Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan’s Desai Accelerator Invests in Six Startups


The Desai Accelerator, a joint venture between the Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering, Monday announced it has welcomed six teams into its 2018 cohort. The two schools also debuted an expanded intern program.

The accelerator nurtures ventures as they reach the phase between early-stage development and the point at which they seek external investors. The accelerator provides each company with a $25,000 investment, support from mentors, access to U-M interns, and office space in downtown Ann Arbor.

“We want our startups to drive relentlessly toward their first $1 million — which may be revenue, funding, or both,” says Angela Kujava, managing director at the Desai Accelerator. “Our goal is to offer the right combination of mentorship, resources, and programming to help propel our entrepreneurs to not only hit but exceed their milestones.”

The Summer 2018 selected companies are:

  • Arbor Automation, an automated software service that improves manufacturing prototype hardware. Today, manufacturers spend countless hours reprogramming machine tools for new production runs. Arbor Automation reduces this turnover time to seconds by eliminating the need for manual programming, which decreases production costs, increases product throughput and prepares manufacturers for a future of fully automated machining.
  • Canopy, a web application that helps families and individuals talk about and make end-of-life healthcare decisions and share those decisions with others through an advanced care directive. By supporting both individuals and healthcare systems through advance care planning services and legal documentation, Canopy provides value across the healthcare ecosystem.
  • Cheddur, a social network for the average person to find, learn about and get started with digital currencies and services in a fun and easy way. It’s also an advertising platform for coin and service developers to promote their projects, get discovered and build communities of users and investors.
  • Jottful, a tech-enabled service that creates and maintains professional, affordable and hassle-free websites for small businesses. Jottful makes it possible for every small business to be found and to tell its story online.
  • Mi Padrino, an online application that makes the planning and paying for Hispanic events, such as quinceañeras, weddings and baptisms, easy and effective. Mi Padrino offers planning resources, personal event pages and crowdfunding features tailored to the Hispanic community—a population that has been underserved until now.
  • Movatic, a software platform that makes mobility hardware shareable. On the Movatic app, users can find, rent and pay for different mobility services—and the app’s back-end allows for these services to be managed, pricing to be set, hardware to be maintained and customers to be supported.

The companies were chosen from a diverse pool of technology-focused applicants from six countries and 10 states. About 33 percent had female founders, 45 percent were from outside of Michigan, and 60 percent had founders from outside of U-M.

Entrepreneurs will be able to tap a staff of 10 interns, which is up from six in previous cohorts, who will execute tech, business, and design projects during the course of the accelerator program. They will also meet regularly with mentors.

The accelerator was launched in 2015 and has since received funding and support from the Desai Sethi Family Foundation, the Davidson Foundation, the Wadhams family, and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Alumni companies include Ash and Erie, which won an investment from Mark Cuban after appearing on “Shark Tank;” Gwydion, which recently closed its first seed round; MySwimPro, named 2016 Apple Watch App of the Year; and Companion, which was featured on Apple’s “Planet of the Apps” and received a $1 million investment from Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Applications for the 2019 cohort will open in December. More information can be found here.

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