U-M Alum Innovates Flint Transportation and Wins 2016 UIC
By Kate Toporski, CFE Content Development Intern
When asked to innovate a sector of Flint’s infrastructure, Ansgar Strother was inspired. Whether it was his passion for integrated mobility or his experience as a student entrepreneur, Strother was ready to tackle Flint, Michigan’s core transportation. Invited to attend the Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium, Ansgar was able to pitch to judges his idea about how to consolidate and integrate different types of transportation.
After winning the 2016 Urban Infrastructure Challenge last week, we had a chance to sit down with Ansgar to ask some questions about his hopes for the future of urban transit and his plans moving forward with his up-and-coming startup, Movatic:
Q: How did you become involved in the entrepreneurial community at Michigan?
Ansgar Strother: I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2013 with a degree in Computer Engineering. I was really interested in entrepreneurship, and pursued the Center for Entrepreneurship’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship. While I was a student, I founded a startup- A2B Bikeshare. With A2B, I was involved in the TechArb Student Startup Accelerator and the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic.
When it came time to graduate, I turned down a full-time offer at Microsoft to pursue A2B Bikeshare. We raised VC and landed a couple of major partnership, but we have recently licensed out the technology that we created to a couple of major bike-sharing companies.
Q: What inspired you to apply to the 2016 Urban Infrastructure Challenge?
AS: Right now, people get into a trap of buying a car because other forms don’t meet their needs. You need to go to your doctor’s appointment right now? Take a car. Need food? Hop in the car, and go. But cars are expensive and not everybody has access.
Historically, this made shared mobility difficult. But there was a bigger problem than just reliance on cars– shared mobility makes up just a tiny percent of all transportation. We want to change the game through integration, combining different forms of public transit to make getting around cities cheaper and more enjoyable.
Q: Tell us about your startup, Movatic, and how you pitched your idea to the judges.
AS: Good mobility is critical to bringing people into a city, not a mess of cars and parking garages. So, we introduced Movatic! Motavic is a mobility integration system that make it easy for operators to plan systems, routes, and maps so that bikes, busses, and cars can work together. This way, citizens and visitors can use their preferred form of transportation to meet all their needs. It’s a clean, customized experience.
During the competition, we pivoted from being “multi-modal” to more “integrative” focused, which helped judges, consumers, and operators to better understand our hopes for easier access to transport for all. Our idea is a singular system that manages everyone’s mobility needs!
Q: How do you think your idea will help the city of Flint?
AS: The greatest part about Movatic is that it will work in any community, every city. Any place that has multiple forms of mobility could use the Movatic software to improve coordination and access among transit options. Within Flint specifically, we are looking to revitalize their urban core; transportation is really important, and making that accessible to citizens and guests is vital to bringing in more business.
Q: What’s up next for you and the Movatic team?
AS: We have lots of work are ahead! Right now, we have two growing partnerships on Movatic’s current platform. We hope to bring on additional original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners to continue to integrate different mobility options
A big congratulations to Ansgar and the rest of the Movatic team! If you’re interested in learning more about the Movatic platform, you can contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, if you’re ready to implement entrepreneurship into your surrounding cities, check out the Urban Infrastructure Challenge website here.