By Monica Wheat, Managing Director of the Techstars Equitech Accelerator
Today I’m excited to announce the Techstars Equitech Accelerator’s inaugural class of 12 early-stage companies.
This was an extremely competitive application process. We looked for companies from any sector that are either a) led by founders from any background that are building companies grounded in the values of diversity, b) led by founders from underestimated communities that are in any industry or c) founders from any background that are developing technologies that increase access and equity across society.
What does that mean? This bold new vision is the essence of “Equitech” and it's a movement to redesign how tech cities are designed and scaled. Equitech was designed by our partner and sponsor, UpSurge Baltimore.
We are in the midst of a true creator economy where entrepreneurship and innovation lead news and conversations, where the global pandemic has shook how the world regards “work” and “access.” Anyone barely active in the venture space is hearing the raised voices and seeing the growing number of studies that cite result after result that prove that opportunity is not uniformly distributed, but that talent and ideas are. This is especially true for those underserved and underestimated in the venture space. Funding, mentorship, and partnership are needed to enable access to this talent base.
Leading this accelerator is a special honor and opportunity. Building ecosystems, scaling untapped markets and talent are the biggest opportunities in investment and something I have spent my career doing. While diversity, equity and inclusion have always been core tenets of Techstars and its global programs, the Techstars Equitech Accelerator is the first with an explicit investment focus that redefines how to enable equity, access and belonging across tech startups and non-tech scaleups.
We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the bold vision of our corporate partner, UpSurge Baltimore, which aims to propel Baltimore into the top tier of U.S. innovation cities through a steadfast focus on promoting and fostering a tech community that recognizes diversity is a force multiplier, as well as design a blueprint for other cities to follow.
The founders we’re welcoming this week in Baltimore come from all over the globe, from Kazakhstan to Germany to Ireland and Canada. They bring a range of talents and unique backgrounds to the accelerator while building their companies, which are looking to disrupt industries including fintech, sports tech, HR tech and e-commerce.
I’m proud to introduce the members of the Equitech Techstars Accelerator’s inaugural 2021 cohort. I can’t wait to see what the next 13 weeks will bring and what these companies can accomplish!
New York, N.Y.
Aleria takes the guesswork out of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. https://www.aleria.tech/
Athlytic is a marketplace that connects student athletes to endorsement opportunities. https://www.athlytic.io/
EcoMap builds platforms that help people navigate ecosystems, from entrepreneurial communities to corporate networks and beyond. https://www.ecomap.tech/
Washington, D.C., and Berlin, Germany
EQL Finance provides small-dollar, interest-free lending payable up to 36 months for working families and individuals. https://www.eqlfinance.com
Femly increases access to eco-friendly and sustainable personal care. https://femly.com/
MindStand utilizes AI to detect workplace harassment and provide personalized insights on workplace inclusion. MindStand AI integrates with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and more to keep business leaders in tune with their culture and community. https://mindstand.com/
Paperstack provides fractional CFO services for e-commerce sellers. https://paperstack.us/
Sparen Homes provides a person-to-person real estate marketplace where people can buy and sell real estate themselves without a bank or an agent. https://www.sparenhomes.com/
SportsHi is a network for students to connect with education and career opportunities. https://www.sportshi.io/
SURU Together has developed PSi, a scalable social audio platform that allows for better decision making within your community. https://thepsiapp.com/
New York, N.Y.
Upfront is transforming child care data at scale so parents, providers, and government agencies can have a single source of truth for the very first time. https://www.allupfront.com/
Zimbali Networks is revolutionizing the foundations of finance by building communities of buyers, sellers, and lenders, in one seamless, accessible, global platform. https://zimbalinetworks.com/