With Inaugural Class, Techstars Equitech in Baltimore Challenges Other Cities to Reconsider How They Think About Tech

Launch of Techstars’ first-ever accelerator with an investment thesis in Equitech draws founders from five countries to Baltimore

BALTIMORE, Md.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Techstars Equitech Accelerator today announced its inaugural class of 12 early-stage companies that will spend the next 13 weeks in Baltimore building their businesses with the help of accelerator staff, mentors, and the wider Techstars network.

The new accelerator is a collaboration between Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and UpSurge Baltimore, an organization that aims to propel Baltimore into the top tier of U.S. innovation cities through its vision to become the country’s first Equitech city, one which recognizes diversity as a force multiplier and an engine for growth.

Founders in the inaugural class hail from Baltimore to Berlin, and were selected in a competitive process from hundreds of applicants.

Techstars and UpSurge Baltimore looked for companies led by founders from underestimated communities building tech solutions across industries; founders from any background who have established diversity as a core tenet, whether that’s reflected in their cap table, leadership team, or driving values; or founders from any background creating products that break down barriers and broaden opportunity.

“We’re excited to welcome these teams to Baltimore,“ said Monica Wheat, managing director of the Techstars Equitech Accelerator, a strategist, investor, and startup-ecosystem developer who Techstars hired in July to lead the program. “From the get go, we set out to work with founders with game-changing innovations who aspire to be the startup world’s next unicorns, who also believe that diversity is a key to outperformance — whether that’s diversity of race, gender, sexual orientation, or otherwise — and who embody our mission to redefine how innovation and company-building can be pursued through an Equitech focus.”

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core tenets of Techstars’ accelerator programs, but the Techstars Equitech Accelerator is its first accelerator with an explicit investment focus on promoting equity and belonging across tech startups and non-tech scaleups.

“We coined the term ‘Equitech’ to reflect what a truly inclusive tech city could look like, one which not only becomes the center of gravity in the country for inclusive tech, but also which builds on-ramps into the tech economy for Baltimoreans,” said Jamie McDonald, an entrepreneur, former investment banker and UpSurge Baltimore’s founding CEO. “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.”

Over the course of the next 13 weeks, the companies’ founding teams will have access to the extensive Techstars mentor network and other civic, company and academic resources across Baltimore as they refine their business models, craft their pitches, and network with other entrepreneurs and potential investors.

The program will culminate on February 24, 2022, with a Demo Day, where the founders will pitch their businesses to an audience of community members, mentors, and potential investors. The recruiting phase is still open for mentors and unique venture opportunities for the 12 companies.

The Techstars Equitech Accelerator’s inaugural 2021 class includes:


New York, New York

Aleria takes the guesswork out of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.



Detroit, Michigan

Athlytic is a marketplace that connects student athletes to endorsement opportunities.


EcoMap Technologies, Inc.

Baltimore, Maryland

EcoMap builds platforms that help people navigate ecosystems, from entrepreneurial communities to corporate networks and beyond.


EQL Finance, Inc.

Washington, D.C., and Berlin, Germany

EQL Finance provides small-dollar, interest-free lending payable up to 36 months for working families and individuals.



Baltimore, Maryland

Femly increases access to eco-friendly and sustainable personal care.


MindStand Technologies

Baltimore, Maryland

MindStand utilizes AI to detect workplace harassment and provide personalized insights on workplace inclusion. MindStand AI integrates with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and more to keep business leaders in tune with their culture and community.



Toronto, Ontario

Paperstack provides fractional CFO services for e-commerce sellers.


Sparen Homes

Detroit, Michigan

Sparen Homes provides a person-to-person real estate marketplace where people can buy and sell real estate themselves without a bank or an agent.



Brooklyn, New York

SportsHi is a network for students to connect with education and career opportunities.


SURU Together Ltd.

Dublin, Ireland

SURU Together has developed PSi, a scalable social audio platform that allows for better decision making within your community.


Upfront Online Inc.

New York, New York

Upfront is transforming child care data at scale so parents, providers, and government agencies can have a single source of truth for the very first time.


Zimbali Networks

Washington, D.C.

Zimbali Networks is revolutionizing the foundations of finance by building communities of buyers, sellers, and lenders, in one seamless, accessible, global platform.


About Techstars

The Techstars worldwide network helps entrepreneurs succeed. Founded in 2006, Techstars began with three simple ideas — entrepreneurs create a better future for everyone, collaboration drives innovation, and great ideas can come from anywhere. Now we are on a mission to enable every person on the planet to contribute to, and benefit from, the success of entrepreneurs. In addition to operating accelerator programs and venture capital funds, we do this by connecting startups, investors, corporations, and cities to help build thriving startup communities. Techstars has invested in more than 2,700 companies with a combined market cap of more than $206.9B. https://www.techstars.com/

About UpSurge

UpSurge Baltimore is building an engine to propel Baltimore into the top tier of US innovation cities. We don’t envision Baltimore as just the next great tech city, but as the world’s first Equitech City. Equitech is a force multiplier on a tech economy – where diversity is a competitive advantage. Its work centers on founders, tech-enabled and scale businesses, helping to launch, support, grow and celebrate high-impact startups. UpSurge is also developing strategies to attract new companies, talent and capital to Baltimore. Over time, not only will entrepreneurs and investors around the world look to Baltimore as a launching pad for transformational companies, but more Baltimoreans will see the knowledge economy as a pathway for their own upwardly mobile futures. https://upsurgebaltimore.com/


Whit Richardson

Techstars Equitech Accelerator

C: 207-415-5580


Jamie Fontaine

UpSurge Baltimore


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