By Monica Wheat, Managing Director of the Techstars Detroit Accelerator Program Powered by J.P. Morgan
Today I’m excited to announce the Techstars Detroit Powered by JP Morgan Accelerator program’s inaugural class of 12 early-stage companies. It was an extremely competitive application process, and, while this program and investment are open to founders from any background, we targeted our efforts toward recruiting founders who were:
A competitive mix of early stage disruptors and later stage competitors
From underestimated backgrounds (Black, Hispanic and Latino, Indigenous American, and/or Pacific Islander)
Primed to thrive in a optimized innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem like Detroit
Scaling big ideas and bold visions with a keen eye for solving the world’s problems through business innovation
Why were these criteria important?
We want to revolutionize how venture and innovation are done by using diversity as a force multiplier and a driver to uncover hidden talent. These untapped markets are the largest opportunity in venture.
According to Techstars Detroit founder and CEO of Opnr, Andrea Wallace, "As a Black female founder, I couldn't raise a ‘friends and family’ round for my first startup. Unlike most of my counterparts in other programs, I had to fund my business through my savings. Programs like Techstars Detroit will allow us access to connections and resources that tend to be otherwise hard to obtain."
Diversity remains a critical issue in the startup and tech space due to the lack of access and capitalization. Black entrepreneurs received just 1.2 percent of U.S. venture capital funding during the first half of 2021, while additional data shows Latino founders raised only 2 percent of U.S venture capital investments in 2021. However, Techstars and J.P. Morgan are committed to addressing the inequity and bridging the racial and ethnic wealth gap through game-changing investment, mentorship, and community partnerships.
Leading this accelerator is a special honor. I have had the opportunity to spearhead critical components in investment throughout my career – building ecosystems and scaling untapped markets and talent. While launching the program, I found the city of Detroit and the founders of this accelerator shared two common characteristics: historically underserved and unyielding. Detroit’s unyielding nature and investments turned a small entrepreneurial community into a statewide powerhouse currently ranked as the number one city for emerging startup ecosystems. Similarly, the founders we’re welcoming this week in Detroit, come from all over the globe and exhibit this same unyielding nature that has allowed them to build ventures that will disrupt their respective industries in CPG, fintech, manufacturing, mobility, and real estate.
“So often, underrepresented founders don’t have the luxury to dream because we are navigating barriers that our counterparts will never know. This is especially true in the tech space. Techstars and J.P. Morgan are creating opportunities for us to bet on ourselves and win. It’s life-changing, and the impact will be felt for generations,” said Ashley René Lee, CCO of Peadbo, one of the 12 participating companies.
While traditionally, these founders are underserved, our goal is to scale their startups and local ecosystems with the proven Techstars approach of combining customized programming, business guidance, and access to capital.
We wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for our corporate partner, J.P. Morgan’s, commitment to supporting inclusive accelerators that create opportunities for diverse, early-stage founders. As a part of this partnership, J.P. Morgan will offer an integrated suite of services to founders in this accelerator that extend beyond the 13-week program. The services will include but are not limited to, access to banking, wealth management, and advisory solutions accessible through their local and commercial banking specialists.
I’m proud to introduce the members of the Techstars Detroit Accelerator Powered by J.P Morgan inaugural 2022 cohort. I can’t wait to see what the next 13 weeks will bring and what these companies will accomplish!
Capsa Technology is an online marketplace that allows businesses (especially SMBs) to list and trade their receivables to finance their working capital requirements.
EZ Vending is a completely contactless B2B SaaS retail tech company for regulated goods.
Gildform is an on-demand jewelry manufacturing platform offering independent designers and business owners access to premium 3D printing and jewelry production services.
Good & Well Brands is a wellness ecosystem using an omnichannel approach to deliver services, products, and experiences that foster well-being for men across cultures.
San Francisco, California
LearnHaus is an AI-based parent-centered learning journey platform helping parents to easily get their kids the right learning-focused tools and activities.
Locus Mobility is a white-label SaaS platform that simplifies the vehicle ownership experience by automating decisions, relationships, and services delivered to owners where they park using data.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Opnr is a B2B, double-sided marketplace platform that uses data to connect musicians with concert organizers offering opener performance opportunities.
Peadbo is an advisory board management tool for individuals rather than businesses.
Pluck.eco offers sustainable, free-to-customer weekly deliveries from local businesses and vendors.
Socian Technologies combines deep learning technology with autonomous drones that allow first responders to rapidly and accurately identify and respond to emergency situations as they happen.
New York, NY
SQOR makes vital execution data from every SaaS tool easy to access, monitor and act on for company leadership and investors.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Tour is the first video-based digital leasing assistant that can be installed as an overlay to any apartment website, making it easier for renters to imagine what life really is like living at that property.