Founder Fellowship
November 29, 2023
Kristine Colosimo

Founder Fellowship in Detroit Announces Inaugural Cohort

Meet the five founders selected for the first Newlab Founder Fellowship in Detroit.
Newlab Community Builder in Residence, Johnnie Turnage and Alexa Turnage, Co-founders of Black Tech Saturdays

Newlab launched its first Founder Fellowship program in Detroit in collaboration with the State of Michigan and Michigan Central. The Fellowship supports a cohort of 5 climate tech founders from underrepresented backgrounds with the resources they need to scale their companies.

In addition to Newlab, Michigan Central, and the State of Michigan; Newlab’s ‘Community Builders in Residence’ have played a pivotal role in building the Founder Fellowship program. They include Johnnie Turnage, with a focus on Black Founders, and Meagan Ward, with a focus on Women Founders. Both Johnnie and Meagan are founders themselves and passionate about building equity in tech.

Meet the Founders:

Sheri Washington, Michigan Mobility & Logistics

Michigan Mobility and Logistics is reimagining freight, with technology-driven mobility-as-a-service, dispatching and tracking fleets of heavy, medium, and light-duty vehicles across the country with on-demand and instant delivery of  ‘hard to move, bulky, big box’ items. 

As an “unapologetic technologist”, founder Sheri Washington invests in teaching logistics and STEM-related courses to groups who do not historically have access to the expertise.

Ann Larson, Intermode

Intermode is enabling the future of on-demand delivery with custom engineered robotic delivery platforms, allowing anyone, regardless of hardware experience, to launch and scale mobile robots in a sustainable way. 

As a former powertrain and calibration engineer with Ford Motor Company, Ann brings a soft skill-oriented approach to engineering, caring as much about the cultural approach to delivering a product as the product itself. And, as a transgender individual, she feels urgency toward building on the progress of addressing representation disparities with voice for her community. 

Wendy Ekua (W.E.) Da'Cruz and Dominique Da'Cruz, The Mushroom Angel Company

The Mushroom Angel Company specializes in producing whole foods made from mushrooms.

Founder, Wendy Ekua (W.E.) Da'Cruz, possesses over a decade of experience in promoting technology and digitalization within the entrepreneurship ecosystem for driving economic development in both the United States and Africa. Co-founder Dominique Da'Cruz streamlines operations via supply sourcing and the development of financial projections. Together, they are committed to addressing food insecurity challenges within Detroit. 

Achsha Jones, Tripslip

Tripslip is a digital platform that connects teachers, parents, venues and vendors to increase access to experiential learning for all students via field trips. 

Founder Achsha Jones is a Commercially Licensed Driver, with over 2 million miles driven, thousands of hours on the road with Students, Teachers,  Coaches, Parents, and Chaperones, and a professional chaperone herself (mother of two). 

Karissma Yve, Gildform

Gildform is revolutionizing on-demand manufacturing with their all-in-one, print on-demand jewelry design and manufacturing platform that leverages 3d printing and automation to help businesses design, produce and fulfill jewelry products - starting with an idea.   

As founder of Detroit's only full-service jewelry manufacturing facility, Karissma Yve is focused on creating opportunities for a diverse community on a global scale and driving  economic growth and empowerment globally. In addition to hiring and training local Detroit manufacturing artisans to learn and excel in the areas of Advanced Manufacturing and more, Karissma empowers and strengthens the local economy through a partnership with Alternatives For Girls, which focuses on training, employing, and developing women and girls in Advanced Manufacturing who are overcoming economic barriers and challenging situations such as houselessness and domestic abuse.

Congratulation to these outstanding founders! 

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