Accelerators / Baltimore / Women in tech

Meet the Techstars Equitech Accelerator 2024 cohort

UpSurge Baltimore welcomed 10 startups to the program that prioritizes founders from underestimated communities.

Maddy Stokes (in brown sweater) speaks at an Equitech Tuesday for the 2024 Equitech Accelerator cohort. (Courtesy UpSurge Baltimore/Ian Harpool)
A renowned equity-driven accelerator program just welcomed its third cohort to Baltimore.

UpSurge Baltimore hosted the founders of 10 startups in the latest Techstars Equitech Accelerator at Guilford Hall Brewery for one of its Equitech Tuesday events.

The accelerator, which prioritizes founders from underestimated communities, is collaboration between the local ecosystem builder and global pre-seed investor Techstars. Its objective is to create a continuum of support for startup advancement, ultimately unlocking Baltimore’s economic potential, according to UpSurge COO Maddy Stokes.

“The partnership for us with TechStars has been an instrumental first building block for establishing Baltimore’s national presence as a tech city and as a destination for launching tech companies,” Stokes told

She talked up the area’s regional assets, including a wealth of intellectual capital driving innovation from institutions like Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, UMBC and HBCUs, as well as from the city’s diverse neighborhoods.

A group of individuals posing for a photo at an UpSurge Baltimore event.

The Techstars Equitech Accelerator’s 2024 cohort. (Courtesy UpSurge Baltimore/Ian Harpool)

That strength really shined during the EDA Tech Hubs process, Stokes said, referring to the 38-member coalition that obtained the designation and is applying for a portion of $10 billion in federal funding led by the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC).

“The EDA Tech Hubs process brought together over 18 entrepreneur support organizations, fostering a rich ecosystem for startup growth through education, mentorship, and networking,” she said

Many of the startups in the 2024 Techstars Equitech Accelerator cohort are all about using tech to make society more accessible and fair, Stokes said. They hail from cities all over the US, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, DC, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Christiansburg, Virginia.

Two of them — Reelist and Goby Homes — have been described as graduates of the Techstars Founder Catalyst Program, a pre-accelerator sponsored by Stanley Black & Decker.

Side note: If you’re a fan of Equitech Tuesdays, there’s now a landing page where you can see what’s in store for upcoming gatherings.

Three people in posed photograph with black, navy, grey and brown clothes before black, red and white background.

Terrence Nickelson of Goby Homes (center) with Jerome Nicolai and Audra Gibson of Techstars. (Courtesy UpSurge Baltimore/Ian Harpool)

Also from UpSurge: Scaling Deep

In addition to the Techstars Equitech Accelerator, UpSurge is aiming to retain founders in Baltimore by supporting them holistically.

Through a new initiative called Scaling Deep, UpSurge is providing support not only on a professional level but also emotionally and socially. The 7-month leadership program is for women, nonbinary and gender-expansive leaders in Baltimore’s tech and startup ecosystem.

“The idea around this, the kind of very naturally convening and coming together of women in the Baltimore tech ecosystem, started because of the tragic murder of our friend and entrepreneur Pava LaPere,” Stokes told “Women coming to me and saying, ‘I feel scared. I feel frustrated. I’m mad that I feel scared. How am I supposed to take care of my employees? How am I supposed to keep going in this business?’”

Folks at those intersections are encouraged to register by March 22.

Register for Scaling Deep

Techstars Equitech Accelerator 2024 cohort

Cloudnine AI (Los Angeles, California)

Cloudnine AI offers AI-powered software that unifies and instantly analyzes disparate data while securing sensitive information, aiming to automate data management tasks created by data silos.

Acrylic (Los Angeles, California)

Acrylic is a marketplace providing ARTIST-branded music for digital content creators, democratizing sync licensing for artists and content creators.

Secured Health (Baltimore, Maryland)

Secured Health provides a platform streamlining Medicaid/Medicare recipients to receive food as medicine benefits, aiming to lower healthcare costs by addressing food insecurity.

ReviewTailor (Atlanta, Georgia)

ReviewTailor offers an automated performance management tool to streamline performance reviews, saving time and promoting equitable reviews for organizations burdened by biased processes.

Goby Homes, Inc. (Washington DC)

Goby Homes is a collaboration platform for real estate agents, enhancing communication and transparency in the home-buying process.

Plainr (San Francisco, California)

Plainr is an intelligence generation platform accelerating decision-making for PE teams and their portfolio companies.

AKALA (Los Angeles, California)

AKALA provides a platform for college admissions counseling, aiming to level the playing field in access to expert admissions guidance for high schools without dedicated counselors and those in the bottom 90% of the economic spectrum.

Brightlines (Washington DC)

Brightlines offers AI-powered solutions to safeguard employee personal data, aiming to prevent data breaches and ensure employee satisfaction and productivity.

Drivingo (Christiansburg, Virginia)

Drivingo offers an innovative solution for drive-thru systems, allowing non-verbal ordering through an automated process.

8Ai (Los Angeles, California)

8Ai provides an AI-powered workspace and network designed specifically for solopreneurs.

This article has been updated to include Plainr in the cohort list. The company was inadvertently left out of some databases, Techstars confirmed.
Companies: UpSurge Baltimore / Techstars

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