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It’s Here! IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator – 30 New Startups and Game-Changing Diversity


IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator History
Where has the time gone? We launched IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator last year, a program that’s all about building and scaling the next generation of fintech, healthtech, and insurtech startups. Ok, it’s my baby too.  We partner with early-stage entrepreneurs that handle sensitive data like individual medical records, insurance claims, and financial statements…startups with less than $1M in revenue and less than five years old.  We accepted fifteen startups in 2019 from eight countries that make up Cohort 1. This year, we decided to double down (big shoutout to Ross Mauri for all you do to support us!)  and add two cohorts, making up Cohort 2 and Cohort 3.

After less than stellar gender and ethnic diversity last year (glub glub glub), we made significant changes in our outreach strategy, collaborator network, engagement model, and tactics. For those of you who know me, less than stellar ANYTHING is not my jam!

Diversity & Inclusion
I am crazy pumped, after biting my nails for weeks, to announce that more than 50% of both cohorts combined include more than one female founder, 30% contain at least one black founder, and 13% include at least one LatinX founder. We will be sharing a blog that provides greater insight into the specific tactics we employed and how other accelerators, incubators, and venture capitalists can do it too. We will continue our collaboration with Female Founders Alliance, an organization that continues to drive industry change relating to gender inclusion in the startup ecosystem. Big shoutout to you too!

With less than 3% of venture funds in the United States going to startups with at least one female founder, it is strikingly obvious that something must change to ensure that the startup ecosystem is fueled by all genders. When a company has diverse talent at the top of the house, it’s better able to represent its customer pain points, aspirations, wants, needs, and joys. Who’s with me? Here’s to truly employing design thinking wherever we go!

IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Services
In addition to diversity and inclusion encompassing many of today’s conversations at individual and company levels, another important issue of our time includes protection of our data and its sovereignty.  How often do we hear of security breaches from even the most sophisticated organizations? Daily, right?

We launched this program to empower startups with game-changing security and encryption solutions that one of our startups – Privakey – describes as the Fort Knox of cloud solutions. Like last year, this year’s cohorts will be armed with solutions such as IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Services powered by LinuxONE. Yup, they will have access to the scalability, security, and uptime capabilities of the mainframe. Cool, eh? How many startups know what is powering their cloud? Ours do!

Each startup will receive IBM Cloud credits of up to $120,000, which equates to up to $10,000 per month for a one-year period. They will also be granted two years of ongoing technical mentorship from a crew of IBMers.  These are real IBMers and not a chat bot or email box that connects to a pool of unknown and nameless resources. Real people with ongoing dialogue and strategic insight! Startups are also granted one-year of business mentorship led by Village Capital aimed toward business enablement and investment readiness.

When I created this program from scratch last year, I asked myself…what would I want…what would Melissa Sassi, the Founder & CEO of MentorNations and XTP Hustle want? No, Melissa, this is not the time to pitch your startup or nonprofit endeavors! Melissa, the Founder & CEO wants access to insights to help me scale globally and into new markets. I want access to customers and partners. I want a true partner vs. a cloud vendor relationship. I want to be a partner with a CAPITAL P. I want access to people who can collaborate with me on my future-state architecture and roadmap. I want to co-create products. I want to disrupt industries with innovative technical solutions. I want to solve the wickedest problems in the world.  I want to identify problems that people did not even know existed before. I want to co-present at industry events. I want to collaborate on marketing collateral. This is the lens I had when I created the IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator.

Selection Criteria
Cohorts 2 and 3 were selected based on a multi-step process conducted by IBM leadership and Village Capital where applications were evaluated based on industry alignment, data security needs, size, age, and ability to build and scale.  Finalist companies underwent multiple interviews and were evaluated on both technical and business factors, while enabling startup CEOs, and CTOs to interview our team to ensure we would be the right fit to help them achieve their business and technical goals and objectives.

This year’s program includes IBMers with collaborators including Village Capital, MEDICI, Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, Female Founders Alliance, Global Accelerator Network, F6S, and Healthtech Women.

Just wait until we announce our Advisory Board! More to come on that soon!

Cohorts 2 & 3
Cohorts 2 & 3 consist of 30 fintech, healthtech, insurtech, regtech, and datatech startups from thirteen countries, including USA, Canada, Mexico, Chile, UK, Netherlands, Italy, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Israel, Singapore, and Australia. 

We want to take this opportunity to congratulate our winners!


  1. AIO Verified Identity (Israel) provides a customer-centric, reusable ID vault to help financial institutions, online lenders, and the fintech industry in customer due diligence for corporate/SME clients.
  2. Amlet (Italy) makes KYC for banks, insurances, financial service companies, easier and more secure, while preserving customer privacy.
  3. Balkerne (UK) is a platform that takes numerous sources of historical, property, and live data. This data is processed to automatically identify risks by context and geospatial relevance.
  4. Consentic (Australia) optimizes, standardizes, and streamlines medical consent, resulting in enhanced patient understanding, improved patient and clinician satisfaction, and increased efficiency.
  5. Datacy (UK) allows people to collect, access, manage, and sell their online data easily and transparently and gives data buyers instant access to high quality and bespoke consumer datasets that are legally acquired.
  6. FotoConcent (UK) is a fully GDPR and HIPAA compliant mobile platform for capturing, storing, and sharing clinical images and documents.
  7. Lafya (Nigeria) is a mobile health savings wallet that allows individuals and families to split healthcare expenses by enabling users to share the cost of healthcare with other users.
  8. Machine Medicine’s (UK) platform provides a secure regulatory and technical environment for the design, development, and clinical deployment of precision neuro-therapeutics.
  9. Marketforce 360 (Kenya) is a field and distribution automation software solving last mile distribution challenges by digitizing orders, delivery, and payments across Africa.
  10. MedPharma (Ghana) is a social enterprise that digitizes healthcare and delivers medicine through an aggregation of providers, drugs, specialists, and patients.
  11. PayHippo (Nigeria) powers small business lending in Africa by automating the lending process so borrowing is easier and more reliable for SMEs.
  12. Sikoia (UK) enables online businesses to integrate consumer loans directly into their own product offering through open banking-based APIs.
  13. Staple AI (Singapore) automates the extraction and processing of document data by leveraging artificial intelligence to capture and extract the required data.
  14. Syntho (Netherlands) offers privacy-preserving synthetic data to unlock data and remove legitimate privacy concerns.
  15. Waya (Ghana) is an application that aims to provide a digital banking platform to enable quick and easy transfer of money and payment.


  1. CyphLens (USA) is a new and powerful technology, with a simple point-to-decrypt user experience, that protects against the most sophisticated cyberattacks by enabling secure private access to your most sensitive data on any platform or system, even if untrusted or public.
  2. emTRUTH (USA), using blockchain and AI, provides private, multi-system, multi-format data aggregation and actionable analytics while strengthening resiliency with advanced cyber and data protection at every layer.
  3. Fonbnk (USA/Africa) enables the friction-free movement of value for unbanked people globally using prepaid mobile data credits as a currency equivalent.
  4. Gerald Technology (USA) provides life events engagement and cross-sell automation opportunities to insurance providers to ensure effective customer retention.
  5. Health Direct Global (Ghana) provides a multi-sided platform that allows users to have on-demand access to healthcare through a network of accredited health service providers.
  6. Leaf (USA/Africa) provides digital financial services to the stateless and excluded on mobile devices through blockchain technology.
  7. Money Captain (USA) offers a financial service that helps humans unlearn bad money habits, eliminate toxic debt, and create a better financial future.
  8. My Normative (Canada) is the only health tracking app available in North America that incorporates female-specific metrics into their wearable health and fitness tracking app.
  9. Pegasi (Chile) makes daily healthcare information accessible, clear, and secure for the developing world’s patients, physicians, and service providers, while anonymizing big data to track endemic and epidemic diseases.
  10. Pngme (USA/Africa) provides financial institutions with a Unified Data API that allows them to develop complete financial profiles of new and existing customers…enabling the deployment of digital financial services to more people.
  11. Renalis (USA) is creating digital therapeutics in pelvic health, increasing patient engagement, improving adherence, decreasing out-migration, and saving providers valuable time & effort.
  12. SilverBills (USA) receives, stores, and scrutinizes elderly clients’ bills and ensures bills are paid correctly and on time.
  13. Urgify (USA) is a new way to anticipate all types of emergencies and pay medical bills during an emergency.
  14. Vittas (Nigeria) allows for individuals and businesses to have better access to working capital, while providing lending institutions the required tools to assess credit risk.
  15. (Mexico) offers simple, transparent, and free insurance coverage via a digital platform that adapts to individual lifestyles and budgets and that can be adjusted according to client needs.

On behalf of our IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator team, we wish all of our startups, their founders, staff, fans, and advocates well as we start our exciting journey together!

Here we go!

Melissa Sassi
Chief Penguin
IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator