Urban-X, a startup accelerator backed by BMW’s Mini and urban tech venture fund Urban Us, today graduated its fifth cohort of startup companies at a demo day event held at its Brooklyn headquarters. The seven startups in this year’s class — all of which completed a five-month, 20-week program of product and business development with an in-house team of engineering, design, and business consultants — seek to tackle challenges like sustainable transportation, construction site productivity, harmful emissions produced by cooling and heating, waste management, and clothing waste with a combination of innovative hardware, internet of things (IoT), and software solutions.
Collectively, Urban-X and its investors pledged $100,000 per startup toward Cohort 5 or previous cohorts. Next year’s class will be the first to receive an increased investment of $150,000; it launches this summer with up to ten early-stage companies.
“Cohort 05 is an incredibly impressive group of creative and innovative entrepreneurs who are driven by a passion to improve our cities,” said Urban-X managing director Micah Kotch. “We’re excited to continue to support this group and see what comes next for these inspiring teams.”
Here’s the full list of startups that presented at Urban-X’s fifth demo day:
- Circuit (formerly The Free Ride): A short-range ride-sharing company that provides urbanites with free, sustainable transportation. It announced its expansion into Hollywood, Florida this morning through a partnership with the city and relaunched its service in Williamsburg, Brooklyn thanks to a brand collaboration with Runa. Circuit claims to be the only ride-sharing app with an all-electric fleet that transports customers for free, and it says it serves more than two million customers across 19 cities.
- Borrow: A startup looking to bridge the gap between ownership and on-demand ride-sharing by providing short-term electric vehicle leasing. Its customers choose from one of several plans — Campus, City, Premium, or Platinum — and lease cars for up to nine months at a flat monthly rate that includes complimentary routine maintenance, roadside assistance, and charging credits.
- Thrilling: A dedicated ecommerce platform for vintage and second-hand stores that aims to reduce carbon, waste, and water footprints. Thrilling claims that buying lightly used items of clothing can reduce waste impact by nearly 75%.
- Treau: A company incubated by Otherlab, an independent research and development lab based in San Francisco, that’s designing advanced climate control systems to bring efficient cooling and heating to buildings.
- GreenQ: A startup creating truck-based systems — including smart loader truckers, grapple trucks, stationary compactors, lifting cranes, and underground container fill level sensors — to improve diversion and recycling. Its sensors feed data to an analytics engine that recommends route-based, logistical improvements and optimizations in a cloud-based dashboard viewable from any device.
- Toggle: A company building a process that leverages software and industrial robotics to reduce costs and accelerate construction projects, in part by automating fabrication, assembly, and other on-site tasks. It says its full-stack platform cuts labor costs by 50% and increases productivity by five times over traditional production methods.
- Buildstream (formerly Gear Buddy): A startup tapping IoT and machine learning algorithms to digitize “every aspect” of heavy construction equipment (including bulldozers and trucks), enabling them to communicate in real time with site teams, self-diagnose maintenance issues, and optimize performance.
“We’re thrilled to work with this group of innovative entrepreneurs who are rethinking how technology can solve for complex issues that cities everywhere are facing,” said Mini’s VP of brand strategy and Innovation Esther Bahne of today’s demonstrations. “Mini’s investment in Urban-X builds on our commitment to agile innovation and provides a platform to inspire creativity and collaboration to build meaningful solutions that improve life in cities in unexpected ways.”
Urban-X launched in 2016 as part of Mini’s innovation and strategy initiative focused on improving city life, and it now has 37 companies in its portfolio and counts over 2,000 partners in its extended investor and entrepreneurial network. The accelerator says that to date, 85% of its graduating companies have gone on to raise their next round of capital.
Urban-X is currently accepting applications for its next class of startups — Cohort 07 — which launches in winter 2019. Early-stage companies can apply until October 1, 2019.