Techstars Mobility Launches with Office at Ford Field, New Partners

At long last, the inaugural session of the Techstars Mobility program officially launched Tuesday from its 10,000-square-foot office at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions. Ten companies working on a range of mobility-related products and services will spend the next three months developing their ideas in Detroit, culminating with a demo day on Sept. 10.

Ted Serbinski, who runs the program, said, “We saw applications from every continent except Antarctica. It was an overwhelming response.”

Techstars sought entrepreneurs who were working in a few major areas—safety, vehicle maintenance, logistics/fleet management, and car sharing/ride sharing—and Serbinski said most of the applicants were focused on hardware, software, or material sciences. Applicants represented nearly every corner of the country, though Serbinski said there were surprisingly few from Michigan—maybe five percent, he estimated. The 10 companies chosen for the first cohort will receive $118,000 in seed funding in exchange for 7 to 10 percent equity while undergoing extensive coaching and mentorship.

Techstars Mobility also counts a number of heavy hitters as industry partners: Ford, Magna International, Verizon Telematics, Honda R&D Americas, Munich Reinsurance America, Dana Holding Corporation, and McDonald’s have been announced so far.

“It seems like the entire world is focused on mobility,” Serbinski said, and he’s got a point: Even companies you wouldn’t expect to be at the forefront of mobility, like McDonald’s, are keenly interested in areas like transportation and logistics that are ripe for innovation. The Techstars Mobility office will also serve as the unofficial downtown outpost for the program’s corporate partners.

As part of the Techstars Mobility program, there are also community partnerships. Fontinalis is a partner, and Serbinski announced last week that Automation Alley and the Detroit Technology Exchange are also joining the fold.

Techstars Mobility is also dabbling in office tech. It will use Oblong’s Mezzanine technology to host collaborative conference calls and provide Oblong with space inside the Techstars office, Oblong’s second Midwest location. In addition, the program is working with PivotDesk, a Techstars Boulder alum, to connect businesses in search of space with empty desks in the office, particularly during the months the program isn’t running. Serbinski said specific information on pricing and availability will be posted later this summer.

When I stopped by the Techstars Mobility office yesterday, I was able to talk with a few of the program’s participants. Though they’re all working on different technologies, they unanimously said Detroit was so far more fun and friendly than media reports had led them to believe. Here’s a more detailed look at what they hope to accomplish while in Detroit:

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