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Desai Accelerator Announces 2017 Summer Cohort

July 12, 2017 — This week, the Desai Accelerator, a joint venture between the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering, kicked off its Summer 2017 cohort.

“There’s no shortage of entrepreneurial spirit here in Michigan or elsewhere,” said Angela Kujava, managing director of the Desai Accelerator. “The number of talented founders seeking our support and guidance continues to grow each year.”

The Summer 2017 selected companies are:

  •  Ascape Audio, which creates audio products that bring music to your ears, no strings attached! Ascend-1 is the first pair of “truly” wireless earbuds, which play music for 14 hours and can be stored inside a small charging case. The product has a unique “Twist-to-Lock” shape, which allows the buds to fit securely in the ears and never fall out. SoundFlow, Ascape Audio’s second product, arrives later in 2017. SmartFlow is a smartphone battery case that stores a pair of the wireless earbuds right on top of your phone. SoundFlow’s battery doubles your phone’s life, and the hard-shell case provides added protection.
  •  Find Your Ditto, a mobile platform that connects individuals living with the same chronic illnesses to reduce patient depression and poor self-efficacy that results in $442 billion unnecessary healthcare dollars spent annually. Healthcare institutions and employee wellness programs can provide patients and employees access to an illness-specific Find Your Ditto peer support community. In exchange, users can opt-in to share their anonymized and randomized survey data.
  •  Gwydion, a VR/AR software production for post-secondary education and research. Their platform, Arthea, is built to service the needs of educators and researchers in the sciences, engineering, design, and medicine. With this software, post-secondary institutions are able to offer their students superior conceptualization resources, and save on prototypes and simulation expenses, manpower, and time.
  •  TwoScoreTwo, an enterprise blockchain technology company with products for secure data storage and transfer, payments and money transfer, and unhackable identity and access management that enable faster, more secure, and lower friction commerce for organizations and networks.

The innovative companies participating in the summer cohort were chosen from a diverse set of technology focused startup applicants: 25% were led or founded by women, 54% were from outside of Michigan, 19% were from a country other than the United States, and 47% had a connection to the University of Michigan.

Now in its third year, this is the first time that the accelerator, which also ran a Winter 2017 program, will host two cohorts in the same year. The Desai 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, nurtures ventures as they reach the critical phase between early-stage development and the point at which they seek external investors. The current program runs through October 5, 2017, and provides each company with a $25,000 investment, support from mentors, access to University of Michigan interns, as well as office space in downtown Ann Arbor.

“Expanding to multiple cohorts a year enables us to cater our program to a small group setting, offering exceptional attention and resources while increasing the number of startups we’re able to serve,” said Kujava. “The four companies we’re welcoming to this cohort have demonstrated the drive and passion to be successful in today’s demanding startup environment, and we’re excited to help them achieve their goals.”

The 13-week curriculum kicks off with a visioning and reflection week, which assists each company in establishing milestones and creating a plan that will guide their progress for the remainder of their time in the accelerator. Each startup will benefit from the guidance of entrepreneur and venture capital mentors, including Desai entrepreneur-in-residence Michael Godwin, founder and managing director of Resonant Venture Partners. In addition to showcasing their progress at the Desai Demo Day, they will also have the opportunity to participate in high-profile entrepreneurial events in Ann Arbor, such as the North American Tech Tour in August and the Rise of the Rest in October.  

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 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 first 2018 cohort will open in October. Visit desaiaccelerator.umich.edu for more information.