Techstars Seattle reveals latest class, CEO talks about pros and cons of a virtual startup accelerator

(Techstars Image)

Part of the appeal of a startup accelerator is being able to interact with fellow startups and founders; meet investors and mentors in person; and those random collisions that can occur at physical events and other get-togethers.

But going virtual has actually been beneficial in some ways for Techstars Seattle, which just announced its latest cohort.

Isaac Kato. (Techstars Photo)

The accelerator operated its 2020 class mostly remote and is applying lessons learned to the 2021 class, which is getting its start a few weeks earlier than normal to help folks connect virtually.

Everyone misses the “easy camaraderie that quickly forms when we’re in person,” said Techstars Seattle CEO Isaac Kato. But participants also get some interesting tradeoffs with the virtual accelerator. They don’t have to commute to a physical office, giving them more time and space to execute their ideas, Kato said.

Another benefit: investor outreach.

“We’ve found that running remotely hasn’t hurt our companies’ fundraising prospects — last year’s class was quite successful raising capital despite graduating into the teeth of the COVID beast,” Kato said. “If anything, our virtual investor facing activities drove a broader set of investors to look at our companies.”

This year’s class, the 12th since 2010, is notable as it is the first time Techstars Seattle achieved gender parity within a cohort, with half of the companies led by female CEOs.

“We’re proud to play a role in driving the tech industry towards greater gender and racial equality,” Kato said.

Techstars Seattle has graduated 100 companies to date. Alumni of the organization — companies such as Remitly, Outreach, Skilljar, Bizible, Leanplum and Zipline — have collectively raised more than $1 billion in investment capital. Most have built their startups in the Pacific Northwest, helping expand the entrepreneurial clout in the region.

Techstars Seattle is part of a larger Techstars network that includes 50 programs across the globe and also features a Techstars venture capital fund and a startup studio model.

Companies in the 12th cohort hail from a variety of industries, ranging from education to enterprise software to e-commerce. Here are the 10 startups, with descriptions from each company:

  • Afriblocks: The Global Pan-African Freelance Marketplace.
  • Aplic.io: Admission and career assistance platform.
  • Bild: Collaborate with your manufacturers in real-time.
  • Brite: We empower communities to teach kids life skills through STEM
  • Edify: Onboard your new engineers, instantly.
  • Edith Labs: Building relationships powered by equity investments.
  • Pairtree: Modernizing adoption.
  • Storey the App: Shop and sell from your digital wardrobe.
  • The Folklore: The Folklore is a distributor of luxury African designer products.
  • Twelve Labs: Semantic search for videos through context-aware AI

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