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Techstars and Create Labs have partnered to introduce Techstars IncludesProduct Design. Techstars is committed to having a meta-impact on diversity in the tech space by encouraging a new generation of entrepreneurs to build inclusive companies from the very start, because we know diverse teams perform better and we believe inclusive companies will create a better future.

The Techstars – Create Labs Collaboration gives our startup founders access to a highly diverse pool of potential customers with whom they can do focus groups, beta testing, and customer discovery, ensuring that the tech they create is optimized for the actual users. Inclusive product design is essential for companies, but it can be difficult for startups to easily get access to a wide variety of users.

Why is inclusive product design so important? Kodak’s “Shirley” cards are a now-notorious example of what happens when companies don’t pay attention to inclusive product design. Shirley cards date from the mid-1950s, and Kodak created them for photo labs to use to calibrate color and light in the printing process so that people would come out looking good in photographs. They’re pictures of models, but in the early days, all of the models were white, and therefore they failed to work well as color and light checks for pictures of people with darker skin. Inclusive product design—working with actual users from different populations—helps companies not make errors like this, which cause their products to fail for some of their users. 

The Inclusive Product Design program has the added benefit of introducing the next generation of diverse founders to the entrepreneurial process. It is designed to support underserved communities through hands-on, real-world entrepreneurial experiences. Participants will be given the opportunity to learn key business skills from startup founders through direct involvement in product design, shadowing startup teams, reviewing investor pitches, and user-testing early product demos. 

The program will help to increase diversity and inclusion in the Techstars Network, as well as integrating inclusive product design into the Techstars accelerator programs. 

“We believe the opportunity gap is a global problem, so no matter what city, state, or country the Techstars program is in, we will find a local underserved community to tap into that can benefit from learning these new tech and entrepreneurship skills,” says Create Labs co-founder Abran Maldonado.

Techstars is currently running 45 accelerators across 12 countries annually. The Techstars Includes – Product Design program will begin with the six accelerators located in London, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York, with plans to run year-round through all accelerators.

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About Create Labs

Create Labs is a social venture that taps into the heart of low-income, at-risk communities across the country to provide underserved populations with access to cutting-edge technology, skills training, mentorship and career opportunities in tech, media and other innovative industries. Current clients include Samsung, Esri, the NYC Mayor’s office of the CTO, Brookdale College, SBDC, and others.

About Techstars

Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates three divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, and Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships. Techstars accelerator portfolio includes more than 1,500 companies with a market cap of $15 Billion. www.techstars.com


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Andrea Perdomo Andrea Perdomo
Andrea is the Director of the Techstars Foundation. Before joining Techstars, she was the Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Revolar (Techstars Class 79)