Founder Gym, an online training center for underrepresented founders who want to build successful tech startups, is launching its 5th and 6th Cohorts, and one of them is exclusively for black founders. “We are starting with black founders for two reasons: the need is there (less than 2% of VC-backed founders are black), and the demand is high (62% of Founder Gym graduates to-date identify as black),” Mandela SH Dixon, founder, and CEO of Founder Gym told Black Enterprise.
In its first 10 months, Founder Gym has trained 170 underrepresented founders across 9 countries, who have gone on to raise over $20MM, and counting of startup capital. These countries include the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Colombia, Nigeria, Egypt, England, and Denmark. Some of the success stories include helping founder Amy Nelson become one of the first female founders in Seattle to raise north of $4MM; as well as Sevetri Wilson who became the first black female founder in New Orleans to raise over $1MM totaling approximately $2MM.
The program is a six-week global program that is 100% virtual. Their training is laser-focused on going deep in a core area of startup success and all of their expert trainers work at the highest levels of venture capital and/or are venture-capital backed founders, themselves. They don’t take equity and because of this, they run on a fee and scholarship-based structure. The program emphasizes community versus working in silos, which is huge when you are an entrepreneur of any sort.
“Founder Gym is specifically designed to serve the unique needs of underrepresented founders; however, within that group, there is great diversity. There are differences across race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, age, etc. that we aim to more strategically service. Going forward, we will be experimenting with affinity-based cohorts, providing underrepresented founders with an additional option to experience our programming and community.”
Some of the investors who work with the company include notable names like Michael Seibel of Y Combinator, Phin Barnes of First Round Capital and Mitch Kapor of Kapor Capital. Additionally, venture-capital founders Kathryn Minshew of The Muse and Porter Braswell and Ryan Williams of Jopwell, have played important roles in Founder Gym Cohorts as Expert Trainers. Organizations like Google for Entrepreneurs, Kapor Center, and Silicon Valley Bank have hopped on board to partner, seeing the potential of the company.
Cohort 5 will focus on raising venture capital and is open to any underrepresented founder who wants to learn how to fundraise and connect with like-minded founders from around the world. During this cohort, Expert Trainers will include Kanyi Maqubela, former partner at Collaborative Fund; Holly Liu, visiting partner at Y Combinator; and Ash Rush, managing partner at Sterling Road, with more names to be announced.
Cohort 6 will be Raising Venture Capital: Black Founders Edition. Due to high demand, the cohort is tailored to serve the specific interests and needs of Black Founders. For this cohort, the Expert Trainers will include, Adeyemi Ajao, managing partner at Base10 Ventures; Troy Carter, general partner at Cross Culture Ventures; Uriridiakoghene Onovakpuri, partner at Kapor Capital; and Morgan DeBaun, founder of Blavity Inc.
“We will continue to offer cohorts that are open to all underrepresented founders, as you can see with the current offering of FG Cohort 5, but now founders will have more choice in deciding which cohort is best for them,” said Dixon. “Irrespective of which cohorts founders participate in, they will all be together as members of the larger FG community, engaging with some of the most promising up-and-coming underrepresented founders in the world, and fostering relationships that help further their success.”
“In summary, we are still building the most diverse and inclusive founder community in the world; we’re now just giving founders more options for how they experience that community.”
To apply for either cohort, applications can be found here and close on Nov. 25.