Detroit has recently earned a new nickname: Comeback City.
Just four years ago, Detroit came out of bankruptcy. We remember that day vividly because it was the same day we announced the first Techstars mentorship-driven accelerator program in Detroit: Techstars Mobility. We saw potential in Detroit, that it could take deep industry knowledge and become a hotbed of innovation for both corporations and startups.
Over the past four years, we’ve partnered with local corporations to gain their expertise and help them grow their innovation muscles. We’ve activated the Detroit startup ecosystem through the Techstars mentor network, facilitating over 10,000 meetings between startups and successful entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, and government organizations. We’ve brought 44 startups to Detroit from eight different countries, spanning industries including automotive, transportation, city infrastructure, travel, manufacturing, and materials, who have raised over $80 million and are valued at over $215 million. The Demo Days for these accelerator classes have become huge events for the community, attracting over a thousand attendees each year. Techstars Startup Week Detroit attracts thousands more to its annual celebration of entrepreneurship. And, just last October, Detroit joined in the 2nd annual national Techstars Startup Weekend Latinx in Tech.
Our next step: Techstars is investing even more in Detroit, and transforming Techstars Mobility to Techstars Detroit.
We started with mobility—the industry that everyone knew Detroit could do and that Detroit itself knew it could do. That was four years ago: today, Detroit does that and so much more. “The word Mobility was becoming too limiting,” says Ted Serbinski, Managing Director of Techstars Detroit (and MD of Techstars Mobility for all four years). “We knew we needed to reach a broader audience of entrepreneurs who may not label themselves as mobility but are great candidates for the program.” Techstars Detroit is still looking for startups who identify as mobility innovations, but is also looking for startups that associate with industries such as manufacturing, IoT, and more. They’ll benefit enormously from working with Techstars corporate partners for the 2019 program: Ford, Honda, AAA, USAA, Nationwide, PlanetM, and, new for 2019, Lear. These partners know just how crucial it is to partner with startups and keep innovation top of mind. Detroit has seen what happens when you don’t.
Techstars Detroit is the natural evolution of all the work we’ve done previously, from Techstars Startup Weekends, to Techstars Startup Weeks, to a mobility accelerator, and now a broader accelerator—this is the arc of a successfully maturing startup ecosystem. Startup ecosystems have natural biorhythms; they evolve. What Detroit needed four years ago is different from what it needs today. Every community has a vertical or an industry that they excel in, but to move beyond that is a sign of maturation. Detroit can now support a wider version of entrepreneurship.
Chris Heivly, Techstars Entrepreneur in Residence and serial entrepreneur (MapQuest cofounder), is obsessed with the hows and whys of entrepreneurial ecosystem development. “Startup ecosystem development is all based on success through a thousand nudges,” Chris says. “Growing a startup ecosystem takes a long series of positive nudges—and Techstars Detroit is another really positive nudge.”
After four great years, we’re so glad to provide yet another nudge to the startup ecosystem of the Comeback City. Four years in, our engines are revving and we’re just getting started.
Today I’m excited to introduce the 11 companies part of Techstars Class 141 – the Techstars Mobility Accelerator Class of 2018. Every company part of the 2018 Class has a diverse founding team and the businesses span a wide range of mobility solutions.
100% Diverse Founding Teams
The 2018 class is our most diverse class of founders to date. Of the 11 startups, all 11 have diverse founding teams in regards to gender, ethnicity, or age. I’m incredibly excited to bring such a talented and diverse set of founders to Detroit for the summer.
The teams come from all around the world including Hong Kong, London, and across the United States. None of the teams come from Michigan.
With the diversity of teams comes the diversity of ideas. I define mobility as the movement of people and goods, spanning industries like automotive, transportation, supply chain & logistics, travel, healthcare, agriculture, and more.
The incoming teams have a range of business spanning autonomous single rotor drones to applying machine learning to pedestrian intent to a connected bicycle helmet now available in Apple stores.
To see these companies in action, join us on October 9 at the Detroit Institute of Arts, where will host our fourth annual Techstars Mobility Demo Day. We’re expecting 1000+ attendees from around the world again this year. To join in on the fun (it’s free!), signup here to be notified when invites open up.
The 2018 Class of Techstars Mobility
Aerotronic (Indianapolis, IN): Autonomous inspection of the energy grid with drones.
Autobon AI (Chicago, IL): Eliminating many problems truckers and fleet owners face by retrofitting a connected sensing platform for existing commercial vehicles.
DeepHow (New York City, NY): An enterprise solution that transforms static technical manuals into interactive workflow guidance powered by AI.
Driver Technologies (Brooklyn, NY): A hardware-free mobile app enabling drivers to video-record their trip while warning them of dangers on the road and monitoring their alertness.
Humanising Autonomy (London, UK): Helping autonomous vehicles understand pedestrian behavior across cultures.
IntelliTire (San Francisco, CA): Making tires intelligent to improve the safety and performance of vehicles on the road.
LaneSpotter (Pittsburgh, PA): Mapping and navigation for cyclists by cyclists, with a focus on safety.
Lumos (Hong Kong, China): The next generation of bike helmets.
Priva (Chicago, IL): Inventing a new way to travel in luxury while skipping the hassles of flying.
SkyHi (San Francisco, CA): Claim last minute seats on planes for a low monthly subscription fee.
Zohr (Kansas City, MO): New tires delivered and installed for your vehicle.
Techstars Mobility has partnered with the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) for the second year in a row to bring over 50 global startups to Detroit in January 2018 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.
Due to the success of last year’s AutoMobili-D expo, and Detroit’s continuous transformation, we were able to increase the amount of startups in attendance.
Last year, we had startups travel to Detroit for this event from across North America, as well as Dubai, London and Portugal. This year we will have an even greater international presence, with startups coming from 11 different countries. Out of the 57 participating startups, 19 are Techstars alumni.
This year’s showcase will also represent a wider-range of technologies, including:
- Connected Car
- Fleet Management
- Hardware / Sensors
- Mapping / Journey Planning / Multi-Modal
- Personal Mobility / Last Mile Vehicles
- Services / On-demand / Ride Sharing
- Smart City and Infrastructure
Applications for Techstars Mobility 2018 program will be opening January 8th. Startups can apply here.
Here is a list of the Techstars companies that will be attending:
I finished my third Techstars Mobility Accelerator program this month. It was an incredible experience, and I’m grateful to Lisa Seymour, my colleague and partner in running this program, for the terrific associates and volunteers that joined us this year, and of course, the incredible founders that came from all around the world to Detroit for 13 weeks.
Since June 2015, we’ve been super busy. We’ve invested in 33 startups from six different countries — only two came from Michigan. Of these startups, 21 have founders with diverse backgrounds. As a portfolio, they have gone on to raise $45M and are valued at $200M, with one exit (Hagerty acquired Classics&Exotics from our 2015 program). I expect these numbers to go up quite a bit as we head into 2018.
On Oct 18, 2017, our third program wrapped up with a multi-event demo day. Over the course of the day, we hosted over 1200+ individuals from 113+ different automotive OEMs, suppliers, transportation companies, and leading mobility venture capital funds. Our 2017 Techstars Mobility demo day was the largest single-day event focused on mobility startups in the world. This was also the third year we’ve had over 1000+ individuals at our demo day, continuing its recognition as the largest single-day startup event in Michigan.
The Most International Class to go through the Mobility Program
- Axle Travel (New York City) — Watch their demo day pitch here
Axle Travel is the next evolution in ground-based, long-distance travel. We offer door-to-door transportation by combining on-demand ride-sharing services with our own pop-up intercity bus service.
- Carma (Washington D.C.) — Watch their demo day pitch here
Carma offers month-to-month subscriptions to your own car with insurance, maintenance and road assistance included. Like WeWork, for cars.
- cycuro (Tel Aviv, Israel) — Watch their demo day pitch here
cycuro is the world’s first data validation platform built specifically for mobility. We deliver data integrity to mobility operators and services providers via a cloud SaaS.
- Damon X Labs (Vancouver, Canada) — Watch their demo day pitch here
Using AI and edge computing, Damon’s sensor-driven platform unlocks the full potential of collision avoidance systems, making motorcycling safer by alerting riders to threats they can’t see.
- Derq (Dubai, UAE) — Watch their demo day pitch here
Derq is an MIT spin-off developing AI-based V2X software applications for connected and autonomous vehicles to eliminate road accidents and save lives.
- EcoG (Munich, Germany) — Watch their demo day pitch here
EcoG is the monetization engine of sustainable electric vehicle charging.
- Fathom (Grand Rapids, MI) — Watch their demo day pitch here
Fathom is modernizing and simplifying the recreational rental industry starting with its flagship product, the Fathom One, an underwater drone built for adventure.
- Gridwise (Pittsburgh, PA) — Watch their demo day pitch here
Gridwise is a mobile platform for rideshare drivers which increases their earnings 39% by leveraging data analytics and community to help them better understand when and where to drive.
- SEEVA (Seattle, WA) — Watch their demo day pitch here
SEEVA Technologies designs visibility systems for mobility. Our technologies quickly clean windshields, cameras, LIDAR and other sensors to help vehicles see.
- Vartega (Golden, CO) — Watch their demo day pitch here
Vartega creates low-cost recycled carbon fiber for vehicle lightweighting to enable mobility solutions such as battery technology, connectivity, and autonomy.
- Wheeli (New York City) — Watch their demo day pitch here
Wheeli is the carpooling app for college students — the Airbnb for the empty car seats on the road.
Forcing Serendipity by Connecting Amazing People Together
During the 2017 Techstars Mobility Accelerator program, over 2,500 meetings were scheduled between the 11 startups and hundreds of mentors representing OEMs, suppliers, transportation companies, and leading mobility venture capital funds.
I like to call this “forced serendipity” — when you pair up a bunch of amazingly smart people, the collisions of ideas and momentum of network lead to incredible results.
Ultimately that is the secret to why this program works so well. Through these encounters, founders received a lot of different viewpoints. Data gathered from these meetings is distilled down into wisdom that the founders use to grow their business, and the results always amaze me.
Thank you to all the great mentors that have supported the last three programs. And an extra special thank you to these 32 mentors as rated “most helpful” by the founders that have gone through Techstars Mobility.
With our third program behind us, we aren’t slowing down.
We’ve partnered with the 2018 North American International Show (aka the Detroit Auto Show) again this year to bring over 50 mobility startups from around the world to Detroit.
During the week of January 14th, we’ll be unveiling our 2018 program with our supporting corporate partners and application link for startups to apply.
Look for more updates as we get closer to 2018.
If you’d like to talk with any of these mobility startups, let me know I’d be happy to connect you. Shoot me a note here.
Originally published at 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.
Who: Startups looking to apply to Techstars Mobility
What: Webinar + Live Q&A
When: April 4
Details: Click here to register for the event!
Who: Startups looking to apply to Techstars Mobility
What: Office Hours
When: March 30 – March 31
Details: Click here to register for office hours!
Who: Startups looking to apply to Techstars Mobility
What: Webinar + Live Q&A
When: March 23
Details: Click here to register for the event!