Techstars Equitech Accelerator Announces Powerhouse Venture Team

Jul 06, 2021

Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, today announced the appointment of Monica Wheat as the new Managing Director and Ramzy Ismail as the Venture Principal of the Techstars Equitech Accelerator. This combined team brings over 30 years of venture and investment experience to founders who will be selected for the inaugural Techstars Equitech Accelerator. Between the two, they have vast experience starting, running, and contributing to several other highly successful accelerator programs, from Detroit to Dubai.

Monica is a strategist, educator, investor, and venture developer with 20+ years of professional experience. She most recently has served as cofounder and Executive Director of Venture Catalysts, an ecosystem development organization. She also recently served as MD of Backstage Capital Detroit and previously cofounder of Techstars Detroit Startup Week, the largest inaugural program in the country. Her history with Techstars spans back to 2011.

“It’s an honor to support the Equitech mission in this capacity,” said Wheat. “A solid emphasis on products that increase equity and access is a unique look at innovation and venture dollars. This, plus targeting underestimated founders are currently venture’s biggest investment opportunities, and now combined with the Techstars network and #GiveFirst mentality - is a force multiplier.”

Sharing his enthusiasm for the program, Ismail offered, “My personal vision has always been to see more capital, resources, and mentorship accessible to founders who look like me and come from where I’m from; the Equitech and UpSurge vision, in combination with Techstars’ vast infrastructure, will be a big step toward that goal.”

Ramzy’s career in early-stage investments started in the UAE in 2015, where he led the launch of a $10M media-focused fund and accelerator, and continued with Techstars when he joined Eamonn Carey and the Connection program with AB InBev in New York in 2016. Since then Ramzy launched Techstars Dubai in 2018 and led Techstars’ Portfolio Service efforts across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, out of Berlin.

“We’re beyond excited to team up with Monica and Ramzy to propel our big vision, making Baltimore the country’s first Equitech city,” said Jamie McDonald, CEO, UpSurge Baltimore. “Together they bring investment, coaching, and mentorship experience that will support founders’ success. And, their national and international networks will help us reach founders across the globe. We feel really fortunate to be launching Techstars Equitech Accelerator with such a strong team and we are ready to go!”

With applications closing on July 28th, the Techstars Equitech Accelerator will bring in founders supporting UpSurge’s distinctive framework of ‘equitech.’ Equitech is an industry-agnostic framework focused on building an innovation economy where all belong. It’s a force-multiplier, building on the proven benefits of diverse teams, leaders, and perspectives. Equitech is a lens to attract, align and support startups – not a filter to exclude them. Equitech companies include those grounded in the values of diversity, those led by underestimated founders, and those developing technologies that increase access and equity in society.

About Techstars

The Techstars worldwide network helps entrepreneurs succeed. Founded in 2006, Techstars began with three simple ideas—entrepreneurs create a better future for everyone, collaboration drives innovation, and great ideas can come from anywhere. Now we are on a mission to enable every person on the planet to contribute to, and benefit from, the success of entrepreneurs. In addition to operating accelerator programs and venture capital funds, we do this by connecting startups, investors, corporations, and cities to help build thriving startup communities. Techstars has invested in more than 2,500 companies with a combined market cap of more than $200B.

About UpSurge

UpSurge Baltimore is building an engine to propel Baltimore into the top tier of US innovation cities. Their work centers on founders, tech-enabled and scale businesses, helping to launch, support, grow and celebrate high-impact startups. UpSurge is also developing strategies to attract new companies, talent and capital to Baltimore. We don’t envision Baltimore as just the next great tech city, but as the world’s first Equitech City. Equitech is a force multiplier on a tech economy - where diversity is a competitive advantage. It’s the cultural framework for UpSurge, a lens to attract, align and support startups – not a filter to exclude them. Over time, not only will entrepreneurs and investors around the world look to Baltimore as a launching pad for transformational companies, but more Baltimoreans will see the knowledge economy as a pathway for their own upwardly mobile futures.