Baruch Alumnus Accepted into Techstars Start-Up Accelerator to Launch New Business Venture
Michael Chiang with his Maltese, Louis.
NEW YORK, NY - March 20, 2014 - Baruch College alumnus Michael Chiang (‘11) was accepted into Techstars’ multi-city accelerator program for his new start-up company, Fitbark. The mobile application, which measures activity levels in dogs, was one of 10 American and Australian companies selected out of thousands for this year’s mobile health-themed accelerator program offered in partnership with Sprint.
The intensive three-month mentorship, held in Kansas City, offers $120,000 in funding and access to Sprint’s research facilities, testing labs and network engineers. Participants will work with other successful entrepreneurs and regional health care leaders on improving and distributing their products and ultimately pitch their businesses to venture capital firms and angel investors at the end of the program in June.
“Techstars is extremely helpful to entrepreneurs to grow their company,” said Chiang, who earned an undergraduate degree in Entrepreneurship. “We were super interested in being at one of the accelerator programs. We hustled to meet with the decision makers and went through the application and interview process. The company had to feel that not only is the business idea a good fit, but they had to believe in the founders of the company and their backgrounds as well.”
The ten start-ups, mostly health devices and mobile applications, were selected by Techstars based on their solutions to a health problem. They were required to encompass hardware, software platforms, transformative services, big data and mobile applications. With selection rates lower than the Ivy League, Techstars only accepts ten companies per startup location out of the thousands of companies applying to the program every year. The participating companies go on to average more than $1.6M in outside venture capital raised after leaving Techstars.
Chiang met his three co-founders at a tech event back in 2012 and bonded over a love for dogs, technology, and devices that interpret data. “We thought about how we can elevate technology and data and use that for our pets,” said Chiang, a parent to Louis, a Maltese. “FitBark is a tiny activity monitor that straps on the dog’s collar, and tells the dog owner how his/her dog is doing at any moment. It monitors three activity levels: whether the dog is at rest, active, or playing around. You can see when the dog goes off track.” The device uses the same technology as human activity trackers like FitBit or Nike FuelBand, Chiang said, but features different software for dogs.
This is Chiang’s second successful business venture. While working as an investment banker at a Manhattan trading firm, Chiang started MatchPuppy.com, an online service that connected dog owners to others in the neighborhood for playdates. The service was featured in media outlets, including Mashable.com, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Huffington Post.
The idea to be an entrepreneur started early in Chiang’s life. He started his own snow shoveling business as a child growing up in Corona, Queens, and was inspired by his mother, a Chinese immigrant who started a home real estate agency. “I was always taught not to wait for people to hand things to me. To grab an opportunity; to be a leader,” said Chiang. “Entrepreneurship was always in my heart, but I waited to start a business until I had a great idea and people who were as passionate as I was.”
Chiang also credits the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship for helping him attain the skills necessary to start a business and inspiring him to change his major from Finance to Entrepreneurship. “I visited the center and took a few classes and fell in love with the people. The center offers amazing contacts, talent and support,” he said.
“We are thrilled to be a part of Michael’s entrepreneurial journey,” said Monica Dean, Administrative Director of the Field Center for Entrepreneurship.“He embodies the best of our entrepreneurship students. We are also thankful that he has been generous enough to keep in contact with us and share his experiences with our students.”
About Baruch College:
Baruch College is a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY) with a total enrollment of more than 17,000 students, who represent 160 countries and speak more than 100 languages. Ranked among the top 15% of U.S. colleges and the No. 5 public regional university, Baruch College is regularly recognized as among the most ethnically diverse colleges in the country. As a public institution with a tradition of academic excellence, Baruch College offers accessibility and opportunity for students from every corner of New York City and from around the world. For more about Baruch College, go to http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/.
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