Published: 12 September 2016
Imagine an in-vehicle navigation system that uses human-driven, social media data such as most-photographed areas and food truck locations to build an interactive map. Or a world where advanced notifications warn drivers of approaching emergency vehicles. Or one in which ride-share vehicles double as convenience stores, enabling passengers to buy common items in the car without having to make an extra stop.
These scenarios could become reality as Ford Motor Company collaborates with three 2016 Techstars Mobility startups – Spatial, HAAS Alert and Cargo – to pursue next-generation mobility solutions.
“The possibilities are endless when you combine the experience and influence of a storied company like Ford with the energy and innovation of these inspiring startups,” said Bill Coughlin, president and CEO, Ford Global Technologies. “This year’s Techstars Mobility program has truly exemplified that, and we’re thrilled to continue working with Spatial, HAAS Alert and Cargo.”
Spatial is a Cincinnati-based company that provides a dynamic, human-driven layer of social intelligence to create mapping and navigation.
Chicago-based HAAS Alert is a connected notification platform that warns motorists when emergency vehicles are approaching.
And Cargo, a New York-based in-vehicle general store, helps ride-share drivers cater to passengers.
The three companies were among 12 selected for the three-month mentorship, which culminates today with Techstars Demo Day at Detroit Opera House. The program helps accelerate each business and fuels partnership opportunities across the automotive industry. Each received $120,000 in funding, along with intensive guidance on business development, customer acquisition, developing relationships within the auto industry, and support from top business leaders.
Techstars Mobility, a Ford-sponsored initiative now in its second year, was designed to further the automaker’s mission to enhance next-generation mobility solutions while helping startup companies get their footing in business.
“We came into Techstars confident in our technology, but still searching for a better, more impactful application,” said Lyden Foust, Spatial CEO. “No question, our product would not be where it is if it weren’t for the future-facing mindset of the Ford mentors.”
Like HAAS Alert and Cargo, Spatial will continue working with Ford to advance the automaker’s mission to enhance smart mobility. Spatial blends human-driven data such as social media content with machine-assisted analysis to impact how people use maps – allowing travelers to “navigate like a local anywhere on Earth.”
HAAS Alert aims to create intelligent traffic solutions by providing emergency vehicle data to drivers. The Ford-supported pilot program is launching in metro Detroit.
“Working with Ford gives us access to critical automotive applications and allows us to use our data to assist in the connected car and autonomous vehicle space for communication in mobility,” said Cory Hohs, HAAS Alert CEO and cofounder. “It also allows a collaborative environment for Ford, to learn from the product work the HAAS team is already doing in many different markets.”
Cargo strives to enhance the ride-share experience for both drivers and passengers. Cargo kits, sent directly to ride-share drivers who purchase them, are stocked with products on-the-go passengers commonly want – such as snacks. Passengers benefit from the convenience of in-vehicle items, and drivers benefit from the supplemental income.
As a result of the ongoing collaboration with Ford, both Spatial and HAAS Alert will relocate some operations to the Detroit area.