National accelerator program Techstars on Tuesday announced the two venture and investment pros who will lead its Equitech Accelerator, which will be based in Baltimore.
Monica Wheat was appointed as managing director of the program, and most recently served as executive director of Venture Catalysts, a Detroit-based entrepreneurial ecosystem development org. She previously served as managing director of Backstage Capital Detroit, the accelerator created by the firm of venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton to support women, people of color and LGBTQ founders. She also has history with Techstars since 2011, and was the cofounder of Techstars Detroit Startup Week.
Ramzy Ismail was named venture principal. Ismail previously led the launch of a $10 million media-focused fund and accelerator in the United Arab Emirates in 2015. He also launched Techstars Dubai in 2018 and led Techstars’ portfolio service efforts across Europe, the Middle East and Africa while based in Berlin.
Techstars is expanding to Baltimore this year through a partnership with UpSurge Baltimore, an organization seeking to propel Baltimore’s position as a startup city. It is doing so through the lens of Equitech, which prioritizes leadership by underrepresented founders, diverse teams and solutions that aim to address systemic societal challenges. Applications for the first cohort of the Techstars Equitech accelerator in Baltimore are open through July 28.
“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 of UpSurge Baltimore, in a statement. “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.”
Teams get together
The Tuesday announcement comes two weeks after UpSurge Baltimore held a kickoff for one of its other prime initiatives. On June 17, UpSurge brought together 170 tech and entrepreneurship community leaders to begin UpSurge Teams.
Through this initiative, the volunteers who raised their hand to get involved are forming 18 teams in areas of innovation where Baltimore has particular strengths or interest. Led by local experts in these areas, the teams will meet throughout the summer to work on priorities that can result in “quick wins” over the next nine months, as well as those that might take multiple years and “moonshot” efforts. The work will produce recommendations on “building capacity, creating pathways, pursuing policies, piloting new technologies and exploring creative strategies,” UpSurge said.
Find a full list of teams members and the areas where they are working here.-30-