Detroit’s UBI Video Joins NewME Accelerator Program

Posted by on Feb 15, 2012 in General News | One Comment

As featured in this Techcrunch writeup over the weekend, Detroit-based UBI Video will join six other startups that will comprise the second class of the NewME accelerator program, located in San Francisco.

NewME was launched last year to support minority entrepreneurs, and UBI was one of over 300 applicants vying for entry into the incubator program.

UBI founder James Norman isn’t the first Detroiter to make it into NewMe, Detroit’s Hajj Flemings was a participant in NewME’s inaugural class last year. If the name NewME rings a bell somewhere, it’s likely because the incubator gained a massive amount of exposure on CNN late last year, via a program called Black in America. The program gained scrutiny in the Tech community after technology writer Michael Arrington claimed in a interview (seen here) that he didn’t know ‘a single black entrepreneur’. (Arrington later reacted in kind on his blog.)

However, beyond any past controversy, NewME offers tremdendous opportunity for Minority-led startups. Their advisory board is comprised of industry heavyweights like Vivek Wadhwa, Hiten Shah, and Chris Hutchins.

We recently caught up with Norman to find out more…

What made NewME your choice over incubators like Techstars and YCombinator?

After spending two years applying to incubators, late last year I finally began to get close.  This season, it was between TechStars Boston and NewME.  While we hadn’t heard anything from NewME before the end of last year, TechStars had a call with us. Ultimately, we didn’t make the cut for whatever reason.

Coming into 2012, I was convinced that I would divert any focus I gave to incubators, and begin to dwell on revenue as opposed to fund raising.  Then out of nowhere we got accepted.  I’d say it took me 24 hours, (and calls to a couple of the program mentors I had met previously), before I realized I needed to take this opportunity and run with it.

What really drove me to make the decision was that I hadn’t got enough bad feedback in Detroit. Despite all the fanfare post beta launch, only half of the people who said they loved it actually logged in.  The start-up community here isn’t yet built to push companies to rapid growth, or rapid failure.  Startups tend to float sideways in Michigan, maybe making some revenue but hardly ever going national/global without leveraging networks outside of the state.  This is why I think something like Grow Detroit is important.  By building the knowledge and community amongst like minded entrepreneurs, I think we’re headed in the right direction here in Detroit.  It just takes time.

Til then,  I need to quickly find out if my company will be a lasting entity or fly by night. Of course, I believe the former, but the best way to know is go to the Valley.

What do you hope to gain from your time at NewME?

Having a group of experienced VCs and start-up CEOs critique your product / team is the fastest way to know what direction to take your company if you ask me.  For example, if every VC tells you they would never invest in your product, and you need capital to move forward, it might be time to rethink your strategy (or take out a bunch of credit cards to prove them wrong haha).  I’m excited to grow my network in the start-up community, put my product to the test to get direct feedback and …lets not lie…it’s cold in the D right now haha, getting away from the snow for a bit is great too.