Reflections on Seamless First Class

SEAMLESS DEMODAY1

Seamless launched in 2015 as a new kind of accelerator, one that leverages the assets and culture that are unique to Michigan. We have taken a bold step toward forging a unique vision for our region's startup and innovation economy.

Unlike most Accelerators, the value of the Seamless does not lie in the promise of disrupting enterprises, but rather the power of collaboration between startups and enterprise. Combining the greatest assets and identifying the weaknesses of each to fuel radical innovation.

Though our region's financial capital is still re-emerging from nearly a century of systematic dismantling, Michigan has vast structural, intellectual and social capital that can be quickly reorganized to create new value in the economy and innovative enterprises.

We proved this platform would work on Tuesday, November 10 during the first-ever Seamless Accelerator Demo Day. Eight young companies from all over the world--Silicon Valley, Miami, Milwaukee, London, England, Hawaii, New York, and yes Holland, Michigan--came to Seamless to commercialize their companies. They included: Alsentis, Cosign, Friendly, HAAS, Hoana, Nobot, Scanalytics and Tractouch Mobile.

These companies left their homes to come to Michigan. They came to take a risk by aligning themselves with six of the leading enterprises in transportation, office environments, retail systems, distribution, and health care. More than just financial capital, they received hundreds of thousands of dollars of intellectual capital to move their companies forward.

This capital I mentioned is made up of people and companies that make things--and not just simple things, but complex things with embedded technologies that improve how we live, work and play. The line between what is digital and physical is rapidly disappearing. This is not about gadgets and trinkets, it's about technology enabling us to do the things we need to do everyday, everywhere, and in ways that save people and companies real money and time. We call this market the “Embedded Internet of Things.”

When we studied the Embedded IoT market and its requirements for vast and complex design, manufacturing, technology integration and commercial channel creation we saw that startups could never raise enough capital to enter these market alone. They needed partners. Concurrently, we saw enterprises with vast resource that needed access to radical, nimble startups that had the potential to change the face of their industries.

Seamless is not an accelerator sponsored by a few corporations that come and provide insight on pitches and marketing. Seamless' Enterprise Coalition is an extension of THEIR open innovation strategies. During the past 12 weeks, these enterprises have poured endless hours into each startup and provided unprecedented and unparalleled access to their social and intellectual capital resources.

Amway, Faurecia Automotive, Meijer Stores, Priority Health, Spectrum Health and Steelcase--each of these enterprises did something bold and new to help advance our region and create new value for their customers.

At the same time, the startups we surrounded and supported by 75 vendor partners that invested more than $400,000 worth of services--everything from consulting, to legal, to design to prototyping and so much more. It's the expanded network that goes beyond enterprise, and we do a lot of in Michigan. It's these forward-thinkers who took a risk on something new and unproven and will continue to build the emerging Embedded IoT ecosystem.

I want to give a personal word of thanks to the risk-takers, the think-for-yourselfers, the ideators, the programmers, and so many others who created something new during the first Seamless Accelerator program. We are all amazed by the accomplishments of these companies and to the future that lies ahead.

We will be doing this whole thing again in the spring, with a new group of startups. Applications are currently open now at seamless.com/apply.