Detroit continues its lead in the autonomous vehicle and electric vehicle space with new startups coming out every month to address pedestrian safety, in-vehicle AI-based connectivity, and more. As transportation, advanced manufacturing, last-mile logistics, and autonomous technologies advance, expect to see more government investment in these areas to secure Michigan’s future dominance of these markets. Detroit’s got skin in the game and is already investing in an autonomous test highway, multiple self-driving car test facilities, drone deliveries for automakers and the airport, and mobility-focused incubators to support startups across Detroit and the state.
Eoxs has been one of the most popular stories we’ve covered on Cronicle. The startup disrupted steel buying technology by providing an e-commerce solution for steel buyers to create their own marketplaces online within one day. The industry was interested in the technology, but reportedly didn’t want marketplaces killing off retail competition, as can happen sometimes. Eoxs founder Rajat Jain says he also didn’t want to be in steel but to focus his efforts in software. So, the startup pivoted quickly to offer cloud-based reporting software for the steel industry–another low-hanging fruit in an industry still using basic reporting and analytics tools.
Recent University of Michigan Ross School of Business Dare To Dream Grant recipients Shivani Kothari and Anne Goering had an idea: create an online service that helps engaged couples plan their wedding affordably with the assistance of a human wedding planner. The duo, both working on MBAs finished in 2020 and 2021, received the grant in Fall of 2020, and have already launched their startup.
Augmented reality startup Spellbound AR, known for its augmented reality games to distract pediatric patients from hospital procedures, has created a new scavenger hunt game called ARISE, to make hospital stays less intimidating for children.
Ever wonder how automakers and suppliers keep track of everything from parts standards compliance to testing data and design when creating a prototype for a new vehicle? For years, this process was handled manually. That’s one of the reasons you sometimes see recalls, explains Project Synergy co-founder Osman Korkmaz. Sometimes this manual process fails and a part that wasn’t tested to its final specs gets into a production vehicle and then fails in real-world driving.
There’s no global database of auto clubs, certainly not one that’s multilingual. Creating this is one of the ongoing projects of new startup Throdle, an Ann Arbor SPARK Best of Bootcamp winner and new player in the automotive social media scene. Founder Nadine Lee says that when people connect with a car through a test drive or a track day, they often connect with a brand for life. Connecting potential buyers or new drivers with other people who already own a special vehicle, whether that’s a BMW or an EV, helps people discover a love of car culture.
Detroit’s Donavan Wright was a residential real estate investor in several locations he had lived across the U.S., which he used “to help my community,” he says. He wanted to democratize access to real estate to compensate for a legacy in many areas of the U.S. that pushed minorities out of home ownership and made home ownership challenging on many fronts, from loan access to learning how to get a fair bid to renovate a property. “I realized how difficult that is,” he says. “There aren’t a lot of tools.” He had an idea. There is a gap in access to information about how to get fair bids on home renovation projects, especially for people who have been traditionally shut out of home ownership. How could an app solve that?
A2NewTech is a tradition around Ann Arbor and Michigan startup culture. New startups come to pitch ideas for feedback, to attract funding, and to polish their pitch. This month’s A2NewTech included the following new Michigan startups:
Nutshell is a newer staple in the Ann Arbor tech scene the last 10 years, founded by several people — Andy Fowler, Guy Suter, Ian Berry, and Lindsay Snider — who had worked together in a regional dialup ISP and subsequently started a bitleap data backup startup that updated companies’ data to the cloud in the early aughts. This company was acquired by Ann Arbor’s Barracuda Networks, and the band got back together in Ann Arbor a few years later to create something new: a CRM software solution. The idea? Create a CRM sales process and make it repeatable. Now the company that became Nutshell has grown, and released its second major product, that takes CRMs to a new level.
We’ve seen it repeatedly in recent months: companies are racing to adopt or update e-commerce platforms to keep up with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing buying online. Everything from groceries to steel buying to marketing and networking is now online, and that means demand for online user interfaces, conferencing, e-commerce platforms, and online marketing are at an all-time high. One startup we recently spoke with, Eoxs E-Commerce, was busy disrupting the steel buying industry with online buying platforms, but has since pivoted and expanded their offerings in response to this trend.