Today we’re excited to introduce the 11 companies that will be a part of the Techstars Mobility Accelerator Class of 2017. We’re also announcing a new partnership with Rocket Fiber to bring gigabit internet to our office and house for founders. In addition, we’re welcoming three new team members to support the 2017 class.
The Most International Mobility Class Yet
The incoming class of 11 startups are coming from around the world, including Dubai, Tel Aviv, Munich, Vancouver and across the United States. They are building technologies and innovative business models that impact how people and goods move across all modes of transportation.
On October 18th, we’ll be hosting our 3rd annual Demo Day at the Detroit Film Theatre inside the Detroit Institute of Arts. If you’d like to join (it’s free) add your name to the signup form here.
These 11 startups are joining a thriving startup ecosystem in Detroit. According to the new report by the Michigan Venture Capital Association, there has been a 50 percent increase in Detroit-based startups in the last three years. In the last year alone, $62M was raised by startups in Detroit, 28 percent of all statewide venture capital investment.
Expanded Corporate Sponsorship
New this year, we’ve added four new partners to our consortium: next47 (the independent investment arm of Siemens), Bosch, InMotion (powered by Jaguar Land Rover), and AAA. The four new partners join existing partners Ford, Verizon, Dana, Honda, Munich Re, and Michelin.
Together, these 10 corporate partners are helping mobility entrepreneurs from around the world succeed in building businesses transforming the future of transportation and mobility. You can read more about their involvement and others in our previous post about the rise of the Detroit mobility startup ecosystem.
In addition, we have partnered with Detroit-based gigabit internet service provider, Rocket Fiber to provide our startups with internet that is up to 1000x faster than standard cable companies. This partnership will provide internet not only at our Detroit-based office but also at the Techstars Mobility Foundry House where startups’ founders can live for free during the duration of our program.
New Team Members Relocating to Detroit
We’re also excited this year to welcome three new team members to support the 2017 class.
- Ian Sefferman Entrepreneur-in-Residence: Ian founded MobileDevHQ, a Techstars Seattle 2012 graduate. TUNE acquired his company in 2014, where he is currently SVP of Customer Experience. He recently relocated from Seattle to Detroit. In addition to his work with TUNE, Ian is involved with Techstars Seattle and Mobility as a mentor, applicant screener, investor, and alumni.
- Andrew Mager Developer-in-Residence: Mager relocated to Detroit from San Francisco with his wife and dog a few months ago. He’s been mentoring for Techstars since 2013 and has been part of various accelerators: Nike+, R/GA, Sprint, and Mobility. He’ll be working out of the office a few days a week acting as a technical mentor for the teams this summer.
- Jessica Krcmarik Designer in Residence: Jessica is an illustrator, designer, and Detroit resident. She was a Techstars Mobility Associate in 2015 and currently freelances for various startups & small publications. She will be assisting the teams with design and branding needs.
The 2017 Class of Techstars Mobility
The 2017 class is our most diverse and international class yet, with companies coming from around the world including Dubai, Tel Aviv, Munich, Vancouver and across the United States.
These startups are building solutions in the autonomous, connected, electric and shared vehicle mobility spaces. They are using a variety of technologies including analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics and manufacturing.
Busbot (New York City): Helps transportation companies optimize their supply decisions to better respond to consumer demand.
Carma (Washington DC): Monthly car subscriptions. An affordable monthly fee to drive any of our cars with insurance, maintenance and roadside assistance included.
cycuro (Tel Aviv, Israel): Protects mobility companies from cybersecurity threats to data, systems, and services.
Damon X Labs (Vancouver, Canada): Proactive sensor-driven safety systems for motorcycles.
Derq (Dubai, UAE): MIT spin-off with a mission to eliminate road accidents and save lives by using artificial intelligence and V2X communication technologies.
EcoG (Munich, Germany): Customized EV fast charging experience through a PaaS for value added services & shared revenue streams.
Fathom (Grand Rapids, MI): Future of underwater adventure through an affordable, easy to use, underwater drone.
Gridwise (Pittsburgh, PA): Peer-to-peer platform for on-demand drivers that improves their performance and overall driving experience.
SEEVA (Seattle, WA):
Visibility for mobility. Our ecosystem of patented technologies cleans windshields, LED headlights, cameras and sensors fast – so drivers don’t have to scrape or wipe.
Vartega (Golden, CO): Creates low-cost recycled carbon fiber for vehicle lightweighting to enable mobility solutions such as battery technology, connectivity, and autonomy.
This post was originally written on tedserbinski.com
New Corporate Partners and Office Mates Team Up with Techstars Mobility Accelerator
I’m excited to announce that we have brought on four new partners for the Techstars Mobility Accelerator in 2017: next47 (the independent investment arm of Siemens), Bosch, InMotion (powered by Jaguar Land Rover), and AAA. In addition, Mighty AI is opening an office in Detroit operating out of the Techstars Mobility Accelerator office.
The four new partners join existing partners Ford, Verizon, Dana, Honda, Munich Re, and Michelin. Together, these 10 corporate partners are helping mobility entrepreneurs from around the world succeed in building businesses transforming the future of transportation and mobility. Over the last 18 months, we have invested in 22 companies from around the world, including the United States, Canada, and Chile. Those companies have raised over $20M and are valued at $100M. On July 17th, we’ll be announcing our third class with companies coming from Tel Avi, Munich, Dubai, Vancouver and across the United States.
As we go into our third program, we have a proven model of combining entrepreneurs with corporations and capital to drive success and grow the local Detroit community in the process. Mighty AI is transforming the future of AI, offering Training Data as a Service for autonomous driving. Having raised nearly $30M from investors, including Foundry Group, Intel Capital, and others, Mighty AI sees the importance of being tied into the Detroit entrepreneurial community. Not only will they work closely with customers across Michigan, they will also actively mentor the incoming 2017 class. Mighty AI joins Oblong and Mapbox who both opened offices in Detroit out of the Techstars Mobility Accelerator office.
According to the Michigan Venture Capital Association 2017 Research Report, the are 141 active venture-backed startups in Michigan, nearly 50% increase in the last five years. And since Michigan has the highest research spending-to-venture capital investment ratio in the country, Michigan is the ideal place to grow startups in mobility. In fact, Lunar and SPLT, part of the 2015 class of Techstars Mobility, both relocated to Detroit from NYC.
As we look to the next five years, I’m excited that our program is operating at the intersection of Detroit’s two biggest strengths: its automotive dominance and entrepreneurial resurgence. Our next celebration for the growing community will be our 2-day Demo Day on Oct 18 and 19. To join the fun, sign up here.
This blog post originally published on tedserbinski.com
Save the date, Oct 18th and 19th in downtown Detroit: a 2-day event focused on startups & innovation driving the future of mobility.
The largest single-day startup & innovation event in Michigan, Techstars Mobility Demo Day will be coming back for its 3rd year on Oct 18, 2017. The event will take place at the Detroit Film Theatre, located inside of the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum. The 2017 class of startups from around the world will take the stage in front of 1000+ investors, automotive & transportation industry professionals, community members, and family and friends.
In 2017, we are partnering with Autoblog’s UPSHIFT conference to form a 2-day event focused on innovation that is driving the future of mobility, automotive, and transportation. This will be the largest event in Michigan focused on startups & innovation in the automotive and transportation industry. This will be the second year for Autoblog’s UPSHIFT, which gathers innovators and thought leaders from Detroit, Silicon Valley and around the world for a day of presentations, panels, tech demos and networking.
The past 2 years, our Techstars Mobility 2015 and 2016 demo days have attracted over a 1000 individuals from all around the world to come to Detroit and see these startups changing the future of transportation. You can watch our full 2016 demo day or our recap of our 2015 demo day.
Techstars Mobility is the first North American mentorship-driven startup accelerator program to focus on mobility startups and technologies. We invest globally in startups building technologies and innovative business models that transform how people and goods move across all modes of transportation (including pedestrian). We invest $120,000 in 10-12 startups each year, bringing them to Detroit for 90-days to work hands-on with them to accelerate their company. In the last 18 months, we have invested in 22 startups that have raised $20M and are valued at over $100M. These startups have come from all around the world including Tel Avi, Dubai, Germany, Chile, Canada, and across the United States. The 2017 Techstars Mobility class will be announced at the end of July.
We have 10 corporate innovation partners for 2017 including Ford, Verizon, Honda, Next47 (a division of Siemens), Dana, Munich Re, and Michelin that offer mentorship and support.
This was originally published here.
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