The Seattle accelerator program begins its latest three-month training program for startups and budding enterprises.
Toronto startup Kepler Communications wants to build a cell-tower network in space — and it’s coming to Seattle to do so.
Kepler is one of nine companies participating in the 2016 Techstars Seattle program, a technology accelerator that connects startups with training, mentors and funding to grow the businesses.
This is the first year Techstars Seattle will run its three-month training intensive beginning in February. Managing director Chris DeVore, who took over the Techstars reins from Andy Sack in late 2014, moved the program from the summer and early fall months to the “dark and gray months” when people are more engaged and mentors are easier to get ahold of.
This year’s class has Techstars Seattle’s first space company, Kepler, as well as apps that work with messaging services and game-streaming companies.
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“We want to be able to both tap into and position the region as a leader in certain kinds of innovation,” DeVore said.
One company, Keepe, is building on the success of the region’s budding home-improvement industry.
It is creating an online marketplace of home-repair workers to partner with landlords so tenants can get simple repairs done quickly.
Keepe won’t compete with fellow Seattle companies Porch.com and Pro.com, CEO Rishi Mathew said. Pro and Porch work mainly with large home renovations, whereas Keepe is sticking to smaller fixes.
Another Techstars company, Subcurrent, makes a plug-in for popular work-messaging program Slack.
The integration makes it easy to create polls on Slack and is intended for management to get a better pulse on what’s happening within the company, CEO Samir Diwan said.
Here are the nine companies in the 2016 class.
• Beam, Bellevue: Collaborative streaming for video-game players.
• DroneSeed, Beaverton, Ore.: Uses drones to identify fertile areas and plant seeds.
• Fig Loans, Sugar Land, Texas: Provider of small loans to people with low incomes.
• Keepe, Seattle: Marketplace for home-repair professionals.
• Kepler Communications, Toronto: Network to speed communications between Earth and space.
• Reflect, Portland: Analytics tools for companies.
• Shyft, Seattle: App to trade shifts with colleagues.
• Subcurrent, Seattle: Creating polls on Slack.
• Validated, Seattle: App to provide free transportation in exchange for shopping at brick-and-mortar stores.