Startups

Techstars named its first class of startups for its new DC-based accelerator

Twelve startups, primarily based in the DMV, are heading into three months of workshops, mentoring and funding, culminating in a demo day this December. Meet the Techstars Washington DC Powered by J.P. Morgan Accelerator's first dozen.

CarpeDM cofounders Naza Shelley (left) and Sali Hama.

(Courtesy photo)

Today, Techstars is hitting the ground running with a dozen area startups in its new Techstars Washington DC Powered by JP Morgan accelerator.

First announced back in March, the accelerator is part of a joint initiative between Techstars and JP Morgan that is offering $80 million in funds to more than 37 accelerators through 2025. This fall, it’s launching in five cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami and DC. The program is geared toward founders of color, particularly those in the health, education, finance, government and cybersecurity sectors.

In DC, this will take the form of a 13-week program featuring 12 startups that launches today. Through the program, founders will be assigned a local mentor and engage with others (such as Ayanna Smith and Marcus Bullock — familiar faces in the market). They will also participate in workshops, develop business models and receive funding. On Dec. 8, participants will take part in a demo day.

“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,” said Techstars Managing Director Keith Camhi in a statement. “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 programming, Techstars said, aims to use investment and community partnerships to help underrepresented founders overcome some of the barriers they disproportionately face. According to Techstars, 75% of the 12 DC companies have a CEO from an underrepresented background. In addition, over half are led by women CEOs while a third of the company leaders are graduates of historically Black colleges and universities. Two-thirds of the accepted companies are also headquartered in the DMV.

Meet the 12 DC companies making up the inaugural class:

  • ALIVE Podcast Network: The network curates content from Black podcasters.
  • Beepboop: A language-learning platform for employers looking for new worker perks.
  • CarpeDM Dating: A dating app and matchmaking service for Black women and those seeking to date them.
  • Cerebro NeuroTech: The startup created a rapid detection software for sports-related concussions.
  • Clymb: The Baltimore, Maryland startup offers interactive emotional wellness software designed for youth.
  • EQLAB: A career counseling and reskilling platform based in virtual reality.
  • K’ept Health: The company provides dermatology services with the help of AI.
  • Navina: A low-alcohol wine company whose products are made from herbs and botanicals.
  • Poly Platform: Designed for both residents and city officials, Poly Platform is a civic engagement platform
  • Right Hear: The Rockville, Maryland startup created an audible wayfinding system.
  • University Startups: An edtech SaaS platform that helps underserved students apply for colleges and jobs.
  • Wellthi: A banking app featuring social networking and group investment options.

“As a six-month-old media and entertainment tech startup, the ALIVE Podcast team is elated to be a part of the first Techstars Washington DC class,” said ALIVE founder Angel Livas. “The validation that accompanies being a Techstars Portfolio company is both humbling and an honor.”

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Learn more about the inaugural DC class -30-
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