ANN ARBOR, Mich., Sept. 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- For Mi Padrino, fourteen weeks of hard work as part of the Desai Accelerator's Summer 2018 cohort culminated yesterday in being awarded Best Pitch and earning a $10,000 cash prize at the Desai Accelerator Demo Day. 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.
"The support we've gotten from Desai has been a blessing," said Kim Gamez, CEO and founder of Mi Padrino. "Along the way, my team and I have benefited from having all of Desai's resources at our fingertips, from mentors we could be honest with and interns who could bring a fresh perspective to our projects, to new solutions and ideas inspired by the other entrepreneurs in our cohort. Winning this prize will help us continue to grow our amazing tech team right here in Ann Arbor."
This year's $10,000 award, sponsored by Consumers Energy, marks the first time a cash prize has ever been offered at a Desai Accelerator Demo Day. The six startups in the Desai Summer 2018 cohort presented in front of a panel of judges comprised of Alison Todak, managing director of Cahoots; Dana Thompson, founding director of Michigan Law's Entrepreneurship Clinic; and Tamara Faber-Doty, vice president of information technology at Consumers Energy.
"Consumers Energy is Michigan's largest energy provider, but it was founded as a startup more than 130 years ago. We know firsthand the impact one entrepreneur with a vision can have," said Tamara Faber-Doty, Consumers Energy's vice president of information technology. "By supporting the promising companies coming out of Desai—and the bright minds leading them—we're building on our legacy of innovation and community service while supporting the future of Michigan startups."
Of the six startups in the cohort, half are led or founded by women, and two-thirds are founded by University of Michigan students or alumni. In addition to Mi Padrino, the cohort included:
- Fluity (formerly Arbor Automation), which offers an automated software service for rapid manufacturing. Today, machine shops spend countless hours bidding on new contracts and reprogramming machine tools. Fluity eliminates this bottleneck through automated processing of jobs into production-ready formats, and by simulating those jobs to provide precise, turn-key quotes based on actual metrics, not guesswork. With Fluity, shops can quote confidently and immediately enter production when they sign a contract.
- Canopy, a web application that helps people talk about, make and share their end-of-life healthcare decisions with loved ones and medical providers through an advance 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 mobile and web platform that brings safety, accountability and legitimacy to the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Beginners use it to discover, learn about and get started with any cryptocurrency in a fun and easy way. Experts use it to share their wisdom, knowledge and experience in exchange for cold, hard cash. And crypto companies use it to grow their communities by connecting with new users and investors.
- Jottful, a SaaS solution that reimagines website ownership for the 4.6 million mom-and-pop small businesses that need an effective and modern website to be competitive — but have been left behind by agencies that cost too much and do-it-yourself software they find daunting to use. Jottful delivers mobile-responsive websites that are as easy to update as typing an email. With Jottful, every small business can benefit from an effective and affordable online presence, without all the hassle.
- 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.
This year's program also featured a newly expanded staff of University of Michigan interns, who completed more than 70 technology, business and design projects for the entrepreneurs in the program.
"Each cohort that comes through our doors raises the bar of excellence for the one coming in next—and this summer's group is no exception," said Angela Kujava, managing director of the Desai Accelerator. "Our startups have worked incredibly hard to get to where they are today, and we're proud to support them as they drive toward hitting their first $1 million in funding and/or revenue."
A joint venture between the University of Michigan's Ross School's Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and the College of Engineering's Center for Entrepreneurship, the Desai Accelerator nurtures ventures as they reach the critical 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 and access to interns, as well as office space in downtown Ann Arbor.
Since its launch in 2015, funding and support for the accelerator has been provided by the Desai Sethi (DS) Family Foundation, the Davidson Foundation, the Wadhams family and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Alumni companies include Ash and Erie, which won an investment from Mark Cuban after appearing on "Shark Tank"; 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. Visit http://desaiaccelerator.umich.edu/ for more information.
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 an impactful combination of deep-seated knowledge, enriching experiences and strategic opportunities from the front lines of entrepreneurship and alternative investment. Students' learning experiences are further enhanced through internships, entrepreneurial clubs, business competitions and campus-wide events that foster valuable networking and engage the business community. The Institute's five student-led investment funds, with over $9M under management, immerse students in the entrepreneurial business sourcing, assessment and investment process. Founding Zell Lurie advisory board members include Samuel Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments, and Eugene Applebaum, founder of Arbor Drugs Inc. For more information, visit the Institute's website at www.zli.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 cfe.umich.edu/.
About Consumers Energy
Consumers Energy is Michigan's largest energy provider, providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
SOURCE The Zell Lurie Institute