Gary Stewart, a heavyweight player in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, has just been appointed Managing Director of the Techstars New York City Accelerator powered by J.P. Morgan.
Stewart’s role was officially announced by Techstars this month. He’ll be at the helm of a competitive accelerator program with a specific focus on healthcare, beauty, EdTech, and financial inclusion.
Stewart says he’s determined that underrepresented founders get access to resources, social capital, and the funding they need and deserve.
“Talent is distributed evenly, but opportunity clearly is not,” Gary explains”. He insists; “My mission is to do whatever I can to change this and ensure that the majority of black and brown founders within my classes will raise substantial funding rounds within 1 year of being a part of Techstars NYC powered by J.P. Morgan.”
Stewart’s appointment comes under the Techstars and J.P. Morgan partnership to invest in diverse entrepreneurs. An $80 million investment powered by J.P. Morgan will support more than 400 companies through 37+ programs in 9 cities to create opportunities for wealth creation, often constrained by institutional, structural, and systemic barriers.
The first five cities, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, and Washington D.C. have already launched. The Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and Oakland programs mark the second stage rollout for Techstars and J.P. Morgan.
The first cohort for the Techstars NYC Accelerator will kick off in April 2023. The application process opens next month in October.
Funding comes from the JP Morgan Private Wealth platform, and JP Morgan also provides each founder with a banker in residence. Gary notes that although JP Morgan is there to offer its expertise, the “investors are hands-off, letting Techstars do its thing.” In turn, Techstars entrust each managing director with total autonomy over their program, “I’m treated like the CEO of my program, I have been allowed to curate my own program and chose my staff” Gary says.
Following JP Morgan’s pledge toward supporting minority communities, the collaboration with Techstars marks a commitment to supporting minority and underrepresented founders through the accelerator program.
The US cities chosen to host the program are not only business and entrepreneurial hubs but significantly are minority diverse cities. With New York ranked as the second biggest tech-startup ecosystem in the world, Gary laments that “it still feels impossible” for minorities who are still being overlooked.
Founder and CEO of FounderTribes, Gary grew up in New York but has since lived and worked in Europe, notably in Spain and the UK. In Europe, Gary felt like “not a lot of people took funding minorities seriously.” Moving back to America he has felt the impact of major corporations investing in underrepresented founders; “there’s nothing that exists like Techstars in the UK” he says.
His NYC-based program is there to let “founders know that they’re not idiots; the program exists to help them.” When hiring his own team Gary’s only requirement was to onboard other founders. “I need people to have that industry knowledge. The aim of the game is to help founders get funding and get commercial opportunities”, Gary emphasizes.
Still chair of FounderTribes, Gary has restructured his team which is now more senior and equity-based as he moves over full-time to Techstars. For Gary, this has taught him “the importance of finding a team who are driven by the idea of working in a startup, who are invested in its success.” His program expects this level of commitment from its founders, just as Gary is every bit as committed to them.
The hybrid 13-week program will host 12 founders and includes field trips to Silicon Valley. The program encourages flexibility for founders with family commitments or geographical restrictions. Focused on New-York based founders, Gary is keen to encourage European-based or African founders to apply.
Using the program’s New-York base to its advantage, the focus is on Healthcare, FinTech, and EdTech, areas that represent clear strongholds for the New York ecosystem. Gary has neatly coined this a trio of “companies that help us to become healthier, feel better about ourselves, and get smarter and richer.”
The program seeks to draw upon Wall Street’s influence on FinTech and the Northeastern Ivy’s pertinence for EdTech to open up New York business opportunities for its founders. 55% of America’s billion-dollar startups have one immigrant founder. Gary’s NYC program isn’t just looking to create one unicorn, he wants to participate in the creation of huge companies, proving that minorities can raise seven or eight-figure funding.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Gary means business with his Techstars program. “It’s crazy that blacks and Latinx make up 33% of the US population and about 53% of NYC’s population, but we only get about 3% of VC funding. He adds that he is determined to ensure founders that go through his accelerator create scalable and high-growth companies.