Techstars has tapped a new managing director for its D.C. senior care-focused accelerator that went live at the start of 2020.
The Boulder, Colorado accelerator operator, which runs an ever-growing roster of programs across the country, said Monday it has appointed Keith Camhi as its new managing director for its Techstars Future of Longevity Accelerator in the District.
The program, for startups working to solve problems confronting the elderly in partnership with Melinda Gates’s Pivotal Ventures, launched in January 2020 after setting out at the end of 2019 to fill the top slot for the accelerator. Jason Towns then led the local initiative until February 2021, after a period of also being primary caregiver to his aging mother as she fought and survived Covid-19, he said in a message to the WBJ Monday.
“I think that I was the perfect person to get this type of program off the ground, setting the right foundation, creating some structures to be built upon,” he said.
“I had really tough, candid conversations with the Pivotal Ventures and Techstars leadership teams about age, race, gender as well as the state of inclusion in this industry before accepting the role,” Towns said, “and was glad to see both organizations being willing to leverage this platform to not only support the best early-stage companies in the space, but to give me room to create an inclusive sourcing process that opened doors for some great founders.”
Towns said he expects to stay involved to support the founders while “pushing the leadership team to continue moving Techstars in the right direction.” He’s also working on another effort “focused on investing in overlooked opportunities in emerging, underserved markets,” but declined to disclose specifics at this time and said there is more to come, he said.
Camhi, who most recently led the organization’s global accelerator team as senior vice president of accelerators, brings his own experience in the startup arena. Prior to joining Techstars in May 2018 to oversee its eastern region, he was founder and CEO of health and fitness startups Great Play and FitLinxx. With those ventures, he raised more than $50 million in funding.
He’s also a startup mentor, angel investor and limited partner in multiple venture funds. Camhi earned his bachelor’s in computer science from Cornell University and MBA and master’s in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The problems the Future of Longevity accelerator aims to address “are universal in their potential impact and highly personal for me,” Camhi wrote in a blog post Monday. “As part of the sandwich generation, I’ve experienced the gaps in America’s caregiving infrastructure firsthand and, having personally built a successful venture-backed startup serving older adults, I’m looking forward to supporting entrepreneurs building solutions to address this substantial market opportunity.”
In overseeing the 13-week accelerator, Camhi will be charged with sourcing and making investment decisions in companies for the program. And for those focused on products and services for older adults and their caregivers, he noted in his blog post, “both are massive, underserved markets ripe for innovation.”
Camhi will work alongside Sarah Hippert, program manager for the Future of Longevity Accelerator since March 2020. He also expects to add “several part-time associates who assist startups during the program later this year,” he told us in an email Monday.
The D.C. program, now in its second year, is one of roughly 50 Techstars accelerator programs across the U.S. involving 500 early-stage companies a year. The accelerator chain, founded in 2006, provides $120,000 to its ventures — a $20,000 stipend and $100,000 convertible note in exchange for 6% equity — and provides mentorship support and guidance as they work to grow. Techstars, one of our Fire Award winners of 2020, also runs other startup programs, bootcamps and corporate partnerships.
The Future of Longevity program involves companies tackling challenges such as caregiver support, aging in place, prevention health, care coordination, financial wellness and social engagement. D.C. storytelling startup MemoryWell, which raised $2.5 million in March to expand beyond dementia care, is among the alumni from its inaugural cohort, which completed the program virtually through the pandemic.
Camhi moves into his new role as the larger Techstars organization sees change at the top; Maëlle Gavet started as its new CEO in January. Outgoing CEO and co-founder David Brown remains on its board, and co-founder David Cohen is now board chairman.
(As published by WBJ)