innovative mobility technologies as part of AutoMobili-D, a dedicated startup expo.
This was the inaugural year for the AutoMobili-D exposition which featured 120 exhibitors, including a global mix of automakers, suppliers, tech startups from around the world, all showcasing and discussing the future of mobility.
It attracted nearly 40,000 auto and tech industry executives, designers, developers and analysts from 2,274 companies and 27 countries.
The partnership was formed as part of Techstars Mobility’s ongoing mission to connect the automotive and startup worlds by breaking down silos and forming partnerships. Watch our keynote from the show to learn about the program.
The 44 startup companies that attended were able to experience additional exposure through media coverage, events and networking including an Automotive and Startup Innovators reception hosted at the Techstars Mobility Office, in conjunction with Dykema, that attracted nearly 200 industry experts and entrepreneurs.
“It was an amazing way for our company to not only get access to top players in the automotive industry but to actually talk with the top-level decision makers.” — Jordan Warzecha, CEO & Co-Founder, Backstitch, Techstars Sprint Accelerator 2016
“Amazing opportunity to engage with leading automotive executives. We were amazed by the quality of the meetings.” — Stefanie Lemke, CEO & Co-Founder, GoKid, Techstars Mobility 2016
“It was a cream of the crop event. You can network more in four days at AutoMobili-D than in four years through other channels.” — John Mohyi, CEO & Co-Founder, Mohyi Labs
What’s Techstars Mobility?
Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit, focuses on the rapidly changing mobility and transportation industry. We’ve partnered with leading mobility corporations including Ford, Verizon, Dana, Honda, Munich Re, Michelin, next47. Over the past two years we have invested in 22 mobility startups from all over the world. Collectively, they are valued at over $100 million.
We are interested in startups changing the future of mobility and how people move around across all modes of transportation (including pedestrian). This encompasses a wide range of industries including automotive, transportation, smart city, energy, logistics, supply chain, and travel. Technologies include software and hardware using artificial intelligence, machine/deep learning, VR, AR, robotics, autonomous, electric, shared, and connected. Techstars is committed to operating this program in Detroit, the birthplace of mobility.
To apply for the 2017 Mobility program, click here.
Check out additional videos below from live sessions hosted at NAIAS featuring our alumni, corporate partners and mentors:
2017 Program Dates
- Jan 9 – Applications Open
- Apr 9 – Applications Close
- May 16 – 17 – Final Interviews
- May 22 – Notification of Selection
- Jul 24 – Program Starts
- Oct 18 – Demo day
Sign up for Office Hours / Events with us:
- Feb 7 | Ann Arbor / University of Michigan
- Feb 9 | Clemson University
- Feb 20 | Pittsburgh
- Feb 21 | Flint Kettering University
- Mar 1 – 2 | Chicago
- Mar 3 | Detroit
- Mar 6 – 7 | New York
- Mar 8 | Boston
- Mar 14 | Toronto / Waterloo
- Mar 15 – 17 | Boulder
- Mar 31 | Chicago
RSVP for our 2017 Webinars + Live Q&A:
Techstars Mobility has partnered with the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) to bring 50 global startups to Detroit in January 2017 to showcase their innovative mobility technologies as part of AutoMobili-D, a dedicated startup expo.
This partnership is part of Techstars Mobility’s ongoing mission to connect the automotive and startup worlds by breaking down silos and forming partnerships.
The startups that will be participating come from all around the globe, including the U.S., Canada, Dubai, London and Portugal.
They will showcase a wide-range of technologies, ranging from artificial intelligence and machine learning, to autonomous and connected platforms, to infrastructure communications and security applications.
Out of the 50 participating startups, 19 are Techstars alumni.
Now in its 29th year as an international event, the NAIAS is among the most prestigious auto shows in the world, providing unparalleled access to the automotive products, technologies, people and ideas that matter most – all from downtown Detroit, the heart of the automotive industry.
This is a pivotal time for the automotive industry, as tech and mobility are becoming more integrated. Through the AutoMobili-D showcase, this will be the first time an auto show will include a dedicated startup expo.
Techstars Mobility is the first North American accelerator focused on the future of transportation and mobility. Headquartered in downtown Detroit, Techstars Mobility has invested in 22 mobility startups from all around the world over the past 18 months. They are collectively valued at over $100 million.
Applications for Techstars Mobility 2017 program will be opening January 9th. Startups can apply here.
Here is a list of the Techstars companies that will be attending:
Acerta Systems Analytics (Mobility ‘16) – an enterprise platform that uses machine learning to detect anomalies and predict failures in real time for vehicles coming off the assembly line or being driven.
Algocian (Mobility ‘16) – an edge computing platform that uses deep learning to make every camera smart.
backstitch (Sprint ‘16) – helps organizations to deliver more relevant, accessible, and actionable communications to employees, clients, and partners.
Classics&Exotics (Mobility ‘15) – a new marketplace that connects owners of unique vehicles to pre-screened, highly qualified renters, allowing them to offset the high cost of ownership.
Donut Media (Mobility ‘16) – a digital media central for the next generation of automotive and motorsports enthusiasts.
Drive Spotter (Mobility ‘16) – a machine learning platform that trains human drivers and autonomous vehicles for enterprise fleets.
GoKid (Mobility ‘16) – a complete carpool solution for schools, teams and active families, helping parents to carpool with families they know and trust.
HAAS Alert (Mobility ‘16) – the mobile vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) platform that delivers preemptive notifications to motorists, informing them of the road ahead.
HERO App (Mobility ‘16) – a platform that reduces insurers’ liability from drunk driving by providing bars/restaurants with a mobile solution that incentivizes customers to get home safely
LaaSer (Atlanta ‘16) – solves the deadly problem that when you call 911 from a mobile device, they don’t know where you are.
LISNR (R/GA ‘15) – an ultrasonic inaudible technology; a communication protocol that sends data over audio.
My Dealer Service (Mobility ‘15) – empowers automotive service departments with mobile connectivity and workflow management, elevating efficiency and creating an unprecedented customer experience.
Pitstop (Mobility ‘15) – a predictive maintenance platform that uses big data to detect vehicle issues before they happen.
PolySync (Ventures) – products and services that simplify and accelerate the development, testing, and deployment of self-driving cars.
Revio (Mobility ‘15) – a telematics hardware platform that uses connected devices to make power sports safer and more secure.
Spatial (Mobility ‘16) – Artificial intelligence location platform and API that enables vehicles to answer location questions only a local would know using real time social data.
SPLT (Mobility ‘15) – a company focused on moving people efficiently and sustainably in urban and suburban areas. Its team is devoted to improving mobility in cities and reducing our collective carbon footprint with innovative transportation solutions.
Super Dispatch (Sprint ‘16) – a platform that enables automotive logistics companies to eliminate paperwork, manage loads, drivers and billing all in one place.
TEQ Charging, Inc. (IoT ‘16) – a company catalyzing the growth of the electric vehicle market by increasing the accessibility and affordability of charging infrastructure.
If you’re a developer with a great idea for a new mobility app…or if you’re an entrepreneur, with a great idea for a product, service or business that help solves mobility challenges — then Detroit wants you!
Ford Motor Company is kicking off GoDetroit, an innovation challenge designed to stimulate new ideas and find ways to better connect Detroit communities using innovative transportation and mobility solutions.
To help Detroit residents get access to the transit options they need, Ford is asking startups and app developers to create new apps that help residents get around efficiently and safely to all the places they need to go—school, work, healthcare appointments, entertainment venues, parks, and everything in between.
Startups can submit ideas designed to improve the safety, access and availability of transportation solutions throughout Detroit. This innovation challenge is designed to stimulate new ideas and find ways to better connect Detroit communities using innovative mobility solutions.
Semifinalists will then work with Ford mobility experts, Detroit stakeholders and me (Ted Serbinski, MD of Techstars Mobility) to refine submissions. Semifinalists will present their solutions to a panel of Ford experts and city representatives who will select six winners. Winners will receive cash rewards totaling $60,000 to bring their idea to life.
Thanks again to our partner, Ford, who is consistently finding new ways to engage and support the startup community in Detroit!
Community info sessions begin Wednesday, December 7. REGISTER HERE.
For more information, or to participate in the Go Detroit innovation challenge, visit GoDetroit.
On Dec 11, 2014, Bill Ford introduced Techstars Mobility to the world: the first startup accelerator program in North America to focus on the future of mobility, automotive, and transportation. You can watch part of this announcement here. Since then, we’ve been on a mission to connect the automotive and startup worlds by breaking down silos, building partnerships and fostering community. And we’re doing this from downtown Detroit, the epicenter of the global automotive industry.
Techstars Mobility has invested in 22 mobility companies from all around the world. Three of these companies have relocated to Detroit: Lunar (class of 2015), SPLT (class of 2015), and joining them today, Drive Spotter (class of 2016). Combined, they have hired 23 team members and are working closely with Detroit companies including Ford, DTE Energy, Magna, Service.com, Matrix Human Services, COTS Detroit, and others.
Today, I’m also excited to announce we’ve brought two additional high-growth startups to Detroit: Mapbox and Polysync, the latter of which is a Techstars Ventures investment. These companies will be opening their Detroit offices out of the Techstars Mobility space, joining Oblong who opened their Detroit office last year.
One true testament of a great ecosystem is the commitment by companies to relocate and establish a base in that area. It is amazing to see six automotive mobility startups doing just that, all within the last 12 months. I’m convinced that continuing to showcase the burgeoning Detroit ecosystem will contribute to more and more startups relocating to Detroit.
We are continuing our mission to expose more startups to Detroit. Today, I’m excited to announce that we’re opening applications to bring 50+ mobility, automotive, and transportation startups to the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. If you are a startup and want to be part of this ground breaking event, apply here.
Connecting Startups & Automotive Companies
Techstars Mobility operates at the intersection of Detroit’s two biggest strengths: automotive dominance and entrepreneurial resurgence.
As we watch the shift from manufactured automotive vehicles to mobility services occur across the industry, we’re seeing stronger collaboration between startups and automotive companies.
Just look to CB Insights infographic depicting just that: All the major automotive OEMs are actively investing, acquiring, and partnering with startups. The momentum in 2016 is quite contagious. It’s incredible to see the alignment of Silicon Valley thinking and Detroit’s robust automotive know-how.
At Techstars Mobility, we’re helping to push this collaboration even further. We’ve partnered with 8 leading automotive and mobility corporations: Ford, Magna, Verizon, Dana, Honda, McDonald’s, Munich Re, and Michelin. The 22 startups that have gone through Techstars Mobility programs have developed deep and long lasting relationships with these corporations. On the flip slide, these corporations have learned a great deal about working with startups that operate in days instead of months to get things done. Do more faster indeed!
In addition to the relationships with these corporations, we brought in over 200 mentors from over 50 different automotive related companies– OEMs, suppliers, software companies, and investors. These mentors have come by our office in downtown Detroit to work with and mentor these startups.
What this has created is quite profound: Techstars Mobility operates the most active collaboration of automotive companies and startups, all from downtown Detroit.
The future of mobility is being built in Detroit.
Growth of Detroit’s Startup Community
Today is the 2nd Techstars Mobility Demo Day in downtown Detroit. With over 1,000 RSVPs again this year, Techstars Mobility is the first Techstars program ever to have back-to-back demo days with over 1,000 folks. With 275 investors in the audience and over 300 mentors, it’s incredible to watch the startup mentorship network blossoming around Detroit.
If you’d like to watch the fun, click here to watch the live stream. This will start at 2:30p ET and run to approximately 4:45p ET. If you missed the livestream, you can go to the live stream page to watch a video of the entire demo day.
This attendance record is a huge testament to the community around Detroit — both the startup and automotive communities. Demo Day is coming off the heels of Detroit’s first Startup Week, which had over 3,000 attendees, the largest ever for a launch of that program.
To capture this growth of the startup community, coupled with the entrepreneurial resurgence in Detroit, we’re working with Long Haul Films to develop the documentary Restarting the Motor City. This is a feature-length documentary about the creators, innovators and entrepreneurs who are reimagining Detroit. They are breaking free from the shackles of 20th-century thinking to create a new model for cities across the globe. We anticipate airing the full documentary sometime in 2017.
Two Classes of Successful Mobility Startups
Techstars Mobility has now completed two programs over the last 18 months. We’ve seen hundreds of applications from 52 countries, across 6 continents. For a more indepth look at the mobility and automotive trends we’ve seen, check out this blog post.
Our 2015 class of startups have now gone on to raise over $8M in funding. Lunar, Wise, Elegus, Pitstop, and SPLT have all raised significant seed-stage financings > $1M. The rest of the class is still operating and growing their businesses.
Our 2016 class of startups is on pace to double that of last year’s class. Investors this year have been quite aggressive. Most of the startups have ⅓ to ½ their round committed — some are even oversubscribed before they set foot on the stage at Demo Day — wow!
From the start of the program until now, the current 2016 class has experienced tremendous growth. To see that evolution, check out the company descriptions from 3 months ago and compare to where they are today:
- Acerta is an enterprise platform that uses machine learning to detect anomalies and predict failures in real time for automotive vehicles coming off the assembly line or being driven.
- Algocian is an edge computing platform that uses deep learning to make every camera smart.
- Braiq personalizes the ride experience in autonomous vehicles by teaching artificial intelligence how to better read human emotions.
- Cargo is the in-car marketplace for the ride-sharing economy. Drivers earn more money and improve their riders’ experience by providing essential goods on-the-go.
- Donut Media is the media company for the next generation of automotive enthusiasts.
- Drive Spotter is a machine learning platform that trains human drivers and autonomous vehicles for enterprise fleets.
- GoKid is a complete carpool solution for schools, teams, and active families, helping parents to carpool with families they know and trust.
- HAAS Alert is the mobile vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) platform that delivers preemptive notifications to motorists, informing them of the road ahead.
- Hero is an enterprise platform that reduces insurers’ liability from drunk driving by providing bars and restaurants with a mobile solution that incentivizes customers to get home safely.
- Rally is a marketplace connecting groups, event-goers, and commuters for crowdpowered transportation.
- Spatial is a location api that uses artificial intelligence to answer questions only a local would know.
- Voyhoy is a multi-modal booking platform that helps people save time and money traveling long distances across bus, plane, train, ferry, and rideshare in Latin America.
This blog post originally appeared on on Ted’s blog. To keep updated on Techstars Mobility and the growing intersection of Detroit’s automotive dominance and its entrepreneurial resurgence follow Ted on Twitter: @tedserbinski.
This blog post originally appeared on tedserbinski.com.
As we enter week six of Techstars Mobility, I thought it’d be fun to analyze the data from sourcing startups and reading applications since launching the 2016 Techstars Mobility program.
We read a ton of applications and met a lot of great founders from all around the world. These conversations led to fascinating insights and trends. Check out this infographic for the top three global trends in applications to Techstars Mobility.
The worldwide response for Techstars Mobility has blown us away.
Applications to Techstars Mobility came from 52 countries across 6 continents. This represented a 26% increase in international companies compared to 2015.
The Top 10 locations to apply to Techstars Mobility in 2016 were:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- Canada and India [tied]
- Germany and Russia [tied]
- Mexico and Israel and France [tied]
When we drill down further, we see that only 19 startups from Michigan applied to Techstars Mobility. Put another way, we saw more applications from Eastern Europe than we did our own home state, the center of the automotive world!
While surprising in comparison, in my opinion, this is actually a great observation.
The demand of high quality automotive mobility startups wanting to be in Michigan is much greater than our own supply.
This is great signal that the rest of the world wants to build their future mobility solutions right here in Detroit. The entrepreneurial gold rush in Detroit is quite appealing.
Trends in Mobility Startup Applications
What’s most fascinating is the type of technologies and businesses these startups are building.
When a sector as hot as mobility and automotive emerges, we often see copycats and imitators emerge. Our data is insightful because it shows:
1. What areas of the automotive mobility industry have the lowest barriers to entry?
2. What problems still exist without widespread adoption of solutions?
3. What are the gaps in the automotive and mobility market that startups aren’t pursuing?
Looking at our 2016 applications, here were the most common themes in order:
1. Ride sharing — Getting from point to A to point B. Automobiles, vans, buses, bicycles from local, city-to-city, and even long distance. Lots of new and innovative models.
2. Customer Experience — Everything around the experience of car ownership and the entire lifecycle: buying/leasing -> maintenance -> selling.
3. Safety / Distracted Driving — Lots of innovative ideas in this space, for both consumer and enterprise fleet management.
4. Journey Planning / Navigation — There are still a lot of fundamental problems with planning trips, whether local, long distance, or international. Different modes of transportation and siloed data sources still make this process harder than it should be.
5. V2X / Connectivity / Urban Environments — The density in urban environments enables all sorts of new technology and businesses. Connecting vehicles to X things around the vehicle (other vehicles, parking, infrastructure, etc.). Maintaining connectivity when underground or blocked by tall buildings is of huge importance as well.
6. Personal Mobility — Fun new ways to get around from electric scooters to personal hyper loops!
7. Electric Vehicles — Electric vehicles radically transform the way vehicles are built and operate. Lots of innovative ideas in this sector.
8. Logistics / On Demand — Using big data and analytics to improve last mile delivery and logistics.
9. Trucking — The backbone of the American manufacturing economy, we saw a lot of innovative ideas tackling the trucking industry around efficiency and fleet management.
10. Manufacturing — Lightweighting and new technologies to improve the manufacturing of vehicles.
11. Drones — And just missing the top 10, but still on the list, the wonderful world of drones.
Insights and Takeaways
What we learned was just as fascinating as the conversations we had with founders throughout 2016.
- The lack of autonomous and self-driving startup applications was surprising but can easily be explained. Building a self-driving startup is hard. Very hard. From artificial intelligence to deep learning to sensor design, this is complex stuff. Fortunately, we were able to select a couple startups in this space including both Braiq and Algocian.
- Many startups are incorporating artificial intelligence and big data to tackle all aspects of transportation. Transportation is a complex system, it’s great to see that startups are using cutting edge technology to start to solve a variety of transportation problems.
- Startups were embracing Tesla as a platform. This was quite fascinating. Because of Telsa’s entirely different model in both building and selling their cars, startups were using this as an opportunity to exploit new business models. I expect we’ll see more of this when GM unveils their Bolt this fall.
- Following the electric vehicle trend, we noticed there were many startups building their own electric vehicles. When you go from a combustion engine to an electric engine, a lot of the mechanical complexity goes away. Startups were embracing building an electric vehicle as they would a software company. Similar in approach to how Telsa builds their vehicles. This is the edge of the oncoming personalization and 3D printed transportation vehicles that we will see much more of.
- Startups were also embracing new business models and transportation services targeted towards Millennial and Gen-Z owners. With the rise of the sharing economy and growing urbanization, new businesses will emerge at the intersection of these mega-trends.
- There is a huge demand from mobility and automotive startups that want to come to Detroit and build their companies here. This is evident through conversations with 100s of startups and 96% of applicants being outside the Michigan region. It’s quite reassuring that Techstars Mobility is on to something here by operating at the intersection of Detroit’s biggest strengths: its automotive dominance and its entrepreneurial resurgence.
The startups we chose for our 2016 class were primarily focused in these 4 mobility themes: connected, shared, autonomous and electric. Check out the full list of the 2016 Techstars Mobility companies here.
And if you’d like to attend our demo day on Sep 8, in downtown Detroit, and meet these companies, send me a note. We’re expecting over 1000 individuals from 50 different automotive and transportation companies and investment funds like we did for our 2015 demo day. See you there!
This blog post originally appeared on tedserbinski.com. To keep updated on Techstars Mobility and the growing intersection of Detroit’s automotive dominance and its entrepreneurial resurgence follow Ted on Twitter: @tedserbinski
Today, I’m excited to introduce the 12 companies that are part of the Techstars Mobility Class of 2016. These startup companies are building automotive mobility technologies and services that enable people and goods to move around more freely. On September 8, 2016, we will be hosting our second annual demo day, where we expect over 1,000 people to come see and meet these 12 startups.
The quality of teams and companies applying this year has been incredible. We saw a world-wide response with applications from 52 countries across 6 continents. There was a 44 percent increase in mobility-focused companies. Most impressive, 50 percent of the 2016 companies include founders with diverse backgrounds.
Techstars Mobility operates at the intersection of two of Detroit’s greatest strengths: its automotive dominance and entrepreneurial resurgence. We are on a mission to connect the startup and automotive worlds, by breaking down silos and working across the industry to build partnerships.
To do this, we’ve partnered with eight global corporations leading the automotive and transportation industries. These partners include Ford Motor Company, Magna International, Verizon, Dana Holding Corporation, Honda R&D Americas, McDonald’s, Munich Re, and Michelin. Additionally, over 150 mentors across 38 different automotive and transportation companies are active mentors in the program. And just recently, we partnered with the Detroit Auto Show to bring another 50+ mobility startups to Detroit in January 2017.
The 2016 class comes from all around the world, including Chile and Canada, building solutions in the autonomous, connected and shared vehicle mobility spaces. Here is the 2016 class:
Acerta: Machine-assisted anomaly detection & root cause analysis.
Algocian: State-of-the-art video analytics for security and autonomous vehicles.
Braiq: Personalizing the self-driving car.
Cargo: Data-driven general store for the ride-sharing economy.
Donut Media: Automotive enthusiast video content for Millennials and Gen Zs.
Drive Spotter: Real-time video search for fleet management.
GoKid: A complete carpool solution for busy families.
HAAS Alert: Connected car and autonomous driving notification platform that warns when emergency vehicles are approaching.
HERO App: Rewarding safe behavior and helping impaired drivers get home safely.
Rally: Community mobility platform that powers pop-up mass transit with high occupancy vehicles.
Spatial: Dynamic, human-driven layer of social intelligence for maps and navigation.
This blog post originally appeared on tedserbinski.com. To keep updated on Techstars Mobility and the growing intersection of Detroit’s automotive dominance and its entrepreneurial resurgence follow Ted on Twitter: @tedserbinski
Mobility includes technologies and services that enable people and goods to move around more freely.
Since launching Techstars Mobility in Dec of 2014, the #1 question I get asked is:
What does mobility mean?
And the follow up: How does this relate to the automotive industry?
And to be honest, when we launched the program, I didn’t have a great way to answer this question. Thankfully, I had some friends that had a better sense than me. Fontinalis Partners, a VC firm co-founded by Bill Ford, along with Ford, and Magna all shared their perspectives with me.
And it became clear: their definitions were different and changing frequently to address the rapidly expanding market. As with any new, emerging market, it’ll take time and experience to offer a clear and consistent definition.
Since launching the program, I’ve talked with and read over applications from more than 1000 startups in the mobility space. From the applications to our 2015 and 2016 programs, to general outreach, I’ve seen companies far and wide. And not just companies in the United States, but all over the world.
Over the last 2 weeks I’ve talked with companies from Dubai, Moscow, Kiev, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Tokyo, Bangalore, Estonia, Cape Town, Chile, Lithuania, Kenya, Latvia, Germany, France, Sweden, Toronto, Mexico City, London, Portugal, Romania, Taiwan, and Italy to name a few 🙂
Mobility means so many different things from a global perspective.
How I Define Mobility
After 18 months and reading nearly 1,000 Techstars Mobility applications, I arrived at this succinct definition.
Technologies and services that enable people and goods to move around more freely.
Simple and elegant. The key things to take away are:
- No mention of automotive
- Keywords: services and goods
- Slightly vague but still specific enough without being verbose
Why This Definition
The world is changing incredibly fast. How people get from point A to point B is changing too.
- Urbanization: More than half the world’s population lives in towns and cities. By 2040, two in three people are expected to live in urban environments.
- Sharing economy: We’re transiting from an ownership-centric society to one of a sharing economy. Sharing a ride, sharing a home, and sharing an officeis becoming all the norm.
- On demand: Postmates delivering local restaurant food and Instacart which delivers groceries within 1 hour.
- Mobile technology: The mobile boom of the last decade has given everyone a supercomputer in their pocket. Embed these in objects around them, and boom, the emergence of the internet of things, connecting trillions of things.
The Underlying Automotive Change
When you combine all those factors, a perfect storm of change emerges to disrupt existing business models, especially in the automotive and transportation sector.
Automotive + New Technologies + New Services = New Business Models
Automotive is now too narrow of a term. A new term needs to be used to include all of these new technologies and services. And what better word than mobility.
What the Automotives Think
Bill Ford was years ahead of the industry. He introduced his “Blueprint for Mobility” back in early 2012. He talked about a future beyond traffic gridlock in 2011. And in 2009 he started Fontinalis Partners to invest in this emerging sector.
We become a piece of the mobility ecosystem. In this new world, we need to figure out what we have to own and what we don’t and to be a great integrator of technologies and services. We need to figure out who are friends, who are foes, and how do we turn our foes into friends.
—Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford
Fast forward four years, and we’re seeing the automotive companies turning this vision into a reality. Looking at two of the Big 3, we see just that.
“As we’re thinking about the company, we’re thinking about ourselves not only as car, utility and truck company, but also as a mobility company”
— Mark Fields, CEO of Ford
“Some might find this massive change to be daunting, but we look at it and see the opportunity to be a disruptor. We believe our decades of leadership in vehicle connectivity is fundamental to our quest to redefine the future of personal mobility.”
— Mary Barra, CEO of GM
The 2016 Automotive Shifts into Mobility
So what does an automotive company in transition to a mobility company, look like?
At the Detroit 2016 auto show, we saw a huge transformation in the perception of Ford.
Take a look at Ford’s booth:
To me, it was quite clear Ford felt more like a tech company than an auto company at the auto show.
But Ford is doing even more:
- Last year, Ford jumped into the car sharing business with a pilot launch in London.
- This year, they are turning F-150s into drone launch pads
- Launching a on-demand bus sharing service with startup Bridj
- Launched a pilot to allow lease-sharing service with friends in Austin
- Spun out Ford Smart Mobility as a separate entity to “do more faster”
And GM is moving faster with bigger headline grabs:
- Launched its car sharing service Maven after acquiring Sidecar
- Invested $500M into another car sharing service Lyft
- Bought Cruise for nearly $1 billion
Expanding our Definition
And that’s why I’m so excited that Techstars Mobility has partnered with Ford and others. We’re defining mobility for a whole new range of startups. And impacting the entire industry at the same time.
Taking our definition, here are the areas of most interest to us:
The automotive landscape is changing drastically and I’m excited to help play a small part in helping to define this new future of mobility.
Originally published at tedserbinski.com on April 6, 2016. To keep updated on Techstars Mobility and the growing intersection of Detroit’s automotive dominance and its entrepreneurial resurgence follow Ted on Twitter: @tedserbinski
I’m excited to announce that we’ve opened applications for the 2016 class of Techstars Mobility. You can apply online by going to techstars.com/apply. Applications are open through March 20.
Click here to watch this video for a great overview of the program.
Live from CES 2016
To kickoff the 2016 program, I’m at CES and it’s pretty clear the entire industry is talking about the future of mobility and connected car solutions. Techstars Mobility’s title sponsor, Ford, kicked off CES yesterday with a keynote from CEO, Mark Fields.
“In 2016 Ford will become a mobility company, not just an auto manufacturer” said CEO Mark Fields. Fields pointed to Techstars Mobility as a key part of their strategy.
For full coverage on all of Ford’s other mobility announcements check out this article on CNET. You can also check out the full Ford press release announced Techstars Mobility 2016 here.
What is Techstars Mobility?
Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit, focuses on the rapidly changing mobility and transportation industry. We’ve partnered with 8 leading mobility corporations including Ford, Verizon, Magna, Dana, Honda, McDonald’s, Munich Re and Michelin.
We look for software, hardware, and advanced materials businesses across all stages of development — pre-seed, seed, Series A and later. Because of the 8 corporate partnerships, no startup is “too far along” to see a huge benefit from participation in the program.
We define mobility as technologies that power the efficient movement of people, goods and services across all modes of transportation. We look for startups that not only fit this thesis but also align across innovation themes including: connected car, trucking and multi-modal transportation solutions across connectivity, mobility, autonomy, customer experience, big data, safety and security.
Techstars is committed to operating this program in Detroit, operating at the intersection of Detroit’s automotive dominance and its entrepreneurial resurgence.
2016 Program Key Dates
- Jan 5 – Applications Open
- Feb 16 – Early Application Deadline
- Mar 11 – 13 – Early Application Interviews at SXSW
- Mar 20 – Applications Close
- May 3 – 4 – Final Interviews
- May 8 – Notification of Selection
- Jun 13 – Program Starts
- Sep 8 – Demo day
2016 Recruiting Event Tour Dates
- Jan 6 – CES, Panel and Pitch competition [click here for info]
- Feb 3 – Detroit Meetup [click here to RSVP]
- Feb 9 – NYC Meetup [click here to RSVP]
- Feb 11 – Boston Meetup [click here to RSVP]
- Feb 23 – Ann Arbor Meetup [click here to RSVP]
- Mar 1 – Automation Alley Meetup [click here to RSVP]
- Mar 11-13 – SxSw early application interviews [click here for panel details]
- Jan 15 – Click here to signup and attend
- Jan 21 – Click here to signup and attend
- Feb 4 – Click here to signup and attend
- Feb 25 – Click here to signup and attend
- Mar 3 – Click here to signup and attend
- Mar 17 – Click here to signup and attend
- Mar 18 – Click here to signup and attend
At Techstars Mobility, we’re in the midst of mentor madness with over 150+ mentors and corporate partners meeting our companies. And what better way to facilitate tons of meetings and follow up (and avoid the associated email ping-pong) than with Amy. Wait, you don’t know Amy?
x.ai is an artificial intelligence driven personal assistant that schedules meetings for you. It’s not an app and there is nothing to install or download—users simply cc: Amy (the intelligent agent) and she works with your guest(s) over email to find an agreeable time + location based on your calendar avails and your preferences. She’ll then send the calendar invite to all parties. x.ai proves to not only be a slick use of AI (Amy quite often passes as human), but also solves this big problem and allows its users to be more productive—focusing time and energy on more important matters. Who wouldn’t want to be more efficient in their work day?
From first-hand experience, I can say that Amy has increased my productivity significantly. It allows me to be more mobile as I move from meeting to meeting and conference to conference, as I have a dedicated and seamless way to schedule follow up. She allows me to schedule meetings much faster and in calendar time blocks that help me optimize and control my own calendar. If you don’t prioritize your own life, someone else will.
We’re excited to be able to offer x.ai beta access (which is in quite high demand these days) to all 10 companies making up our first class of startups at Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit. For that, we owe thanks to Roger Ehrenberg, who serves as both an investor in x.ai and mentor to Techstars Mobility, for helping make this connection happen and giving first.
While we’re focused on technologies that address the movement of people, goods, and services, we see products such as x.ai serve as a nice complement to our everyday work—increasing our mobility and our productivity.
I am excited to unveil a new partner of Techstars Mobility, our new office in Detroit, and a handful of great new local partners and office collaborators.
Techstars Mobility is focused on all technologies that address the movement of people, goods, and services. For this program, we have partnered with six leading mobility corporations including Ford Motor Company, Magna International, Verizon Telematics, Dana Holding Corporation, Honda R&D Americas, and McDonald’s.
Today, I am excited to announce we are adding a seventh partner: Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. A member of Munich Re’s US organization, Munich Re America offers the financial strength and stability that comes with being part of the world’s preeminent insurance and reinsurance brand. Munich Re researches and communicates on emerging risks – such as the future of mobility – that could have a significant impact on society, clients and employees.
Our three-month, mentorship driven program runs this summer in downtown Detroit. It’s a full contact startup experience that culminates with a Demo Day on September 10th at The Fillmore Theater.
And what better location to host our program than at the beautiful Ford Field, in downtown Detroit. This is a one-of-a-kind building that is connected via an atrium to the stadium where the Detroit Lions play. This 10,000 sq ft office gives our companies in each class an unprecedented startup experience in Detroit at a world-class office and facility.
Techstars is on a mission to be a catalyst to drive the startup community in Detroit. For the mobility program, we’ve been working closely with Fontinalis Partners, pioneers in investing in next-generation mobility solutions to help make Detroit the future mobility hub of the world.
Today, I’m pleased to announce we’re adding two more local Detroit partners to help us continue on this mission to build the startup community across #OneDetroit.
Automation Alley is a technology business association dedicated to growing the economy of Southeast Michigan. With over 1000 members, Automation Alley brings deep automotive and manufacturing expertise and mentors to support Techstars Mobility companies.
The Detroit Technology Exchange (DTX) is a programmatic partnership funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the New Economy Initiative. Techstars will be joining other partners including TechTown Detroit, Bizdom, Invest Detroit, the Detroit Creative Corridor Center, the Henry Ford Innovation Institute, and NextEnergy. By joining this partnership, Techstars Mobility gains access to hiring talented associates and being part of a collaboration for empowering entrepreneurs in Detroit.
On top of that, Techstars Mobility and the Detroit Lions are leading the way to create a new startup hub in Detroit at Ford Field. To do that, Techstars has collaborated with two incredible companies that will be opening offices in Detroit, greatly enhancing the Techstars Mobility office, and offering their services across the region.
Oblong is the maker of Mezzanine, a collaborative conference room solution for innovative workplaces. Its futuristic technology enables Techstars Mobility to host real-time immersive visual collaboration sessions in one of the most high tech offices in all of Detroit.
PivotDesk, a Techstars Boulder 2012 alum and sharing economy leader, connects businesses who are looking for office space with those who have excess space. At Techstars Mobility, we leverage PivotDesk to invite outside companies to share our space during our off-program months. Please check PivotDesk later this summer to find out about space opportunities in our office.
We look forward to other high tech companies and startups joining us at Ford Field in the near future. We also can’t wait to show off our new office and host events around the region in 2015. We are proud to partner and work with such amazing organizations as we work towards our goal of making Detroit the future mobility hub of the world.