Two New Accelerators Make Grand Rapids A Startup CityBy Mayra Monroy on May 3rd, 2015 /
The West Michigan startup scene has been developing over the years. Now two new accelerators, Emerge Xcelerate and Seamless, have formed and are ready to bring innovative ideas to Grand Rapids.
Emerge Xcelerate, headed by several Grand Rapids companies, provides an in-depth program for technology startups. The program accepts anywhere between six and eight pitches every six months, varying from a variety of different areas and concentrations.
“These companies will go through an intense six month development process, “ says Dr. Stanley Samuel, Director of the Emerge program and of Grand Rapids business incubator, GR Current. “It’ll get us to launching those companies.”
The criteria for the successful launching of the companies are dependent on three factors, which in combination can develop a wide range of outcomes. First, the accelerator analyzes the company’s ability to connect to the first customer. Next, the company is evaluated in its ability to create a strategic partnership with a large corporation. Finally, the company is evaluated on the ability to raise capital, through fundraising and no familial funds.
Companies that are chosen are in it for the long run, going through intense training and preparedness for six months straight. There’s also housing relocation, a technology package, graduate services, legal and financial training and aid, the help of $20,000 in seed funding. Two cycles are run in one year, either April through September or October through March. Each company is assigned a mentor, an expert in the field of industry the company falls in. Preparing the company to be launched is the ultimate goal.
“The accelerator is looking for high tech companies that are scalable,” says Samuel. “It’s focused on getting you to that place at the end of six months where you can sell your product, get into a strategic partnership and raise capital.”
The inspiration for Emerge Xcelerate lies in the creative minds of Samuel and his team. The energetic start up scene in Grand Rapids was a motivation for Samuel to move his business from Ann Arbor to Grand Rapids.
“There’s a great energy and activity that is going on in Grand Rapids and it’s happening at the grassroots level, which is very exciting,” says Samuel. “The inspiration for our accelerator is [us] wanting to be in a place where we can agitate and facilitate the development of these scalable companies in West Michigan.”
But it was also the infrastructure that Samuel believes makes Grand Rapids a hot spot for Michigan’s newest startups.
“We have an amazing network of manufacturing talent and infrastructure here in West Michigan,” says Samuel. “We can take that infrastructure and apply to a whole host of industries, whether it’s medical devices, agricultural, alternative energy, automotive…we have a fair amount of diversity here.”
Building the Internet of Things in Grand Rapids
Some of West Michigan’s most prominent manufacturers are ready and willing to work with the newest tech companies in the city. Six of West Michigan’s prominent public and private companies have joined to collaborate on the Seamless Accelerator, a chance for startups to build the next generation of connected devices in Grand Rapids.
The companies include the world’s largest office interiors manufacturer, Steelcase; the world’s top direct selling business, Amway; community renowned, Meijer; the world’s largest automotive interior supplies, Faurecia; health provider Spectrum Health; and health insurance provider Priority Health. These companies will provide guidance and mentorship to up and coming startups.
“In all of the things that we’ve done, the major enterprises in this region have always been an integral part,” says Mike Morin, a business strategist with Start Garden. “They’ve helped our startups. They’ve provided access to commercial channels and expertise. Enterprises have a tremendous amount of knowledge about the market.”
The Seamless Accelerator program consists of a three-month program twice a year with up to ten startups working in each cycle. In the program, startups can expect to learn a variety of skills to develop their business including access to emerging technologies in West Michigan, as well as the intellectual and commercialization capital to succeed.
“As soon as a startup adds building physical things to building digital things, it takes a step into a very different world of facilities, global supply chains, and market channel relationships,” said Jim Keane, CEO of Steelcase, in a press release regarding the Accelerator. “The Seamless Accelerator and Coalition merges the best from startup culture and enterprise experience in order to bring to market innovations for our physical environment.”
The Seamless Accelerator is currently looking for its first cycle of startups that specialize in the fields of product, technology, materials, data and service companies with the goal of finding solutions that improve the physical environment and better serve the people.
We’re excited to see the new companies that start to come out of Grand Rapid’s latest accelerators. Strong partnershisp with corporations, mentorship, and a little bit of seed money can go a long way. To learn more about these two accelerators please go online for Seamless Accelerator (Deadline June 15th), please visit www.seamlessaccelerator.com. For more information on Emerge Xcelerate please visit www.emergexcelerate.com.