5 Questions with Tricia Martínez, Managing Director of Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator

Jun 10, 2021

Tricia Martínez is the Managing Director of the Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator. Tricia is an experienced serial entrepreneur, executive, and activist passionate about driving large-scale impact through technology and innovation. Tricia has earned titles including top 20 founders of color by Conscious Company Magazine, Hispanic Entrepreneur of the Year by USHCC, a top 100 FinTech Leader, among others. Tricia is also an alumna of the London Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars participating in the 2016 program with her blockchain-enabled financial services platform, Wala.

01. What are you looking for in startups for the Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator?

I’m looking for breakthrough technologies that have the potential to change the world. I am a technophile. I believe that technology will revolutionize the way we live and how we treat our planet. We are currently up against the greatest threat not just to our nation, but to our humanity. The world we live in, the food we eat, the resources we utilize - all are at risk if we do not mitigate and stop climate change. To solve our largest problems, we must look to technology to address gaps in the market and improve inefficiencies. This crisis calls for technologies that will drastically change industries and our way of living. Artificial Intelligence, cleantech, advanced manufacturing, quantum information science, biotech, 5G/advanced wireless technology are the Industries of the Future that are powering the fight against our world’s greatest challenges. Not one technology is the silver bullet to our global problems, but when combined these technologies will be a driving force in creating more efficiencies, sustainable practices, entirely new solutions, and deeper insights. 

I am looking for founders that are committed to changing the world and have what it takes to build with empathy, navigate complex systems, handle extreme ups and downs and ambiguity, and will do whatever it takes to bring breakthrough technologies to market. If you are an entrepreneur or a startup leader building revolutionary technology this is your call to action. I want to hear from you and support you so we can make a difference together.

02. What are some of the biggest learnings from your career and entrepreneurial journey that you bring to being a Techstars MD? 

Over the course of my entrepreneurial life, I’ve gained a wealth of experience designing products, building and managing passionate teams, scaling technologies, and most importantly driving impact. I’ve dealt with my fair share of challenges and setbacks. However, I have comfort in the unknown because I see a blank canvas as a way to change the world. Through my learned experiences, I preach these 8 mottos:

  • Mission-driven: Always let the mission drive you and your actions.

  • Empathy: Design, lead, and create by understanding those who you are serving.

  • Entrepreneurship: Always stay curious, hungry, driven, and keep building.

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion: We are stronger, more resilient, and fierce when we are different.

  • Mental health: Always take care of yourself and your family.

  • Grit: When things get really hard, learn to push harder and bounce back.

  • Innovation: Aspire to improve and go beyond the norm.

  • Passion: Have fun and always stay hungry!

03. What do our partners Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee Valley Authority, and the University of Tennessee bring to the accelerator?

The most advanced technologies, a network of top scientists from around the world, high-tech facilities, incredible scale, and the list could go on! There may be no better location or group of leaders to come together and mobilize around the vision of industries of the future than Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee Valley Authority, and the University of Tennessee. 

I am beyond excited for the launch of the Industries of the Future accelerator because I know firsthand how complex and difficult it is to build and scale breakthrough technologies - you need a strong support system, expertise, and resources and our partners offer just that! Through the abundant scientific research and quantum computing facilities, these three organizations are hungry and eager to support game-changing startups tackling the most critical problems of our future through this accelerator. 

04. Why is DEI in the startup ecosystem important to you?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are top priorities for me as a Techstars Managing Director, investor and entrepreneur. We are stronger when we are different. When people from diverse backgrounds and life experiences come together, incredible things can happen. Not only will all of society benefit from seeing diverse representation across businesses and industry, but inclusive environments also drive more innovation and impact. It is a no brainer!

As a Latina, I’ve unfortunately been one of the only ones at the table in the fintech, blockchain, and AI world. That is going to change. It is my responsibility as an innovator to push norms and build more inclusive environments in the startup community so that we have greater representation, can be exposed to better ideas, and scale more impactful solutions. 

05. Tell us about your personal experience as an alum of a Techstars Accelerator and why you are returning?

When you are a first-time founder there are endless lessons to learn. This is just part of the journey. And for startups leveraging breakthrough technologies, the risks are even greater. Participating in a Techstars accelerator will enable you to go through these challenges alongside other founders who are going through the same startup growing pains. Our entrepreneurs will have a proven support system that includes myself, mentors, and partners who will all help guide you through this experience and do whatever they can to make sure you succeed. (And you will learn and gain more than you could ever imagine in a 3 month time frame!)

The saying “Techstars for life” is 100% accurate. Participating in the Techstars program with Barclays bank in London was honestly the best few months of my life. The skills I gained, the relationships I built, the experience I had is what set me on a path for success. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience. My life’s mission is to change the world and that is what has led me back to Techstars. Through the Industries of the Future Accelerator I can do just that by investing in, supporting, and nurturing game-changing startups that are tackling the most critical problems of our future.