Techstars has launched its latest accelerator program. What’s more, a trailblazing Black-owned company was marked as one of its finalists.
On April 3, Inpathy — a first-of-its-kind social app — announced it was one out of 12 companies from around the world selected for Techstars’ Detroit accelerator, powered by J.P. Morgan.
The program is backed by the pre-seed investor’s $80 million fund, which was raised through the J.P. Morgan Private Bank.
The Detroit accelerator is part of Techstars’ nine-city initiative that aims to provide equitable access, funding, and support for Black, Hispanic and Latino, Indigenous American, and/or Pacific Islander entrepreneurs.
Co-founded by Ziarekenya Smith and Kathryn Smith, Inpathy aims to recreate the human experience by serving as a safe space for users to be transparent and express themselves within empathetic communities, as previously reported by AfroTech.
Techstars Detroit had a highly competitive selection process and although there were initial doubts about whether Inpathy would be a finalist, it all ultimately “reaffirmed our belief in faith, hustle, and tears,” Ziarekenya shared with AfroTech.
“One of the things I am most looking forward to gaining from Techstars is the opportunity to form meaningful relationships with the other founders in our cohort,” Ziarekenya told AfroTech. “Being part of a community of like-minded individuals with similar values and goals can be incredibly empowering.”
He continued, “Additionally, I am eager to receive mentorship on improving my leadership skills, pitching to investors, raising capital, and establishing successful B2B partnerships with companies that can help us on our journey.”
In addition to being selected and affirming their journey, the duo hopes the experience will empower fellow Black entrepreneurs.
“In the Black community, historically, we’ve had to fight against the assumption that we don’t belong,” Kathryn said in an email interview. “Whether it’s in business, schools, or even restaurants: We were repeatedly told where we should and shouldn’t be. I hope that Inpathy receiving the support of Techstars Detroit, powered by J.P. Morgan based on our steady organic traction, integrity and grit helps push you to resent that imposter feeling. Throughout my journey as an innovator, I’ve learned that when you acknowledge the outsider spotlight and learn to leverage it, you step into an unexpected power.”
She added, “As Black Founders and entrepreneurs, it’s important to understand that the most effective way to address being excluded is to leverage our unique experiences, backgrounds, and insights to build our own products and communities where we are seen, heard and valued.”
As Inpathy looks to achieve long-term success in the startup world, it’s gearing up for expansion with the help of Techstars Detroit. The Smiths hope for the virtual/hybrid accelerator to aid in closing their pre-seed funding round, building and launching the Inpathy MVP, gaining mentorship and networking opportunities, and strengthening their sustainable business model.