Morgan Stanley
  • Inclusive Ventures Lab
  • Mar 7, 2024

Innovative Startups Pitch at Demo Day

Meet the 23 global startups backed by Morgan Stanley that pitched their businesses to investors in New York and London.

Morgan Stanley founded its in-house accelerator, the Inclusive Ventures Lab, in the U.S. in 2017 with a crucial mission: to advance greater equity in global startup investing. In 2021, the Lab expanded globally to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), to build upon their success in the U.S. Each year, it hosts a cohort of early-stage technology and technology-enabled startups, offering a five-month program that provides each company with $250,000 or £250,000 in exchange for access to investor networks, mentoring, a tailored curriculum and a 5% equity stake. The program culminates in “Demo Day,” where founders pitch their companies in person to hundreds of investors in New York and London. After their pitches, founders connect one-on-one with investors and other attendees.

The most recent Demo Day, in February 2024, featured the Lab’s 2023 cohort, which is its largest and most global to date. It includes 23 companies within the Seed to Series A funding rounds from North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, offering products and services that include innovations such as AI solutions to help companies improve customer service; a digital recruiting platform designed to address the labor shortage in nursing; and reusable building materials made from non-recyclable plastic waste.

“Credibility and exposure are everything for an early-stage startup, and Morgan Stanley gave us both at Demo Day,” said Diallo Powell, co-founder and CEO at Stak Mobility, which aims to facilitate the widespread urban adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) with automated vertical parking and EV charging. “Morgan Stanley’s curated attendee list made for quality connections that extended beyond Demo Day.”

Rupa Popat, one of the Lab’s Entrepreneurs in Residence who helped guide and mentor this cohort, attended Demo Day in London and shared why she wanted to work with the Lab: “Having been an entrepreneur myself, I understand the highest highs and the lowest lows that come with being a founder. I wanted to use my experience to give back and help the Lab founders navigate that journey.”

The Lab's Mission and Impact

Startups are facing a challenging funding environment, and in a 2022 survey, only 32% of VCs said it was a top priority for their firm to find opportunities with companies led by diverse founders. Just half said that fund managers have a responsibility to their clients to actively explore more inclusive investments, down from 62% in 2020. 

In this environment, the Inclusive Ventures Lab helps to fill a critical gap. To date, 92 companies with a combined valuation of $923 million have joined in the Lab’s accelerator program, and they have raised an additional $217 million in funding after participating. 

“Our mission remains the same: to deliver strong returns and long-term value by creating a more equitable investment landscape for startup founders,” said Selma Bueno, Global Head of the Morgan Stanley Inclusive Ventures Group, to Demo Day attendees in New York. “We had fierce competition for the Lab, with 7,900 applications. The innovative technology and strategies of the 23 companies presenting today set them apart from the rest.”

Meet the Inclusive Ventures Lab’s 2023 Cohort

The companies presenting at Demo Day span a wide range of industries, including artificial intelligence, enterprise software, health care, fintech, customer service, supply chain management, recruiting, cybersecurity and sustainable solutions. “We’re really excited to share the journey of these companies that are disrupting all of these industries,” said LaToya Wilson, Americas Head of the Inclusive Ventures Group, who introduced the companies presenting at Demo Day in New York. Sanghamitra Karra, EMEA Head of the Inclusive Ventures Group added: “I couldn’t be prouder of this cohort—I have witnessed firsthand their dedication, innovation and important vision to create a more equitable world.” 


The Lab’s healthcare company founders are bringing to market solutions spanning diagnoses, recruiting, culturally sensitive treatment and consumer products. 

  • Heather Bowman, founder and CEO of U.S.-based DotLab, spoke about its diagnostic platform for endometriosis and underscored the economic impact of the disease. “There is no test for endometriosis,” she said. “The standard of care is surgery in the form of laparoscopy. It’s a multi-billion dollar problem for U.S. health systems every year, and among the most expensive and burdensome diseases.” 

  • Catrinel Hagivreta, co-founder and CEO of U.S.-based MEDIjobs, shared her company’s virtual recruiting platform for medical and dental jobs. She highlighted the labor shortage in the U.S., noting that it includes 1.1 million nurses. The MEDIjob platform allows employers to apply to candidates, reversing the usual process, and uses 500 data points to ensure relevant matches with health professionals from around the world. 

  • Ashlee Wisdom, founder and CEO of U.S.-based Health in Her HUE, presented her company’s digital platform, which connects Black women and women of color to culturally sensitive healthcare providers, health content and community support. She cited its 13,000 current members and $32 billion total addressable market in the U.S., noting that the company recently closed $3 million of seed funding. 

  • Hannah Samano, founder and CEO of Unfabled, a U.K.-based consumer health platform, spoke about her company’s personalized solutions for women, matching them with health and wellness products. The company recently raised $1.6 million in new funding, bringing the total raised to date to $2 million.


AI and FinTech  

Ed Stanley, Head of Thematic Research in Europe, spoke from London about key trends in the evolution of artificial intelligence, teeing up presentations from cohort companies that are harnessing AI. Stanley encouraged attendees to monitor the ripple effects of AI in different industries and the grab for market share among players beyond the biggest tech companies. “If 2023 was the year of the AI enablers, such as graphics processing units, hyperscalers and model builders, 2024 will be the year of adopters,” he said, “and it will matter whether companies are first and can prove their superiority against competitors.”

It was an apt segue to pitch presentations from companies in the AI and fintech spaces. 

  • Abhishek Sastri, founder and CEO of U.S.-based FLUIX AI, presented the company's AI co-pilot designed to help critical facilities, especially data centers, save money by intelligently managing their systems. He cited a total addressable market of $78 billion and noted that, in one of their most recent case studies, a server room at a client's facility in Berkeley, CA, saw a 40% reduction in energy costs with the use of FLUIX's AI co-pilot.

  • Logan Underwood, co-founder and CEO of Canada-based Adauris, presented its AI-driven platform that helps marketing teams and publishers transform written assets into audio. He cited Adauris’ ability to generate hundreds of hours of audio in seconds and a $60 billion opportunity that represents the cumulative U.S. spend on audio production.

  • Rachel Curtis, co-founder and CEO of U.K.-based Inicio AI, shared her company’s virtually guided affordability assessments, which help organizations engage 30% more customers while reducing contact center costs and improving their end-customer experience. Curtis reflected on the value that Demo Day provided: “We had great conversations with investors, clients and also the Morgan Stanley team, who offered relevant introductions,” she said. “It was a really productive session which provided many excellent follow-up opportunities for our business.”

  • Charles Ifedi, co-founder and CEO of Nigeria-based eBanqo, spoke about his company’s omnichannel customer-engagement platform, which includes a 24/7 AI chatbot that can handle FAQs, transactions, offer solutions and escalate issues to humans. He cited a total addressable market of $6 billion and flagged that one client’s customer satisfaction scores improved 30% in four months after introducing eBanqo. 

  • Anuj Bhalla, founder and CEO of U.S.-based serviceMob, spoke about how they use AI and machine learning to help businesses quantify the customer experience in their service/support operations, to reduce churn, remove contacts and improve gross margin. He underscored serviceMob’s platform as the only one of its kind, and their year-over-year revenues, client results and cost savings as a testament to the needs of the market.


Sustainable Solutions 

Pitches from the Lab’s companies that offer solutions in sustainability were teed up by experts from Morgan Stanley. In London, Jessica Alsford, Chief Sustainability Officer and CEO of the Institute for Sustainable Investing at Morgan Stanley, provided insights into key sustainable investing trends for the next decade. "There is an urgency to deploy more capital at scale to finance innovative sustainability solutions, which we see leading to growth in the diversity of sustainable investing strategies and increased demand for ESG data," she said. 

In New York, Matthew Slovik, Head of Global Sustainable Finance at Morgan Stanley, highlighted growing individual investor interest in sustainability as well as recent opportunities for startups driven by government priorities and regulation related to climate change. “Startup companies offering sustainable solutions, especially as it relates to decarbonization, are growing rapidly and proving out the revenue and business case,” Slovik said.

  • Slovik served as a mentor to Heidi Kujawa, founder and CEO of U.S.-based ByFusion, who spoke about its zero-waste landfill diversion platform, which transforms non-recyclable plastic waste into reusable building materials. In the U.S. alone, Kujawa sees a $4.6 billion serviceable obtainable market for ByFusion to sell its ByBlocks, as well as its impact-reporting service for users.

  • Diallo Powell, co-founder and CEO of Stak Mobility, presented its scalable EV infrastructure, which turns parking lots into power stations. He explained the difficulty of charging EVs in cities and explained how Stak’s self-service infrastructure would allow two parking spaces to charge 14 SUVs, while letting users park, charge and retrieve their vehicles using their mobile phones. He said Stak reached its first $1 million in revenue in 2023, and tripled that of 2022.

  • Natalja Napsep, co-founder and COO of Estonia-based Bidrento, presented a rental property management system, and tenant experience app, that automates rental real estate management, boosts occupancy rates, and creates a better living experience for tenants. The platform allows rental and tenant data management on the go, invoicing and payments, inspections, and real-time maintenance schedules. Additionally, the tenant app streamlines tenant onboarding, maintenance request submission, invoice payments, and ordering of extra services.

  • Simon Schwall, founder and CEO of Israel-based OKO, spoke about its automated weather insurance that helps farmers and agro-industries in emerging countries build climate resilience. OKO has partnered with agro-industry players like Bayer, AB InBev and British American Tobacco, and onboarded 27,000 farmers to date. 

  • Mollie Claypool, co-founder and CEO of U.K.-based Automated Architecture, presented about its technological infrastructure for a distributed robotic micro-factory network producing sustainable timber housing. Their technology allows builders to reduce build time by more than 80% and drive net-positive carbon savings.


Consumer Products

In the consumer space, founders presented their businesses disrupting fashion marketplaces, beauty and hygiene.

  • Ellenor McIntosh and Alborz Bozorgi, co-founders of U.S.-based Twipes, presented their company’s flushable, biodegradable wet wipes that break down in water in three hours and biodegrade in landfills in seven days. Their presentation included a live demo of their wet wipes disintegrating in a bottle of shaken water compared to a competitor’s product that remained solid. They cited Twipes’ 80% fewer CO2 intensive emissions than the global wet wipes industry leader’s, as well as its $3 million in seed funding.

  • Nina Briance, founder and CEO of U.K.-based Cult Mia, pitched her company’s values-driven online luxury fashion marketplace that enables consumers to shop emerging and independent local brands, curated based on ethics, sustainability, value and exclusivity. Cult Mia secured $3.2 million in seed funding in 2023. 

  • Sandra Velasquez, founder and CEO of U.S.-based Nopalera, presented from New York about its high-end Latina beauty brand, which uses the nopal cactus as a sustainable and versatile ingredient. She cited 40% customer repurchase rates, a 200% year-over-year sales increase in 2023 and the achievement of her goal of $2 million in annual sales. 

Enterprise Software 

The Lab companies in the enterprise software category are bringing automation solutions to market that span industries from cybersecurity to supply-chain logistics.

  • Richard Mokuolu, co-founder and CEO at U.S.-based Partsimony, shared his company’s platform that leverages AI to help engineering and supply-chain teams become more effective using real-time insights, in sectors that include defense, industrials and automotives. Mokuolu said of Demo Day: "From showcasing our innovation onstage to forging meaningful connections with key stakeholders during the networking event, it was instrumental in amplifying our visibility and paving the way for growth opportunities.”

  • Darace Rose, co-founder and CEO of Canada-based Oppos, spoke about his company’s cybersecurity and compliance-security solutions for businesses that safeguard data confidentiality, integrity and availability. 

  • Leigh Honeywell, founder and CEO of U.S-based Tall Poppy, presented its software that helps proactively protect employees and public-facing teams from online threats, as well as a high-touch service for executives, and cited a $30 billion total addressable market.

  • Derrick Johnson, founder and CEO at U.S.-based Encounter AI, spoke about his company’s voice software, which enables restaurants to automate drive-throughs, freeing up employees to engage customers in more meaningful experiences. 

  • Co-founder and CEO Daniel Mukisa of Africa-based Ridelink highlighted how his company leverages technology to enable small and medium-sized businesses to move cargo in Uganda and cross-border in six neighboring countries. Ridelink has helped more than 3,000 businesses reduce their transport expenditures by an average of 30%, which resulted in more than $4.5 million in cost savings on transport for their customers.

  • Gabriel Makinwa, founder and CEO of U.K.-based GigBridge, presented its software for construction contractors to source, manage and pay their suppliers. Makinwa shared about his overall Inclusive Ventures Lab experience: “I was surprised by how much the Lab exceeded my expectations, it’s a really engaging program and it’s obvious the level of resource that has gone into it,” he said. “It’s also affirming and aspirational to come in and work at the Morgan Stanley office and be part of this big institution. It makes me think of where we can take GigBridge and how big we could be.”

Get Ready for 2024

Applications for the next Lab cohort close on March 31, 2024. The 10th cohort will include up to 25 companies, with an emphasis on businesses led by overlooked founders providing sustainability-focused products or services. Morgan Stanley will host pitch competitions from March to April in select cities in North America and EMEA to identify potential Lab participants. The next Lab cohort is scheduled to launch in September. 

Learn more about the Morgan Stanley Inclusive Ventures Lab