Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator 2021: Investing in the changes our workforce need

May 10, 2021

By Taylor McLemore, Managing Director of the Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator and Allie Schlosser, Program Manager of the Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator

We are excited to embark on the second year of the Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator (apply here). We had the great fortune to work with founders from twelve impressive enterprises in our first class. The tragic, global pandemic amplified long standing inequities and inefficiencies at the root of workforce challenges. This crisis has emphasized the need for entrepreneur-led innovation for the workforce. As we look at 2021, this remains true. Much work is left for our global community to emerge from the pandemic, yet this moment offers the opportunity to rebuild with new workforce innovation embedded in our labor markets, our technology infrastructure, and our society. Our thesis is: Invest in startups and support founders that enable human potential through work

For us, human-centric workforce solutions must address major challenges that contribute to a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive world. We back founders that are offering agency to job seekers on the pathway to economic mobility and are creating employer solutions that drive mutual benefit for employer and employee. We seek startups addressing workforce training and education challenges with a focus on post-secondary vocational and community college pathways. We are excited about the potential of Jobtech solutions that connect education and employment. We are looking for founders with human instincts who are building the future of work.

The honest truth is that the labor market is messy and education pathways to employment are not clear for most Americans. Complex adaptive systems, like the labor market, require action from multiple parties to improve human outcomes which is why this accelerator was established to champion startups joining the efforts of government and intermediaries, as well as more established nonprofits and for-profits. We hold the conviction that entrepreneur-led, scalable workforce innovation is a necessary catalyst to make the workforce system work for more Americans as fast as possible. As we invest in startups, we focus on founders uniquely positioned to address these themes:

  • Career path discovery, navigation, and informed decision making 

  • Innovative delivery of training 

  • Innovative financing models for training and education 

  • Credentials, competency and skill building platforms

  • Layers that connect credentialing and skill development to employment and economic opportunity  

  • Workforce data intelligence

  • Social capital development

  • Support and wraparound interventions that directly change workforce outcomes for students and job seekers

We have developed these themes collaboratively with our partners, ZOMALAB, Strada Education Network, and Colorado Thrives. With this group of partners, the Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator exists to support founders on the challenging path to build a new company, bringing to life solutions that do not yet exist, and connect those founders at the system level with the leading mentors, innovators, investors, and employers committed to making the workforce system work for more American as fast as possible.

To the founders building the future of workforce, we want to get to know you and support you.