L.A. Company Joins New Techstars 'Anywhere' Startup Accelerator Class

Tami Abdollah

Tami Abdollah was dot.LA's senior technology reporter. She was previously a national security and cybersecurity reporter for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C. She's been a reporter for the AP in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times and for L.A.'s NPR affiliate KPCC. Abdollah spent nearly a year in Iraq as a U.S. government contractor. A native Angeleno, she's traveled the world on $5 a day, taught trad climbing safety classes and is an avid mountaineer. Follow her on Twitter.

L.A. Company Joins New Techstars 'Anywhere' Startup Accelerator Class
Photo courtesy of Techstars

When Jennifer Beall Saxton learned she had been accepted into two different startup accelerators, including the highly competitive Techstars "Anywhere" Class, it was a no brainer.

She wanted to be able to work, mostly, anywhere so that she could also balance her family's needs -- a toddler and a husband in Los Angeles -- with her burgeoning business. That business, Tot Squad, aims to connect new parents to services.

"There are many of us in this class with kids and the typical accelerator that makes you uproot your life to go to a city for 13 weeks feels like it was designed for 'tech bros' in their 20s," Saxton, the company's founder and CEO. "Folks like us who have kids and husbands with jobs can't just pick up like that, so I think this new Anywhere program is brilliant!"


In addition to Saxton, seven other companies with at least one female founder make up the 4th cohort of Techstars Anywhere Class. There were 10 total companies announced as part of the new 2020 cohort on Monday.

Since its inception in 2017, Techstars Anywhere has had a historical acceptance rate of less than 1%. Tot Squad was the sole Los Angeles company that made the cut.

Much has been written about the lack of venture capital investment in women. In 2019, venture capital investment in all-female founding teams represented 2.7% of the U.S. startup ecosystem, according to data collected by PitchBook. When a female co-founder was included, that number rose to 11.4%.

"It's really embarrassing," Saxton said. "I think most of the capital is controlled by men, and for products and services that target female consumers, a lot of times those guys don't get it...It puts us at a disadvantage from a fundraising and growth perspective."

Ryan Kuder, the managing director for Techstars Anywhere, said that the aim was to build a program that's accessible for anyone to participate in. But as a result, "our applicant pool probably looks a bit different than the applicant pools for programs that require founders to relocate."

He said the program's flexibility also provides it with an edge to invest in great founders they might not have otherwise seen.

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Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

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