Vinnie Delgado started his company, PPAP Manager, last year in his home country of Mexico. But after joining the TechStars Detroit business accelerator in July, he says his company will be moving to Detroit for good.
Delgado says moving to Detroit and joining TechStars has given him and his team access to corporate partners that they "could not even dream of having reached with our own resources."
"I can go to a plant here in Chihuahua[, Mexico,] and knock the door and try to speak with the plant manager and I will not be received," he says. "But if I go to TechStars, I can speak directly with the chief innovation officer or the chief technology officer of the same company. That's what makes the difference with TechStars: the network."
Delgado was inspired to start his own company after working in the auto industry for over a decade, specializing in supply chain and management processes. One of his main responsibilities was to manage teams that handled production part approval processes, or PPAPs. PPAPs are highly detailed documents that potential suppliers submit to an automaker or other company, allowing the automaker to verify that the supplier will manufacture new parts to the automaker's exact specifications.
Delgado says PPAPs are "the single most effective method you can find to ensure quality of parts in any process, particularly a manufacturing process." However, he says PPAPs can also be very difficult to manage if companies don't have the proper tools. He saw that firsthand in his work in the industry, as suppliers who didn't have a good PPAP management system often struggled to compete. Even when companies do have a system, it's often inefficient, utilizing a hodgepodge of Excel spreadsheets, zip files, emails, and Dropbox files.
"That's where I saw the value of creating a tool for small and medium companies that didn't have a tool to manage PPAPs," Delgado says.
So he created PPAP Manager, which streamlines all steps of the PPAP management process into a single platform that can be used by both suppliers and their clients. Delgado says the system can cut the time companies spend on PPAP management by up to 50%.
When he formally launched the company in January, he was looking for ways to boost its exposure. So he was thrilled when he and cofounder Rene Pons (who has volunteered with TechStars) were one of the 11 companies selected for this year's TechStars cohort. TechStars cohort members receive financial, human, and intellectual resources; a $20,000 stipend; a $100,000 convertible note; and connections to numerous corporate partners in Detroit.
In addition to the networking opportunities TechStars has afforded him, Delgado says he appreciates the "discipline" of the program and its "give first" philosophy.
"You feel better helping other people," he says. "You get the satisfaction of helping other people, and then the help from those other people comes without even asking."
Although his company isn't even a year old, Delgado already has five clients and is readying his second project: APQP Manager, which will help auto companies manage their product quality planning processes. He's also planning to incorporate a machine-learning element into PPAP Manager, which he says will allow the system to review PPAPs on its own and free up more time for engineers to "dedicate to real value-added activities." He sees PPAP Manager as being particularly well-suited to up-and-coming mobility companies, whether they produce electric cars or scooters.
Delgado sees Detroit as the perfect place to build PPAP Manager's future. He says the company's image has already changed significantly since it made the move, thanks to being closer to "the mecca of the automotive industry."
"We are happy to be the first Mexican company accepted to TechStars. It's a big pride for us," he says. "But the future of the company is in Detroit."