Techstars Mobility launches second class of startups

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Techstars Mobility — a startup incubator backed by Ford Motor Co. and other partners — on Wednesday announced its 2016 class, which ranges from a carpooling app to a firm that can help predict car trouble.

Techstars this year received about 500 applications from 52 countries, including 19 applications from Michigan.

Each startup will get up to $120,000 plus three months of intensive training in business development, customer acquisition and recruitment, as well as guidance from business mentors, advisers and investors in mobility. The 12 startups move to new offices in downtown Detroit from around the world starting next week and will stay through early September.

“Techstars Mobility operates at the intersection of two of Detroit’s greatest strengths: its automotive dominance and entrepreneurial resurgence,” Ted Serbinski, the program’s managing director, said in a statement. “We are on a mission to connect the startup and automotive worlds, by breaking down silos and working across the industry to build partnerships.”

Techstars this year received about 500 applications from 52 countries, including 19 applications from Michigan. Serbinski said there was a 44 percent increase in the number of mobility-focused applications this year compared to last year, and top themes included ride-sharing services and technologies, improving the car-ownership experience, and safety and autonomous-driving technologies.

The program helped 10 startups last year, which have gone on to raise about $5 million. One of last year’s winners, SPLT, said it would move its headquarters from New York City to Detroit’s Ford Field.

Ford, Verizon Telematics and auto supplier Magna International Inc. invested $2 million to launch the accelerator program in 2014. Other partners are: Dana Holding Corporation, Honda R&D Americas, McDonald’s, Munich Re and Michelin.

“Techstars and Ford Motor Company are working to support smart, ambitious entrepreneurs who are developing innovative solutions for mobility issues,” Ken Washington, Ford vice president, Research and Advanced Engineering, said in a statement. “Startups are bringing new energy and creative thinking to the fore, and we are pleased to introduce these new ideas to Detroit and the auto industry.”

The companies named to the class of 2016 are:

Acerta: A software company that analyzes data to detect anomalies and predict future vehicle problems.

Algocian: A Canadian-based company that provides video analytics for automotive cameras and other features.

Braiq: Helps personalize self-driving cars

Cargo: Described as a “data-driven general store” for ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft.

Donut Media: A digital media company that creates automotive enthusiast videos aimed at millennials and Generation Z.

Drive Spotter: A company that created real-time video for vehicle fleet management.

GoKid: A phone application to create and organize carpools; like an Uber for children.

HAAS Alert: An app that alerts drivers in a connected or autonomous car when an emergency vehicle is approaching.

HERO App: An app that helps you get home by analyzing things like pricing and timing of driving options like Lyft, Uber or taxis to determine what’s the best way to return home safely.

Rallybus: An app that connects you with other riders going to a similar event, like a concert or sports game, and provides high-end buses to get there and back.

Spatial: An embedded “layer of social intelligence” for GPS maps that shows you areas that are good for specific activites, like eating, nightlife, romantic activities, etc.

Voyhoy/Resertrip: A multi-modal transportation booking platform for two different regions. Voyhoy is for Latin America and Resertrip is for Europe.

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