Start Garden launches Internet of Things accelerator


Start Garden is a nonprofit based in downtown Grand Rapids that works to create an "entrepreneurial ecosystem." Courtesy Custer

Start Garden has formed a coalition with six industry-leading organizations to launch a startup accelerator to capitalize on the Internet of Things market.

Start Garden, Amway, Steelcase, Meijer, Spectrum Health, Priority Health and auto interior supplier Faurecia collectively announced yesterday the new Seamless Coalition, which will provide resources and support to startups in the Internet of Things, or IoT, market through a 12-week Seamless Accelerator program.

IoT accelerator

Operating in semi-annual cycles in Start Garden’s new 16,000-square-foot space in downtown Grand Rapids, at 40 Pearl St. NW, the three-month Seamless Accelerator program will begin its first cycle on Aug. 31 and run through Nov. 20.

It will provide startups with access to intellectual and commercialization capital by leveraging a network of mentors and pro-bono services through a group of partners.

The program will also enable the partnering organizations within the Seamless Coalition to collaborate with emerging technologies and businesses.

Rick DeVos, CEO of Start Garden, said a successful startup ecosystem includes not only entrepreneurs and investors, but also people at established organizations who want the creation of new value.

“Grand Rapids is uniquely prepared for Seamless, because of our deeply interconnected enterprises,” DeVos said. “Knowing solutions start with understanding a problem and corporations opening their intelligence to startups with new ideas will inform all of us on the capabilities we need and the types of innovations to pursue.”

During the Seamless Accelerator, startups will build and validate the technology, market and business model associated with their startups to ultimately develop a financial model, fundraising strategy and compelling pitch to assist in advancing through the next round of investment.

Jim Keane, CEO of Steelcase, said the Seamless Coalition and Seamless Accelerator merge the best from startup culture and enterprise experience to bring to market innovations for the physical environment.

“As soon as a startup adds building physical things to building digital things, it takes a step into a very different world of facilities, global supply chains and market channel relationships,” Keane said.


Entrepreneurs accepted into the program will receive $20,000 in seed funding at a 6-percent equity rate upon admittance and also have access to roughly $400,000 in pro-bono services from a number of partners: Atomic Object, AUXILIARY Advertising & Design, BDO Midwest Michigan Practice, Global Accelerator Network, Burch Partners, Cascade Engineering, Collective Idea, Disher, McGarry Bair, Mighty, Miller Johnson Attorneys and Counselors, Peopledesign and Universal Mind.

Who can apply

Intended for startups in the IoT market, the Seamless Coalition is interested in ideas bringing the physical and digital worlds together in several markets: smart home, health care, workplace productivity, manufacturing and enterprise solutions, automotive and retail.

The coalition will consider applications from startup teams ranging from seed to early stage businesses and consider companies with developed products in the IoT sector looking for new opportunities.

Applications for the fall 2015 Seamless Accelerator open today with a deadline of June 15.

The selection process includes two rounds of interviews this summer and active participation from the members of the Seamless Coalition.

Based on the final decision anticipated to take place during the week of Aug. 3, 10 startups will be enrolled in the program and move into Start Garden’s space as of Aug. 31.

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