Black & Brown Tech Accelerator Announces 2024 Cohort

Program Doubled its Submissions from Last Year; Founders Span Healthcare Tech, Digital Health, Fintech, Climate, and Gaming

LOS ANGELES, May 10, 2024 – Today, Plug In Ventures, a growing tech community in South Los Angeles, announced Cohort 5 of its Accelerator Program, tailored specifically for early-stage startups led by Black and Brown founders in the emerging technology sector.

Cultivating the next generation of founders, the accelerator connects them to the tools, networks, and business development opportunities they need to grow and scale their companies.

“I am honored to introduce Plug In’s Cohort 5, made up of seven talented founders who are driving innovation in their respective fields and making positive contributions within the communities they serve and globally,” said Derek Smith, Founder & CEO of Plug In Ventures. “We’re excited to get to work with these diverse, early-stage startups and give them the foundation they need to access the myriad of opportunities awaiting them in the ever-evolving tech industry.”

The program includes weekly meetings, special and in-person sessions, networking events, and off-site workshops, with it culminating in a “Founders Showcase,” where founders introduce their companies and breakthrough innovations to the larger ecosystem of founders, investors, and tech stakeholders.

Cohort 5 will also partner with VC law firm Gunderson Dettmer, Verizon, and citywide and statewide stakeholders that support and develop early-stage enterprises in SoCal.

The program kicked off on April 16th with an in-person dinner and founder session in Los Angeles.

This year, Plug In Ventures received 138 applications, close to doubling the number of submissions from last year. Founders represent a wide range of sectors, from healthcare tech and digital health to fintech, climate, and gaming.

Cohort 5 includes:

Kwame Terra, Founder & CEO, bEHR Systems, Inc.

bEHR Systems, Inc. is a community-based, patient-centered care platform that utilizes a comprehensive health scoring algorithm to educate and provide personalized health solutions to the Black community.

Maria Uloko, Founder & CEO, VULVAi

VULVAi is a D2C platform using evidence-based science to prioritize vulvar health and provide holistic patient-driven vulvar care.

Rica Elysee, Co-Founder, SLAY

SLAY introduces AI-enhanced smart mirrors to retail, transforming shopping with real-time skin analysis and virtual try-ons.

Martha Gamboa, Founder & CEO, Frendii

Frendii is a Los Angeles County-based early-stage, technology startup that builds community for women over 50 and facilitates frequent social and human connection.

Oliver Sanchez, Co-Founder & CEO, Extrasense

Extrasense is transforming the pest control industry through IoT and Computer Vision, helping to reduce the impact pests have on our lives.

David Scott, Founder & CEO, Evil Genius Games

Evil Genius Games specializes in tabletop roleplaying and board games, holding licenses to produce games based on popular films.

Dr. Lauren Vivian, Co-Founder & CEO, WePair Health

WePair Health is a talent marketplace that enables organizations to rapidly implement local, inclusive workforce strategies, ultimately breaking down barriers to care for underserved communities.

Under Smith’s leadership, Plug In Ventures has flourished into a renowned emerging startup ecosystem, spanning across Southern California, Atlanta, and New York. He has paved the way for countless early-stage founders and investors.

“We look forward to continue our mission of nurturing emerging entrepreneurs from historically marginalized communities, empowering them to solve big problems in healthcare, fintech, digital media, climate control, sustainability, and other areas,” said Smith. “We stand ready to seed their growth.”

We’d like to acknowledge the amazing sponsors of Cohort 5 of our Accelerator Program, which include the California Office of Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), VC law firm Gunderson Dettmer, and Verizon. Their unwavering support is so critical to helping Plug In Ventures fulfill its mission year after year of uplifting early-stage startups led by Black and Brown founders in technology. We look forward to continuing to work together and disrupting the industry for the better!

To learn more about Plug In Ventures and its Accelerator Program, please click here.

About Plug In Ventures
Plug In Ventures is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting early-stage startups, with a particular focus on Black and Brown entrepreneurs from underserved communities. Through mentorship, resources, access to capital, and educational programs, Plug In Ventures aims to create a more inclusive and equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Chavonne Jones