(Photo by Joseph V. Labolito for Temple University)
Early-stage startup accelerator DreamIt Ventures is launching its most diverse class to date this week. That’s in terms of race and gender, but also in terms of the type of companies and the local university many of the startups have ties to.
More than half of the ten startups participating in the winter program were founded or cofounded by women. It’s the same stat for startups with at least one founder of color.
That’s in large part thanks to DreamIt Access, the longstanding Comcast Ventures-funded program for entrepreneurs of color, and DreamIt Athena, the state-backed women entrepreneurship program that’s debuting this winter.
This class is also unique for a few other reasons, suggesting that seeking out founders that veer from the norm taps a different pool of startups. Here’s what we noticed:
- Lots of Temple U ties. It’s Penn startups that are the norm in DreamIt (this class’s Bungalow Insurance was founded by current Wharton MBA candidates), so it was surprising to see not one but three startups with Temple affiliations. Landlord review site Whose Your Landlord was founded by recent Temple grads who won the school’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl entrepreneurship contest, and both Yasmine Mustafa of Roar for Good and Bethany Edwards of LIA Diagnostics won at last year’s Innovative Idea Competition at Temple. We suspect this has something to do with local investor Ellen Weber joining Temple’s entrepreneurship team, though all she’d say on that topic was: “It is very exciting to see three companies that have come through Temple’s programs be accepted to DreamIt.”
- The nonprofit in their midst. LocoRobo, the low-cost edtech robot coming out of Drexel, is a nonprofit. We reached out to DreamIt and LocoRobo founder Pramod Abichandani about why this was the right move for both parties.
- The non-software companies. Software rules the world of DreamIt, though there is some hardware from time to time (normally in DreamIt Health). But this class features two companies that identify as social impact businesses (Roar for Good, which is also a hardware company, and Ohneka Farms) and two companies focused on actual products (LIA Diagnostics is building a flushable pregnancy test and Ohneka Farms sells urban farming products).
Below, see the full list of companies, as provided by DreamIt Ventures.
Bungalow Insurance (Philadelphia): Building the first online independent renters insurance platform to better improve insurance experiences for Millennials. Founders: Zachary Stiefler, Thomas Austin
Captain Planner (Boston, Mass.; Athena and Access): Streamlines the process of trip planning by aggregating information on attractions, restaurants, and events along with reviews, and generating map-centric itineraries. Founder: Jennifer Wong
Commit Analytics (King of Prussia, Pa.): Optimizes human performance using machine learning algorithms to design data-driven solutions for athletes and health-conscious consumers. No website yet. Founders: Dan Dingman, Nico Gimenez, Dan Crescimanno
Forecastr (Detroit, Mich.; Athena and Access): Provides ready-made analytics and predictive recommendations specifically tailored for television executives available via the cloud. No website yet. Founders: Jessica McGlory, Ross Edwards
IglooHome (Singapore): Develops smart home technologies that offer Airbnb hosts a novel way to welcome guests that focuses on convenience, safety and cost savings. No website yet. Founders: Anthony Chow, Walter Wang Yue, Kelvin Ho, Sharon Goh
LIA Diagnostics (Philadelphia; Athena): Developing a flushable pregnancy test to help women address the challenges surrounding privacy, usability, and sustainability in current at-home diagnostics. Founders: Bethany Edwards, Frances DiMare, Sarah Rottenberg
LocoRobo (Philadelphia): A non-profit educational robotics company whose mission is to provide educational and scientific training using high quality robotics platforms to promote STEM education and workforce development. Founders: Pramod Abichandani, Kyle Levin, Zachary Haubach
Ohneka Farms (Mount Laurel, N.J.; Athena): A social enterprise focusing on urban farming products and services. They are developing ROOT, a smart countertop planter that enables users to grow organic edible plants in the comfort of their home with minimal maintenance. Founders: Brielle Pettinelli, Eric De Feo
Roar For Good (Philadelphia; Athena): A social impact company with the mission of reducing assaults against women through wearable technology, empowerment, and education. The initial product line combines fashionable, self-defense jewelry and mobile technology to reduce the incidences of assault against women. Founder: Yasmine Mustafa
Whose Your Landlord (Elliott City, Md.; Access): A website and mobile app enabling renters to rate their landlords and housing complexes and giving them the ability to find their next home. Founders: Ofo Ezeugwu, Felix Addison, Nik Korablin-30-