UM’s Desai Family Accelerator Names Winning Startups

ANN ARBOR — The Desai Family Accelerator, a joint venture between the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering, announced the promising companies selected to participate in its inaugural cohort.

More than 70 technology-based startups submitted applications and the most promising six were chosen to move into the accelerator and take advantage of its services.

Of the applications, 42 percent were from Michigan-based companies, 19 percent were led by female founders and 31 percent had a connection to the University of Michigan.

The Desai Family Accelerator, managed by the Ross School’s Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and the College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship, is dedicated to helping Michigan startups succeed. It was specifically founded to help ventures as they reach the critical phase between early-stage development and the point at which they seek external investors.

The accelerator program will run from June 8 to Sept. 4, ending Sept. 11 with a demo day. Each company accepted gets a $25,000 investment, office space in downtown Ann Arbor, access to student interns, more than $500,000 in resources and mentorship from one of the most expansive alumni networks in the country. Funding and support for the Accelerator was provided by the Desai Sethi Family Foundation, the Davidson Foundation, the Wadhams family and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The selected companies include:

Baseline – a cognitive screening device that monitors for concussions, founded by two UM alumni
Companion – a person-to-person safety application and winner of the 2015 Michigan Business Challenge, founded by two recent UM graduates
Diverse Note – a career management network for professionals within diverse communities
RunThatApp – a platform that allows users to demo mobile apps within a web browser
Scape – a network that allows users to discover and hire gardeners to grow vegetables in their own spaces, founded by Mary Lemmer, serial entrepreneur and former associate at RPM Ventures
Telemetrio – a broadcasting and statistics platform designed for recreational athletes

“As the entrepreneurial and venture capital ecosystem continues to thrive in Michigan and throughout the Midwest, we identified a need to help push startups to the next level through an organized accelerator program located in a community that celebrates innovation,” said Kelly LaPierre, managing director of the Desai Family Accelerator. “The selected companies represent a diverse group of technology startups that are passionate about what they do and are committed to creating successful companies that will impact their respective industries.”

The selected startups will be working out of The Forge by Pillar Technology, a collaborative software studio designed to develop the most innovative software products and to provide a “no constraints” high-energy environment. Pillar Technology is a multi-faceted technology company solving complex business problems with innovative software and engineering methods. For an opportunity to visit the new space, the public is invited to attend A2 Tech Trek taking place on Friday, June 12 from 3 to 7 p.m., in which several downtown Ann Arbor technology companies and startups — including the accelerator — will open their doors to the public. To RSVP, please visit: https://www.messageblocks.com/a2-tech-trek/registrations/new.

More about the Zell Lurie Institute at www.zli.bus.umich.edu. More about the UM College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship at www.cfe.umich.edu/.

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