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Tech Startups: Michigan Is Ground Zero for Mobility Innovation

Despite a growing interest in the automotive industry in places like San Francisco and Silicon Valley, members of the “Michigan’s Emerging Tech Leaders” panel at the 2017 MICHauto Summit made it clear there is no place like home to start a mobility-related business.

SkySpecs CEO Danny Ellis, Light Guide Systems creator Paul Ryznar, and May Mobility founder and Chief Technology Officer Steve Vozar discussed the abundance of resources for tech startups in Southeast Michigan while sharing insight on how they were able to scale their business through valuable networking and investment from venture capital firms.

“We couldn’t have picked a better place than the heart of automotive to start our business,” said Ryznar. “We’re able to knock on the doors of General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler and those doors will open for us. So, between the ability to interact with a number of folks and create together here in Michigan, the decision has been great for us.”

Panelists agreed that the risk of starting a business with a familiar network and reliable resources is significantly lower than moving elsewhere. Access to OEMs, talent, and automotive suppliers is the incubator for mobility ideas to grow and thrive.

Key Takeaways:

  • Access to the automotive supply chain and global OEMs make Michigan an attractive place to incubate tech talent.
  • Michigan must take advantage of its unique ability to connect all of the state’s automotive resources (startups, research and development facilities, suppliers, universities, etc.) due to their close proximity compared to other areas in the world.
  • Startups should focus on building something of value; don’t get caught up in building to make money and then moving on to another project.