The Plug is a digital news and insights platform covering the Black innovation economy. We provide actionable news, insights, and business intelligence on Black tech ecosystems and trends shaping the world. Investors, C-suite managers, government agencies, researchers and journalists, use The Plug to make data-driven decisions that make for a more inclusive business environment.
Upsie is confronting the $48-billion extended warranty industry by challenging marketplace conventions and empowering consumers with information, access and convenience. The industry’s checkered reputation has included high prices (markups as much as 500 percent), a “hard sell” from cashiers & sales personnel, along with murky terms and conditions. Upsie’s website and mobile app provide users with dependable, transparent coverage and pricing options that can be easily navigated through our user friendly interface. New warranties can be purchased directly through the web and/or mobile interface, while coverage information and receipts are stored for easier management and tracking on existing warranties.
LOOP was founded with the belief that insurance should work for everyone. Insurance today is expensive, because it’s priced on things that have almost nothing to do with how you drive. Things like credit score, income, and education make up most of your price. That didn’t make sense to us, and it’s unfair for a lot of people – so we created LOOP. Mission-driven car insurance, powered by AI and driven by good. We use our proprietary technology to measure only what matters when you’re on the road, so you can have insurance that’s honest, transparent, and fairly priced.
“With the information gap growing within the Black community and so much content existing for consumers to choose from, curation has become a present day super power that has not become unlocked at the masses. Seventh Ave believes by facilitating curation of the Black digital experience they can build and empower their community to learn, share, and grow in ways that have never been done before.
The Black community is the spark of most digital trends. However these same digital creators are infrequently compensated, recognized, or protected for their work. Seventh Ave believes that if a platform is built with and for the Black community, they can take back the power of their digital experience creating a safe space for gathering.
With the reality that their audience spends more time online than offline than ever before, they see the value in creating a tool where users can discover and share ideas and information that ripples a level up. On their platform they are focused on content sharing focused on knowledge and inspiration. They want to focus on what’s in the minds and the hearts of their users (rather than external experiences). Seventh Ave’s ability to help users discover & curate, brings intentionality practices to digital consumption.
The team is boldly setting out to connect the 1.2B Black diaspora, digitally. They offer a host of features and experiences to take discovery to the next level, with helping their users connect on interests and values that lie below the surface and can facilitate meaningful interactions. They are strong believers that proximity brings empathy, which is why it is their mission to spotlight and promote access to intersectional and nuanced narratives deeping our ability to relate across the community. They want to create a home for their community where everyone feels seen and heard. “
Our mission is to inspire compassion and learning, catalyzed by great literature. You will learn more through books in your lifetime than from any other source, but there is no single platform for readers to engage with each other and authors. BookClub aims to solve that need. We deliver this through reader-to-reader communities, an extensive library of dynamic content, live events and cinematic-quality videos.
For people of color who seek generational wealth, Freeman Capital is an investment app that provides a hyper-personalized wealth journey and is fanatical about simplifying comprehensive wealth management into a monthly subscription service. At Freeman Capital, users change their future with unbiased, judgement-free guidance from a Certified Financial Planner that will help them on their paths to building real wealth for generations to come. Freeman Capital is closing the wealth gap by providing financial planning, wealth management and education to the most overlooked.
Dollaride provides digital infrastructure to the world of informal transit. The company is on a mission to make public transit accessible to anyone, anywhere, starting with those who live in transit deserts.
The Dollaride product connects people living in transit deserts to informal transit networks called “dollar vans.” In NYC, this network includes 500+ drivers serving 120K daily passengers primarily in the outer-boroughs. Through Dollaride’s mobile apps, drivers are able to grow their businesses by expanding their territory, accepting credit card payments, and serving more passengers on new routes.
Additionally, Dollaride collects real-time data on informal transit networks, which enables reporting on ridership, vehicle miles traveled, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Dollaride envisions a world where people who live in transit deserts shift from relying on private vehicles to using mass transit.
CloudNine is leveraging AI to unify siloed enterprises. Enabling interoperability between these silos featuring AI while operating big data rich environments. With AI you will answer questions you have never thought to ask before.
The Grand’s mission is to make the world a less lonely place. A world where we give ourselves permission to be vulnerable and honest about our challenges and struggles. A world where we value human experience, we practice empathetic listening, we trust each other, and we learn with the community.
One way to make the world feel less lonely is to connect people who are navigating similar transitions and equip them with the language, tools, and people needed to successfully navigate the transition. The Grand has developed a learning and development platform that’s a much-needed alternative to skill-based training and 1:1 coaching. Rather than simply build skills, The Grand provides group coaching and a community to support employees through transitions. Our skilled facilitators provide a safe space for each group member to gain the clarity, confidence, and tools needed to navigate the transition.
Employers who want to increase engagement and retention within their company can offer empathetic support through a membership to The Grand. Any employee — regardless of level or location — who is navigating critical transitions is welcomed into the community.
When women leave the workforce to care for their families in the home, they also care for our communities: they uphold our schools, churches, non-profit organizations, and they keep our communities running.
But instead of recognizing all that incredible work, we make it difficult for women to regain traditional employment if and when they are ready. We also take for granted the immense skills they’ve developed inside the home.
At West Tenth, we see the talents of the women around us. West Tenth is helping women turn their home-grown skills into home-based businesses and putting money into their pocketbooks at the same time.
From home bakers to family photographers, florists, decorators, party planners, and more; West Tenth makes it easy for you to discover and work with the home-based business in your own backyard.
Infinite Objects has defined a new product category for how we monetize and collect digital content with their Video Print product line. Permanent, immutable displays as design objects for entertainment, art, and personal content. Infinite Objects’ Video Prints are also the most exciting way for NFT collectors to show off their favorite moving collectibles in an authenticated and elegant form.
Founded in 2019, Planet FWD is on a mission to tackle climate change by making it easier to bring climate-friendly food products to the market. The company has built one of the world’s first climate-friendly snack brands — Moonshot — which sources sustainably and regeneratively grown ingredients to reduce carbon emissions in the food system and promote carbon-capturing farming practices. Planet FWD is also creating a regenerative food platform, connecting brands and consumers who are hungry for climate-friendly ingredients to farmers and suppliers who are using regenerative practices. To learn more, visit www.planetfwd.com.
Launched in 2019, we create kids media and original IP across verticals including publishing, podcasting, mobile apps and video, focusing on the most important topics kids will encounter.
Audios is changing the events industry in a big way!
They are producing the industry’s very first totally cable-free solution for professional loudspeakers (DJ speaker). This speaker is independent of needing a WiFi router or Bluetooth connection. The Audios speaker builds its own wireless network and connects up to 16 speakers at a range of 100 feet. This significantly reduces set up/tear down time, saving significant time and money. Thus obliterating any location limitation obstacles.
In addition to Backstage Capital, other notable Investors include: Charles Huang, Co-Creator of Guitar Hero, Andy Rachleff, Co-Founder of Benchmark & CEO Wealthfront.
Audios has a rental and sales model that will maximize profits, minimize inventory and minimize manufacturing costs. They have two patents granted, one patent pending, and three patents awaiting submission. Professional loudspeakers are only the beginning, with the patents granted, sky is the limit for Audios.
Bitwise Industries is a tech ecosystem that activates human potential in underdog cities. The Bitwise ecosystem is made of three parts: (1) workforce, (2) industry, and (3) infrastructure. We teach people to code while building on-ramps for those traditionally left out of the technology industry. We create companies to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges and in each Bitwise venue, those companies sit alongside other amazing tech businesses, building a diverse technology industry. We create world-class tech venues and lease state-of-the-art spaces, developing the infrastructure for talent and opportunity to connect and thrive. Since 2013, we’ve taught thousands of people to code, proved it’s possible to build impactful tech companies in unexpected places with a diverse and nontraditional workforce, and leased hundreds of thousands of square feet of long-forgotten space in downtown buildings.
Patientory democratizes individual ownership of the world’s health data and provides incentives to improve health outcomes through its two decentralized applications -Neith an enterprise software tool, and the Patientory mobile app. This is achieved by integrating a blockchain enabled platform to gather siloed healthcare data for analytics reporting to reduce the overall cost of care through early intervention. Patientory is one of the first movers using Blockchain technology in the Health IT market (out of both corporations and startups), and provides a solution for both patients and healthcare stakeholders.
“AfroSpace is a tech-enabled, brick+mortar startup cultivating healthier minds & healthier hair through communal wellness, curated personalized products and dedicated space for self-care.
We strive to be a protective gathering space that supports black women & people with afros investing time into self-care routines that make life a little easier.
These routines can be time-consuming and a whole lotta work, so it’s only right to have a well-designed space to help you enjoy the fruits of your labor, together.”
“Think of the event venue whether live or virtual as your outfit and Mixtroz as the Spanx to give it structure and shape,” Ashlee Ammons, Cofounder, Mixtroz
Mixtroz is a software used to increase peer-to-peer engagement & collect useful data where 50 or more gather live or virtually.
Mixtroz is a technology coupling human centric software design and real-time surveying to increasing engagement and collect useful data. Users download/launch the native or web app, complete a virtual name tag and survey customized by the event organizer. At a predetermined time, the app simultaneously matches attendees with 2-9 others with similar (or not, depending how the organizer sets the algorithm) responses and guides them to those persons for a curated group networking experience in real time. As the attendees mix, the event organizer learns. The collected data is immediately visualized both in aggregate and individualized as well as available for download.
ONE / OFF is an innovative digital platform whose mission is to support Black artists and cultural institutions as they transition into the blockchain space via Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). NFTs transform how creators retain ownership of and monetize their content offering a more compelling value proposition by removing rent-seeking intermediaries. Black Arts + Cultural Institutions lack the awareness and support necessary to successfully take advantage of the unique opportunity NFTs present to utilize creativity and community to capture value. ONE / OFF is dedicated to developing an ecosystem for Black Arts + Culture on the blockchain to encourage learning, and facilitate the production, appreciation, and monetization of premium NFT Art for artists, collectors, and investors. Our vision is to empower the global Black community to imagine their creative production supported by technology that enables them to retain ownership and creative control of their digital assets.
Yac is asynchronous voice messaging for eliminating meetings.
The tool provides remote teams with a voice communication platform to connect instantly with each other whether or not they respond in real-time.
Users can send a message and attach a photo, video, or screen recording with annotations and their voices on top of it. This helps people working from home feel more connected to their team without the interruptions or distractions of traditional messenger platforms.
Yac helps people across the world cut down on the hassle of having unnecessary meetings.
“Sēkr’s mission is to make the outdoors more accessible to more people. We have built a social plus platform that connects travelers to the campsites, amenities and outdoor events they are seeking. Our vision is to become synonymous with camping, road trips and outdoor adventures.
Sēkr believes the pursuit IS happiness. Book a campsite, learn from member reviews, and attend outdoor events. Discover everything you need to know before you go camping.
We are a POC-, LGBTQ- & women-founded company. “
Equalizer Games is an e-learning platform that helps student-athletes better understand their sports position through fun and cognitive gaming via remote learning solutions while offering added virtual practice repetitions and coaching to improve their preparation.
This platform gives the player the answers to the questions that later allow the player the ability to be smarter, faster, and safer on the field because of the virtual reps they took before they stepped on the field. This winning solution is a game-changer for coaches that struggle to find the additional time at school to coach their players.
Edifius offers innovative businesses with an intelligent machine learning voicebot for customer interactions. Our technology can automate the end-to-end customer workflow for small to med-sized businesses. Edifius aims to maximize workflow automation, reduce operational costs, and equip businesses with advanced technology to help them provide superior customer service and each step of the customer journey.
Shop Latinx is a curated marketplace of beauty, fashion, and lifestyle products for Gen Z and millennial Latinas. Founded as a beloved Instagram in 2016, Shop Latinx prides itself on now being the leading e-commerce destination for Latinx in the U.S.
No more compromising style for ethics: Ava Carrington makes handbags you can both look stellar in, and be proud to carry.
Swedish sisters, actresses, and entrepreneurs, Sofia Mattsson and Helena Mattsson founded Ava Carrington with the desire to bring positive change to the luxury handbag industry. They designed the iconic Stockholm Collection to fill the gap on the market of handbags that aligned with their beliefs on ethics & sustainability in addition to being aesthetically well-designed and branded.
Founded in 2020, Be-Great’s mission is to showcase unique stories and career paths – exposing audiences to increasingly diverse set of options. Step into the music industry with Cortez Bryant, laugh and learn with Tiffany Haddish, brush up on the Beauty industry with Sir John, improve your styling techniques with Law Roach and more. Courses focus on industries and everyday professionals covering business, entertainment, arts, sciences, design, lifestyle, community, government, writing and music.
The purpose of The Takeoff Collection is to create a seamless travel experience on the journey that doesn’t compromise the joy of getting to the destination. Our travel products are not just tangible goods, they translate into long-lasting memories, forge bonds through connecting communities, and champion spending time together with our loved ones and families.
Our debut duffle is a 3-in-1 patent-pending bag called, The Expat Bag. 1/3 of the bag is insulated like a lunchbox and 2/3 of the bag detaches as their own individual backpacks.
“Hello Alice (helloalice.com) is a free, multichannel platform that helps businesses launch and grow. With a community of nearly 500,000 business
owners in all 50 states and across the globe, Hello Alice is building the largest network of owners in the country while tracking data and trends to
increase the success rate for entrepreneurs. Our partners include enterprise business services, government agencies, and institutions looking to serve
small and medium business owners to ensure increased revenues and promote scale. A Latina-owned company founded by Carolyn Rodz and
Elizabeth Gore, we believe in business for all by providing access to all owners, including women, people of color, military-connected individuals,
the LGBTQ+ community, persons with disabilities, and every American with an entrepreneurial spirit.”
For organizations that have prioritized AI projects to create business value, Fairly is an AI compliance management software solution that runs independent enterprise-scale, governance, risk, and control protocols. Designed and approved by data scientists, model validators and internal auditors, Fairly integrates with existing risk management processes by incorporating growing AI risk protocols into day-to-day engineering.
Pandia Health makes women’s lives easier by providing easy access to reliable, convenient, and confidential health care via telemedicine and medication delivery, starting with birth control.
Pandia is the end-to-end solution for expert, evidence-based women’s health care; providing a telemedicine visit if a woman needs a prescription and “peace of mind” via free delivery with automatic refills.
As the only women founded, women-led, Doctor-led birth control company, Pandia Health is building the brand women trust with their health. We start with birth control and will grow as our patients grow – from birth control, to acne, to babies, to menopause.
Nickson is pioneering ‘furniture-as-a-service’ and reimagining apartment living through its all-inclusive living subscriptions. By taking a simple style quiz and sharing apartment layout details, Nickson curates and installs all furnishings and décor its users need to transform an apartment into a custom-designed home — all for a flat monthly fee.
The future of eCommerce is inclusive, dynamic, and interactive! Reflekt Me is a catalyst for change in terms of representation, diversity and inclusion within eCommerce. The venture is an enterprise solution that enables eCommerce companies to be representative of all their potential customers. Reflekt Me’s tool allows sites to match the characteristics of the shopper (size, skin tone, hair texture, etc.) in the images they show via user and influencer generated content.
Customers will love seeing someone who actually looks like them using and discussing your products. Not only that – shoppers are able to share this content, read tips, and watch videos about your products – within a dynamic experience on your ecommerce site. With Reflekt Me, the entire social media value chain is on your site, for a frictionless path to purchase.
With a team of Ph.D. level sociologists, multicultural insights specialists, psychologists, and technologists, they have created an enterprise solution for ecommerce, that empowers shoppers to find the best products for their unique characteristics.
Their insights driven technology can personalize the UX experience for eCommerce sites across fashion, hair care, skin care, beauty, and medical industries. Engage your customers, empower your tribe, create community, answer the call to action – Reflekt Me.
When Consumers seek actionable advice, they struggle with cutting through the clutter. And, experts struggle to reach more people and get paid for giving valuable insight.
Prox monetizes the process of sharing knowledge, connecting consumers with proven Experts in 1:1s, group sessions, and virtual events. The platform streamlines tools, collects consumer data and questions to help experts find ideal customers and create repeat business.
Prox is transforming the knowledge economy, creating equal access to expertise, insight, and community.
AMP Beauty LA is a tech-forward, online retailer, carrying a curated edit of beauty products that meet the needs of Black women and other consumers of color. We’re building a platform that merges e-commerce, data, and smart beauty technology to elevate the beauty shopping experience and help our customers discover beauty products made with their specific needs in mind—a demographic that remains underserved by retailers, despite its billion-dollar spending power. Our mission is to simplify the beauty shopping experience for all shades and hair textures, eliminate the archaic process of shopping for products, emerge as the premier beauty destination for women of color, and support a new generation of beauty entrepreneurs by dedicating a majority of our digital shelf space to Black- and minority-owned brands.
Our founding team comprises three HBCU alum, and members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, who met over a decade ago at Clark Atlanta University. We carry a combined 10 years of expertise across digital, editorial, luxury beauty retail, legal, and tech, and a single desire to redefine beauty culture.
Edlyft is a paid support platform and program helping college students and adult learners through their toughest STEM courses, starting with computer science, by connecting them to inclusive mentorship, online group tutoring, and personalized study tools. Every student who joins gets access to up to 6 hours of support each week in the form of live or recorded sessions, Q&A and personalized study tools.
Erika and Arnelle started Edlyft because studying computer science changed their lives. With Edlyft, they are packaging the resources they gathered for themselves so that anyone in the world, regardless of background, can learn skills that’ll prepare them for in-demand careers.
Edlyft has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, TechCrunch and EdSurge.
“Hunger is not an issue of scarcity; it’s a matter of logistics,” Jasmine Crowe, CEO + Founder of Goodr.
Goodr provides a secure ledger that tracks an organization’s surplus food from pickup to donation, delivering real-time social and environmental impact reporting analytics. The Goodr model aims to provide a triple-win solution by improving an organization’s bottom line through charitable tax donations, reducing its greenhouse emissions from landﬁlls and getting its edible surplus food to local communities in need.
Every year in the United States, we waste over 72 billion pounds of edible food, yet 42 million people are suﬀering from food insecurity. At the same time, over $40 billion in tax benefits for businesses goes unclaimed annually. Goodr believes the solution is simple: Feed more, waste less.
“Candidly is founded on the belief that all families should have access to quality photography for meaningful life events. We believe that time is fleeting and you should put your phone down and focus your attention on the people that matter.
We leverage AI tech to handle the most time-consuming and costly component of photography making it possible to get your photos at an affordable rate and fast! Within hours!”
Guava is a neo-bank on a mission to close the racial wealth gap by facilitating the growth and resilience of Black small businesses with financial products designed to meet their needs.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and larger society however, Black small businesses have been systematically disadvantaged.
We center and celebrate these businesses and their owners.
Modern Picnic is a direct-to-consumer brand that offers high-end, vegan leather, insulated lunch bags for women. They have created multi-purpose products that have become not just an accessory in women’s closets, but an essential. The company was formed out of a personal need after their founder, Ali Kaminetsky, was bringing her lunch to work every day and realized she did not have a chic, functional or sustainable way to do so. It was clear that the outdated lunchbox needed a makeover, and so they gave it one. Since their launch in 2018, they have been featured in publications such as Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Forbes, The Today Show, The New York Times, and more.
Spora Health is on a mission to redefine healthcare for the future. An omnichannel primary care provider for people of color, Spora Health provides a full-service healthcare experience, including 24/7 access, a holistic health approach, effortless assessments, and a tailor-made approach.
Spora is powered by the philosophy of “culture-centered care,” which are healthcare conversations catered to people of color that are informed by knowledge, data and cultural norms and practices. Spora’s community hub is a safe space to discuss various health issues.
Topknot equips women with the skills to make meaningful change. Women come to Topknot to work on what’s important in their lives, like establishing confidence, aligning actions and values, or sticking to a new regimen. Topknot utilizes a unique blend of independent exercises and peer groups to teach skills rooted in coaching and mindfulness and create space for processing, perspective, and accountability. Growth is a journey, so lessons deepen and groups evolve to keep women engaged and moving forward.
SoLo is a mobile lending marketplace created to provide more equitable access to loans under $500. SoLo is solving the needs of the 78% of Americans that live paycheck to paycheck and the 41% of Americans that cannot solve a $400 emergency cash need without borrowing from someone or selling a personal asset. Lenders can make returns on their lent dollar amounts. Borrowers can solve their short-term cash needs with convenience and dignity. SoLo is proving the power of financial collaboration.
Kiira Health is a tele-health platform for collegiate women focused on addressing women’s health inequities. Kiira aims to revolutionize women’s health starting with young women in colleges and universities. Kiira’s AI-driven platform is staffed by health care providers who understand the gendered and racial nuances of health care, providing an empathetic and trustworthy voice in a field where Black women have been dismissed.
Many Latinx consumers lack confidence and knowledge regarding money matters. Relative to the general population, younger Latinos spend too freely and believe they don’t know how to manage their money. They bank with larger or regional financial institutions but have nowhere to turn to for financial guidance. Latinx people do their best to solve this problem by piecing together personal finance strategies from friends and family – but their financial management needs are dramatically underserved.
The focus areas Latinos need the most help with include budgeting, savings strategies but primarily investing. Suma Wealth is a financial inclusion platform that provides “in-culture” financial education and a unique digital savings experience that leverages virtual sub-accounts to help Latino customers take steps toward building generational wealth.
Maven empowers the world’s experts to offer cohort-based courses directly to their audience. Removing the limitations of geography means that anyone in the world can access the best instructors while learning through hands-on, interactive projects. At Maven, we believe community is the cornerstone of learning online—going through a course alongside a group of peers is the best way to achieve transformation.
Sote’s mission is to grow the GDP of Africa by facilitating growth of trade. Sote aims to provide a combination of SaaS solutions, finance underwriting models, and software driven supply chain services across the continent.
The first to market with a licensed digital customs clearing and forwarding solution, Sote is introducing visibility and transparency to industrial importers and exporters in Africa.
“Sote” is Swahili for “all of us.”
Couplet is a D2C CPG brand centered around coffee culture with a mission to make specialty coffee accessible to everyone in a non-douchey way. We collaborate with marginalized artists to co-create limited edition products that sell out within hours. We make coffee equipment and content surrounding it that demystifies making coffee at home, making everyone a home barista. We celebrate the queer community at-large and local creatives with a monthly event series called the Couplet Art Show and Poetry Night – and we’re just getting started.
The Juggernaut is a New York-based subscription media company and community for the South Asian diaspora and the South Asia-curious.
The Juggernaut started with a focus on the South Asian American market. South Asian Americans have nearly $500b of spending power, are the fastest growing demographic in America, and are increasingly important to U.S. politics — yet, they are vastly underserved by newsrooms, which do not reflect the diversity of the U.S., and businesses in general. Mainstream news often reduces reporting on South Asia and its people to tropes. Meanwhile, press freedom rankings in South Asian countries are plummeting, making it increasingly harder to get reliable, nuanced news from the subcontinent.
The Juggernaut is changing the face of reporting by working with freelancers from the U.S. and around the world, over 90% of whom identify as people of color. Connecting a community that has long wanted to engage with each other, The Juggernaut is just beginning.
Fleeting is a commercial fleet management and services company. Whether it’s labor supply or goods from the world’s largest shippers, Fleeting moves it around efficiently, on a powerful technology platform. Fleeting gives drivers flexibility and gives trucking companies peace of mind.
Two best friends are on a mission to empower each person to live intentionally.
They found there isn’t an easy way to compile and complete everything you want to get done. Tools are either hard to set up and maintain (automation software), don’t help get tasks done (to-do lists), or aren’t affordable (human assistants).
So they created, Bosa, a life management tool that helps you collect and complete the things you want to do, anytime and anywhere.
Their current offering is a Chrome extension, which allows you to integrate Bosa into your life without changing the way you work. Bosa helps you easily capture what you want to get done, complete those things faster with support from our technology and built in community, and give you insights for a personalized experience.
Perch Credit is a mobile app that enables users to build their credit score using common, recurring expenses such as rent, Netflix, Hulu and Spotify. Perch works with the major credit bureaus to report these data points each month on the user behalf, allowing them to reflect on their credit score. Their mission to is to democratize access to credit by bringing a new to the world a free, accessible ways to build credit.
Milk Stork is the first-ever breast milk shipping company. Working mom-made, and made for working moms, Milk Stork provides a simple solution for getting breast milk where it needs to go so that lactating parents can nourish their babies and pursue their ambitions. Since its inception in 2015, Milk Stork has shipped over 4 million ounces of liquid gold around the globe. As an employee benefit, Milk Stork supports more than 850 employers including Salesforce, SAP, AstraZeneca, Unilever, and Major League Baseball. Milk Stork’s mission is to normalize lactation and ensure that working mothers and lactating parents are supported and empowered to achieve their personal and professional goals. Ship milk, shatter glass ceilings.
Unreal Estate redefines residential real estate with an all-inclusive home buying and selling experience. Leaving one-dimensional real estate search engines behind, we simplify the home buying and selling headache by packaging all services in one user-friendly location and guiding consumers through the step-by-step process with ease. We sharply reduce the cost of listing and selling a home. In addition, Unreal Estate uses analytics to match buyers with top real estate professionals, such as Realtors and lenders, while offering data-driven insights on local housing markets. Unreal Estate charges flat fees for listings and receives a portion of the broker’s commission for referrals.
Zero makes sustainability simple. Zero delivers fresh, high-quality groceries and everyday goods at wholesale prices — with no single-use plastic. Items arrive in reusable glass jars, which keep food fresh, and reduce waste and clutter at home.
Zero is on a mission to remove plastic waste from the food system. Most of that waste comes from food consumption, so Zero is changing the way we consume food. By rethinking how food goes from farm to fridge, Zero makes it easy to protect the planet without sacrificing convenience or driving up costs.
It’s By U makes it easy to create stunning floral arrangements with simple DIY kits. There’s something truly special about crafting the perfect arrangement with your own 2 hands — and you don’t have to be a pro to do it.
Kits include only in-season, fair-trade stems from farms around the world. With every delivery, customers discover exotic new blooms never found at the grocery store — all while reducing flower waste and making the world a little more beautiful.
The company was founded by 2 sisters. Christine is an award-winning florist and DIY arrangement teacher. Caroline is a digital media girl boss who specializes in building fun and creative products.
Color Farm develops and produces premium-quality, diverse film, tv, and digital multi-platform content for a new world, where there are no borders. They bridge the gap to new voices and talent, who have traditionally been outsiders with no access or financing. It’s a place where colorful creators can win and be profitable on multiple platforms — the New Majority power center, like Motown or Def Jam, but for the moving image.
Co-founder Erika Alexander is an award-winning actress, writer, producer and activist. Best known for her roles as Maxine Shaw on Fox’s Living Single, Cousin Pam on NBC’s The Cosby Show, and LeeAnne on OWN’s Queen Sugar, Erika was recently seen in the Academy Award-nominated, blockbuster movie, Get Out.
Every year, consumers produce more than $3 trillion worth of packaged foods around the world. From affordable prices, to nutrition, to sustainability, the industry is failing. That’s where Journey Foods come in. They’re a team of scientists, innovators, food lovers, and data explorers working together to help companies around the world. They’ve created a food database and analyzed everything from fruit cultures, to probiotics, to marine greens in order to develop data services that will change the face of food science behind snacks in offices, hospitals, workplaces, schools and more.
Journey Foods is creating the future of nutrient consumption through food technology. At the crucial intersection of science, data, and convenience, they’ve created an entirely new category of plant-derived nutrition delivery: micro foods. Their first product line focuses on re-imagining fruit snacks that are delicious, sustainable, and functional while doubling as “edible training data” leveraged by the JourneyAI platform.
Career Karma is an app that helps job training programs find qualified applicant, matching people with the right coding bootcamps and giving them support for the rest of their careers. It’s a community of peers, mentors, and coaches that helps professionals land a dream career in Tech. Career Karma is backed by investors like Y Combinator, Kapor Capital, and Backstage Capital. The founders co-host the popular podcast Breaking into Startups, featuring inspiring stories of people who broke into tech from non-traditional backgrounds.
The mission of Beautycon is to redefine and challenge traditional standards of beauty by embracing “imperfections” and the non-traditional. They’re a diverse, global community of content creators, celebrities, fans, and brands that come together to celebrate using makeup as a tool for self-expression and sharing your enthusiasm with the world. Beautycon Media brings the people you connect with from URL to IRL at festivals, creating a space where you can celebrate what makes you, you — inside and out. Join the rule breakers, risk-takers, and innovators who come together at festivals in LA, NYC, and London. Meet your favorite beauty gurus and celebs, get exclusive beauty products and treatments, experience fun art installations, and dance to fun DJ sets.
“You don’t need lipstick, lipstick needs you.”
Akash, Systems is focused on developing and supplying the next generation of extreme bandwidth, hyper-efficient communications gear for space satellites. Akash is working to accelerate the world’s march towards universal and low-cost access to the internet. At the heart of their products is a breakthrough new composite material, gallium nitride (GaN)-on-Diamond, invented by Co-founder Felix Ejeckam. Their vision is to enable the satellite industry to exploit the benefits of this technology, eventually producing terabit data rates and centimeter-range video resolution. Imagine new satellite services enabled by orders-of-magnitude increases in information density and access, allowing us to rethink what’s possible with satellite communications on Earth, between Earth and Deep Space, or, to human colonies in Space.
Goalsetter is on a mission to make the next generation of kids financially healthy and all-around happy. Parents and kids work together create a savings account, set a goal, and save for it. Friends, aunts, uncles, and loved ones can help kids reach their goals by gifting GoalCards. Saving money is not only important — with Goalsetter, it’s also fun.
Goalsetter was named the winner of the People’s Choice Award at FinCon, one of the largest Financial Technology conferences in the country, and has been recognized in countless publications, blogs, and parenting circles as an awesome way to teach kids the power of saving.
Promise is building technology to reduce recidivism, minimize costs, and promote public safety.
They enable optimal performance in criminal justice agencies through tools that support case manager efficiency, make measuring outcomes easy, and empower clients to meet their court-ordered obligations. Their offerings include a client mobile app and reminders, case management, and an auditing and analytics dashboard.
Promise was founded to make a meaningful impact on America’s criminal justice system. They believe alternatives to incarceration can create safer and stronger communities. We believe technology is the key to accelerating this positive change. There are almost 7M people in the US criminal justice system, with over 2M in custody and over 4M on probation and parole. Promise works with government agencies to help support individuals navigating through a convoluted system. They’ve been featured in The New York Times, TechCrunch, Forbes, and the USA Today.
Treehouse is a new way of living for people who value community over status – who see success as a shared idea. It’s more affordable than the average modern studio apartment in the same neighborhoods. Residents review and select applicants to move in and sign a one-year minimum lease, and pick their flatmates to ensure that everyone is in a place that feels right. Living configurations include a private bedroom and bathroom, paired with a private or shared kitchen and amenities including paid wifi, coffee, and community spaces. Programming and events are run by and for the community. Weekly Sunday dinners are planned and executed by teams of 5 who decide whether they want to cook or order in, and Treehouse provides budget and support. Event schedules are curated by community managers, but driven by the residents.
Squad’s mission and foundation has always been rooted in cultivating strong community. After launching in NYC to host unique intimate event experiences among young professionals, the community grew fast, garnering a high demand and an infectious buzz from cities around the world. The average Squad member fits under three pillars: the young Millennial or Gen-Z, the college-educated professional, and the seekers of a safe space to share experiences beyond social media. Founder + CEO Isa Watson is an Inc. 30 Under 30 entrepreneur and a classical pianist.
A nationwide, on-demand tabletop rental service with the goal of making entertaining accessible for everyone.
The San Francisco-based company is the brainchild of Liz Curtis, a former corporate litigator who left the law to pursue her passion for entertaining and design. Born as a cooking blog, T&T quickly established itself as a premier event planning, interior design, and private catering firm. To continue removing traditional obstacles to entertaining, T&T entered the nationwide market with on-demand tabletop rentals. From textiles to flatware, each part of the 6 packages was designed by Liz.
Frequency Machine is a premium podcast company, specializing in travel, narrative, and branded content. The female led FM team come from backgrounds that includes studio film and television and the immersive travel audio app, Detour, and have combined to bring this pedigree to the world of audio. Frequency’s first travel series, Passport, takes listeners on a journey to a new place every week, while telling a remarkable story that could only happen there. In addition to a slate of original content that includes documentary and fiction, the company also partners with premier platforms like Vox Media and Audible to create groundbreaking and captivating audio shows, with a direct path to film and television.
Workforce Athletics (WFA) strengthens company culture through sports by producing fully managed co-ed sports leagues, clinics and tournaments for companies and their “Employee-Athletes.” Whether you played sports in college or have never played before, WFA provides “Employee-Athletes” with one of a kind sports experiences that include pro coaches, custom branded jerseys, player stats, media and impactful data for companies. Through WFA, 89% of league participants reported increased job satisfaction, 96% connected with coworkers they’d never met previously, 87% reported an increase in self-confidence and 100% love playing for their companies!
A personal financial management platform and community for underserved millennials that guides them through their most important financial decisions. Easy-to-follow plans and tools for all your financial decisions, My Money My Future breaks down financial jargon and gives you plans in bite-sized pieces so you don’t get overwhelmed.
A Brooklyn-based biannual publication that documents the history, culture, ideas, and aesthetics of the Black LGBTQ community. They engage some of the world’s most talented artists and intellectuals in creative encounters to develop cutting edge #black #gay #unbothered content for each issue. The Tenth is a subsidiary of Conclave Entertainment.
Nopneu is creating a paradigmn shift in infant mortality. Every year, pneumonia kills more children than measles, malaria, and AIDS combined. Through innovative biotechnology, a diagnostic test allows users, without specialized knowledge, to more effectively diagnose pneumonia in a fraction of the time and cost of conventional methods used in hospitals. Nopneu is committed to changing the larger systemic issues that influence infant mortality through sharing stories and building communities. A percentage of their profits are donated to outreach efforts and organizations that are committed to addressing these social determinants.
Founded by renowned music artist and entrepreneur Kehlani, Flora is an app and community with a big mission — to make mindfulness enjoyable and accessible for all. It’s your go-to aid on your personal journey as an active, environmentally and socially conscious being. Manage your personal day-to-day wellness by joining and completing challenges. Connect and grow with a community of likeminded individuals. Earn coins that can be exchanged for rewards and prizes.
LOOMIA designs and manufactures soft circuit systems (e-textiles) that can be produced at scale. Their technology can add functionality to textiles in automotive, consumer apparel and industrial environments. They provide heating, lighting, and sensing functionalities for visionary brands.
PREMO is a media company established as the new voice for multicultural consumers. They distribute content curated for the savvy viewer across major OTT platforms. They provide editorial programming, original content, and distribution of short-form and long-form content from top production companies, filmmakers, movie studios, and digital creators targeting our audience. Their curation engine and content creator portal offers visibility and discoverability in a crowded video space where consumers are looking for content that is more reflective of the world around them.
Dark is a holistic programming language, structured editor, and infrastructure, for building backend web services. It’s for frontend, backend, and mobile engineers. Their goal is to make coding 100x easier, which we believe will allow a billion people to build software. This is a huge challenge, that requires a significant rethink of how we write software. The defining principle behind Dark is that we want to remove all accidental complexity from coding. Building applications today is incredibly complex, and a great deal of that complexity is accidental. Dark abstracts away individual machines and low-level distributed systems code to: generate and run scalable infrastructure for you, remove the deployment step entirely, and use APIs as easily as functions. Dark is co-founded by Paul Biggar (CircleCI) and Ellen Chisa (Lola, Kickstarter).
Hidrate makes a smart water bottle that syncs with your phone to tell you how much water you should drink each day, remind you when to drink, and track your hydration progress over time.
The idea was brought to life at a Google Startup weekend in 2014 in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In just 54 hours, they built a water bottle that tracked water intake and synced to a mobile app on a smartphone. The team worked evenings and weekends for 7 months before being accepted into the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator Program powered by Techstars in 2015 in Kansas City, MO.
Mahmee is revolutionizing maternal and child healthcare with a patient-centric care management platform that makes it easy for providers to collaborate and deliver high-quality, individualized care online and in person. Maternal health involves a variety specialists including pediatricians, obstetricians, lactation consultants, nutritionists, therapists, doulas, and others. Today, mom and baby are connected but their providers are siloed by outdated care management technology. Mahmee connects the dots between patients, providers, and data.
Our industry-specific product suite is designed to address critical inefficiencies such as conflicting treatment plans, inaccurate medical data, and untraceable out-of-network referrals. With Mahmee, moms and babies receive comprehensive ongoing support, which has been shown to increase breastfeeding rates and positive health outcomes, while also reducing costly and dangerous readmissions to the hospital.
Melissa Hanna, JD, MBA, Co-founder + CEO, founded her first business, a live event production company, at age fifteen and later created the Little Spoon Desserts Truck, LA’s first dessert shop on wheels. After studying healthcare and education policy at Pomona College and Columbia University, she worked in education technology and media, and served as Assistant Director of the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia Business School. Melissa received full scholarships to attend Southwestern Law School and the Peter F. Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University for her JD/MBA. As the daughter of renowned maternal health specialist Linda Hanna, Melissa considers maternal and child healthcare to be the family business, and is excited to modernize the field using digital technology and predictive data analytics.
Paladin (Techstars ’17) is a pro bono platform whose mission is to increase access to justice. They work with leading law firms, Fortune 500 legal teams, law schools and governments to streamline their pro bono programs. Paladin’s software helps clients centralize pro bono opportunities, increase engagement, and capture outcomes and impact. Already Paladin has helped facilitate work with LGBT refugees, domestic violence survivors, and low-income entrepreneurs, among others, and their work has been featured in Fast Company, TechCrunch, Forbes and others.
A stunning watch brand that uses part of their profits to support education for children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Vitae has an influential following and is worn by the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Ava DuVernay, and Wretch 32.
The first app-powered mobile barbershop, delivering the highest quality haircuts straight to your doorstep in a high-tech barbershop in a van.
A medical technology software and service company using AI, Machine Learning, and Spectral Analysis to turn any smartphone into a powerful, non-invasive screening tool for respiratory diseases.
A media company committed to spotlighting the creative talents of women and non-binary people of colour. You can find online and print versions of their highly-read magazine.
Natural, organic, and vegan products for Afro and curly hair sold direct-to-consumers as well as being featured in shops like Whole Foods Market.
Unomi’s mission is to automate the most complex tasks in the digital content creation industry.
A marketplace of thousands of furnished homes for business travelers — professionally managed with great value and available coast-to-coast.
The most efficient solar module available, providing optimal clean, affordable, and reliable electric solutions.
A feminine care brand that helps women across the world have more frequent — and more pleasurable — intimate experiences.
A feminist-focused salon experience that’s powered by their elite nail technician education platform, Lacquerbar U, overhauling the $20B antiquated nail salon industry.
Travel club and meetup app for digital nomads, solo travelers, and adventure seekers
A peer-to-peer clothing rental marketplace for college students connecting people to each other, not clothing and landfills.
A connected vaporizer pen that helps you quit nicotine. Their patent-pending design delivers a steadily decreasing amount of nicotine and clean oil, lowering nicotine intake automatically over time to help you stop your addiction.
WYL features millennial-focused apartment listings, landlord reviews, community insights, and neighborhood engagement.
A clever collection of patented, multi-tasking, non-toxic hair care that helps busy women rock fabulous hair in a fraction of the usual time by combining 12 processes for boss-babe-worthy hair into just 3 simple steps.
Healthy eating and wellness information at your fingertips, Foodstand helps individuals and organizations joyfully turn wellness goals into lifelong habits through team challenges and behavior change. The company was acquired by DietID during the Cohort 1 Backstage Accelerator.
High-quality, on-demand jewelry design and manufacturing that takes your ideas through concept, CAD, 3D printing and casting, and assembly, redefining the relationship between brands and manufacturers.
Bippy is a modern personal care line exclusively for the butt that’s on a mission to preserve forests from the bottom up. Toilet problems don’t get talked about, so they don’t get fixed. Most toilet paper is made using hardwood trees and as a result, the industry is devastating our forest, poisoning our plumbing, and it’s not even that great on your butt! Bippy is soft, absorbent, lint-free and most importantly: sustainable. Made with bamboo fibers (think your bamboo bed sheets), it’s super soft. And, because bamboo creates more oxygen, uses more carbon, and doesn’t have to be replanted, it’s a triple threat of environmental sustainability.
Alerje sits at the intersection of traditional MedTech and Consumer products, using proactive patient design to reduce the cost of healthcare and improve patient outcomes through its food allergy management platform.
LendStreet helps people get out of debt, rebuild their credit, and get a fresh start. Think of it as a giant bot that fixes people’s credit. LendStreet’s team works hard to offer the best lending platform solution in the crowded lending space with an emphasis on design and automation.
Imagine dancing to your favorite song, and keeping things down-tempo, or grooving into double (or triple) time, then effortlessly transition back and forth. It’s music in the palm of your moves. Weav’s unique music technology seamlessly adapts a song’s tempo between 100-240 BPMs — all without lessening the quality of the song. Recorded music has always been static. Weave is bringing it to life.
The Weav Run mobile app transforms each song to sync with your steps, so you can stay in the flow no matter what pace you run at. Weav Run for iOS reached the #1 running music app on the Apple App Store, and Redbull.com exclaimed, “Take our word for it, this is a game-changer.” Weav Run also integrates with Nike+ Run Club, Strava, any other popular running trackers. Weav was founded by Elomida Visviki, formerly a TEDxAthens ad Ambassador and Vice President at NGO Aniksi, and Lars Rasmussen, Google Maps co-founder and a former Director of Engineering at Facebook. They participated in the inaugural LA-based Techstars Music 2017 accelerator program.
The Proday app lets consumers workout alongside professional athletes anytime, anywhere. For less than the cost of a personal training session, users can access unlimited workouts covering cardio, weight lifting, flexibility, and more, to help lose weight and gain muscle. App users can listen to their own music, conveniently log workouts, and see real-time results in an activity tracker.
Proday is no longer active.
Uncharted is building the operating system for last-mile infrastructure. Uncharted is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) company that helps cities and developers reduce the cost and complexity of deploying and managing last-mile infrastructure. Founded in 2011 and headquartered in New York, Uncharted is an award-winning, MWBE-certified company focused on the mission to accelerate the equitable development of smart, sustainable infrastructure worldwide.
Carrot partners with companies to expand fertility coverage for the millions of employees who need it regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. Through easy onboarding and at-a-glance reports to track usage over time, Carrot is the first-in-class corporate fertility solution.
Carrot helps employees learn about their own fertility health and get the best care from leading doctors with a full suite of offerings including fertility testing, egg and embryo freezing, donor eggs and sperm, in vitro fertilization, adoption, and much more.
Carrot’s founding team includes: Tammy Sun, who has held leadership roles at Evernote, The FCC, the Clinton Foundation, and The White House Office of the Vice President; and Asima Ahmad, MD, MPH, who earned combined medical + public health degrees from the Pritzker School of Medicine and the Harvard School of Public Health, completed an internship and residency in OB/GYN at the Yale School of Medicine and fellowship training in reproductive endocrinology + infertility at the University of California, San Francisco. In addition to raising funding from Backstage Capital, Carrot’s investors include Y Combinator, Precursor Ventures, and Sound Ventures.
With over 1200 recalls and over 750,000 medical device-related adverse events every year, managing medical device safety and surveillance can be complicated, time-consuming, and costly for hospitals and medical device manufacturers. Furthermore, hospitals tend to have more medical inventory than they need, costing them millions each year. Ilerasoft’s technology helps hospitals better manage the full scope of their clinical inventory from product safety to capital budgeting and utilization management. They work with medical device manufactures to reduce cost and create more cutting-edge products.
Co-founder and CEO, Kwaku Owusu, gained healthcare experience as a consultant for a large health system in New York where he discovered massive inefficiencies around medical equipment utilization. Realizing this was a systemic issue across all hospitals, he founded Ilerasoft to provide a solution. Prior to Ilerasoft, Kwaku was at Hewlett Packard Enterprise in global operations and finance roles. He holds an M.S. in Healthcare Administration and an MBA from the University of Rochester.
Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer, Melanie Igwe, has 5 years of experience working in hospitals in roles ranging from clinical engineering to project management. After witnessing unnecessary deaths and injuries due to medical devices, she was inspired to join forces with Kwaku to launch Ilerasoft. She earned a B.A. in Economics from Howard University.
Sunhouse is building the future of music making through artificial intelligence.
Sunhouse, founded by three Chicano/a siblings from Los Angeles, is a music technology company building systems with musical intelligence. With smart systems that listen and respond to a musician’s touch and software designed to make this advanced tech accessible, they are opening up new creative possibilities in live performance, studio recording, and composition. Their patented technology builds a tangible link between the physical world and digital sound by tracking the expressiveness of acoustic instruments through AI. Sunhouse uses the latest advances in machine learning, music information retrieval, and signal processing to create new experiences for musicians that are instantly familiar and incredibly powerful.
Sensory Percussion is their first product, and represents a new frontier in electronic drumming where every subtlety of acoustic performance is captured and rendered as a powerful and flexible digital language. It allows drummers the ability to control electronic sounds like samples, synths, and effects in new and powerful ways. Sensory Percussion is used by some of the best musicians on stages and in studios all over the world.
Sunhouse is committed to creating a company that not only develops transformative technology, but also drives positive change for musicians and culture worldwide. Sunhouse has offices in New York and Los Angeles.
Filament has invested deeply in building secure technologies that make economic exchange among autonomous devices not only a possibility but a reality. Their technology stack enables secure communications and private exchanges between devices, making it possible for machines to interact with any other device or endpoint.
The hardware elements of a Filament network are its low-power hardware nodes, which connect existing machinery and industrial infrastructure to the network, or directly to each other. Filament also provides firmware and software for managing network deployments, utilizing protocols like smart contracts on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Use cases for Filament’s industrial IoT (Internet of Things) technology include smart vending (track inventory stock levels and machine status), asset tracking (e.g., mobile farming equipment), and health & safety (e.g., patch-enabled devices in hard hats or safety vests can detect falls, enforce geofencing rules, and monitor the environment for hazardous materials).
Haute Hijab is an online modest fashion brand and community focused on providing new headscarf prints weekly for the Muslim woman. Their product range includes ready-to-wear skirts, dresses, and tops. All Haute Hijab-branded products are sourced with attention to quality, ethical standards, and modesty.
O.school is a shame-free platform for pleasure education, powered by live streaming and live chat. Their mission is to build the safest place to learn and talk about sex online.
O.school leverages technology to help people overcome shame, heal from trauma, and develop skills to communicate and set boundaries in the pursuit of sexual pleasure. It’s a no-harassment zone for people — especially women and gender-diverse individuals — to learn about sex and pleasure online.
CEO + Founder Andrea Barrica has been a Venture Partner + Entrepreneur-in-Residence at 500 Startups, and co-founded financial tools service inDinero, where she led the team to their first $3M in annual recurring revenue and personally generated $1M in sales in under a year. Andrea studied linguistics and cognitive science at UC Berkeley, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, and Nanjing Normal University.
Civic Eagle helps organizations automatically identify, track, and analyze legislation and regulations with artificial intelligence.
Their software uses natural language processing to automate and streamline the $6.5 billion-dollar lobbying and advocacy market. Civic Eagle makes it simple for their customers to advocate for legislation and policies at all levels of government by tracking, notifying, recommending, and automating their most complex tasks. This innovative approach increases policy advocacy campaign success rates, while saving time and money.
CEO + Co-founder Damola Ogundipe — an entrepreneur by age nine — has been featured as a speaker at The Personal Democracy Forum, Code2040 Summit, and SXSW. He’s a 2017 Google Entrepreneur in Residence, 2017 Minnesota Business Magazine 35 under 35, and 2016 Minneapolis and St. Paul 100 People to Know. CPO + Co-founder Yemi Adewunmi served as a policy analyst for the New York State Assembly, and has a Masters in Public Administration from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs + Policy and a BA in Politics + Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. They’re joined by a team of leaders, thinkers, innovators, public policy junkies, and technologists with a passion for civic engagement.
Revry is the premiere digital media network for the inclusive 21st century queer community. As the first-ever global queer streaming service, Revry offers its members a uniquely curated selection of domestic and international entertainment that includes iconic narrative and documentary films, cutting-edge series, groundbreaking podcasts, music albums and videos, and originals. Revry is available worldwide on seven OTT, mobile, and online platforms, and hosts an exclusive linear channel on Pluto TV. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Revry’s queer and multi-ethnic team brings decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media, and queer advocacy.
Jewelbots is changing the world by getting women into STEM. 12,000 girls age 5-16 have learned about coding and electronics with the Jewelbots Friendship Bracelet, a patent-pending bluetooth device which allows kids to communicate via secret messages and customize features through programming.
Unlike other gender-neutral coding platforms, the social and fashionable nature of Jewelbots truly engages girls with tech because they feel like it’s a device that was made for them. Reaching kids in this particular age group is important because it’s the first of a few moments in women’s lives where they typically lose interest in, and often drop out of, computer science. The thrilling products and mission of Jewelbots have been featured by Good Morning America, Wired, and CNBC.
In 2014, developer Sara Chipps launched Jewelbots with Co-founder Brooke Moreland to expose the next generation of women to the wonderful possibilities of technology. Sara was formerly the CTO of Flatiron School and co-founded Girl Develop It!, a national non-profit that has taught over 17,000 women how to build software. Brooke founded a style-focused, photo-sharing app, Fashism, which was backed by Ashton Kutcher and Project Runway’s Nina Garcia, and also served as the General Manager of Fashion GPS, the software platform that powers New York Fashion Week and events for the world’s top luxury brands including Chanel, Gucci, and Dior.
Solstice Energy Solutions develops integrated IoT and software solutions for intelligent management of distributed energy resources. With an initial focus on emerging markets, Solstice is helping homes and businesses that struggle with unreliable electricity grids to save money and achieve cleaner, more reliable power.
Their first product, the Solstice SHYFT is among the first digital transfer switches of its kind, providing unprecedented levels of intelligence, flexibility, and control of energy resources for residential and commercial buildings. Just as Nest redefined the thermostat, Solstice is bringing much needed innovation to the transfer switch through SHYFT. Now users can monitor, manage, and control all energy sources (utility, generators, solar, and/or batteries) from a simple mobile application, while Solstice helps harmonize and optimize the system.
Co-founders Ugwem Eneyo and Cole Stites-Clayton met while they were engineering graduate students at Stanford University, conducting research on energy systems and sustainability. Through Solstice, they remain committed to driving the clean energy transition in emerging markets.
XO is an app-connected fashion brand for Gen Z, the 10 to 25 year-old consumers who want to ‘wear the internet’. Customers can customize the color of their garments to digitally express themselves—through the XO app they can create animated, wearable light matched to their unique style, favorite influencers, brands and music artists.
XO is the brainchild of Nancy Tilbury and Benjamin Males, graduates of the Royal College of Art and Imperial college in London and pioneers in wearable technology with over 2 decades of experience. They are best known for making high-profile wearable technology for global artists such as Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas, showcasing their innovative fashion to millions worldwide.
nēdl (as in the haystack) is a B2B2C solution addressing a $44.1B global ad market with an AI-powered search engine to make live radio more user-friendly for listeners and measurable for advertisers.
The platform allows radio listeners to use speech recognition to eliminate the need to go station-to-station for the specific news, sports, talk information, and entertainment they want to hear. In addition to searching over 120,000 domestic and international live broadcast streams that nēdl has secured, you can also search live user-generated content, as anyone can start their own live broadcast, allowing others to discover them in real-time search results as they are speaking.
Seed&Spark is where creators and audiences work together to tell stories that celebrate diverse voices. Their crowdfunding platform has the highest success rate in the world by more than 2x.
Seed&Spark hosts more than 120 live workshops a year in more than 50 cities teaching creators the tools for sustainability. To reach new creators, they collaborate with hundreds of arts organizations, universities, and festivals. They’ve also built a first-of-its-kind enterprise program for workplace inclusion builds and measures meaningful and sustainable practices that educate and empower every employee inside an organization.
Airfordable lets customers book flights for a deposit upfront, and then the rest is paid off in bi-weekly installments before their departure date. This innovation in purchasing plane tickets offers travelers price protection, requires no interest or credit checks, and keeps private data safe with bank-level security and encryption.
Airfordable is on a mission to democratize travel and over 100,000 travelers look to Airfordable for traveling in a budget-friendly way. After launching from Y Combinator (S16), they’ve been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, and Condé Nast Traveler.
Win-Win is a platform that connects pro athletes, charities, fans, and brands through integrated gaming mechanics. Gamified Giving.
On Win-Win, fans compete in online tournaments hosted by pro athletes to win special access and epic experiences, while donating to impactful causes. Athletes raise money and awareness for causes they’re passionate about, while boosting positivity around their personal brand. Charities get a sustainable, low-effort platform to quickly raise funding, while acquiring a hard-to-reach millennial audience. Brands engage with large fanbases by leveraging the reach of pro athletes, via co-branded campaigns, while boosting their public perception and positivity.
Win-Win retains a small percentage of user donations and brands pay for campaign integration. It’s a true #WinWin.
Prior to founding Win-Win in 2016, CEO Mike T. Brown led the mid-market growth team at Kiip, a $28M venture-backed mobile advertising tech startup. In 2013, he finished #1 in the inaugural cohort for Draper University. Mike was a 2-time All-American linebacker at Duke University, where he earned a Public Policy degree, and also spent 4 years playing football professionally, including a stint as a linebacker for the Colts.
Aquaai provides optimized data from the ocean and waterways using AI, computer vision, and bio-inspired fishlike robotic platforms. Inspired by Mother Nature, Aquaai’s flexible fishlike drone Nammu (named after the Goddess of the Sea) immerses with the natural habitat “swimming” up close for superior data acquisition. Customers receive real-time metrics on the Aquaai Control System web dashboard.
Think FaaS — Fish-as-a-Service™; eco-friendly, power-efficient and cost-effective. Amongst Aquaai’s customers are Norwegian sustainable fish farms including Kvarøy Fiskeoppdrett, providers of salmon to Whole Foods.
When 8 year-old Emily learned about the ongoing ocean crisis, she asked her inventor father to “Save the Seas”. Aquaai’s Chief Visionary Officer Simeon Pieterkosky has 20 years practical experience in robotics, HRI, animatronics, product design, Wi-Fi, LED, lasers, zoology, biomimicry, water filtration, and climate change. Simeon and CEO Liane Thompson met when she interviewed him for a story on Hitech in Israel. The former global reporter and New York Times staff executive producer then joined the mission to Save the Seas and the couple founded Aquaai.
Sous Vide (pronounced “soo-veed”) means under vacuum in French. It’s the method of cooking vacuum-sealed food in a controlled water bath. The magic of sous vide is that you can simply immerse your ingredients, walk away, and meat and vegetables are perfectly prepared and flavorful.
Nomiku was the first company to patent a device that translates sous vide technology used by fine-dining establishments into the home. Five years in, Nomiku continues to innovate its mastery of precision cooking by adding WiFi and RFID technology to its cooking devices.
Nomiku recently launched its revolutionary no-prep meal delivery experience: Sous Chef Meals. Chef-prepared dishes are mailed to your door and stored in the freezer. When hunger strikes, just tap the food against your Nomiku device and drop it in the pot. You’ll get a notification on your phone when your delicious, perfectly-cooked meal is ready to eat.
Cooking chef-quality meals has never been easier. Nomiku is bringing compact immersion circulators into thousands of home kitchens around the globe.
Avisare is the centralized network for all businesses to discover new contract opportunities, post their own, and bid on all opportunities using one universal profile.
With 23M small businesses in the U.S. alone, and 60% of all jobs created by small businesses, the health of the economy depends on the ability of this segment to thrive. Avisare’s vision is to become the biggest, central online destination for business growth where businesses find the resources they need – from flexible staff to education on how to grow your business to finding new contracts.
Avisare is a Techstars LA company founded by Sky Kelley, previously Director of New Product Strategy in the digital video distribution group at Disney and ESPN Media Networks where she created and launched multi-platform products across the Disney, ABC, ABC Family and ESPN brands.
Hostfully gives vacation rental companies a better way to manage and scale their business. The Hostfully platform synchronizes property and pricing data across Airbnb and VRBO, and connects with business apps like Stripe and Mailchimp to streamline business operations. Mobile guest apps automate and personalize the guest experience. The result? More revenue and 5-star reviews.
In recent news, Hostfully merged with Orbirental, another startup serving vacation rentals (read the full story). The merged company has processed 1.3M bookings leads, with 20,000 properties on the platform across 80 countries. Hostfully has served 100K travelers. 5 customers loved the service so much, they invested in the company.
Combined, Hostfully’s founders bring more than 60 years of experience from venture-backed startups and blue chip companies like Apple and Netscape. Co-founder + CEO, Margot Schmorak, while at Apple, launched the iPhone Developer Program in 2008, and also was Head of Marketing and Strategy for the $250M business unit at ServiceSource (NASDAQ: SREV). Hostfully’s company culture values parenting, spending time with family, pickup soccer, playing Settlers of Catan, traveling, art classes, surfing, and Crossfit.
The Difference provides access to therapy as an Alexa Skill. Though reports of mental health issues are on the rise, access to quality counseling remains a huge hurdle. By merging psychology with technology, The Difference has created an affordable and anonymous way to get support on your own time, and in your own space.
Founder and licensed therapist, Bea Arthur, has been called “innovative and inspiring” by the American Counseling Association. She’s leading the modern mental health movement as one of the first to move therapy online with streaming video, and now she’s innovating once again utilizing voice technology. Bea is a regular contributor to Forbes and Fox & Friends, and has been featured in Elle, Fast Company, Huffington Post, NPR, CNN, and MTV. She was named part of the New Guard of women in tech by Marie Claire magazine as well as an Entrepreneur To Bet On by Newsweek Magazine. A Columbia University alum and TEDx speaker, she was also the first African American woman to be accepted into the prestigious Y Combinator startup accelerator program.
The right talk at the right time can make all the difference.
BeVisible is a social media career network that connects Latinx to each other and companies searching for new talent.
BeVisible fills a void that established career platforms have not—authentic Latino participation. Latinx have the lowest participation rate on LinkedIn of any minority demographic (18% vs. 28% for African Americans.)
Latinx are one of the largest, most influential racial/ethnic groups in the nation, with an exceedingly younger population than the rest of the country. Millennial Latinos, in particular, represent the largest, most college educated, and socially connected generation of Latinos ever. They are connecting professionally, but they do it differently. Until BeVisible, there was no career network that allowed them to connect they way they do in real life, where work life and community are one and the same.
BeVisible has attracted the attention of thousands of early adopters and the recruitment efforts of major companies, particularly in the tech sector. BeVisible has been profiled by Forbes, Elle, MSNBC, and Vibe.
Based on 2016 findings, in 2017, BeVisible looks to scale by focusing on 2 key urban markets starting with Los Angeles, California.
Pilotly enables professional creators to capture real audience feedback before they release their content. Pilotly’s research solution is composed of two complex products: a multi-platform video portal and API that screens content to viewers to collect feedback; and an intelligent dashboard that processes the data collected to surface valuable insights.
Pilotly is the only research platform capable of testing video content on any device and within a variety of contexts, including full-screen formats as well as within controlled social environments, like Facebook and Snapchat. Pilotly provides audience question sets based on client goals (i.e., measuring engagement, ad recall), and then, using proprietary AI-based algorithms, benchmarks performance against similar content, correlates viewer responses to specific moments in a video, and curates actionable reports.
Today, Pilotly is used by advertising agencies (Burrell), entertainment conglomerates (NBCUniversal), small cable networks (Ovation TV), and growing digital studios (New Form Digital).
PopCom’s software helps vending machines not only understand retail customer demographic and sales data, but communicate with one another to understand consumer purchasing behavior, identify venue traffic patterns, and establish a network of connected retail devices. PopCom is building a network of connected machines to securely collect and analyze data about consumers and venues across the United States.
PopCom works with consumer retail brands, vending machine manufacturers, and vending machine operators to help them learn more about their customers, and enabling customers to create accounts and engage with these machines like never before. PopCom’s automated retailing system is cashless, wireless, and remote-inventory-monitored.
An early partner is Flat Out of Heels, the fashion brand offering innovative rollable flats led by PopCom Founder Dawn Dickson.
With over 55% of working Americans citing household management as a constant source of stress, many are looking for solutions to help achieve work-life balance. Please Assist Me is a tech-enabled platform that allows users to come home to groceries in the fridge, a tidy house, laundry completed, and so much more. A thoroughly-vetted personal assistant team completes requested household needs week after week via a single mobile app, eliminating the need for customers to use multiple service providers for each task. Please Assist Me has partnered with several apartment complexes and condominiums to offer their service as an amenity for residents.
Co-founders Stephanie Cummings and Seany Denson saw the need for a home management solution due to their fast-paced careers. After graduating with her Master of Business Administration, Stephanie worked in Healthcare IT and managed a product that generated $1M in revenue during its first year on the market. Seany worked in operations for a non-profit and was responsible for an inner-city after-school program that served hundreds of children daily.
Blendoor is inclusive recruiting and people analytics software that mitigates unconscious bias. Job candidates are sourced from hundreds of strategic partners and universities and are presented to recruiters without name, photo, or age.
Blendoor then integrates with a company’s HR systems to track candidates based on demographics to identify where and how bias happens. This transparency drives accountability within orgs, teams, and even individual hiring managers. In addition to measuring bias, they provide metrics that demonstrate the ROI of diversity & inclusion initiatives.
With data and AI, Blendoor aims to move the discussion from social good to business intelligent.
Wildfang was founded by Nike breakaways Emma McIlroy and Julia Parsley, and seeks to build a home for badass women everywhere, while delivering menswear-inspired styling and irreverent content. Wildfang.com launched in March 2013, with 20k+ girls joining the family in just 30 days. Previously featured in The Guardian, New York Times, Vice, Cool Hunting, Refinery 29 and Vogue — the Wildfang family has, and continues to, grow fast. Wildfang operates a global e-commerce business at Wildfang.com and 2 physical stores in Portland, OR.
Localeur is a community of locals who help travelers #experiencelocal by recommending the best local places to eat, drink, and play. Their community of locals spans more than 75 cities around the globe, including major cities in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, The Netherlands, South Africa, and Spain.
Since launching in 2013, Localeur has been named the “Best New Startup” in Austin and a “must have” travel app by The Today Show, Forbes, The Guardian, and TIME. Along with Backstage Capital, their investors include Capitol Factory, VPG Asia, former Facebook executives, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year winners, and entrepreneurs in tech, music, fashion, and politics.
Founder + CEO Joah Spearman was named one of the Top 10 Black Innovators of 2014 by MVMT 50 (“Movement 50”), Emerging Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Austin Black Chamber in 2013, one of the Top Voices in Tech by LinkedIn, and is a four-time finalist for Austin’s Under 40 Awards. Joah is co-chair of the board of directors for AIDS Services of Austin and a boardmember of KLRU-TV, Austin’s PBS affiliate.
On Second Thought is the “Twilio of Undo”. Their universal pre-delivery recall mechanism for mobile and desktop application platforms lets you take back messages and transactions before they get to the recipient. Their twice-patented technology gives you more control over your messages by unleashing the power of ‘undo’.
Named “The Texting Savior” by AT&T, On Second Thought has been featured by TODAY Show, Forbes, NBC, The Washington Post, Inc Magazine, The Washington Business Journal, BBC, NPR, Headline News, and many other national and international media outlets.
Partake Foods provides meals and snacks that are delicious, safe, and nutritious for conscious eaters. Free of gluten, the top 8 allergens, and artificial ingredients, their products are made with real foods like sprouted grains, fruits and vegetables, giving peace-of-mind to those with dietary restrictions and simple enjoyment to those without.
Partake Foods invites those who are conscious eaters to realize that they, too, can enjoy foods that deliver superior taste and quality, while staying safe and healthy. They believe that everyone should have an equal opportunity to eat and share foods regardless of restrictions, because doing so creates deep connection with others and within ourselves.
Zyrobotics is an award-winning creator of inclusive, educational technologies for the diverse needs of children with differing abilities. The mission of Zyrobotics is to enable freedom through technology by creating personalized products that make a difference in the lives of children aged 3-7 years old. Their fun-to-use, educational smart technologies are designed to address the needs of all kids, including promoting the stimulation of social, cognitive, and motor skills development.
The Zyrobotics product line includes: TabAccess, a bluetooth switch interface that makes it possible for anyone with motor limitations to use a tablet without touching the screen; the Zumo Learning System, an accessible learning environment which helps children fall in love with STEM; and STEM Storiez, a set of immersive books that combine physical play with electronic books focused on science, technology, engineering, and math.
Dr. Johnetta MacCalla is a three-time executive, former chairwoman managing a $100M endowment, and holds degrees from Brown University, Stanford University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.
Astral AR didn’t just solve a problem, they invented an industry: the world’s most advanced drone piloting system and safety tech for next-gen public good. They build a neuromechanical, robotically-enhanced, limited mass customization, long-range drone piloting system. They give pilots telepresence: the ability to be in two places at once, via immersive augmented reality (AR).
Astral AR’s drones are specifically designed as lifesaving tools for rescue operations and public safety. For example, “Charlie” is a firedrone for both urban and wilderness/rural fire departments, and “Edna” is a bullet-stopping drone for law enforcement. Bottom line: maximum survival for all involved.
The only U.S. owned and operated drone tech company that stores its data on U.S. servers, Astral AR can provide these tools to governmental agencies in compliance with the law. Their customers are primarily local/state/federal public service agencies, as well as enterprise companies and international governments.
A minority-, woman-, disabled-, and veteran-owned business, Astral’s motto is: “Diversity, Transparency, and Saving The World.” An open and distributed company, most of Astral AR’s employees work remotely, with offices in Austin, Texas and Chicago, Illinois. It’s a diverse team of individuals — over seven are bilingual, ages range from early 30s to early 60s, and the extended team includes 15 kids, 14 cats, and 8 dawgs.
We are more than just one label. Navigating dating, love, and life as a person who isn’t straight leaves you wanting something more.
Thurst is a dating app for queer people of all genders. By creating an inclusive, affirming space for the queer and LGBTQIA community, Thurst enables people to connect based on specific geo-location, identity, and search preferences. Caring deeply about the safety and security of its community, Thurst is designed to combat targeting and harrassment and keep sensitive information secure.
On most dating platforms, gender selection favors straight men — usually even those who fit within a strict archetype of masculinity. Thurst founder Morgen Bromell saw the opportunity to grow and connect a community that includes those not being seen online — those who identify as transgender, non-conforming, or non-binary.
Be seen as whole for the first time.
CurlMix is the first Do-It-Yourself subscription box for curly hair. CurlMix teaches curly haired women how to make their own hair products. Each month CurlMix sends subscribers a kit that contains high-quality, all-natural ingredients for customizing their own hair products in just 15 minutes. Each kit comes with an instructional card and an explainer video.
In an industry that values blind consumerism, CurlMix encourages transparency. They encourage their subscribers to be mindful of the ingredients in their products and have the freedom to personalize their hair and skin treatments. The core belief of CurlMix is that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice integrity for beauty.
Created by husband and wife duo, Kim + Tim Lewis, CurlMix completed 1871’s Women in STEM program, founded as part of the Google for Entrepreneurs’ #40Forward initiative.
CurlMix has been featured in Refinery29, Allure, BuzzFeed, Essence, Chicago Tribune, numerous other publications, and on ABC’s Windy City Live.
The Door Technologies develops software to connect forward-looking investors to talented underrepresented startup founders and to help enterprises source innovative solutions by partnering with startups.
The Door exists to accomplish two key objectives:
CEO and Founder Yves Louis-Jacques is a 500 Startups alum whose past roles include Head of Marketing and Operations at Scopio, an end-to-end platform for UGC images & videos, and Management Consultant at Accenture.
The Door’s pilot investor partners include Arena Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Omidyar Network, and Backstage Capital, which is also an investor in The Door.
Update: Backstage Capital has acquired The Door! Founder + CEO, Yves Louis-Jacques, has joined Backstage as a Venture Partner + LP Relations.
Workfrom is a community and global brand built to address the unique needs of remote workers and independent professionals.
Their flagship product is the world’s largest crowdsourced app for trusted places to work remotely in every city. It’s now possible to discover a wide range of vetted spaces to get work in more than 1500 cities worldwide. Workfrom is the most comprehensive source for workplace-specific details — WiFi speeds, access to power outlets, and even background noise levels — for a variety of spaces including coffee shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, and coworking spaces. Finding a great place to be productive shouldn’t be hard, and now it’s dead simple.
Founder and CEO Darren Buckner is unwavering in his passion to create unprecedented support and a remarkable brand for what can only be described as a workforce revolution.
Healthy Roots is a toy company combating societal beauty standards on girls of color during the early stages of identity development. Healthy Roots dolls, the first line of natural hair dolls to enter the toy industry, have different facial features, skin tones, and hair textures that can be styled in countless ways.
Healthy Roots creates dolls and storybooks that teach natural hair care and celebrate all skin tones, bringing diversity to the toy aisle while promoting self love and empowerment for girls of color. The team at Healthy Roots aims to create products that reflect the changing world and the beauty inherent in every one of us.
Healthy Roots Founder + Creative Director, Yelitsa Jean-Charles, is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a BFA in Illustration and concentration in Gender, Race & Sexuality, a Venture for America Fellow, and a TEDxProvidence speaker. Healthy Roots grew from an art project into a startup raising $50k on Kickstarter, and continued to grow through participation in the Brown Social Innovation Fellowship, RISD EShip and Brown Breakthrough Lab, and was selected as a 2015 MassChallenge Finalist.
No one should feel “less than” because of the kink of their curl or the color of their skin. Healthy Roots is helping girls love their roots one doll at a time.
SUPA turns apparel into a mobile IoT platform by distributing invisible sensors to brands like trims (“digital YKK”). The apparel is then SUPA Powered via the SUPA App using context libraries (“biometric LEGOs”) that include data from applicable IoT devices to create distributed functionality in sports and health applications. SUPA is building the largest sampling size of digital biometric data.
SUPA developed a pilot project with FILA SPORT in 2016 and has leveraged the results to launch a direct-to-consumer product in July, 2017, to introduce the integrated brand (“SUPA Powered”). SUPA Powered apparel has been tested by the likes of Red Bull, Vice, Jeremy Bloom, and Rumble Boxing.
CEO + Co-founder of SUPA, Sabine Seymour, PhD, Economics, is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, author of 3 books on the topic of fashion + technology, and created the first biometric base layer for snowboarding in 2000. Sean Montgomery, PhD, Neuroscience, Head of R&D + Co-founder, is the former Head of R&D at Ringly and holds patents in algorithms for biometric sensing.
SUPA has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, and Wired. Exciting and notable collaborations with SUPA include an original film with Mercedes-Benz, solutions explorations with Nasa at their Space Center, inclusion in UNICEF’s catalogue for ‘Wearables for Good’, and even a check from Craig’s List Founder Craig Newmark.
TresseNoire is an on-demand, at-home beauty booking app designed for women of color. They reduce the wait time in a traditional black hair salon to zero by bringing traveling stylists into your home, hotel room or office, to style hair or makeup. Our curated network of best-in-class, licensed beauty professionals are knowledgeable about the latest trends in hair styling, darker skin tones and healthy textured haircare regimens while providing a luxurious experience, wherever you are. Clients enjoy a new window of productivity…and hair that slays!
CEEK is an award winning developer of premium social virtual and augmented reality experiences. Headquartered in beautiful Miami Beach, Florida our mission is to make virtual reality experiences universally accessible and enjoyable.
CEEK simulates the communal experience of attending a live concert, being in a classroom, attending a sporting event and other ‘money can’t buy’ exclusive experiences with friends from anywhere at anytime.
CEEK’s partners and clients include Universal Music, Google, CAA, and Miami Children’s Hospital. They’ve been featured in Forbes, Billboard, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal.
Thesis Couture is setting a new standard of excellence in the $40 billion fashion footwear market. They believe in a future empowered by intelligence and inclusion. Merging California innovation with fine Italian craftsmanship to drive the industry’s most significant evolution in nearly a century.
Using new and innovative technology, Thesis Couture has patented an internal shoe architecture that makes a 4-inch stiletto feel and function more like a 3-inch wedge. By combining engineering with fashion expertise, they have made the impossible, possible: they created a new shoe that is driven by comfort and wearability, but maintains the signature sexiness of women’s most popular footwear.
In 2013, Dolly Singh, former Head of Talent at SpaceX, set out to re-engineer the stiletto, which hasn’t changed since its invention in 1950. She recruited a team of top talent like no other—a rocket scientist, an orthopedic surgeon, a mechanical engineer, a shoe designer, and an Italian shoemaker.
“We know that diversity is the essence of innovation. Our team of experts transitions seamlessly between the languages of art, fashion, design, engineering, and technology.”
– Dolly Singh
Habitica is a free habit and productivity app that treats your real life like a game. Forming a new habit is hard because people really need that obvious, instant reward. Habitica’s gamification adds a sense of instant gratification to everyday objectives by rewarding a tough task with experience, gold…maybe even a random prize, like a dragon egg! This helps keep you motivated even when a task itself doesn’t have an intrinsic reward.
Swivel is a mobile app that lets women of color discover and book the best stylists for their individual hair type and desired style. Whether she wants to wear her hair in braids, curls or locs, Swivel offers women of color the missing resource for finding the right salon or stylist who understands how to work with their hair, so that they can feel valued and embrace their authentic self.
The beauty industry is slow to incorporate women of color in beauty trends, yet they spend 9x more on beauty than any other ethnic group on hair care. Beauty schools simply don’t train stylists on black hair, as a result, women of color can’t trust just any stylist to do her hair—discovery of the right stylist is key. Co-founders Jihan Thompson, a former editor at top national women’s magazines, and Jennifer Lambert, a Harvard-trained, former corporate lawyer, have created Swivel to be the best beauty experience for this underserved market.
Currently available in New York City, Swivel has been featured in The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, Essence, Allure, and Blavity.
The Mentor Method is a SaaS platform that provides curated mentor matches, connecting the next generation of tech leaders with change-making mentors at the top of their game. By focusing on people and value-fit first, The Mentor Method fosters authentic, lasting connections. The result is stronger teams and inclusive workplace cultures. Transform today’s entry and mid-level talent into fearless leaders for tomorrow, ready to tackle the most complex business challenges. With an inclusive, next-generation culture rooted in mentorship, they’ll be 100% engaged along the way.
The Mentor Method was founded to champion a world where minorities and women in tech are viewed as crucial assets to be valued, not a trivial box to be checked.
CEO + Founder Janice Omadeke is certified in Entrepreneurship from MIT and is completing a graduate certification in Strategic Management from Harvard. Accepted into the 1776 global incubator and the MassChallenge accelerator, she was selected as a Top 10 finalist in Rent the Runway Foundation’s Project Entrepreneur. The Mentor Method has been featured in The Washington Business Journal, The Huffington Post, and Entrepreneur.
Radiant is an established software company providing technology solutions in the areas of asset tracking and employee safety. They focus on helping large companies and government agencies find the physical ‘location of things’ that have been purchased within their organizations.
Through the use of RFID, GPS, and Beacon technologies, Radiant provides apps that accurately inventory items such as servers in data centers, oil field equipment, and a variety of items for government organizations and large commercial entities. Radiant’s solution solves accountability issues which all businesses encounter: risk, audit, inventory, and utilization. By improving asset visibility Radiant helps its customers bring products to market faster and with less operational error.
Radiant is a HUB-certified minority business headquartered in Austin, Texas. With 10M+ assets managed daily, $12B+ in asset value tracked, and multiple Fortune 500 customers, Radiant is leading the way in RFID, BLE, and GPS technologies to implement modern solutions that automate asset accountability.
The inaccessibility of credit for many of the 80 million Millennials in the U.S. seriously hampers their personal and financial lives. Nearly 66% are without a credit card in their wallet, which means they are not building credit. They’re avoiding credit cards because they often lack the credit score to qualify or because they simply don’t want to bother with a product they don’t understand.
Float is changing the way Millennial consumers access credit with a fundamentally new category that is the fastest, most convenient, and most accessible credit experience on the market.
Float is a mobile app that syncs with a user’s bank account and provides a line of credit they use seamlessly with the debit card they already have in their wallet. From download to spend takes less than 180 seconds and does not require a credit score.
Tinsel creates wearable tech jewelry for women, addressing their essential tech needs through high quality, highly fashionable fashion accessories.
Their first product is an audio necklace, The Dipper, that cleverly conceals headphones within its design. It takes her headphones out of the purse and puts them on her body, without looking like headphones. Play music, take phone calls, or summon Siri while never worrying about your headphones getting twisted in knots, lost, or broken at the bottom of your bag.
Founder and CEO Aniyia Williams is committed to changing the consumer electronics landscape through the conscious development of products for women.
Siempo is reimagining tech tools so that they empower people to be present at home, focused at work and school, and flourishing in life. Siempo’s mission is to help people build healthier relationships with technology, because they envision a world in which technology supports humans being.
The Siempo Home App transforms any smartphone into a more intentional experience. Calm your home screen, create distance between distracting apps, and batch notifications in order to prevent unconscious use. Inspired by design standards from The Center for Humane Technology, Siempo is both the protective gear you need to navigate our attention-grabbing digital world, and the friendly mentor to help build healthy digital habits.
Kairos is an artificial intelligence company specializing in facial recognition. They do 3 things extremely well: identity (recognize 1 person in 500M in ~1sec with 99.6% certainty), demographics (analyze age, gender, and ethnicity), and emotion detection (identify joy, anger, disgust, sadness, fear and surprise).
Kairos serves countless industries across a diverse global customer base, including offering advertisers actionable, real-time insights about audience reactions to campaigns, supporting retailers to create amazing new customer experiences informed by human analytics, and protecting financial service businesses from fraud and their customers from identity theft.
Founded in 2012 by Brian Brackeen (former ADP, IMB, and Apple), Kairos is based in Miami. The company’s Human Analytics platform enables businesses to integrate identity, emotion and demographic data, with only a few lines of code.
HabitAware makes Keen, a smart awareness bracelet that helps people overcome subconscious mental health behaviors, like excessive hair pulling, nail biting, and skin picking. Keen uses personalized gesture detection to bring awareness to the unwanted behavior. This awareness empowers positive change by offering people the opportunity to make a new choice.
Keen was created out of personal need — Aneela, one of the co-founders, suffered in isolation and shame from a hair pulling disorder (trichotillomania) for over 20 years until, with the increased awareness enabled by Keen, they were able to avoid the behavior.
HabitAware’s mission is to raise awareness of subconscious behavioral issues and end the stigma around mental health.
OmniSpeech develops speech extraction software for enhancing voice quality in mobile communication devices and in VoIP (Voice over IP) and speech recognition platforms. Founded by world-renowned engineer Dr. Carol Espy-Wilson, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and head of the Speech Communication Lab at the University of Maryland, OmniSpeech takes a novel approach to the challenge of delivering clean speech in noisy environments.
Based on decades of research into speech acoustics, digital speech processing, speech production and perception, OmniSpeech’s innovative single channel software-only solution focuses on identifying the speech within noisy signals and isolating and extracting it, as opposed to other approaches which focus on identifying background noise and canceling it.
As a high-performing, software only solution, OmniClear offers mobile device manufacturers a compelling option for reducing bill-of-materials cost while maintaining or enhancing voice quality. OmniSpeech’s mission is to be the solution of choice to enhance speech-enabled technology in any device, app or platform.
Often referred to as the “ESPN for Millennials”, Mars Reel is a fast-growing Mobile Sports Network designed for 13- to 24-year-old viewers that have shifted away from full-length sports programming on traditional cable networks to short highlight videos with cool music delivered to their mobile devices. Mars Reel caters to the unique viewing habits of the mobile generation and currently reaches 25 million millennials every month. The company was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Burbank, CA.
Seeds is the only software platform for improving spending through doing good by giving users the opportunity to buy, while simultaneously helping others. Developers can quickly install an SDK for their platform of choice (Unity, iOS, Android and Amazon Fire), and Seeds instantly compels increased spending and engagement.
CSR (Corporate social responsibility) is cool, but the future is improving the bottomline by building sustainable, for-profit good into products. Seeds is not a non-profit; they make money to sustain the platform and for developers, microlenders, and microborrowers in need. They believe in transcending the old zero-sum financial system, which dictates that in order for someone to win $1, another person has to lose. The best way to do that is by creating more value, and more money, for all involved.
CareAcademy teaches evidence-based online classes to help caregivers provide excellent care at home in an $84 billion industry. They are an affordable and engaging way for caregivers to learn as professionals, and they support family members so older adults can live independently.
NailSnaps lets consumers turn photos into one-of-a-kind nail polish stickers for personalized nail art. Nail wraps last up to 2 weeks and can can be self-applied in minutes with no dry time, and no salon, required. NailSnaps is a vision for a new kind of self-expression. By combining digital creativity with custom-printed nail polish stickers, hands become a gallery for wearable art.
CEO Angel Anderson, former VP of User Experience at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, and COO Sarah Heering, founder and operator of SAJE Media, founded NailSnaps in 2014 to change the nail game and make it easy for everyone to have the nail designs of their dreams without all the mess and toxicity.
NailSnaps has been featured on The Today Show + ABC News and in Good Housekeeping, Elle, Seventeen, and Forbes. Top beauty influencer Michelle Phan heralded NailSnaps as “must-have” beauty/fashion tech.
🎁 Use promo code: ‘Backstage50’ for 50% off your first order!
Bandwagon is a B2b analytics company that uses data and proprietary blockchain technology to help sports teams and event organizers eliminate ticket fraud while increasing fan engagement. Their bold vision for the future of ticketing is to increase distribution, allowing fans to buy tickets however and wherever they want. Bandwagon addresses multi-billion dollar problems related to fraud, untracked reselling, and a total lack of data visibility that plagues the $30B+ ticket market industry.
Leveraging the power of blockchain technology, the Bandwagon platform helps event organizers and venues confirm the validity of their digital tickets, while helping them understand who owns them. This eliminates ticket fraud, regardless of where the ticket was purchased. Ticket sales are enforced by smart contracts securely, mathematically, and cryptographically.
Founder + CEO Harold Hughes has been featured on the Gimlet Media podcast “The Pitch” and the reality show “Meet the Drapers”. The Bandwagon team puts a new spin on SaaS — “Stadium-as-a-Service”, where event organizers can deliver value to their fans before, during, and after the event.
Photo courtesy of the Clemson University.
Drop is building the future of discovery in immersive computing. Their mission is to enable each of us to learn about the world in a more meaningful and authentic way.
Based in the Bay Area, Drop is an HTC portfolio company — a team of tech geeks, designers, and flat-out nerds obsessed with the way people discover and interact with the world around them in immersive computing environments. Drop is the “Google Chrome for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality”.
Experience the future of search today.
Wedspire was founded in Toronto, Canada, by Afeisha and Kevon, a bride and groom who married in 2010 and wanted to renew their wedding vows for their 5th year anniversary with a big celebration.
They browsed a litany of wedding blogs, websites & bridal magazines, and felt overwhelmed. They found no easy way to source, vet and purchase wedding products and services in one spot. Determined to help couples seamlessly facilitate planning their big day, they created Wedspire.
Naturally, their unbreakable bond made it very easy to pursue a business partnership, melding their strengths and areas of expertise—Kevon’s background in smart system design leads platform development, and Afeisha’s 10+ years of domain expertise drives the vision, and leads product & biz development.
The world’s first—and only—streaming audio app dedicated exclusively to comedy, Laughly is a mecca for stand-up comedy enthusiasts, with tens of thousands of routines from the world’s best comedians, both established and emerging.
Recently named Best New Startup in the Entertainment & Content category at the 2017 SXSW (South By Southwest) Festival, and ranked among the Top 10 Apps in both the App Store and Google Play, Laughly continues to gain popularity since its August 2016 debut.
Laughly is the brainchild of San Francisco-based serial entrepreneur, tech executive, radio host and author Dave Scott, whose foray into stand-up comedy let him realize an unfulfilled niche. While many clubs give comics free audio recordings of their sets, there was no single place to upload their routines, publish albums, gain exposure and make money. Conversely, only a few years ago there was a lack of a streaming and on-demand audio app devoted solely to comedy. Scott debuted his new startup, and won an onstage opportunity to present it to investors on the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield in New York. It officially launched to the general public in August 2016.
Nicolette is a patient empowerment company. They build visual, audio, and interactive displays of medical data and research to enable patients to understand their health quickly and with enough confidence to serve as their own healthcare advocate.
Nicolette’s entry point is the NICU, where new parents are in high-stakes, high-anxiety situations and typically do not have the capability of understanding their baby’s diagnosis, plan of care, and progress. This leaves them to defer completely to others and hope for the best. Nicolette’s dashboards translate raw EHR data so well that these same parents understand complex topics within minutes, then efficiently move through treatment options and ultimately a collaborative decision with their baby’s healthcare team.
Empowering patients in this way leads to better health outcomes, and leads to higher revenue, reduced risk, and increased productivity for healthcare providers.
Dibs is a SaaS plug-in that lets the $75B fitness industry implement dynamic pricing. Dibs empowers the industry to use price as a driver to increase occupancy, engagement, and ultimately profitability. It is the first to address inventory management and the problems that result from the one-price-fits-all approach traditionally taken in the health & wellness space.
Dibs’ algorithms price every single space according to real-time demand, allowing customers to get the best possible rate at any given time while maximizing revenues, and helping fitness facilities maintain the 1-1 relationship with their customers.
GoGrab is a shopping marketplace for on-demand (same-day delivery) stores and subscription services. GoGrab connects retailers, independent sellers, and restaurants with drivers and shoppers.
With GoGrab, sellers get a branded e-commerce site and attract new customers while people get a chance to shop from local stores, get same-day delivery, create a subscription calendar, and earn points—all from one platform.
Our end-to-end platform offers features like POS integration, excel inventory integration, loyalty programs, fulfillment backend apps, customer analytics, real-time order and driver tracker and more.
CapWay is creating a new financial standard that caters to the specific needs of the underserved market. With 160 million Americans and 3 billion people worldwide considered financially underserved, CapWay focuses on the financial health of this market by offering both services and products. CapWay’s services are all based around financial literacy. Their products include pre-paid debit cards and bank-issued debit cards.
With both founders being from Mississippi, the state with the highest population of financially undeserved residents, Sheena and Tim combined their personal and professional experiences to create CapWay. The goal of CapWay is to understand and serve the people with the problem, not just talk about the problem itself.
Quarrio has created an AI platform that lets ordinary business users do advanced reporting and analytics without having to learn any new skills. Ask questions in ordinary English and Quarrio provides instantaneous answers in plain English with auto-generated graphs or charts. More importantly, users can then ask follow-up questions and quickly drill down to the information they seek.
Quarrio is a dynamic reporting and analysis system that’s really easy to interface with.
Designed by Malibu native Katharine Polk, Houghton is the rapidly growing, highly acclaimed designer Ready to Wear brand gaining loyalty with millennials worldwide. Houghton is disrupting the bridal gown industry with a whole new vision of what wedding wear can be: sexy, edgy and fashionable.
The name Houghton is a reference to Katharine Houghton Hepburn, Ms. Polk’s muse and inspiration. Her chic, sexy, timeless style is the brand’s touchstone.
Katharine was awarded the Caleres St. Louis Fashion Fund Emerging Designer Award in October of 2015 and was a finalist for the Fashion Group International’s 2015 and 2016 Rising Star award, has been named “One to Watch” (WWD), “The Next Big Thing” (Style.com), and has received generous accolades from all the major fashion press.
Houghton is now sold to top RTW boutiques, department stores and forward thinking bridal ateliers; a combined total of over 50 doors in 12 countries. Houghton is proudly made in America.
While founders Andre and Abay were in college, they wanted to connect with other Soca fans, and find concerts close to school. Radial was born! Radial connects people through Soca music and allows them to discover what is popular back home through a curated experience.
Artists get the benefit of reaching their fans directly, learning where they congregate, and thus are able to make an informed decision about where to perform next.
Air Taylor gives brick & mortar retailers access to America’s best tailor shops, as well as online and offline resources to help their customers with clothing adjustments right from the point of purchase.
Company no longer active.
Blue Fever is a video distributor for young women that delivers movies and series via text message. Everyone who signs up for Blue Fever gets their own, private text thread with Blue — a digital friend with a big sister personality. Blue is an empathetic technology who was created by a group of girls to be completely non-judgmental and support you through the things you’re feeling.
The team behind Greo were tired of the state of the national discourse and the toxic role traditional and social media have been played in it. So they’ve built a place for Millennials to discover and exchange fresh perspectives in a productive way.
Their eponymous app is a fun, safe way to share and discuss politics and culture without trolling and abuse. Record your opinions in short 60-second selfie videos and your followers respond with their own videos. TLDR is a tool to easily save, categorize, and discuss the best articles you come across daily. tashe helps you to save your favorite internet gems for later, and share them with 7 or fewer best friends at lightning speed
Text Engine brings the richness of the entire Web by text message. Consumers can get weather, news, yellow pages, movies, flight status, and more just by sending a text message.
There are many cities in the world—even in the U.S.—where the majority of residents must use feature phones, flip phones, or “dumbphones” because they can’t afford smartphones or costly data plans, or the infrastructure of the region doesn’t support Wi-Fi.
Text Engine allows people in emerging communities around the world, as well as low-income communities in the U.S., to search the Web by sending simple text messages without requiring a web browser, internet access, or apps. That means anyone, anywhere can gain access to Google, Wikipedia, world news, and so much more.