Semyon Dukach Talks Latest Techstars Boston Class, His Last at Helm

[Corrected 2/9/17, 11:45 a.m. See below.] This year’s session of the Techstars Boston startup accelerator will be the last one led by Semyon Dukach.

In a blog post published Monday, Dukach unveiled the 13 companies accepted into the latest program and announced that he will be leaving Techstars Boston after this session, his fourth as managing director.

Before joining Techstars, Dukach was an active angel investor, a founder and/or CEO of multiple companies, and a former leader of one of the famed MIT blackjack teams in the 1990s.

In an e-mail to Xconomy, Dukach (pictured above) said he hasn’t figured out what’s next for him after Techstars, and it’s too early to comment on who might replace him.

“I had originally signed up for doing four classes over three years,” Dukach said in the e-mail. During that time, “I think we brought some great founders to Boston, further strengthened the [Techstars Boston] alumni network, and expanded the scope of the type of companies that can benefit from our community.”

This year’s accelerator session is Techstars’ 11th in Boston since the Boulder, CO-based accelerator launched an outpost here eight years ago. Dukach succeeded former Techstars Boston managing director Katie Rae, who ran the program with the help of Reed Sturtevant from late 2010 through mid-2014. The original Techstars Boston director was Shawn Broderick.

Boston is one of Techstars’ more successful outfits. Its exits include GrabCAD, DocTrackr, UberSense, and ThriveHive. Its well-funded and rapidly expanding alumni companies include PillPack and Placester.

During Dukach’s tenure, the program has tended to select more mature, revenue-generating companies than during its early years.

The program has also had an international flavor and made efforts to increase the diversity of its accelerator companies in the past few years. Those characteristics showed up in the latest class as well. Ten of the companies hail from the Boston area and one is from New York City, but the others are from Italy and Canada. And six of the 13 companies are led by women.

“We’ve never had a class where half the CEOs are women before,” Dukach said in the e-mail. “There’s also more hardware than usual this year, and probably a little more IP and harder tech in general.”

In the blog post, Dukach wrote that he is “especially proud of the fact that our continued efforts to increase diversity across the Techstars network are beginning to bear fruit.” But there is work to be done on that front: Last week, the head of Techstars Seattle expressed frustration at the unsatisfying results of his organization’s efforts over the past two years to improve the diversity of its accelerator program.

Techstars Boston’s latest session kicked off Monday and will culminate May 3 with a demo event at the House of Blues. Here are the 13 companies participating:

Alice’s Table organizes events where people learn the art of flower arranging while sipping adult beverages. It also offers a service that helps women “build their own business through the art of flower design,” according to the company’s website. (The company’s technology offerings include an event management platform for managing ticket sales, ordering flowers, and marketing events.)

BrainSpec is a health technology company that aims to diagnose brain disorders using what it says is an efficient and radiation-free approach that involves software and magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Brizi enables sports fans attending games to use their smartphones to control cameras installed around the stadium, and instantly snap and share photos on social media. This provides businesses with opportunities for sponsorships and sales leads.’

CareAcademy provides online education for professional caregivers.

Evolve uses machine learning to provide love advice and help users learn from their dating habits.

Lorem helps users looking for website and marketing assistance connect instantly with freelancers who are experts in WordPress and Squarespace.

Nix is developing a wearable hydration sensor that helps athletes know when, what, and how much to drink.

OffGridBox enables people to live independently in any environment, thanks to a renewable energy and clean water system packed into small commercial containers. One unit can produce enough energy and clean water to serve about 1,500 people, CEO and founder Roberto Scaccia said in an e-mail to Xconomy. [An earlier version of this paragraph incorrectly identified OffGridBox as an inhabitable container. We regret the error.]

RateGravity provides an online system that connects homeowners with local lenders, thereby bypassing the mortgage sales person and helping consumers find lower mortgage rates.

Sea Machines is developing self-driving technology for boats.

Solstice operates community-shared solar power programs.

Tive uses wireless sensors and cloud-based software to help companies track the transportation of goods.

Voatz is working on a mobile election system secured through biometrics, instant ID verification, and blockchain technology.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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