Ford, Magna, Verizon fund mobility startup incubator

Ford, Magna, Verizon fund mobility startup incubator

Techstars program to fund entrepreneurs, provide guidance.

December 12, 2014

Dearborn, Michigan – Ford Motor Co. is paying forward its legacy as one of America’s original mobility startups by joining with Techstars to launch Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit. The startup business incubator is aiming to deliver innovative mobility and transportation solutions.

Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit is creating a hub for transportation and mobility innovations in metro Detroit. The program supports companies working on innovative ideas to better facilitate the transportation of people, goods, and services by solving the challenges involved in daily commutes such as traffic and parking.

The goal is to bring to market new technologies and approaches that incorporate mobile devices, wireless connectivity and cloud computing to make it easier for people to get around – a vision shared by Henry Ford dating back to the company’s start in 1903.

“As society faces the increasing challenges of traffic congestion, crowded cities and poor infrastructure, we must reinvent the way we live and do business if we want to make a positive impact on future generations,” said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “We’re seeing some of the most exciting consumer products and services on the market today coming from innovative startup companies.”

Initially, 10 startups will be selected by stakeholders in Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit to participate in the program, which will be based in downtown Detroit. Companies will receive $120,000 in funding, plus three months of intensive training in business development, customer acquisition, and effective executive recruitment, along with guidance from top business mentors.

The incubator series will run over a three-year period, with a total of 30 startup companies. The teams will present their ideas to investors, industry leaders, and others in the community.

Joining Ford in the initiative is auto supplier Magna International Inc. and Verizon Telematics, a leader in connected services for the automobile. Together, the companies are committing $2 million in funding plus mentors and other resources to support participating startups. Several Michigan-based venture capital firms will provide guidance to participants.

Fontinalis Partners, Detroit Venture Partners and Renaissance Venture Capital Fund – leading venture capital platforms in the Detroit area – are key stakeholders supporting the launch of the program and the overall Techstars ecosystem. Fontinalis invests in thought-leading companies that are transforming the Next-Generation Mobility sector around the world. Detroit Venture Partners invests in seed-stage digital technology startups in Detroit. Renaissance Venture Capital Fund, a strategic fund formed by several of Michigan’s largest corporations, will support the program through early-stage information technology investments.

“We believe that Techstars will help create the next generation of companies that will drive the region forward,” said Renaissance Venture CEO Chris Rizik. “We have long felt Michigan is an excellent investment, and we’re pleased to invest our capital in a way that will help new Michigan companies grow and the region prosper.”

Techstars was founded in 2006 by a group of businessmen in Boulder, Colorado. Their concept was to bring together a network of entrepreneurs and offer a three-month, boot camp-style, immersive program to help startups launch quickly and with every advantage. The company has since expanded to Boston, Seattle, New York, San Antonio, Austin, Chicago, and London. Less than 1% of applicants are accepted into Techstars accelerator programs, but the success rate of participants is impressive.

Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit will be led by Managing Director Ted Serbinski – a Silicon Valley transplant, entrepreneur and investor who relocated in 2011 to Detroit to join Detroit Venture Partners. Serbinski and team will accept applications for the first class of 10 startups through March 15. The program will kick off in early summer 2015 and conclude on Sept. 10. Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit will run for three years with a new class of 10 startups each year.

“The Michigan and Detroit startup ecosystems are growing fast, and I’m excited to help redefine Detroit as the startup mobility hub of the world,” Serbinski said.

Source: Ford Motor Co.