Techstars Atlanta, the local startup accelerator program part of the global Techstars network, has chosen 10 early-stage companies — following over 500 interviews — for its third cohort. The 12-week program, which is sponsored locally by Cox Enterprises, kicks off this Monday.
The Techstars Atlanta team traveled around the world to source the 10 startups. Managing Director Michael Cohn and Director Rachel Ford say they returned to many of the cities where they had seen success in the past, such as Chattanooga, TN; Cincinnati, OH; and Tel Aviv, Israel. Their travel resulted in drawing applications from 42 countries.
The team says they placed a special focus on recruiting from their own region. Techstars Atlanta is the only industry-agnostic southeastern chapter of the startup network (Techstars has a program in North Carolina, but it focuses exclusively on insurtech companies).
“We made a very concerted effort to turn over every rock in the Southeast,” says Cohn. They selected entrepreneurs from Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee; three hailing from Atlanta.
He also expressed the importance of relationships they’ve built in the cities they’ve returned to over the last two years of the program, such as Tel Aviv. Two Israeli companies will join the cohort this year, with Cohn citing proximity to U.S. customers as the big draw for the founders to leave Israel’s “Startup Nation”.
Ford explains that the Techstars network itself was invaluable during the sourcing process — the organization runs 42 startup programs all over the world.
For example, upon visiting Miami, FL, a new city for the Atlanta team, Ford reached out to a local Techstars contact to be connected to potential candidates. She says they then saw a very strong pipeline of applicants from Florida. “This underscores the significance of ‘the power of the network’, one of Techstars’ core values,” says Ford.
Many of the founders entering this class don’t fit perfectly within the typical tech founder mold. Half of the companies in the class are led by solo, non-technical founders who have made up for technical knowledge gaps by surrounding themselves with strong tech teams.
Cohn and Ford emphasize that those non-technical founders also bring to the table an important quality: a deep understanding of the pain point their companies are tackling.
Motivo founder Rachel McCrickard worked as a mental health professional for years prior to founding her startup, a HIPAA-compliant video conference platform that connects mental health professionals seeking their license to clinical supervisors for “telesupervision”.
Similarly, legal tech platform Case Status’s founder Lauren Sturdivant practiced as an attorney for years before making the jump to entrepreneurship.
When the program begins on Monday, the founders, who will all be located in Atlanta for the duration of the three months, will receive education on topics ranging from business to technology to marketing and sales. They will be connected to mentors pulled from the local startup community in the accelerator’s signature ‘mentor madness’ program, and will work out of the Techstars space in Ponce City Market for free.
“Building a startup can be a lonely, maddening and uncertain path with few rules or footsteps to follow, so working next to some of the smartest founders, mentors and former Techstars alumni will help us build a solid foundation to scale up from,” says Trevor Wolfe, founder of AI-driven marketing analytics platform BigTeam.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the team and I improve as individuals over the next three months and how that will positively impact BigTeam as we ship more product and gain more customers.” The startup moved to Atlanta from South Africa this year to gain access to the city’s robust martech scene, local corporate clients, and talent.
Techstars also provides each company with an initial $120,000 and access and introductions to early-stage investors. Many of the Techstars Atlanta alumni have raised funding rounds during or following the program.
2ULaundry, a tech-enabled laundry delivery service, is one such company. Part of the 2017 Techstars Atlanta class, the Charlotte-based startup raised a seed round of $2.5 million last fall while halfway through the program. Both Techstars Ventures and Cox Enterprises contributed to the round.
“Our goal was to build a marketing team, raise capital, and launch Atlanta as our 2nd market… we did all three,” says Dan D’Aquisto, co-founder and CRO of 2ULaundry. “Since demo day, we’ve grown the Atlanta market and team to half the size of our first market, Charlotte, in half the time.”
D’Aquisto says the Techstars program was a “natural springboard” for that success.
Techstars Atlanta will conclude with an open Demo Day on Monday, October 15.
Meet the companies who have joined Class 3:
BigTeam (Atlanta, GA): A platform that allows modern marketing, product, customer experience, and innovation teams to generate actionable feedback from employees, clients, and stakeholders.
CaribShopper (Miami, FL): A platform that enables underbanked customers in developing nations with the ability to participate in e-commerce by providing them with accessible cash-to-credit facilities and simplified freight-forwarding.
Case Status (Charleston, SC): An application that assists attorneys in keeping clients up-to-date on case status, allowing them to focus on more high-value work.
Cemento (Tel Aviv, Israel): A commercial real estate construction collaboration application for general contractors and subcontractors that provides visibility to all stakeholders to ensure that projects are delivered on time and on budget.
CommissionTrac (Atlanta, GA): A cloud-based software for commercial real estate firms that streamlines tedious back office accounting and commission management.
Fixel (Tel Aviv, Israel): A fully-autonomous platform that helps marketers create and manage more efficient customer segments by ranking them based on their level of engagement.
Motivo (Chattanooga, TN): An online platform that connects aspiring mental health professionals seeking licensure with clinical supervisors through live, HIPAA-compliant video.
PadSplit (Atlanta, GA): A solution for landlords that enables them to provide affordable shared living experiences to the workforce.
PowerSpike (Albany, NY): A platform that connects streamers with brands in a fully-managed eSports influencer marketing platform.
SAWA (Cincinnati, OH): A virtual graphic designer that allows teams to create consistent, branded designs for commonly needed communications.