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Accelerating Mobility Innovation Around the World

5 min read

The access and ability for people and goods to move around the globe is unequally distributed. This a significant opportunity for not only investment but creating positive change in making the world a better place. Below are three Techstars Mobility startups making a global impact.

On April 12, 2018, at The Frontier Conference, Techstars Mobility along with Voyhoy, SPLT, and Derq took the stage to talk about solving mobility challenges around the globe.

I define mobility as technologies and services that help people and goods move around more freely. But this movement can be very different depending on where in the world you are located.

Mobility is a global problem with different challenges in every market. Cost, access, technology, infrastructure, and regulation vary significantly around world impacting how people and goods move around. At Techstars Mobility, we think a lot about the global impact of mobility as one of our core investment themes.

In the past three years, we have invested in 33 startups from 6 different countries. As we head into our 4th program this summer, we’ll jump to 44 startup investments. With a globally diverse set of companies we’re reviewing now, I anticipate we’ll invest in a new country or two as well. I believe this is where a major investment opportunity lies, as the ability for people and goods to move is unequally distributed around the globe.

Below, are three startups that we have invested in with global impact. They each participated in a different class of Techstars Mobility spanning 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Voyhoy - serving customers across South America

Voyhoy is a multi-modal booking platform where travelers can compare and buy bus, plane, train, and ferry tickets throughout South America.

Globally, many parts of the world are still not yet connected. Travelers in Latin America are faced with ever-increasing options to get from point A to point B, but with limited connectivity and route coverage, disproportionate trip prices, and a lack of transparent information, the best route is rarely apparent. This fragmentation forces travelers to buy their tickets in person or on the individual sites of each operator, unable to compare multiple companies at once to discover the best option for their journey.

Founder and CEO, Jake Moskowitz explains more:
How did Techstars Mobility help you build your global network to secure partnerships?
If it weren’t for Techstars Mobility, we would have never decided to relocate our HQ to the US, which ultimately transformed our business, strategy, and scalability. We initially came for the program but decided to stay and open up our new office in Miami after recognizing the value of the network and the startup ecosystem in the US. All in all, the Techstars network helped us secure strategic partnerships with corporates, close funding from venture investors, and recruit top-tier talent to join our team. Equally important, Techstars taught our team the skills to grow, nurture, and cultivate our networks, even those outside of Techstars’ reach.
What is one key area you have grown as a leader since participating in Techstars Mobility?
Personally, Techstars Mobility helped me grow as a leader in two principle areas: communication and analytical thinking. I learned how important communication is in all aspects of being a leader, whether that’s strategizing with my team, engaging with partners or investors, or developing our brand. Techstars Mobility helped me understand that how you present yourself, your business, or your strategy must be efficient, clear, and tailored to each specific audience. Communication is the foundation of any business, team, or partnership, and learning how to harness it effectively is a powerful tool. Techstars Mobility also introduced to me new perspectives in prioritization and decision-making. I learned how important it is to stay focused and how to truly experiment, validate, and adjust for any goal, project, or task. My team and I were hungry for these kinds of lessons and thanks to Techstars Mobility, we completely overhauled the methodology of how we run our business, improving the speed of our overall execution.

SPLT - working with organizations across Latin America and Europe

SPLT is an enterprise transportation management platform changing the way people meet and move worldwide, partnering with organizations (corporations, universities, and municipalities) to develop customized shared commute programs in a closed network.

Globally, SPLT views city livability as a burden on traffic congestion, health, and economic development. In the US alone, 76% of commuters drive to work alone, with wasted time commuting resulting in $160B in losses of productivity. In every market SPLT enters, the transportation landscape is different. SPLT’s flexible approach to different regions allows SPLT to align locally with new transit ecosystems.

Business Development Leader and First Employee, Ben Seidman, explains more:
How did Techstars Mobility help you build your global network to secure partnerships?
First and foremost, the Techstars program gave SPLT the credibility and platform to engage with corporations on a high level. It was front and center on our email signatures and Linkedin descriptions. Secondly, the refined accelerator and networking programs such as Demo Day and Biz Dev Day have allowed SPLT to make strong contacts to work and learn from to grow. Techstars sponsors know that its startups are the best in the world, and this shows through their level of engagement. Possibly the most powerful of all mechanisms within the Techstars ecosystem is the mentor network, which always #GivesFirst and never ceases to surprise us with the knowledge, insights, and generosity we’re afforded. Our mentors supported SPLT, some joined our team, and others invested in SPLT, all becoming the #SPLTFamily.
What is one key area you have grown as a leader since participating in Techstars Mobility?
As a Techstars Mobility alumni, I’ve been given access to witness the intense ambition and drive of fellow entrepreneurs. Learning from mentors like Brad Feld, Ted Serbinski and even our own CEO & Founder, Anya Babbitt, I’ve consumed more knowledge than I know. I’ve worked for and alongside entrepreneurs with more hunger, passion, and drive than I could ever imagine. As a leader, this has given me a true benchmark understanding of what a successful leader should embody.

Derq - deployed in Dubai and Detroit

Derq is a MIT-spinoff with patented artificial-intelligence software that works with V2X infrastructure to predict and prevent crashes.

Globally, 1.3M people lose their lives in crashes, and 30M more suffer crash-related injuries each year. This creates a $2 trillion loss to the global economy, as well as negative social and environmental impacts. Many of these accidents are preventable, and Derq uses artificial intelligence to predict and prevent crashes to make roads safer across the globe.

US Business Lead and First US Employee, Will Foss explains more:
How did Techstars Mobility help you build your global network to secure partnerships?
Techstars created “forced serendipity” to interact with Global Tier 1s, auto manufacturers, and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) providers, which have led to pilots and demonstrations of our technology. Through the Techstars network, we received mentorship from buyers and partners at these companies. We were able to attend the ITS World Congress in Montreal with leaders from Michigan, were showcased at CES by GENIVI to 1000 industry leaders, and showcased at an industry event in Amsterdam with Siemens. We’ve also been able to find a direct line to the decision makers in our home markets, like Dubai and Michigan, which is accelerating our ability to close pilots.
What is one key area you have grown as a leader since participating in Techstars Mobility?
Personally, learning to embrace the Techstars “give first” and “do more faster” mantras helped me make our teams more effective. My background is as an entrepreneur and consultant, so I really needed to learn to step back and jump in wherever needed to help enable the team to move faster, and to help us all stay focused on the activities that are critical to driving the business and not all the little stuff that feels important. Working as an Associate inside the program, I helped cold call prospective customers, build financial models, and hung signs on doors for important visitors, all of which helped our companies be successful. With Derq, the same is true, and the ability to jump in and help with any task while staying focused on the goal helps me lead our US business and operations.

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