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Techstars Helping Detroit Startups Lead in Mobility Space

With much talk about how the region will lead in the race for connected and autonomous vehicle development at this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), several Techstars affiliate companies and alumni believe the answer starts and ends in Detroit.

“There are great resources here in Detroit,” said Chris Stallman, principal at Fontinalis Partners, on a panel discussing why the city and mobility go hand-in-hand.

“We see a lot of engineering and manufacturing companies in this area. We see higher rates of success with companies that think globally in the Detroit market than anywhere else,” he said.

Helping create a global ecosystem for entrepreneurs, Ted Serbinski, managing director of Techstars, shared exactly how the startup accelerator accomplishes its mission.

“(We do this by) connecting the startup and automotive worlds by breaking down silos and workings across the industry to build partnerships around innovation,” Serbinski said while providing an overview of Techstars. “Simply put, Techstars is bringing disruption back to its birthplace – right here in Detroit.”

With corporate partnerships including Ford Motor Co., Honda, Magna International, Verizon and others, Techstars is providing nearly 12 mobility startups per year with a significant financial investment totaling $120,000.

“Some of the strategic investments that are driving the entrepreneurial story are big here,” said Gregg Garrett, CEO and managing director of CGS Advisors. “We have true product leaders in Detroit.”

The panel also included Anya Babbitt, CEO and co-founder of SPLT, and Jessica Robinson, director of City Solutions for Ford. The panel was moderated by Lisa Seymour, project manager at Techstars Mobility.