Techstars Launches A New Venture Studio And Rebrands Mobility Division

By Amit Chowdhry ● January 22, 2019

Founded by David Brown, Brad Feld, David Cohen, and Jared Polis, startup accelerator program Techstars is making some major changes across the board. The changes include the launch of Techstars Studio and a rebranding of Techstars Mobility to Techstars Detroit at its Michigan-based location.

Techstars Studio

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Techstars has launched a new division called Techstars Studio — which is a new venture featuring corporate sponsors that will help startups scale. Techstars has already signed up 25 corporate partners to co-create startups that are targeting specific challenges in their industry, according to TechCrunch.

The corporate sponsors pay an annual membership fee to access an early look at Techstars Studio projects along with receiving updates from the team.

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Techstars Studio will be completing four full spin-outs per year and identify talent within its network for leading the ventures.

Isaac Saldana is also overseeing Techstars Studio as chief technology officer. Saldana co-founded email platform SendGrid — which was acquired for $2 billion by Twilio in October. Former SendGrid VP Mike Rowan and Techstars’ VP of talent Sabrina Kelly are also going to be heavily involved in Techstars Studio.

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Complementing Techstars Studio is Techstars’ Network Engagement Program and Innovation Bootcamp which launched several months ago. Techstars revealed in that announcement that the accelerator portfolio features 1,600 startups with a market cap of more than $16 billion.

The Techstars Network Engagement Program provides corporate partners with access to Techstars’ worldwide network of entrepreneurs. And the Techstars Innovation Bootcamp is a 54-hour internal innovation event that empowers employees at large corporations with a process to help identify and rapidly advance new business concepts.

Techstars Detroit

As Techstars Mobility is rebranding to Techstars Detroit, the program is now moving to the Lear Innovation Center in Detroit according to Crain’s. This means that Techstars’ Detroit operations are moving from WeWork Merchant’s Row on Woodward Avenue. Techstars was set up at WeWork in May 2008 after operating for three years out of office space located at Ford Field.

Techstars Detroit managing director Ted Serbinski pointed out that the new space offers an open floor plan that works better for its programs than the WeWork layout. Lear will be providing Techstars Detroit with about 4,573 square feet of space on the third floor of its Innovation Center as part of their partnership. And Lear is going to be joining Ford, Honda, AAA, USAA, Nationwide, and PlanetM as Techstars’ corporate sponsors.

This is the first partnership that Lear is making as part of the Lear Innovation Ventures (LIV) Possibilities. LIV Possibilities is operating as an investment division at Lear and is being led by Lear CTO John Absmeier.

“As the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, Techstars is excited to welcome Lear to our Techstars Detroit roster of partners,” said Brown in a statement. “Lear is leaning into their commitment to innovation by participating in the Techstars Detroit accelerator program. Having Lear join us for our fifth year of Techstars Detroit will open many new doors for entrepreneurs and help them grow great businesses.”

Since 2015, Techstars Detroit oversaw 44 startups — which have raised $80 million and are valued at more than $215 million. And one of the recent success stories of Techstars Detroit is Bosch’s acquisition of Splitting Fares (SPLT) in February 2018. SPLT participated in Techstars Detroit’s inaugural class in 2015.