Press Release
June, 2015

University of Michigan’s Desai Family Accelerator Reveals Startups Accepted to Summer 2015 Cohort

The Desai Family Accelerator, a joint venture between the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering, today announced the most-promising companies selected to participate

University of Michigan’s Desai Family Accelerator Reveals Startups Accepted to Summer 2015 Cohort

Ann Arbor, Mich. – June 4, 2015 – The Desai Family Accelerator, a joint venture between the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering, today announced the most-promising companies selected to participate in its inaugural cohort. More than 72 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-September 4, culminating on September 11 with a demo day, and includes a $25,000 investment for each selected company, 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 (DS) Family Foundation, the Davidson Foundation, the Wadhams family and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

The selected companies include:

  • Baseline – a cognitive screening device that monitors for concussions, founded by two University of Michigan alumni
  • Companion – a person-to-person safety application and winner of the 2015 Michigan Business Challenge, founded by two University of Michigan recent grads
  • 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, 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 3:00-7:00 p.m. where several downtown Ann Arbor, Mich.  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.

About the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies
The Institute and its Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance bring together a potent mix of knowledge, experience and opportunities from the front lines of entrepreneurship and alternative investments. The student learning experience is further enhanced through internships, entrepreneurial clubs and events that serve to provide viable networks and engage the business community. The School’s three student-led investment funds, with over $6.5M under management, immerse students in the business assessment and investment process. Founding Board Members include Samuel Zell, Chairman of Equity Group Investments and Eugene Applebaum, Founder of Arbor Drugs, Inc. For more information, visit the Institute at www.zli.bus.umich.edu.

About the Center for Entrepreneurship
The Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE), part of the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan, provides academic programs, commercialization training and broad support resources for students, faculty and community members. Among its many initiatives, CFE co-developed and co-teaches the undergraduate Program in Entrepreneurship, the Master of Entrepreneurship and the National Science Foundation I-Corps program for faculty research commercialization. CFE co-manages the TechArb student startup incubator and provides overall support to Michigan’s economic development efforts. Its teaching philosophy focuses on experiential learning with an emphasis on the development of an entrepreneurial mindset, with resources such as structured venture incubation programs, global access to both internal and external advisors, mentorship, talent and funding. CFE’s mission is to ensure support for entrepreneurs from discovery through venture creation, and to enhance and expand an appreciation for entrepreneurial thinking for its students. For more information, please visit www.cfe.umich.edu/.

About Michigan Ross
The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is a vibrant and distinctive learning community grounded in the principle that business can be an extraordinary vehicle for positive change in today's dynamic global economy. The Ross mission is to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world. Through thought and action, members of the Ross community drive change and innovation that improves business and society. Ross is consistently ranked among the world's leading business schools. Academic degree programs include the BBA, MBA, Part-time MBA (Evening and Weekend formats), Executive MBA, Global MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Supply Chain Management, Master of Management, and PhD. In addition, the school delivers open-enrollment and custom executive education programs targeting general management, leadership development, and strategic human resource management.