Announcing the 2019 Techstars Detroit Class

The Techstars Detroit Class of 2019 is the fifth mentorship-driven accelerator program to run in Detroit. 

This is our first program to run with the new name of Techstars Detroit. The name change reflects Techstars’ long term commitment to the region, along with an acknowledgment of the expanding mobility landscape. The word “mobility” no longer fully encompasses all of the businesses transforming how people and goods move around— it has become a label that is too limiting to encompass the future we see unfolding. We have refined our thesis to encompass this future:

    • We are investing in startups transforming the intersection of the physical and digital worlds. 
    • We are investing in founders building businesses that can leverage the strengths of Detroit to succeed.

Supporting this program in 2019 are a diverse set of corporate partners including Lear Innovation Ventures, Ford X, AAA, Avanta Ventures, USAA, Nationwide, Honda Innovations, and PlanetM.

This year’s class represents this broad change through a diversity of teams and technologies. 40% of the teams have female founders and 60% are international companies. Business models are a mix of consumer, enterprise, and governmental spanning industries that intersect with automotive and Detroit. 

As we head to Demo Day on October 1st, our mission is to change founders’ perception of doing business in Detroit. We plan to bring hundreds of mentors from leading automotive, mobility, transportation, and venture capital firms to the program. We will be evolving our Demo Day format to meet the needs of an industry craving deeper relationships with startups. Our new format will focus on driving more meaningful relationships between industry and startups.

With that, today we are excited to introduce the Techstars Detroit Class of 2019.

Airspace Link (Detroit, MI)

Providing highways in the sky for safer drone operations

Alpha Drive (New York, NY) 

Platform for the validation of autonomous vehicle AI.

Le Car (Novi, MI)

An AI-powered personal car concierge that matches you to your perfect vehicle fit

Octane (Fremont, CA) 

Octane is a mobile app that connects car enthusiasts to automotive events and to each other out on the road

PPAP Manager (Chihuahua, Mexico) 

A platform to streamline the approval of packets of documents required in the automotive industry, known as PPAP, to validate production parts

Ruksack (Toronto, Canada)

Connecting travellers with local travel experts to help them plan a perfect trip


Soundtrack AI (Tel Aviv, Israel)

Acoustics based & AI enabled Predictive Maintenance Platform

Teporto (Tel Aviv, Israel)

Teporto is enabling a new commute modality with its one-click smart platform for transportation companies that seamlessly adapts commuter service to commuters’ needs


Unlimited Engineering (Barcelona, Spain)

Unlimited develops modular Light Electric Vehicles as a fun, cheap and convenient solution to last mile trips that are overserved by cars and public transportation

Zown (Toronto, Canada)

Open up your real estate property to the new mobility marketplace

Introducing the Techstars Mobility Class of 2018

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 Announces New Office & Corporate Partners for 2018

Three years ago, Techstars Mobility opened its office in downtown Detroit at Ford Field. We began our mission investing and mentoring entrepreneurs from around the world building the future of mobility.

Since then, we’ve invested in 33 startups from 6 different countries, who have raised $45 million valued at over $200 million. This summer, we’ll announce 11 additional startups that we’ve invested in that will be part of our fourth class. We’ve built a burgeoning mobility community, with 359 active mentors spanning 143 organizations. We’ve facilitated 7,500 meetings between founders, investors, corporations, and government organizations. We’ve hosted over 3000 attendees across our Mobility Demo Day, held annually in the fall. Two of our investments have been acquired as well–Bosch acquiring SPLT and Hagerty acquiring Classics&Exoctics.

Techstars Mobility Moves to WeWork and Announces 9 Corporate Partners for 2018

Today, I’m excited to announce we’re moving to the 7th floor of WeWork Merchant’s Row, centrally located in downtown Detroit. We will continue to run our program out of this space, foster the growing mobility community, and plug into the increasing density of companies along the Woodward corridor. In partnership with WeWork and PlanetM, we’re designing a community and space where the future of mobility will converge. We’ve also teamed up with Oblong Industries to offer their visual collaboration technology, Mezzanine, in two of our new meeting rooms.

In addition to the new office, we’re also welcoming back several returning corporate partners and a few new ones for our fourth program. Techstars Mobility’s corporate partners work closely mentoring and supporting the founders going through our Mobility program.

Thank you to our 2018-2019 Techstars Mobility corporate partners:

  • Bosch
  • CSAA Insurance Group, an AAA insurer
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Honda
  • Nationwide
  • PlanetM
  • Siemens
  • USAA
  • Volvo Car Group

And if you’re looking for ways to get involved in Detroit, visit the startup community website #StartupDetroit and join the Slack room for the latest events, job listings and conversations happening in the city right now.

Corporate Partners Share Why They Partnered with Techstars Mobility

Here’s a quick look at why our outstanding mobility partners chose to work with Techstars Mobility to drive global innovation in the future of mobility.

“We look at innovation as a necessity to serve the evolving needs of AAA members and society at large. Partnering with Techstars Mobility offers us the ability to understand better how mobility is shifting and support the entrepreneurs that are driving disruptive change. Ultimately, our work is centered around being there for people when they need us, and there is no better way to serve them than to understand what they will need in the future.” – Sanjiv Parikh, managing partner of venture capital, CSAA Insurance Group

“Identifying meaningful ways to engage startup ecosystems across the world is a growing priority for Nationwide, as it ensures we’re keeping up with the pace of innovation within and beyond our business, directly translating to improved services for our members. We’ve been following Techstars Mobility closely, and it’s become clear that their graduating companies are leading the future of mobility. We want to be on the ground floor with these startups and couldn’t imagine a better place to be than in Detroit, with Techstars.” – Erik Ross, AVP, Nationwide’s venture capital arm

“At next47, we not only invest in external startups, but we also help Siemens, our parent company, identify and nurture the best entrepreneur teams from within, and help them carve out their ideas into successful startups. We chose Techstars to partner with in this endeavor for two reasons: 1. Their proven expertise in selecting the best early-stage teams, and 2. The access they provide to expert advice, mentorship and investors is invaluable to the long-term success of the start-up.” – Susana Quintana-Plaza, partner, next47

“PlanetM is excited to enter into a partnership with Techstars Mobility and include their accelerator companies in the PlanetM Landing Zone, located at WeWork Merchants Row in downtown Detroit. This new partnership will allow the PlanetM team and Techstar the opportunity to work collaboratively on programming, events, recruiting and matchmaking efforts as well as provide increased access to Techstars worldwide network. The presence of Techstars Mobility in the PlanetM Landing Zone will be a valuable resource for current Landing Zone member companies as we work together to strengthen Michigan’s growing global mobility startup community.” – Trevor Pawl, group VP, PlanetM

“At USAA, we’re always looking for ways to cultivate our culture of innovation while searching for ways to improve the financial well-being of our members whether through added services, products or advice. Keeping a pulse on the latest innovations coming from startups helps our teams evolve our offerings while enabling us to give back to the entrepreneurial community that helped found our business nearly 100 years ago. We chose to partner with Techstars Mobility because the companies coming out of each program are some of the most promising innovations we’ve seen on the market.” – Randy Termeer, senior vice president, USAA

“In addition to our internal product development efforts, Volvo Car Group is partnering with leading startup entrepreneurs both in the US and globally to co-create the future of mobility and transportation. Techstars is a leading platform to engage with innovative startups, and our partnership enhances our ability to guide, mentor and nurture companies that can add value to Volvo’s future offering. Some of the most important things for the survival of a young startup are establishing product-market fit and having the necessary funding runway to achieve it. By engaging with Volvo Cars, promising startups can gain access to our leading global R&D network to validate their product as well as our newly launched investment fund for strategic capital.”  – Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO, Volvo Car Technology Fund AB

“We’re thrilled to welcome Techstars Mobility and the 2018 accelerator companies to the WeWork Detroit community. When we launched the Planet M Landing Zone last year, we envisioned WeWork to as the home of the next generation of mobility companies in Michigan. With the addition of Techstars, that vision is one step closer to becoming a reality.” – Megan Dodds, Midwest general manager, WeWork

“We’re delighted to support Techstars with next-gen workplace technology as they develop next-gen mobility talent working to transform the industry. “Mezzanine is our flagship technology for meeting spaces, and executives from NIO automotive to NASA aeronautics are using it to move forward on projects that demand multiple streams of data and visual information from multiple stakeholders in multiple locations.” – Mike Brown, chief revenue officer, Oblong Industries

AMA: Techstars Mobility

AMA: Techstars Mobility

AMA: Techstars Mobility

Asking for Help, We Need More Women to Help Drive the Mobility Industry Forward

Today is International Women’s Day. A celebration of the amazing women in our lives that make the world a better place (shout to my wife and my 18- month-old daughter). Today is also the recognition of the struggles and biases women face that create pain and suffering. Today is a call to action to accelerate gender parity.

I want to ask for your help. I want to welcome more women into mobility, both as founders changing the future, and as mentors, supporting the growing and changing ecosystem around automotive mobility.

As Brené Brown puts it, “Courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver.”

The automotive industry has a stigma of being a guy’s thing. Guys are into cars and women are not. Guys are more engineering focused and women are not.

This is all a stereotype. A bias. A woefully wrong one. For example, look at Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, both a car enthusiast and an engineer, who is taking charge to lead GM through the automotive industry change to the mobility industry. Kate Schox put together a list of emerging females investing in the future of transportation that make up this future mobility industry.

We need more of the this. We need the courage to take a hard look at the gaps in diversity and work together to improve it.

Building a mobility innovation community welcoming women

The future of automotive and transportation is mobility. Mobility is the fusion of manufactured steel with software and services. It’s the automotive industry adding a layer of software and services to enable new ways to get around, like a car that drives itself or transportation on demand.

As the industry changes, so will the workforce and skills needed to survive and win in this new environment. And you know what, diversity of ideas and people will be a key component in this new era.

Today, women makeup half the workforce in the U.S., and only represent 25% of the workforce in the automotive/mobility industry. When you look at women in automotive executive positions, that number drops to 17%. Yet, just as automobile ownership declines, autonomous vehicles take over and shared mobility services grow, so will women become prominent in an industry once dominated by men. Source: Catalyst

At Techstars Mobility, we’re on a mission to connect the automotive industry to emerging startups around the world. We’ve built a network of over 143 organizations spanning OEMs, suppliers, service companies, venture capital funds, and more.

We have invested in 33 startups from 6 different countries. We have over 300+ mentors supporting entrepreneurs that go through our program.

When I analyzed our breakdown of women-led startups and female mentors, I almost fell out of my seat. While we make a conscious effort to be more inclusive, our numbers are still barely above the automotive industry average:

  • 19% of our mentors are women
  • 18% of our startups have women co-founders

So this blog post is my call for help to improve significantly this percentage.

Techstars Mobility is looking to engage with more women in the mobility and automotive industry. We are looking to invest in more female-led startups. We are looking for women to be involved as mentors. If you know of anyone or are interested yourself, please send them my way.

Investing in amazing women changing the future of transportation

Through Techstars Mobility, I’ve had the pleasure to invest and support some amazing women changing the future of transportation. I’d like to invest in even more. Here’s what they shared with ways to improve the gender gap in the automotive mobility industry.

Anya started SPLT which Bosch acquired

SPLT founder and CEO, Anya Babbitt, shares her thoughts about why she started her company and what we can do to make the industry more welcoming to women.

Bosch recently acquired SPLT, check out the backstory in this post.

Why did you decide to start a company in the automotive mobility space?

It all started with a personal mobility challenge. Several years ago I was working in Los Angeles on a project and traveling from the hotel and the work site every day taking the hotel shuttle. One day it was completely booked, and I was stuck without a ride to a meeting halfway across town. Luckily two other guests were going in the same direction and we shared the ride in their car. That led to sharing the ride, splitting the cost, plus a networking opportunity. I returned home to New York where organic sharing of taxi rides became an emergent phenomenon as more and more people took to sharing transportation during peak hours. I soon realized there needed to be an app for this, where people working together or living near one another could share the ride and connect.

What do you think we can do to make the industry more welcoming to female founders and innovators shaping the future of transportation?

The future of transportation is happening now and there are already more women in the field than ever. The end goal is to improve the lives of all people through innovations in transportation. As women have attained higher academic achievement over the past few decades, the demand for more convenience, accessibility, and assistance will continue to grow. We still bear the greatest burden in child-rearing and taking care of our elderly parents, work that many female-led transportation startups are addressing in this space. Saving time, saving the environment, they all converge when convenience is as important as conservation. The culture and conversations are already changing.

Diane started SEEVA and raised $2.1M in venture funding

SEEVA founder and CEO, Diane Lansinger, shares her thoughts about why she started her company and what we can do to make the industry more welcoming to women.

Why did you decide to start a company in the automotive mobility space?

When I realized my kids would be getting their driver’s licenses at about the same L5 semi-trucks would be hitting the road, I was all in.

What do you think we can do to make the industry more welcoming to female founders and innovators shaping the future of transportation?

I’d love to start a monthly roundtable with female mobility founders and/or C-suite startup leaders where we meet, share experiences and peer-mentor each other. I know a simple format I’ve experienced in other “she-EO” startup groups that works well even with dispersed groups. Happy to share and can moderate for the first few months (having a moderator is good, in my experience, just to keep focus). This isn’t a social group format, though we do get to know each other better and build our networks in the process. Who’s in? Note: I’m happy to connect you to Diane if you’d like to be part of this group.

Lisa supports founders building the future of transportation

Techstars Mobility Director, Lisa Seymour, shares her thoughts about why she started her company and what we can do to make the industry more welcoming to women.

Why did you decide to start a company in the automotive mobility space?

I didn’t start a company in the mobility space, but I did spin up the Techstars Mobility program with Ted because I wanted to help entrepreneurs build their businesses in Detroit. With all of the automotive and mobility expertise, we have in Southeast Michigan starting a program for mobility entrepreneurs seemed like the perfect fit.

What do you think we can do to make the industry more welcoming to female founders and innovators shaping the future of transportation?

We have an amazing network of founders and mentors in the mobility program though most are men. That being said — be our allies! Help women in the industry strengthen their voice and be more visible. Diversity makes us all better.

Are you a founder that wants to grow your network, secure capital for your startup, and scale your business? Do you want to grow as a leader and be more successful? Subscribed to Ted’s blog and apply for the 2018 Techstars Mobility program (be sure to select Mobility 2018 as your first choice in the application).

AMA: Techstars Mobility

Global Applications for the Techstars Worldwide Network are Now Open!

There’s an often-repeated stat that 90 percent of startups fail. Not sure the source is, but no doubt that it scares entrepreneurs. At Techstars, we see the reverse in our accelerator portfolio – 90 percent of our startups are active or have successfully exited. Which statistic reflects your business? If you’re ready to succeed, take the next step and apply now to the Techstars worldwide network with more than 10,000 mentors, partners, investors and founders.

At Techstars, we are on a mission to help entrepreneurs succeed. Our mentorship-driven accelerator programs invest in founders to help them do more faster. Over the past 10 years we have helped over 1,274 companies grow and raise over $4.4 billion in funding, with a market cap of $11.4 billion. Now, we are excited to start the search for the next wave of companies to join our worldwide network!

We are reaching new regions and verticals around the world with our newest mentorship-driven accelerator programs. Applications are opening for five new programs:

Take the next step in your journey and apply to join the Techstars worldwide network with more than 10,000 mentors, partners, investors and founders.

This is more than a three month program, the Techstars worldwide network is for life. Listen to stories about our founders from Techstars alumni companies like SendGrid, ClassPass, and DigitalOcean.

Application deadline is April 8, 2018 for most programs. We will be announcing details for information sessions and online events where you can connect with Techstars founders and team, as well as mentors who have the experience and proven track record to help you succeed. Be on the lookout for more details soon!

When you apply, you can choose from any of the following locations and verticals:

For tips and resources on the application process, check out our Application Toolkit.

AMA: Techstars Mobility