Techstars Impact on hunt for impact alpha with first cohort



ImpactAlpha, June 6 – Pipeline Equity is a Denver, Colorado-based startup helping companies unlock value by eliminating gender bias. MDaaS Global, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is building a network of low-cost diagnostic and primary care centers that provide high-quality, affordable care to Africa’s next billion. Kutumbita, in Singapore, helps companies manage and train their factory workforce.

All three startups are part of the first cohort of Techstars Impact, the first impact-dedicated accelerator from the international accelerator network, which convened this week in Austin, Texas.

  • Why an impact accelerator? Techstars found that 10% of companies in its 2016 accelerators were in impact-aligned sectors; The number of impact companies coming onto the platform increased 50% year-over-year between 2013 and 2016; Impact venture alumni were achieving multiples on invested capital—or valuations relative to Techstars’ original investment—on par with, or better than, the general portfolio.
  • Game on. Techstars tapped Zoe Schlag, formerly of UnLtd USA, to lead a dedicated “impact” accelerator and raised a dedicated fund with limited partners including Kesha Cash’s Impact America and Morgan Stanley’s Alternative Investment Partners, as well as RetailMeNot CEO Cotter Cunningham. Each startup receives $120,000.
  • The inaugural cohort. Better Living Technologies (Austin), Bridgecare Finance (Seattle), MDaaS Global (Cambridge, and Lagos, Nigeria), Graviky Labs (Bangalore), TommyRun (Atlanta), Kutumbita (Singapore), Base Operations (Cambridge and Mexico), Haven Connect (San Francisco), Pipeline Equity (Denver), Troposphere (Baltimore).

“We’re looking for great founders building great businesses solving real needs,” Schlag told ImpactAlpha. For these companies, “impact is intrinsically tied to business model. As the business scales, so does the impact.”

Notable Techstars impact venture alumni include Fig Loans, a lender for low-income borrowers, Connxus, which helps companies build more diverse supply chains, and Aunt Bertha, a searchable platform that efficiently connects people in need with services provided by local nonprofits.

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