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From planes and trains to next-generation automobiles, regional mobility is being redefined thanks to startups like Priva providing a practical door-to-door solution from right here in Michigan.
Automotive strategy consultants Ryan Gee and Dagan Mishoulam have more than earned their status as air commuters. Over the years, they built their business by catching 5 a.m. cab rides to Chicago’s O’Hare airport, flying into Detroit and renting cars to support clients in Michigan, before heading back on the weekends to do it over again the next week. In 2018, the duo sought to develop a solution for regional travelers like themselves, who spend so much of their precious time, money and energy consistently navigating airport security and air travel.
That motivation is what led them to found Priva, a door-to-door mobility solution for regional travelers. For those traveling short distances – think Chicago to Detroit or Austin to Dallas – Priva offers a luxury vehicle equipped with full wi-fi connectivity, projection equipment, luggage storage and a private cabin for travelers and coworkers, effectively recreating their office on the road.
Shortly after launching, however, Priva realized it was lacking the two key ingredients that every successful entrepreneur and startup needs – access to capital and critical networks. Having grown up in metro Detroit, Gee naturally turned to his home-state for resources and support.
In July 2018, Priva participated in TechStars Detroit, where it was introduced to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). After graduating from the program, Priva leveraged its MEDC connections to support its supply chain needs.
“As an entrepreneur, the most difficult – and critical – tasks include building both capital and a network. Thanks to the support from the MEDC team and the strong manufacturing environment that’s been developed for generations in Michigan, we were able to expedite our growth and expand into new markets,” said Ryan Gee, co-founder and CEO of Priva.
In Fall 2018, MEDC’s PlanetM team connected Priva with Michigan-based manufacturer, Roush, to help reduce the vibration of the vehicle for its customers and improve the overall in-vehicle experience. The PlanetM team also facilitated an introduction between Priva and one of the world’s leading tire companies, Goodyear, which led to the October 2019 announcement that the two companies were teaming up to pilot intelligent tires with Priva’s fleet of vehicles. In doing so, the partnership provides tire monitoring capabilities that will allow fleets to operate more efficiently, developing solutions for the future of mobility.
Priva also participated in a series of MEDC-sponsored events in 2019 to help it expand its networks and connections, including Automobili-D at the North American International Auto Show and the Pure Michigan Business Connect Hardware Summit. It also received $100,000 in support from MEDC-supported Invest Detroit, allowing it to build critical capital to support its work throughout Michigan.
“Looking back, Michigan, and specifically Detroit, were the perfect place for our business to really grow and achieve success,” Gee said. “Between the state’s focus on mobility and the unique role that PlanetM plays as a facilitator across the ecosystem, it only made sense for us to move to Michigan to be a part of the place that’s blending traditional automotive manufacturing with the future of mobility.”
With an established location in Michigan, today Priva remains focused on building out its network and capital resources to continue developing innovative regional mobility solutions. In doing so, it knows that regardless of the road bumps it may meet along the way, the MEDC is there to support it, solidifying Michigan as its home for opportunity.
To learn more about the people and places driving the future of mobility in Michigan, go to PlanetM.com. Find more information about the programs and services offered for businesses through MEDC at michiganbusiness.org.