Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

TechArb teams showcasing what they learned and what’s next

More than 20 accomplished student-led ventures will present their startups to area venture capitalists and members of the local entrepreneurial community at the Fall 2012 TechArb Student Venture Showcase on Thursday.


TechArb members conduct a weekly meeting at the facility. (Photo by Joseph Xu, College of Engineering)


The Student Venture Showcase is from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday at Menlo Innovations, 505 E. Liberty St., lower level 500 in Ann Arbor. Registration is required.

Participants from the U-M TechArb student startup accelerator summer session will highlight their progress through poster presentations and product demonstrations. The event is co-hosted by software firm Menlo Innovations.

"The TechArb showcase provides a great opportunity for students to show off the hard work they have put into developing their new ventures over the last several months," said Tim Faley, managing director of the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. The institute is a TechArb sponsor along with the Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Engineering and the Office of the Vice President for Research.

TechArb helps students transform ideas into fundable businesses, and many have made great strides. The most advanced teams from this session will have the opportunity to pitch directly to a panel of investors in a first-of-its-kind, closed-door Demo Day session.

"We have teams coming out of TechArb that are investable and there’s strong interest in our venture capital community to make these investments," said Moses Lee, assistant director for student ventures at the Center for Entrepreneurship.

Participating investors include Detroit Venture Partners, Early Stage Partners, and First Step Fund.

"The University of Michigan consistently produces some of the smartest entrepreneurs and engineers in the country. TechArb Demo Day is a great way for Detroit Venture Partners to keep an eye on great startups coming out of the university," said Jake Cohen, vice president at Detroit Venture Partners.

Here’s a sampling of the teams that will participate in Demo Day and the venture showcase:

• PicoSpray developed cheaper fuel-injection technology for small engines such as those in motorcycles, mopeds and lawnmowers. Their device could help manufacturers meet new emission regulations. The team is preparing to scale the technology for mass production.

• Youtrivia will release a simplified version of its online music trivia game in November and is in talks with music video website Vevo to formalize a partnership.

• Brio Device LLC, a medical device startup, has developed the SmartAirway, which makes it easier for emergency responders to intubate patients safely. The company is a finalist in Entrepreneur YOU and a semi-finalist in Accelerate Michigan. Following TechArb, it will move into the Ann Arbor-based medical device business accelerator MC3 Inc.

• Exo Dynamics LLC designed an electro-mechanical back brace for medical professionals that prevents injury and lessens pain without reducing mobility. In preparation for a product launch next year, they are focused on finishing technical trials and raising funds.

"TechArb helped us get out of the building and concentrate on our customers and partners instead of focusing on creating a product we didn’t know if anyone was going to use," said YouTrivia co-founder Ricardo Rodriguez, who received his Master of Science degree in computer science and engineering from U-M in 2011.

All TechArb teams will attend the Student Venture Showcase. At the event, TechArb officials will announce the 15 teams accepted into the next six-month session, the accelerator’s ninth. Since TechArb's inception in 2009, nearly 100 unique teams have graduated.