Access Mode Launches Spring 2023 Cohort Amid Renewed Concerns Around Cuts to Funding For BIPOC Techpreneurs


DENVER, COLORADO, UNITED STATES, May 2, 2023/ — This week marks the start of the Spring 2023 cohort for Denver-based Access Mode, a tech accelerator program created to help usher Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) along their entrepreneurial journey while navigating the dense and competitive race to growth.

It’s a grueling time for founders of color to raise funding to bring their innovations to market. According to an April 25 Techcrunch market analysis, Black founders, in particular, saw a decrease in year-over-year funding from Q1 2022, when they raised 1.5 percent — or $1.26 billion — out of the $81 billion allocated in private funding — a 75.2 percent drop in funding. And with events such as the March 2023 collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, accessing capital to grow feels that much more daunting.

Access Mode co-founders Zaneta Kelsey (CEO) and Kevin Allen (Executive Director) have created holistic programming that opens access to entrepreneurial education, mentorship, services, capital and community that serves BIPOC tech founders. But according to Kelsey, Access Mode is placing a priority focus on rapid revenue growth for the second cohort of ten companies in anticipation of unpredictable market instability and skittish private investors.

Access Mode has successfully forged partnerships with experts at major corporations like Amazon Web Services(AWS) and Accenture, with professors at academic institutions like University of Denver and University of Colorado, and other entrepreneurial support organizations like the Center for American Entrepreneurship and Energize Colorado.

“We have cultivated a keen ability to identify and connect with tenacious individuals who embody courage and possess the entrepreneurial spirit,” says Allen. “Many people have ideas and are able to create, but lack the courage to face the challenges of bringing ideas to life. The difference with our cohorts is that they not only have the abilities, but the willingness to take these leaps. Because they believe they will significantly impact the future, Access Mode and our partners believe in them.”

But systemic issues related to access to capital and resources at different stages along the entrepreneurial journey can threaten or even derail the most determined of individuals and the most viable of concepts. These are the high hurdles Kelsey and Allen aim to help innovators clear through its partnership ecosystem that provides layers of reinforcement that push these entrepreneurs forward.

Allen explained,”Our ability to address the needs of our companies is critical because the market moves fast. We have to move faster. That’s a unique aspect of what we are doing, as the market moves, we move. Access to funding that supports the dynamics is essential.”

“The power is in the partnerships,” explained Kelsey. “These are the organizations and individuals that not only believe that diversity in technology supports the greater good and connects us all, and also understand that it is critical for long-term economic growth.”

“Even a cursory look at projections in the census data for Colorado,” she adds, “points to ethnic and racial demographics that look much different than they do today. An investment in these BIPOC-led companies now is not only a good thing to do, but a smart thing. Economic prosperity for the future of business in our country is directly linked to the growth and sustainability of businesses founded by BIPOC entrepreneurs. ”

Access Mode is funded in part by the City and County of Denver, the Techstars Foundation, and Colorado Thrives.

The members of Access Mode’s Spring 2023 cohort include:

Mili Llama – A mobile-first platform, Mili Llama connects K-12 schools with college students and gig workers interested in substitute teaching.

Barter Shop – Using block chain, the Barter Shop is an app that serves as a marketplace, allowing small businesses to market their services and barter them as leverage for payment.

Inclusive Guide – Inclusive Guide is a user review platform that has been described as “Yelp for inclusivity.” With a mission to create data-driven, economic incentives for businesses to be more inclusive and welcoming.

WalletGyde – Using information about specific needs and budget, WalletGyde serves as a marketplace to connect young professionals to financial coaches.

Bookum – Bookum is a social bookclubbing app, creating and monetizing digital bookclubs.

finish’d – The finish’d platform makes it simple to access and manage on-demand services all in one place.

Ebony Notes – Ebony Notes is an app that uplifts the black community through powerful affirmations and resources.

MascotxYou – By establishing a baseline personality profile and collecting data continuously with the support of AI. MascotxYou helps college students mitigate mental health crises, increase engagement and optimize the college experience.

Legislade – Legislade develops AI-powered legislation writing tools tailored to local governments, leveraging NLP algorithms specifically trained for municipal legislation.

Cacau – Cacau Creates Inc. licenses artwork and provides education on the business of art licensing through a suite of online classes, membership community support and specialized digital art licensing coaching.

About Access Mode
Access Mode was founded by Zaneta Kelsey and Kevin Allen to address the unique challenges that Black, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander and Indigenous founders face, to provide them with: non-dilutive funding ($20k grant), personalized mentoring, service credits (up to $10k in partnership with local Colorado professional services companies), key content delivery by subject matter experts, and a supportive community as they usher early-stage founders along their entrepreneurial journey.


Stephanie Graves
Access Mode
[email protected]

Originally published at