App designed to combat sexual violence is among Ann Arbor companies competing in SXSW Pitch event

Three Ann Arbor companies have been announced as finalists in the 11th annual SXSW Pitch competition.


The event (previously dubbed SXSW Accelerator) showcases technological innovations and is part of the larger SXSW 2019 conference and festivals happening this March in Austin, Texas. The competition will see 50 interactive technology companies vying in 10 categories. In front of a live audience, each business will present a two-minute pitch and then have six minutes to answer judges’ questions.


Ann Arbor's Derq, Pathware, and MySideKick were chosen from over 800 entrants from all over the world. All three startups are also Ann Arbor SPARK clients.


In the competition's Artificial Intelligence (AI) category, Derq will be presenting patented software that can prevent vehicular crashes. Derq's product uses award-winning AI algorithms to predict crashes and save lives.


Pathware will compete in SXSW Pitch's Health and Wearable division. The company offers a cloud-based imaging platform that can confirm the viability of a biopsy in real-time. With 96 percent accuracy, Pathware’s product reduces the need for healthcare patients to endure repeat procedures.


MySideKick is the first product from Rose's education technology company, Every Two Minutes Inc., and falls under the competition's Social and Culture category. Designed to combat sexual violence on college campuses, founder and CEO Erin Rose stresses that MySideKick is more than an app.


"It’s a prevention and education program," she says.


Rose’s father created a self-defense program in the early 1980s, with live seminars and a nationally distributed VHS tape program. So she was aware that sexual violence on college campuses was a public health epidemic well before the issue began making regular headlines.


Around 2012, determined to facilitate change, Rose started talking to leading trauma researchers, law enforcement, students, and sexual violence survivors. From those conversations, MySideKick evolved into what it is today: a mobile interface including tools to report sexual violence incidents, ensure friends get home safe, facilitate party safety monitoring, and more.


Rose feels that being selected as a SXSW Pitch finalist is a boon not only for her company, but also for society.


"It’s an honor to be recognized by SXSW. Being selected is a huge validation of my business," she says. "The publicity not only gets my program in front of new eyes, but it also keeps the underlying mission of my business to end sexual violence front and center."


Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at


Photo courtesy of Erin Rose.