Techstars Joins Tulsa Startup Ecosystem to Invest in Diverse Founders

Techstars, a global investment business that provides access to capital, one-on-one mentorship and customized programming for early-stage entrepreneurs, announces the launch of the Build in Tulsa Techstars Accelerator. Run in partnership with Build in Tulsa, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, and Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, the new program will support and fund high-growth underrepresented entrepreneurs.

This announcement is part of a longstanding commitment to diverse founders who are routinely overlooked or undervalued by venture firms and investors because they do not meet certain age, race or gender preferences about what a typical founder looks like, according to a press release.

The Build in Tulsa Techstars Accelerator will be led by Managing Director Tré Baker, who joins Techstars from a career of entrepreneurship and early-stage investing. Baker has founded companies in sectors including consulting, e-commerce, CPG, entertainment, biofuels and blockchain, and maintains a portfolio of dozens of startups as an investor. In 2018 he published his first book, “In The Black 2050: a model for Black economic leadership in the 21st century.”

“As a Black entrepreneur, I understand the obstacles and challenges underrepresented founders face firsthand,” said Baker.

“During the first half of 2021 Black entrepreneurs received a little more than one percent of a record $147 billion invested in U.S. startups. We could not be more excited to support and invest in underrepresented entrepreneurs in Tulsa, and we are proud to partner with Build in Tulsa and the George Kaiser Family Foundation to help these founders build and grow their businesses.”

Techstars, founded in 2006, has found success far beyond Silicon Valley and is committed to the tenet that great ideas are everywhere, and all that’s missing is access and opportunity. To date, 32% of Techstars’ portfolio company CEOs identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC).

While this marks Techstars’ first accelerator in Oklahoma, the company has invested in four Oklahoma-based startups through its nearly 50 accelerator programs around the world. In addition, Techstars has had a presence in Oklahoma since 2010, hosting 18 Techstars Startup Weekend community events with 800+ attendees across Tulsa, Norman, Stillwater and Oklahoma City.

The Build in Tulsa Techstars Accelerator will support and invest in 10 early-stage startups led by underrepresented founders each year. Startups will participate in an intensive, 13-week program, receive hands-on mentorship, curated entrepreneurial content and programming, up to $120K in funding and access to Techstars’ vast network of mentors, investors, alumni and corporates. The inaugural program will kick off Aug. 8, 2022 and culminate in a Demo Day on Nov. 3, 2022. Applications for the 2022 class will be received Feb. 22, 2022 through May 11, 2022.

“Build in Tulsa is thrilled to partner with Techstars to bring this powerhouse program to Tulsa. Techstars’ network of mentors and track record for entrepreneurial success falls right in line with Build in Tulsa’s mission to elevate Black entrepreneurs by helping them build skills, networks, and financial capital,” said Ashli Sims, managing director at Build in Tulsa.

“This is one more sign that the spirit of Black Wall Street is alive and well in Tulsa. And we’re excited to work with Techstars to develop more successful Black-led startups.”