Two African startups selected for Techstars NYC class of 2023

Techstars New York Accelerator has selected two African startups, Pennee and Mainstack for its 2023 spring class.

Two African startups selected for Techstars NYC class of 2023
Founders of Pennee and Mainstack, the selected African startups 

Last month, Techstars held a demo day for 12 companies selected for the New York City Spring 2023 class. "[We] received applications from over 78 countries and ultimately selected a group of global founders that hail from Nigeria, France, and cities in the US including Dallas, New York, Washington D.C. and Miami," says KJ Singh, Managing Director of the Techstars NYC Accelerator.

Of the 12 companies, two are founded by Africans; Pennee, a Nigerian-based fintech and Mainstack, a no-code tools and API provider. However, it is important to note that another company in the cohort, Third Design founded by a Tunisian but is based in Paris, France.

"We had a very competitive application pool and selecting these 12 companies was extremely difficult," Singh added. "The companies joining us in this year’s class are helping solve many issues - from tools accelerating developer productivity to technology enabling families to keep elderly loved ones’ money safe, and solutions making health care pricing transparent."

Techstars will invest up to $120,000 in each of the selected companies.

Last year, three African startups—Voyance, Torche and Vesti were selected for the Techstars New York Accelerator class of spring. 

Learn more about Pennee and Mainstack

  • Founded by Mejero Emmanuella, Pennee is simplifying financing and cash flow management for small businesses in emerging markets starting with Nigeria. The company also provides mentorship to SMEs within its portfolio. Last year, Pennee deployed 25% of its $2.7 million in credit financing to its first small business accelerator cohort.
  • Maintack is founded by Ayobami Oyaleke (CEO) and Olamide Akinola (CTO). Mainstack's no-code tools and API enable entrepreneurs and creators to present and sell their work effortlessly with global payment options.

    "Many non-technical entrepreneurs and creators have clients all over the world but are unable to accept all currencies as payment. Mainstack allows individuals to create a showcase page and process payments globally with no code," according to Oyaleke.

    Aside from the above, Mainstack's API enables more technically advanced companies to accept global payment options with a single line of code.

Techstars in Africa

Founded in 2006, Techstars is an American seed accelerator that began with three simple ideas— enabling entrepreneurs to create a better future for everyone, collaborating, and driving innovation to empower great ideas that can come from anywhere. Techstars has invested in more than 2,900 companies with a combined market cap of more than $189 billion.

Since its first African investment between 2011 to 2015, the global accelerator has backed more than 60 companies on the continent. During a trip to Nigeria last year, Techstars CEO Maëlle Gavet said that "Africa in general and Nigeria in particular as a key market [Techstars] wanted to be in. We really want to become part of an ecosystem rather than act as if we know better from afar. We believe there are hundreds, if not thousands of entrepreneurs here in Lagos that could be great investments."

With hubs across the United States and Africa, Techstar launched its New York hub in 2011. “Home to a thriving tech ecosystem, Techstars NYC supports a diverse group of founders with world-class resources that help them grow and scale,” the Accelerator stated on its website.

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