Finding cost-effective commuting solution

Chea Jackson

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Michigan mobility start-up SPLT wins $500K grand prize

SPLT, a Detroit-based ride-sharing company, took away the grand prize at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, one of the largest business competitions in North America for high-tech companies. On Nov. 3, more than 30 of the best and brightest seed-stage businesses presented to regional investors and a panel of judges, vying for nearly $1,000,000 in prizes. 

"The mobility industry has really taken off in Michigan, and SPLT is one of the many notable start-ups that demonstrate this movement,” said Fred Molnar, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “As the birthplace of the automobile, there’s nowhere better to advance this industry and revolutionize the way people move.”

The SPLT application aims to reduce traffic and automobile emissions, and increase employee productivity by partnering with corporations and organizations to offer carpooling and commuting services. Employers provide staff with the SPLT mobile application, which matches colleagues interested in carpooling based on their routes and work schedule, and incentivizes employees to use the service with benefits such as premium parking. 

Initially focused on improving workforce transportation, SPLT has expanded through a partnership with Lyft to offer non-emergency medical transportation. This new concept will allow individuals without access to personal or public transportation to arrange rides to and from medical appointments. SPLT is currently offering this service in partnership with several health care providers in southeast Michigan with plans to expand in the near future.

SPLT CEO Anya Babbitt had never intended to move the business from its home state of New York until she and her co-founder learned of Techstars Mobility in Detroit, a 90-day acceleration program that offers funding, office space, and a wide range of business resources and services. The team had such a positive, productive experience in southeast Michigan, and was so inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit and attracted to the multitude of resources available to startups, that they relocated their headquarters.

The company has caught the attention of investors and media alike, having been recently recognized as a "Startup to Watch" by Staples and Entrepreneur magazine. Babbitt was also named one of Crain’s Detroit Business "40 under 40."

SPLT was the grand prize winner among nine other startups that were awarded cash prizes, including investment capital from Ann Arbor SPARK, Invest Michigan, and Invest Detroit, as well as legal, public relations, and other in-kind services. The event, founded and sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, has been running for seven consecutive years, fueled over 1,000 jobs and raised more than $550,000,000 in venture capital.

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