Techstars, the Boulder, Colo.-based organization that provides seed money and mentoring for promising startup technology companies, launched its Detroit operation Monday.
Ten transportation-related startups share 10,000 square feet on the second floor of the Ford Field office building for what is being billed as “Techstars Mobility, Driven by Detroit,” with each getting $120,000 in funding.
The three-month boot camp/accelerator was announced in December. There is a commitment by Techstars to have two more three-month programs, in the summers of 2016 and 2017.
Seven sponsors have committed a total of $2 million in funding for each of the three years plus mentors and other resources — Ford Motor Co., Magna International Inc., Verizon Telematics, Dana Holding Corp., Honda R&D Americas, McDonald’s and Munich Reinsurance America Inc.
Troy-based Automation Alley and the Detroit Technology Exchange are also providing support.
“We got applicants from every continent except Antarctica. No penguins. And we got applicants from 42 countries. I was overwhelmed by the response, and that so many companies from around world wanted to come to Detroit,” said Techstars Managing Director Ted Serbinski, who declined to provide an exact total of applicants, but said it was “in the hundreds and hundreds.”
The Detroit Techstars companies are:
- Ansik Inc. of Waterloo, Ontario, which makes app-based tools to help diagnose car trouble and tools for holding up trunks and hoods while mechanics work on them, preventing the failure of gas-based struts.
- CDL Warrior, a Pittsburgh-based company whose app-based technology helps truck drivers find places to park, automate their log books and track and verify payment.
- Classics & Exotics Inc., a Sandwich, Mass.-based company that allows owners of exotic cars like Ferraris and Maseratis to rent them out to those wanting a special car for a while.
- Atlanta-based Cosmos Browser, which allows users to browse the web without a data connection. Basic, stripped-down information from web pages is sent as text messages.
- Detroit-based Elegus Technologies, a UM spinoff that makes components to increase the length of charge for lithium-ion batteries.
- Louisville-based GearBrake, which makes products to increase safety for motorcycle riders, including LED strips, reflective vests and improved brake lighting.
- Palo Alto, Calif.-based Motoroso, which provides a wide range of content to the community of automotive and power sports enthusiasts.
- My Dealer Service Inc., a Denver-based company whose web-based software connects service departments with customers via text or email with real-time updates on their car’s status while in for repairs, and handles repair order management for the service department.
- Splitting Fares, co-based in Atlanta and New York City, whose app allows people to share rides with others.
- Wise Systems, a spinoff from the Media Lab at the Cambridge-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology that helps trucking fleets manage on-demand delivery assignments and uses historical data to predict future demand.
Techstars was founded by four venture capitalists — David Cohen, Brad Feld, David Brown and Jared Polis.
The first program was in 2007. Programs locations now include Austin, Texas; San Antonio; Boston, Boulder, Seattle, Chicago, New York and London.
In addition to mentoring, the companies get help revising their business plans, coaching on how to make elevator pitches for further funding and executive recruiting.
On Sept. 10, the 10 will graduate with a Demo Day, where they make pitches for capital to local and national venture capitalists and angel investors.
That will be part of what is being billed as Demo Week in Southeastern Michigan. On Sept. 9, Detroit Venture Partners will hold a Demo Day in downtown Detroit for its portfolio companies. And on Sept. 11, the Desai Family Accelerator, a joint effort of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and the school’s College of Engineering, and Coolhouse Labs, an accelerator based in Petoskey, will have a joint Demo Day in Ann Arbor.
Several Michigan-based venture capital firms have agree to provide guidance to participants and, possibly, investment capital — Detroit-based Fontinalis Partners, Detroit Venture Partners and Ann Arbor-based Renaissance Venture Capital Fund.
“Hopefully, some of the companies will choose to stay here. There’s no requirement that they do, but it would be good to keep as many as we can,” said Serbinski.