A new accelerator program that prioritizes Washington state entrepreneurs from underserved and historically marginalized communities has selected its first cohort of 10 tech startups and founders.
Find Ventures and the Washington State Department of Commerce first announced plans for the Equitable Innovations Accelerator last fall. The startups will receive up to $100,000 in philanthropically funded grants, programming and access to mentorship.
On Thursday, Find Ventures announced the names of the participating companies and the diverse breakdown of the founders in the cohort from throughout Washington state: 20% of founders identify as LGBTQ; 45% are based outside of Seattle; 60% are women; 60% are first-time founders; and 70% identify as Black, Middle Eastern, Asian and/or LatinX.
“The success of these first founders is key to dismantling the barriers faced by founders in the Washington tech scene, will support the continued ability of Find Ventures to repeat this program, and will create a new wealth system for the communities of these founders,” Elizabeth Scallon, co-founder and board chair of Find Ventures, said in a news release.
Scallon, previously head of WeWork Labs for Northern California and the Pacific Northwest who is now working at Amazon, founded Find Ventures in 2020 with Justin Brotman, son of Costco co-founder Jeffrey Brotman. The fund provides “non-dilutive” awards that do not require startups to give up equity or ownership. Founders are encouraged to sign a non-binding pledge that they will in turn support the fund when they reach sustainable revenue or Series B financing.
The accelerator is part of the Commerce department’s focus and investment in an equitable economic recovery, and is a Safe Start project, supported in part by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Here are the 10 companies participating in the cohort, as described in the Find Ventures news release:
- Bio Fiber Industries creates products that reduce carbon impact while improving energy efficiency for homes, humans and the environment at large.
- Cirkled In is a young professionals’ network platform for Gen-Z youth to showcase their achievements, academics and beyond and connecting them with the best-fit colleges and employers. Cirkled In has created a category defining students’ Information Highway connecting recruiters both at colleges and employers to best-fit candidates, reducing their cost of recruitment and creating win-win.
- Clearbrief leverages AI to help attorneys and judges find and view the best evidence to support their arguments.
- Coltrain is innovating healthcare through a free, simple and secure mobile communication platform focused on team-based collaboration for healthcare professionals anywhere, anytime. Growth is peer to peer, connecting and harnessing the latest digital resources at the point of care.
- GoldenSHERPA Senior living communities and people looking for availability in senior living find it frustrating and difficult to connect; GoldenSHERPA makes it simple.
- Intentionalist makes it easy to explore and support small businesses and the diverse people behind them through everyday decisions about where we eat, drink, and shop.
- Litesprite, an award winning digital health entertainment firm, has built a therapeutic gaming platform that delivers data insights and improves clinical outcomes. It built the first clinically-validated mental health mobile game with several reimbursement pathways and is the only one recommended by clinics and municipalities nationwide.
- Niftmint provides NFT Commerce Infrastructure for brands to mint, sell, and custody NFTs directly on their existing e-commerce platform for themselves and their customers.
- Spritz is an all-in-one SaaS platform for home cleaners. The business-in-a-box leverages technology and third parties to simplify operations and offload back-office, logistics, and admin tasks.
- WhyLabs is on a mission to build an interface between AI applications and human operators. The WhyLabs AI Observability platform helps prevent AI failures and enables AI builders to make their systems robust and responsible.
Applicants were reviewed and selected by an accelerator advisory committee and Department of Commerce staff who considered, among others, four qualifications: Business founders from potential venture-scale tech startups with diverse executive leadership; companies with a minimum viable product or a product representing tech transfers from Washington-based research institutions; companies under $1 million in annual revenue; and companies headquartered in Washington.
The Equitable Innovations Accelerator starts this month and will run through 2022.