By Courtney Gras, Director, Ecosystem Development
Techstars and J.P. Morgan launched the first U.S.-based Founder Catalyst Program in October, 2021 for women-led companies based in Atlanta, Georgia. The Techstars Founder Catalyst Program is a part-time, virtual program focused on supporting early-stage founders as they prepare to raise their first round of funding or apply to an accelerator. Over the course of ten weeks, twenty women-led companies were welcomed to a community of peers with shared experiences in entrepreneurship. The program included weekly masterclasses, 1:1 mentorship, intensive pitch coaching, pitch design support, and a team of Techstars staff that served as their concierge for connections and encouraged this group of women to break barriers and reach their full potential.
Companies had the opportunity to attend the Techstars Atlanta in Partnership with Cox Enterprises Demo Day and convene in person to celebrate the conclusion of the program in mid-December. There was lots to celebrate: over the course of ten weeks with eleven masterclasses, three peer group meetings, and over four hundred sixty mentor meetings, the twenty women founders reached major milestones:
Over $650k raised
25+ active investor conversations
3 product launches
3 companies accepted to Techstars accelerators
“The program was extremely valuable as it helped me to see the many facets of being a successful female founder in a space that often overlooks us and gives us only 1% investment capital to grow our businesses. The program provided us with the foundational tools to build a sustainable and scalable startup and the confidence to raise funds by helping us to develop winning pitch decks.” - Jennifer Jaki Johnson, WellMiss
Techstars knows that the more connections a founder makes, the more likely they are to succeed. On average, each founder in the program had thirty mentor meetings and made at least ten highly impactful connections to potential investors, advisors, partners, and customers.
As a Director at Techstars and in my work with startup communities over the past eight years, I can’t say I’ve seen a group of founders more engaged and eager to support each other than those in this cohort. There was an instant bond between the founders; I witnessed collaboration and peer-support on a new level. There’s something special about being part of a community where you feel like you’re the majority, not the minority. Combined with access to the Techstars network of mentors, masterclasses, resources, and peer groups, we saw real growth in the companies that participated in this program.
“The Techstars Catalyst program gave me the education, resources, and network I needed to take my company to the next level. Not only did the program allow me to fill in some knowledge and opportunity gaps, but it also offered me a safe space as a woman founder to process and be heard. The entire experience was invaluable. I'm coming out of the program as a better entrepreneur with a better business.” - Rita Brooks, Palmly
Techstars and J.P. Morgan are excited to launch the second Founder Catalyst Program in spring, 2022 for women founders - including lesbian, bisexual and transgender women - based in the Washington, DC and Baltimore area. Application for the next program will open January 18th.