SPLT Competes at Google Demo Day, Gets Steve Case’s Attention
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company is currently “activating markets with the help of municipal and corporate partners,” Babbitt said. SPLT has made a number of other advances in recent weeks:
—SPLT launched a pilot program with Magna, the global auto supplier, in March to offer the company’s rideshare platform to approximately 1,700 of its employees, who commute to and from four Southeast Michigan offices. SPLT’s technology allows co-workers commuting along similar routes to find one another and carpool to work using their own vehicles, or reserve and share company cars, and is similar to the program it launched last fall with DTE Energy. Babbitt said the arrangement is a “marquee example” of the kinds of hands-on partnerships between startups and big corporations that are needed to foster innovation. Although she couldn’t go into details yet, SPLT is also working to integrate its technology with Lyft’s platform for emergency rides home so SPLT users are never stranded at work if their ridesharing partner has to leave early. (SPLT first became acquainted with Magna after Magna served as a mentor to SPLT’s cohort at the Techstars Mobility accelerator.)
—It was selected to take part in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart Cities Challenge, an initiative that has seven mid-size American cities competing to win $40 million in federal funding augmented by an additional $10 million from Paul Allen’s Vulcan. SPLT will team with a handful of other companies in the connected car sector to service the needs of the cities participating in the challenge. “The only way to lower congestion and CO2 emissions is to have a partnership between cities and startups,” Babbitt said.
—The company won the $100,000 Pritzker Prize in Chicago’s Clean Energy Trust Challenge last month. SPLT used the money to hire three new Michigan-based software developers. Babbitt described the win as “really special” because the prize normally goes to a startup based in the Windy City. “They made an exception for us because they believe in what we’re doing,” she said.
—Inspired by Honda, which already has a significant number of employees carpooling, SPLT is pioneering an initiative where senior company executives use ridesharing time to mentor junior executives. “Every customer has come in and offered advice on how to motivate and incentivize adoption,” Babbitt said. “We’re just helping them do what they already do better.”
—SPLT has hired Kristin Welch to lead its business development and corporate strategy efforts. Welch has a background in processes and implementation, and prior to joining the SPLT team, she worked for Deloitte for more than a decade.