Zuley Clarke

XRC Labs, a New York-based accelerator and venture fund focused on the retail technology and consumer good sectors, has revealed its inaugural fellowship winners.

Launched in January, the XRC Elevate fellowship program is designed to support start-up founders of color with resources and tools. Offered twice a year, fellows will be given access to select accelerator classes, in-depth working sessions with the XRC Labs Growth team, hand-selected mentor matches and access to the accelerators’ network, which includes executives from Accenture, Estée Lauder, GS1, CVS and Mastercard, among others. Fellows also receive a $5,000 grant to help with expenses during the program.

Companies were evaluated on metrics such as founder pitch, market opportunity, product ingenuity and alignment with the XRC Labs pipeline.

The winners are Suzanne Sinatra, founder and chief executive officer of Private Packs, a modern line of holistic feminine pain relief solutions; Maurice Gramata-Jones and Alex Littaua, cofounders of Torqlub, a peer-to-peer marketplace for the world’s finest automobiles, and Zuley Clarke, founder of Viledge, an e-commerce platform platform that helps conscious shoppers discover and purchase products from Black-owned businesses.

Suzanne Sinatra

Suzanne Sinatra  courtesy shot.

“We originally planned to offer one Elevate fellowship, however, after interviewing so many impressive founders who applied, we decided to expand the program to three companies,” said Kelly Chen, XRC Labs chief operating officer. “Each awarded company went above and beyond to showcase their unique value for customers, their respective industries and the XRC community. We’re proud to support the founders as they continue to gain traction and inspire other founders of color to pursue their entrepreneurial passions.”

Alex Littaua

Alex Littaua  courtesy shot.


Maurice Gramata-Jones

Maurice Gramata-Jones 

XRC Labs received 100 Elevate applications. Runner-up finalists were Aztro Marketplace, which connects design-driven brands with retail stores, interior designers and individuals; Curastory, which allows anyone to shoot and edit high-quality video, monetize shows and distribute to all of their video channels, 100 percent free; Departmynt, which offers an AI-driven personal shopping experience that is size- and style-inclusive; Heros Footwear, which creates eco-friendly footwear; inCare, smart wearables and tech wear; SnkrHud, a full-service sneaker ecosystem; TheBom, an online and in-store pop-up market experience that carries Black-owned brands, and The Mercer Club, an online rental marketplace that allows men to rent from top luxury and streetwear brands.

XRC Labs began in 2015 with founding sponsors Parsons School of Design at The New School and Kurt Salmon, a part of Accenture Strategy.

XRC Labs also offers pro-bono office hours to help support founders of color in the start-up community. During these sessions, XRC executives and partners advise founders on such topics as investor decks, fundraising and growth.



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