Building Detroit’s Mobility Startup Scene

By Amanda Lewan on May 20th, 2015 / Comments

This year Detroit will see its very first batch of mobility startups through the new Techstars Mobility program.

Techstars has a fantastic track record of success, and will bring an international network of support to the companies working out of Detroit. When we talk about about making Detroit a hotter spot for tech innovation around mobility, what does that mean?

Ted Serbinski Managing Directory of Techstars Detroit shares some insights into the trends he sees in the space, and how Detroit could take the lead. The first program received already a couple hundred of applications from all around the world and they recently announced some new key partners.

What did Serbinski see in the mobility space? What are the trends we might be able to capitalize on?

“One of the biggest trends was safety, like autonomous vehicles and the connected car,” said Serbinski. “At the end of the day it’s deeply technical but focused on safety.”

Some of the major trends in mobility according to Serbinski include new forms of ride sharing and tools to help connect multiple forms of ride-sharing, logistics and trucking technologies, connecting one, two, or three wheel applications, and innovating in the maintenance of vehicles.  Maintenance of vehicles Serbinksi said he sees as a pain point and opportunity to capitalize on.

The opportunities really exist across the spectrum.

“We saw software, hardware, and advance material business apply. We look at taking any of those,” said Serbinski.

The program has been set up to work up with multiple corporate partners. When Techstars  Mobility announced their location in Detroit this year, Ford, Verizon and Magna had partnered. Most recently, McDonald’s Honda R&D Americas, Inc., and Dana Holding Corporation have joined.

“Mobility effects everyone in the world, not one company or another. Detroit being at the center of mobility, we wanted to get others involved,” said Serbinski.

One of their new partners is McDonald’s, joining to help support innovation around this industry. McDonald Chief Digital Officer Atif Rafiq recently wrote a blog post on how McDonald’s is a mobility company, calling it a space ready for the next wave of startups.

“We’re already starting to see these mobility enablers?—?transparency, customer control and dynamic systems?—?come to the food space with services that help you locate food trucks or make it easy to have someone fetch your food for a cost,” said Atif Rafiq. “The next wave of mobility is sure to be as exciting as the first one, and it’s about to heat up.”

In Detroit, we have the opportunity to leverage our strengths to solve these universal problems. Know any companies innovating in mobility? Keep us posted as we continue to cover these trends.

Watch out for an early June announcement of the first batch of companies in Detroit. Learn more about the Techstars Mobility program here. 

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.