Techstars first automotive accelerator program welcomes Ansik
Velocity Foundry company, Ansik, left Waterloo in May to join the first class of Techstars Mobility in Detroit – a program focused on auto tech.
Techstars is a global accelerator program that helps entrepreneurs bring new technology to market quickly. They provide great mentorship, a network of industry leaders, as well as $120,000 in seed funding for 10 percent or less equity of the company. Detroit is long known as one of the world’s automotive centers, and partners for this new auto-focused cohort include Ford Motor Company, Magna International, Verizon Telematics, Dana Holding Corporation, Honda R&D Americas, and McDonald’s. Ten companies were accepted to this four-month program and are working on startups that will pave the future of the automotive industry.
We caught up with Ansik Co-Founder Shiva Bhardwaj to talk about how Techstars is helping his company grow.
What is Ansik currently working on?
At Ansik, we are re-inventing the automotive service experience with our platform Pitstop. Pitstop is a cloud based diagnostic platform that service centers provide to their customers for free, which consists of a bluetooth module that plugs in under the dashboard and connects to our mobile application. What we do is build an automated technical report based on engine sensor data and allow the vehicle owner to push this to service centers for quotes, discounts and appointment scheduling in real time. The power of this platform is within the data that we are collecting which is stored against our machine learning training data set for predictive maintenance and analytics (prognostics).
Where did the idea for Pitstop come from? Did your team have any previous experience working in the automotive industry?
I spent my childhood working with my father in his automotive service centers. My time was spent building pocket bikes, motors, re-tuning engine ECUs and having fun. As I grew older my fascination with electronic control systems in vehicles became obsessive, and a topic that mechanics did not understand well. I decided to pursue a degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo, where I spent 5 years becoming skilled at PCB design, embedded system architecture and power supply implementation where I gained experience from BlackBerry and NVIDIA.
I quickly realized that I wanted to use my passion to build technology to make a noticeable difference in the world which was when I went on to build a solar charge controller for hospitals in Africa, a windmill installed in India and a hardware Bitcoin wallet that was a Capstone finalist. With these projects I led multiple teams of engineers while still in school and attempted to solve significant issues with technology in energy and finance.
The element in my approach that was missing came with making technology economically viable. This spawned into Ansik, which began in the living room of my apartment in Santa Clara, California. I imagined a company that would master the process of ideation to commercialization irrespective of the project scale. Ansik is defined as “fractal” in the ancient language of Sanskrit, and with my deep knowledge with automotive diagnosis and design we have become a technology company re-inventing the automotive service experience.
We launched ShockLock and have sold it successfully to hundreds of automotive technicians saving them from injuries. Extending our offering we are now solving the largest issue within automotive service centers, which is customer retention and efficiency with our product Pitstop.
Talk about your first month at this mentorship-driven accelerator.
Techstars has been a phenomenal opportunity for our company specifically because of how deep our technology is embedded within the automotive service industry. Located in the Ford Field in Detroit has brought on our mentors which include executives at Ford and Magna alongside leaders from Honda, Verizon, GM and Audi. Basically in 3 months the insight required for us to map out how to launch Pitstop successfully in this industry is equivalent to years of us trying to do this ourselves.
Our Pilot application is on track to be ready for Sunday April 26th, and I have been announced as a SEMA 35 under 35 innovators in the automotive space. We’ve performed 11 Pitstop demos, and of that we have signed 5 LOIs including one with Village Ford.
How will the mentorship and the $120,000 in funding help your startup?
A startup’s goal is fundamentally to generate revenue. The funds help buy us time to execute on the distribution of Pitstop, so that we can focus on exponential growth. In the grand scheme of things we are just at the beginning with the right support.