Techstars Detroit seeks new startups for its accelerator program


This feature is courtesy of Driven, the story of how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.
Techstars Detroit, an incubator for startups in mobility, manufacturing and other areas, is looking for another round of candidates for its successful accelerator program, which has helped launch nearly four dozen companies in the past four years.

Now in its fifth year, the program provides startups with access to financial, human and intellectual resources. If selected, startups receive $20,000, commonly used as a stipend for living expenses in Detroit; in return, Techstars receives 6 percent in common stock from each company. Additionally, every company is offered a $100,000 convertible note.

“It’s a 90-day boot camp to accelerate your business,” said Ted Serbinski, managing director of Techstars Detroit, part of a global network of incubators. “We invest $120,000 in the company and that helps accelerate their business through mentorship, fundraising, access to industry, developing their network and really kind of helping them develop as a leader as well.”

While working in the city, the startups gain access to Techstars Detroit’s corporate partners, including Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., Bosch and Lear Corp. Techstars Detroit is relocating to Lear Innovation Center at Capitol Park, where the program will be run from this summer.

To date, the program has invested in 44 companies since the Detroit accelerator launched in 2015, Serbinski said. Techstars Detroit receives about 300-500 applicants each year from startups from all over the world and the United States. Ten startups are chosen annually. The program begins July 15 and runs through Oct. 8.

“What we’re looking for, more or less, is what we’re always looking for,” Serbinski said. “We’re looking for what Detroit is good at. That includes automotive, manufacturing, mobility, those sort of things. The basics of what Detroit is good at.”

One of the big considerations, he said, is whether the startup could benefit by being immersed in this automotive and mobility ecosystem in southeastern Michigan.

“Detroit provides a unique advantage,” he said.

Among Detroit Techstars successful alumni companies are Cargo Systems, Inc., a provider of in-car snacks for Uber and Lyft, Inc., and Wise Systems, an autonomous dispatch and routing software provider for delivery fleets.

Since leaving Detroit, Cargo Systems Inc., based in New York, has raised more than $22 million and has more than 12,000 drivers pedalings it snacks across the country. Massachusetts-based Wise recently raised $7 million in funding from Google’s AI-focused venture fund.

Applications for Techstars Detroit Accelerator close April 7. Final interviews will be held May 7 and 8, with program selections made by mid-May. To apply, go to www.techstars.com/apply/.

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