A University of Michigan student startup is $10,000 closer to launch, thanks to the inaugural “GM GO Award,” presented by General Motors at the DTX Launch Detroit Showcase August 9. Peerstachio, founded by UM business students Scarlett Ong Rui Chern and Christian Guillen, is an app that will help improve students’ grades by connecting underclassmen with trusted upperclassmen, getting them the academic help they need in a responsive way.
The Showcase was the conclusion of DTX Launch Detroit, a 10-week student tech accelerator at TechTown Detroit. Four companies and four individuals were awarded a total of $23,500 during the Showcase.
Chern and Guillen were accepted into DTX Launch with an idea for a peer-to-peer social learning network for students to discuss academic and student life. After more than 100 customer discovery interviews, they refined their idea with the support of DTX Launch mentors and coaches. This fall, Chern and Guillen will test Peerstachio in two 300-person classes at U-M.
“Going through this accelerator program, we better understand our target market. Also, we were able to learn from and build great relationships with our cohort members, coaches and mentors who supported and guided us throughout the summer,” says Chern. “Our award is a huge motivation for us to keep going with our startup and grow it to its full potential.”
Additional awards announced at the DTX Launch Detroit Showcase include the On Your Mark, Get Set, MVP and Career Experience awards. The Career Experience Awards, sponsored by Bank of America, match talented graduates with established startups. Judges for the pitch competition included representatives from Chemical Bank, Design Core Detroit, Woodborn Partners and Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.
2018 marked the sixth year for DTX Launch Detroit, which is a project of the Detroit Technology Exchange. Past graduates include CityInsight, which launched the Detroit Water and Sewage Department’s customer care portal in 2017, and MySwimPro, named Apple Watch App of the Year in 2016.
“DTX students come to our program to test their business ideas while also developing valuable relationships within the Detroit entrepreneurial community,” says Betsy Reid Creedon, TechTown’s director of entrepreneurial services. “We’re excited to be able to continue to provide a platform for students to share their ventures, receive feedback and grow.”
2018 DTX Launch Detroit winners:
GM GO Award – $10,000
Peerstachio-University of Michigan: Peerstachio helps improve students’ grades by connecting underclassmen with trusted upperclassmen, getting them the academic help they need in a responsive way.
On Your Mark Award- $2,000
Awarded to the team with the best value proposition.
Blue Jay Music School-Wayne State University: Blue Jay Music School delivers quality online music education, enabling students to learn at their own pace from world class instructors.
U-Innovate LLC-Macomb Community College: U-Innovate improves student scholastic performance by allowing them to ask questions during class without impeding the flow of the lecture.
Get Set Award -$3,000
Awarded to the team that did the best job “getting ready,” the best job of customer discovery.
Awarded to the individual who contributed the most to the whole cohort experience and success of the accelerator. Selected by peers.Scarlett Ong Rui Chern – University of Michigan
Career Experience Internships – $2,000
Sponsored by Bank of America, this award places the students in internships with established startups.
Christian Guillen – University of Michigan
Meyer Gershater – Wayne State University
Shanley Carlton– Arizona State University
TechTown is Detroit’s entrepreneurship hub, with a full suite of programs for both tech and neighborhood small businesses. TechTown works with businesses at all stages, helping startup, emerging and established companies develop, launch and grow.
The Detroit Technology Exchange is a programmatic partnership between TechTown Detroit, Design Core Detroit, Grand Circus, the Henry Ford Innovation Institute, Invest Detroit and NextEnergy, designed to recruit and groom talent for tech entrepreneurship opportunities and convert innovative technologies into Detroit-based startups. It is supported by the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Michigan Strategic Fund, the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan, Bank of America, LEAR Corporation and General Motors.