Our Home

URBAN-X, its management team and full-time experts in residence are based at A/D/O, a new 23,000 square-foot creative space. At A/D/O, URBAN-X companies become part of a creative ecosystem, intended to provoke and invigorate the innovation process. In this location, companies have a unique opportunity for daily access to their end consumer, including the possibility to showcase their work in The Shop at A/D/O, and to participate in a daily public program. URBAN-X is located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in the heart of one of the city’s Industrial Business Zones.


URBAN-X Core Team


The Management Team

Micah Kotch

Managing Director for MINI

Micah came to URBAN-X from NYSERDA, where he served as the Director of NY Prize and Strategic Advisor for Innovation, and spent 5 years as Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering where he launched NYC’s first sponsored tech incubator. Micah has direct experience with utilities, government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions and early stage companies. He is interested in startups that embrace change as well as regulators and innovative large companies working on solutions for climate and energy issues.

Mark Paris

Managing partner and co-founder for urban us capital

Mark has more than 30 years’ experience at the intersection of cities and finance. Before Urban Us, Mark led Citi’s Green Communities Venture Fund and has been an investor and advisor for multiple urban tech startups. His work with startups goes back to 1998, while his work on Wall Street, managing financings for multiple cities, hospitals, universities, power agencies and housing authorities, goes back to 1988. Mark, and his wife, Tammy, both with degrees from Harvard, Hopkins and Muhlenberg, spend their free time serving on several higher education and arts boards throughout the US and abroad.

Miriam Roure

Program Director for MINI

Miriam is passionate about improving cities through technology and design. She is the founder of the design consultancy firm Urbanfield and is part of the founding team of Deeds by The Social Coin. Miriam is also an alum of MIT Senseable City Lab, Harvard and Cornell. She used to be a math olympian, worked on a building in Venice, and enjoys the outdoors and yoga.

Marc Herstein

Marketing and Communications for URBAN-X

Marc joins URBAN-X with 15 years of successful urban focused marketing and communications experience. Specializing in integrated marketing strategy, Marc has helped to build and improve city based programs that span early childhood education, disaster response, housing, and healthcare. Marc is a current resident and native of Park Slope Brooklyn, dad, husband, musician, dreamer, and retired legendary pick-up basketball player.

Johan Schwind

Design Director

Johan is passionate about developing products at the intersection of engineering, aesthetics and digital technology. With experience working for Audi and BMW Group, Johan has designed products ranging from consumer electronics to bikes to urban infrastructure solutions — notably, the Light and Charge street lamp. Johan shares insights and expertise on the design process, customer needs and product development with our teams – helping them to iterate, prototype and succeed in building their vision.

Liz Sisson

Program Manager for Urban Us

Liz is interested in how the public and private sector intersect. Before joining Urban Us and the team at URBAN-X, Liz was at the Roosevelt Institute, an economic think tank in NYC, where she managed programs that deployed local public policy campaigns spanning across policy areas including economic development, transportation, human rights, and environmental impact. Liz has also done consulting work on state government programs related to transportation and the environment. Liz is a graduate of Bentley University.

Eva Becker

Director for URBAN-X (Europe)

Working from Munich, Eva builds and maintains the connection between URBAN-X and MINI. Being a former founder herself, she knows the challenges startups are facing from her own experience. Eva is not only a foodie, but also a passionate problem-solver – and she works hard to find the right expert for every startup question within the BMW organization. As Director Europe, Eva also represents URBAN-X in the European startup scene.


Experts-in-Residence

Dean DiPietro

Product Design & Mechanical Engineering

Dean has spent the last 20 years creating consumer products for mass-manufacturing overseas. With over fifteen patents filed and dozens of products sold around the world, Dean enjoys helping people make new things. Dean is also an urban cycling advocate and music + lighting guru.

Michael Sharp

Visual Design and Brand Development

Michael Sharp has been working as a creative in agencies large and small around the world, including in London, Amsterdam, Sydney and New York. His career has spanned many sectors from the cool to the corporate – but always with the same passion for great design and new ideas. Michael has been lecturing in graphic design at the Shillington School of Graphic Designer in New York since 2011. He co-founded the China heights gallery in Sydney and Lazy Susan gallery in NYC.

Firat Parlak

User Interface and User Experience Design

Firat Parlak is the Founder and Creative Director behind Awesome, a UI/UX agency that specializes in tech startups. Firat’s vision has driven the company’s growth since 2011 leading to the launch of The Loft, New York’s first designer exclusive co-working space, and the Awesome Design School, a hands-on program teaching UI/UX including the first design program in prison education in US history at San Quentin.

Jonathan Gips

Software Development and Embedded Systems

Jon is an entrepreneur and computer scientist with a passion for building systems that leverage technology to address difficult real-world problems. For the past ten years he has worked to bring consumer and healthcare products to market, for which he has received multiple patents and an iF design award. Jon is an alumnus of the MIT Media Lab where he was a member of the Human Dynamics and Smart Cities groups.

Greg Lindsay

Urbanist-in-Residence

Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is a contributing writer for Fast Company, author of the forthcoming book Engineering Serendipity, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next. He is also a senior fellow of the New Cities Foundation — where he leads the Connected Mobility Initiative — a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Initiative, a visiting scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management, and a senior fellow of the World Policy Institute. He is now the inaugural Urbanist-in-Residence at URBAN-X.


The network

MINI and Urban Us have organized a network of over 1,500 people focused on supporting startups to make cities better. Our network is characterized by serial entrepreneurs, investors and sector leaders from university research, local government, public safety, public health, real estate, utilities, construction, transportation, logistics, water, waste and energy.


Investment Committee

Esther Bahne

Head of Brand Strategy & Business Innovation MINI & President MINI Business Innovation LLC

Peter Schwarzenbauer

Board of Management, BMW AG, MINI

Stonly Baptiste

Partner at Urban Us Ventures, Consultant and Lecturer at The University of Chicago Booth School

Shaun Abrahamson

Managing Partner, Urban Us


Our stories

MINI

MINI has a unique view on business innovation, with technology and design on equal footing. We founded URBAN-X to advocate for new companies who share that view, and as part of our own continued exploration of innovations that improve urban life. As cities become increasingly profound centers of opportunity, we aim to shape the conversation around which ideas will break through – supporting meaningful change through inclusive dialogue and an unrelenting passion for rethinking the status quo.

Urban Us created the first venture fund for founders re-imagining city life. We’ve invested in many of the most notable early stage companies using a unique approach to work with a community of over 1,500 investors, founders and advisors around to find and support promising teams. Before Urban Us our team built successful startups, ran venture funds, angel funds and funded city projects around the globe. We teach the first urbanech startup class with the University of Chicago Booth School and went to schools like MIT, Harvard, Penn and Georgetown.


FAQ

Please visit our FAQ page for a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions.


Let’s talk

Partner with us, join our growing collective of entrepreneurs. If you’re interested to get involved with URBAN-X, we want to hear from you.