Techstars Foundation Accepting 2019 Grant Applications

Techstars is always working to be a leader in inclusive entrepreneurship by improving opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities throughout our global ecosystem. One important way we do this is through the Techstars Foundation.

The Techstars Foundation’s mission is to develop and support underrepresented entrepreneurs by providing nonprofit organizations with grants and access to the Techstars Network. We are dedicated to fostering an inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem accessible to all aspiring entrepreneurs regardless of their gender, gender identity, LGBTQ, race, ethnicity, age, or ability.

Research has shown diverse teams are more productive, more innovative, and create better returns—yet there are few entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds. If the number of underrepresented entrepreneurs declines or remains low, we risk losing productivity, innovation, and lower the potential for business returns, with adverse impacts on the global economy and the development of diverse senior leaders. Moreover, if these groups become more disenfranchised, this could lead to further disparities between gender, race, and class.

Techstars created the Techstars Foundation in 2015 to meet these challenges. The Techstars Foundation has supported 15 nonprofit organizations and hundreds of underrepresented entrepreneurs. The Techstars Foundation vision is to stimulate innovation and positive social and economic change worldwide.

Through our network of thousands of companies and startup programs worldwide, Techstars has a massive opportunity to alter the trajectory of entrepreneurship on a global basis as a catalyst in the growth and scale of nonprofits that are addressing these crucial challenges.

The Techstars Foundation helps to amplify and support the great work of the nonprofit organizations we support. We encourage you to be a part of our story by applying for a grant or making a donation. The Techstars Foundation is a donor-advised fund managed by the Community Foundation Boulder County.

Grant Guidelines:

The Techstars Foundation funds 501(c)(3) organizations with educational programs aligned with our mission of supporting and developing underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Our support ranges from $10,000 to $50,000 depending on the established organization’s budget.

Learn more about our grant criteria—and apply! The deadline for the next round of grant requests is April 8, 2019.

Questions? Email us today.

Want to help us develop and support underrepresented entrepreneurs? Donate now.

The Only Barrier to Entrepreneurship Should Be Dreaming Something Worthy

We know an ecosystem is a community in balance. If we fail to sustain the air or water, or relations between people, we suffer and die. Our entrepreneurial ecosystem is the same. Not everyone is an entrepreneur but everyone plays a supporting role, including those standing outside the door of this Grand Theater of Innovation. We need them for a well-balanced, healthy environment.

The Techstars Foundation was started by the Techstars founders (David Cohen, David Brown & Brad Feld) because its mission is critical to the ecosystem: “Diversity and Inclusion in entrepreneurship worldwide.” I believe in this mission, and I’m pleased to have joined the Techstars network as President of the Techstars Foundation.

D&I. Everywhere you look in the news, corporations, nonprofits and government agencies are all raising the D&I banner with vigor and passion. It’s definitely trending!

But what do we mean by “diversity”? Gender diversity is an easy example. We can tell men from women, at least most of the time. But what about our LGBTQ community? And we think about ethnic diversity, but that gets harder to spot. In a world that rounds up, I’m “Hispanish,” with Clairol blonde hair and gray eyes. And what about socio-economic diversity? Do the people next to you look like they grew up eating Saltine crackers because Ritz were too expensive?

Now step outside of the First World bubble. What does diversity mean in Kenya? Saudi Arabia? Bolivia? “Diversity” is really more about diversity of thought. What matters is diversity in how people see and solve problems and what problems they solve, and that’s what is in it for you: You need diversity of thought in your own life and organizations to be able to see things from different perspectives.

And to get diversity of thought, you need inclusion. “Inclusion” is the key word, or at least the first word. Instead of D&I let’s call it I&D, for with inclusion comes diversity of thought. How appropriate that our Freudian ID is our unconscious self.

Inclusion is about breaking down barriers that prevent entrepreneurship flourishing in areas where it might be needed most. We all love smashing down barriers, right? It’s what we entrepreneurs do best. So we need to aim that lust for barrier bashing towards the walls that separate us from our entrepreneurial family, inhibiting great innovations. But can we stop bashing white privileged men? They have been great entrepreneurs and mentors, and many are stepping up to be great allies, opening the door from the inside instead of everyone pounding on the outside. But like anyone inside a cloistered environment, they have to know that it’s safe to open the door, and frankly, since we are all human, they have to know what’s in it for them. So let’s talk about that.

Let’s take India, for example, which has a dubious honor of being one of the World’s hunger epicenters, as well as one of the highest food production centers on the planet. How can people be starving in a land of plenty? It’s because you can’t get the food to the people cost effectively. How do we solve that? Technology. New science of food dehydration, transportation, logistics, ag tech. It’s not just saving people from starvation, but a hungry world is a dangerous world. There is a rise of an entire class of product need around food security (getting food where it belongs safely). In Boulder, Colorado, the only food security is Amazon Prime’s guaranteed 2-hour Whole Foods delivery.

These are huge issues that go beyond the latest phone app to wipe your texts 30 miles outside Las Vegas. So we care about I&D because we need to. As a connected planet. A connected people. Because it takes people who live the problems to solve the problems.

The Techstars Foundation’s mission now is Inclusion for Diversity, because the only barrier to entrepreneurship should be dreaming something worthy.

Techstars Foundation Announces Second Round of Grantees

The Techstars Foundation is pleased to announce our second round of grantees who are committed to improving the landscape of diversity in tech.

We received hundreds of grant requests. The creative initiatives and thought leadership related to diversity in technology entrepreneurship is truly awesome. The work that these organizations are doing on this important issue is creating real change and building stronger communities around the world. We thank you all for the work you do.

The mission of the Techstars Foundation is to provide grants and resources to organizations making a scalable impact in diversity in tech entrepreneurship. This group of grantees encompasses a wide spectrum of underserved entrepreneurs, including female and minority entrepreneurs from underserved backgrounds, students of color and immigrant founders.

The organizations receiving financial grants and further assistance from the Techstars Foundation are:


Coalition for Queens (C4Q) increases economic opportunity through technology and transforms the world’s most diverse community into a leading hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. We believe that people from every community — across gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds — should have the opportunity to learn to code, gain jobs in tech, and create the companies of the future.


The Global EIR Coalition expands economic opportunities through partnering international entrepreneurs, universities, and cities to promote job creation, grow local economies, and build their businesses throughout the United States.


Student Dream trains collegiate students of color to start companies. Driven by a vision to create wealth in communities of color, Student Dream runs semester long programs and a membership platform that connects aspiring Black, Hispanic, and Native American student entrepreneurs to training, mentorship, and industry opportunities needed to succeed.

An instructor from Coalition for Queens teaching a class
An instructor from Coalition for Queens teaching a class


Student Dream participants during an entrepreneurship event
Student Dream participants during an entrepreneurship event


A Global EIR working with University of Colorado student during a session of the Global Entrepreneurs in Residence Program.
A Global EIR working with a University of Colorado student during a session

Along with the financial  support, Techstars will leverage our broad global network of mentors, alumni and investors to provide additional support to these organizations. If you would like to learn more about these organizations or get involved, please contact:

Thank you again to our generous donors who have made these grants possible. We continue to encourage 100 percent participation from our network to help support this cause. Every dollar counts.  

If Techstars accelerators, staff, mentors or startup programs such as Startup Weekend and Startup Digest have helped you in some small way, please consider a donation of any amount to help improve diversity in tech entrepreneurship.

We look forward to making a difference in diversity in technology entrepreneurship together, through the above partnerships and with your support.

Diversity in Entrepreneurship: Astia

We recently sat down with Yuka Nagashima and Sharon Vosmek of Astia, one of the five Techstars Foundation Grantees, to learn more about the organization and how it’s helping diversity in entrepreneurship.

Astia transforms the way businesses are funded by providing capital, connections and expertise that fuel the growth of women-led ventures.

What problem are you solving?

Astia continues to deliver on its mission to propel women’s full participation as entrepreneurs and leaders in high-growth businesses, fueling innovation and driving economic growth. We are transforming the way businesses are funded, providing capital, connections and guidance that fuel the growth of highly innovative, high-growth, women-led ventures around the globe.

With the launch of Astia Angels in 2013 under our White House Commitment, we are now investors in 40 companies that include women in positions of executive influence and leadership. In total, we have invested more than $12.5M of our own capital, representing more than $124M in syndication into 56 investments.

The Astia Angels portfolio is diverse in nearly every measure: team composition, sector, stage, technology, market, size and geography. And as an investment group, our impact on the market is notable: still today less than 3% of venture capital is invested in women-led companies.


Our investment activity in just the prior twelve-month period is on pace with some of the most active investment groups and represents more than $5.5M in direct investment (almost half of our three-year total).

Our investment velocity is increasing. In the same 12 month period, Astia has made >356 Astia Advisor connections, >100 investor connections to >143 women-led companies and maintained >5000 Astia Advisor volunteers around the globe.

What sparked the vision and foundation behind Astia?

Originally named the Women’s Technology Cluster, Astia was founded as part of the Three Guineas Fund in 1999, by Cate Muther, former CMO of Cisco Systems, and was spun off in 2003 as an independent non-profit. When Muther looked around, she wondered, “Where are all my female peers?” so she started WTC.

We changed our name to Astia to communicate a broader focus in diversity beyond just women. (The word Astia is derived from the Greek word, Aster, meaning star.)

We were not seeing sufficient interest from the larger community to invest, despite research demonstrating financial value of women-led companies, so we took matters into our own hands by starting Astia Angels (only investing in companies led by gender-inclusive teams).


What is the biggest misperception around the issue you are trying to solve?

Female and male entrepreneurs are different. It’s not that women are forming different types of companies than men, but instead it’s the funding level that determines the kind of companies they end up becoming: the difference lies in the investor’s lens, and not the entrepreneurs.

How has the Techstars Foundation helped your cause/business?

What we hope to achieve from this relationship is a true partnership. Techstars investing in us was a validation of our mission and approach, alongside other mainstream investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Prolog Ventures and Illuminate Ventures.

Diversity in Entrepreneurship: Patriot Boot Camp

We recently sat down with Charlotte Creech and Josh Anderson of Patriot Boot Camp, one of the five Techstars Foundation Grantees, to learn more about the organization and how it’s helping diversity in entrepreneurship.

Patriot Boot Camp is an intensive, 3-day educational event designed to mentor military members, Veterans and their spouses to start technology-focused businesses.

What problem are you solving?

PBC helps bridge the resource gap that Veterans and military spouses face when starting technology companies. Our mission is to equip them with focused education, mentoring and community support to help them innovate and build the next generation of scalable companies.

Patriot Boot Camp leverages a nationwide network of business and startup community thought leaders to help entrepreneurs bridge the divide between military service and entrepreneurial life.


What sparked the vision and foundation behind Patriot Boot Camp?

Patriot Boot Camp has a strong foundation in the Techstars network. While going through the Techstars Boulder accelerator, Taylor McLemore questioned whether the tech community could be doing more to support Veterans in making the transition to startups.

With support from David Cohen, Taylor crafted an intensive 3-day boot camp to mimic the mentorship-driven Techstars accelerator. The first program – held in Washington, D.C. in 2012 – was met with huge demand from the military & Veteran community, and sparked what has now become a standalone 501(c)(3 non-profit organization running multiple programs each year.

Tell us about how your organization has affected/positively impacted your audience?

Patriot Boot Camp (PBC) has run nine entrepreneurship education programs across seven cities since 2012, providing hands-on training and mentorship to more than 500 early stage military/Veteran and spouse tech entrepreneurs.

Successful outcomes from these programs range from having alumni meet a co-founder, to getting accepted to a Techstars accelerator program, to having a PBC mentor invest in their company and everything in between.

Most commonly, our alumni tell us the advice they received at PBC helped them quickly hone in on, or pivot to, a more viable business model and helped connect them with a network of subject matter experts that they never would have been able to access on their own.

What is the biggest misperception around the issue you are trying to solve?

A popular misconception about military Veterans is that because of their uniformed service, they are rigid and heavily regimented.

While structure and order are hallmarks of the military, most personnel serving in the U.S. armed forces must be creative and inventive in order to accomplish their missions. Many of the ideas and companies that come through Patriot Boot Camp are highly innovative and operate with a social mission.

What is one world-changing company that you admire?

USAA! USAA has a long history of being a trusted service provider for military members and their families and has been an incredible supporter of Patriot Boot Camp. USAA’s mission is deeply rooted in its culture, and it truly leads the industry in both customer service and technology innovation.  

Do you have any examples of how the Techstars’ network has impacted your business so far?

Since its inception, Patriot Boot Camp has benefitted from the strength and expertise of the Techstars network. Nearly every member of Techstars’ leadership has volunteered at PBC programs as speakers and mentors, sharing invaluable advice and lessons learned.

Furthermore, Patriot Boot Camp is pleased to have five of its alumni companies gain acceptance into a formal Techstars accelerator program, and countless other alumni have leveraged its vast network of mentors and founders to gain critical knowledge and guidance.   

At an organizational level, Patriot Boot Camp is fortunate to have David Brown sit on its Board of Directors and access to a wealth of subject matter experts in all facets of business development.

How has the Techstars Foundation helped your cause/business?

Having the backing of the Techstars Foundation and brand has helped Patriot Boot Camp establish credibility among a highly competitive landscape of non-profit organizations.

More importantly, the Foundation provided a grant award which has helped us expand our programming and has also connected us with incredible mentors in the nonprofit arena to help us build a lasting, impactful organization.  


How can Techstars help with getting more Veterans involved with startups?

Many active duty military members, Veterans, and their spouses have an interest in pursuing entrepreneurship as an alternative career path, but don’t always have the community support and network needed to effectively guide them to the right resources.

By making a greater effort to outreach to the military and Veteran community, Techstars and its supporting programs including Startup Week, Startup Weekend and Startup Next, can help shepherd more Veterans into tech and ensure they have access to critical startup knowledge and resources.  

Brad Feld and Amy Batchelor will be matching donations to the Techstars Foundation until October 31. Brad and Amy will be matching $1 dollar for every $2 dollars contributed by members of the Techstars’ community, up to $100,000. Donate here today!

Helping Women in Tech with Betabrand

The Techstars Foundation is proud to announce a partnership with Betabrand, an online clothing community. Betabrand will donate $5 to the Techstars Foundation for each pair of Dress Pant Yoga Pants sold during the month of September. The goal of this campaign is to raise money and awareness for diversity in tech entrepreneurship, and we want you to get involved.

In addition to contributing $5 to the foundation for each pair sold, Betabrand is also offering a Sweepstakes to tech startup founders which includes interviews with Techstars’ Managing Directors, office hours with Techstars’ company founders, and a chance to win passes to Startup Weekends around the world. They’ve also highlighted some amazing open jobs in the startup community.

We often hear from founders that they want to support women and diversity in tech but don’t know how. Here’s your chance! This makes a great gift for you or someone you love. I mean, come on, Dress Yoga Pants!

I want to offer my heartfelt gratitude to the people of Betabrand for all of their generosity and creativity towards this effort. When they approached me with this idea, I was blown away. Betabrand has always spoken to founders, and to see them giving back actively to underrepresented entrepreneurs is just awesome.

Check out this page for more details on this special offer and please share with your favorite female founder! You might even spot some of your favorite Techstars’ founders modeling the pants on that page including Jackie and Andrea from Revolar, Leah from Nexosis, Diana from Indico, Caroline & Christine Stzalka from Itsbyu, Laura Spiekerman from Alloy, and our very own Sarah Bain from Techstars Retail.

Happy shopping!

Diversity in Entrepreneurship: Defy Ventures

We recently sat down with Catherine Hoke of Defy Ventures, one of the five Techstars Foundation Grantees, to learn more about the organization and how it’s helping diversity in entrepreneurship.

Defy “transforms the hustle” by providing entrepreneurship training and intense character and personal development for people with criminal histories.

(NOTE: Brad Feld and Amy Batchelor will be matching donations to the Techstars Foundation until mid-October. Brad and Amy will be matching $1 dollar for every $2 dollars contributed by members of the Techstars’ community, up to $100,000.)


What sparked the vision and foundation behind Defy Ventures?

When I was 26 years old, a friend invited me to visit a prison in Texas. I was hesitant, but ultimately went. In prison, I met some very smart and hungry hustlers who defied the stereotypes I had of people in prison. They shared their stories with me and it broke my heart. Many of them were almost guaranteed to a life in prison since birth.

70% of the children of incarcerated parents go to prison.

So I left my venture capital job in NY and moved to Texas to start a Prison Entrepreneurship Program to train these men in prison how to be successful, legal “hustlers” when they get out. Then, I founded Defy Ventures as my 2.0 version to scale nationally to every prison and train people with criminal histories post-release.

The vision of Defy is to eliminate the problem of mass incarceration in America and put ourselves out of business.

What problem are you solving?

We are trying to solve some of the most challenging problems in America: Mass incarceration and legacies of incarceration, poverty, joblessness, violence and hopelessness.

What is the biggest misperception around the issue you are trying to solve?

Many people have distorted stereotypes of people in prison – they think of them as wild animals and a danger to society.

We break down those misperceptions so they can see incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people as people who have made mistakes.

We create opportunities for people on either side of the fenced wall to connect in their humanity, have greater empathy and see how similar they are in reality.


What is one world-changing company that you admire?

I love ConBody, started by a Defy graduate named Coss Marte. Coss was incarcerated on drug charges and prosecuted as a kingpin because he was operating a multi-million drug business.

He was very overweight when he went to prison and was told he would die if he didn’t get healthy.

So, while in prison, he worked out and lost weight. He also helped other inmates lose weight and get fit, too. His business is a prison styled boot camp that helps people “do the time.”

He helps his clients get healthy and live better lives. He hires other people with criminal histories to create opportunities and empower them. Plus, he volunteers time with Defy and gives back by going into prison to train people. He is changing perceptions and defying the odds big time.

Tell us about how your organization has positively impacted your audience?

Following are Defy’s impact to date:

  •   3.2% recidivism rate 
of our Entrepreneurs in Training (EIT)
  •   95% employment rate for post-release EITs
  •   150 incubated startups that have created 350+ jobs 

  •   3,500+ executive mentors 
and volunteers 

Learn more about Defy’s impact on EITs and volunteers here in a SOCAP interview.