Five years in, the civic-minded startup accelerator Tumml is stronger than ever.
In 2016, one of the accelerator’s startups, Chariot, was acquired by Ford Motor Co., which described the purchase at the time as the “cornerstone” of its international shuttle business. Another, Valor Water Analytics, aimed at helping maximize water efficiency, raised $1.6 million in seed money last June. A third, LED production lighting company Hive Lighting, raised more than 12 times its capital goal on Kickstarter.
All told, the Tumml portfolio boasts $190 million in enterprise value across 38 startups — the majority of which are run by women or people of color.
They have the gap-bridging work of Tumml founders Julie Lein and Clara Brenner to thank. When the pair graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founded Tumml in 2012, they quickly adopted an analytical approach to understanding the market. Through research, they identified an unmet demand for early stage capital among high-impact, urban-focused startups, and seized the opportunity by leveraging funding from nonprofits and corporate partners.
They’ve been helping those startups find new ways to use technology to improve cities ever since. The accelerator works by providing startups $20,000 in exchange for a 5 percent equity stake. Among their companies is Parko, a platform to help cities simplify vehicle parking; HandUp, which enables donations to help the homeless; and Simpolfy, which aggregates and analyzes legislative data to better inform users about which elected officials represent their interests. Then there’s Neighborly, a community investment platform; Hitch,
which matches ride-sharing drivers with multiple riders; and Forensic Logic, a data search engine for law enforcement.
The contents of their portfolio translate to a fair amount of interaction with government. As Lein said at Government Technology’s State of GovTech event last October, “It pays to work with government and work collaboratively.”