Startups

From LA to Baltimore, meet the 10 companies in the latest Techstars Equitech Accelerator

Startups in the second-ever class, about half of which are already rooted in Baltimore, will wrap the 13-week program for founders from underrepresented communities with an April demo day.

(L to R) Paperstack CTO Vadim Lidich and CEO Assel Beglinova speak during the 2022 Techstars Equitech Accelerator Demo Day in Baltimore.

(Courtesy of Techstars)

Companies developing tech and innovation to tackle issues as varied as vision impairment, mental health services access, insect-borne agricultural loss and hair care are among the 10 that UpSurge Baltimore and Techstars today announced as the latest participants in the Techstars Equitech Accelerator.

Launched with an inaugural cohort that was announced in late 2021, the accelerator takes its name from the “equitech” concept — one that envisions Baltimore as a model for other cities to pursue equitable and inclusive development of their tech scenes — embedded in all of UpSurge Baltimore’s work from its start. The accelerator’s second cohort includes a variety of founders that an announcement described as either “from underestimated communities” or otherwise making overcoming systemic divides a core part of their operations or products.

“We partnered with Techstars to bring its well-regarded accelerator model to Baltimore and help amplify the work we’re doing here, raise the city’s profile as a top-tier innovation hub and elevate the Equitech movement to create a new future through tech innovation,” UpSurge Baltimore CEO Jamie McDonald said in the announcement.

This year’s companies were selected from hundreds of applicants and selected at a rate of under 3%, according to the press release. Half of the cohort is rooted in the Baltimore region and includes the following companies:

  • CyDeploy, a cybersecurity company whose AI-driven testing system landed it on our 2022 RealLIST Startups roster
  • Divaneering Lab, which created the Spundle, a blow dryer for wigs and similar detached hair pieces that is designed to reduce the time and heat damage associated with other hand dryers
  • THE MOST, a developer of multipurpose hairstyling tools and products aimed at Black women and other women of color who want to embrace their natural hair (psst, see founder Dawn Myers in this DC mural)
  • VecTech, a biomedical tech company behind diagnostic tools for fighting vector-borne diseases whose CTO Adam Goodwin was one of our 2022 RealLIST Engineers
  • ReBokeh, a life sciences tech startup that developed special smartphone video filters for people with visual impairment; the company’s staff recently exhibited and participated in a pitch competition at the CES trade show

Here are the remaining companies, from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, that were accepted into this year’s cohort:

  • BlackHedge (Jacksonville, Florida), a fintech developer whose platform uses AI to help retail investors predict stock market trends and better manage their investment portfolios
  • Frontline Gig (Norfolk, Virginia), a gig work-facilitating app to help source workers for clean-up operations and other “green jobs,” according to the company’s website
  • Pickups Technologies (Brooklyn, New York), a company that partners with retailers and carriers to facilitate hyperlocal supply chains by letting willing neighbors with storage space hold on to people’s packages
  • Sanitas (Los Angeles, California), a platform to help people of color find and build support communities for mental health concerns
  • TechRow (New York, New York), a media company that provides immersive, VR-driven learning experiences to schools and other educational institutions

Similar to last year, the latest cohort will undertake a 13-week program with educational components, mentorship and networking opportunities that culminate in a demo day on April 6. Last year’s group included regional standouts EcoMap Technologies, which closed a $3.5 million seed round last spring, and Femly, which won Tech Company of the Year during last year’s Technical.ly Awards.

People in black hoodies pose before black wall reading "UPSURGE BALTIMORE" and "techstars" in white

Members of the second Techstars Equitech Accelerator cohort. (Courtesy photo)

People: Dawn Myers
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