As racial and gender inequities in entrepreneurship persist, initiatives have been cultivated to ensure underrepresented founders have a seat at the venture capital table. Among them is an accelerator program led by the capital market firm Techstars, which recently unveiled the collective of DMV-based startups that it will support through the new project.
The entrepreneurial accelerator—dubbed Techstars Washington DC, Powered by JP Morgan—is a collaborative effort led by the seed stage investment program and the financial services company. Launched in March, the accelerator was designed to invest in the futures of founders of color—who have created startups across the tech, education, health, finance, and government spaces—by providing funding and resources that will empower them to elevate their ventures. Through the initiative, Techstars and JP Morgan aim to allocate over $80 million in funding to over 37 accelerators by 2025.
“We sought startups with extraordinary teams that were demonstrating promising early traction in solving problems that address large markets and that can benefit from tapping into the unique strengths of DC’s innovation and startup ecosystem,” Techstars Managing Director Keith Camhi shared in a statement, according to Technical.ly. “And after an extremely competitive selection process, we couldn’t be more excited with the outstanding and highly diverse class of founders that will be joining us.” The 13-week accelerator program will launch in Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, and Detroit during the fall season.
Among the startups included in its inaugural Washington, D.C.-based cohort is the ALIVE Podcast Network, awarded $120,000 in venture capital. Created by Howard University alum Angel N. Livas, the podcast platform amplifies Black stories and perspectives.
Other companies include K’ept Health which provides dermatology services through the use of AI technology, the dating app CarpeDM Dating, and the youth wellness platform Clymb. Half of the companies selected are led by women, 75 percent of them have CEOs of color, and a third was founded by graduates of historically Black colleges and universities.
Initiatives like the Techstars accelerator are integral when it comes to leveling the playing field in entrepreneurship. Research shows VC funding for Black-founded startups has dropped.
“ALIVE Podcast network is the youngest startup to be selected for Techstars. This is a validation that is both humbling and an honor,” Livas shared in a statement. “Now, I have the opportunity to participate in workshops, engage with over 100 mentors, and form deep relationships locally and across the Techstars global network.”
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