Announcing the Graduates of Founder Gym’s Inaugural Cohort

Mandela SH Dixon
Published in
7 min readFeb 13, 2018


On August 4, 2017, I purchased the domain

On November 8, 2017, Founder Gym made its public debut.

On January 1, 2018, Cohort 1 launched.

We’ve been moving fast, and we’ve been making waves. In just 3 weeks, we received nearly 200 applications from every continent (except Antartica — anyone know founders out there?), and during our first quarter of operation, we received some incredible press coverage (shoutout to Megan Rose Dickey at TechCrunch for kicking things off).

Through it all, we’ve never taken our eyes off our goal:

Create the best online training center for underrepresented tech startup founders.

Ultimately, 26 founders from four continents were admitted into Founder Gym’s inaugural cohort. Here’s a snapshot of who they are:


  • 58% women
  • 42% men


  • 35% Black
  • 23% Asian
  • 19% White
  • 15% Latinx
  • 4% Middle Eastern
  • 4% Pacific Islander


  • 35% in their 20s
  • 38% in their 30s
  • 27% over age 40


  • 84% in the U.S. (of those, 65% outside the Bay Area)
  • 16% outside the U.S. (South America, Africa, and Europe)

Company stage

  • 39% have a product that is in the market
  • 44% have a product that is in private beta
  • 17% have a product that is in development

Over the span of four weeks, these founders completed a rigorous training regiment that included expert trainings, personal trainings, accountability groups, and a strength and conditioning program. By the end of the cohort, the graduates were equipped with the knowledge, network, and know-how to successfully navigate their fundraising journey.

It is with great honor, that we are proud to announce…

The Graduates of Founder Gym Cohort 1

Amy Nelson, Founder of The Riveter

The Riveter is a female-forward workspace and community designed for business and impact. Update! Amy raised $4.75MM after gradating from Founder Gym.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Al Nolan, Founder of Notearise

Notearise is a preparation company specializing in building conversational note-taking tools.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Arjita Sethi, Founder of is a public benefit corporation with a mission of bringing equal education and opportunities to everyone using cutting edge technology.

LinkedIn | Twitter

John Barrera, Founder of Rybot

Rybot creates technology so that parents can influence their kids to make better choices. Our entry product, Ryfi, is a smart router to control kids’ screen time.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Charu Sharma, Founder of Next Play

Next Play is a mobile enterprise solution for employee development and retention

LinkedIn | Twitter

Darian Edwards, Founder of Stack

Stack is redefining financial services for the unbanked and underbanked.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Eman Abouelatta, Founder of Quirkpod

QuirkPod is an online platform that coaches students on 21st century skills through hooking learning experiences.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Josh Josue, Founder of Bibky

Bibky builds interactive products that let kids go for real-world adventures by combining immersive storytelling and movement — all without relying on screens.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Illana Milkes, Founder of World Tech Makers

World Tech Makers is a pioneer in training programs for high-demand technology skills, offering in-person and online bootcamps.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Irving Chin, Founder of Tassel Software

Tassel Software builds intuitive products that augment the ability of college advisors and counselors to collaborate with their students.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Sevetri Wilson, Founder of ExemptMeNow

ExemptMeNow simplifies the creation, maintenance and compliance processes for nonprofits, corporations and government entities.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Julia Winter, Founder of Alchemie

Alchemie is a new path to student understanding and assessment using interactive digital tools, machine learning, and data analytics.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Kyle Miller, Founder of Foodease

Foodease empowers small business vendors to grow their business and focusing on doing what they by optimizing the way we locate and order food.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Laura Wittig, Founder of The Brightly

The Brightly is a community-driven, curated marketplace that highlights ethically, consciously made products and the stories behind them with an aesthetic and voice that appeals to a broad audience.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Luis Bermudez, Founder of TechFit

TechFit makes sure that Your Clothes Fit when you order them online

LinkedIn | Twitter

Michelle Bonat, Founder of Data Simply

Data Simply helps people align their values with their investments by automating
investment research for sustainable investing (Environmental-Social-Governance).

LinkedIn | Twitter

Paris Petgrave, Founder of We Love Work

We Love Work builds highly engaged teams and great company culture.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Rick James Chatas, Founder of FriendFund

FriendFund helps people integrate travel into their everyday lives by avoiding common roadblocks like empty savings, unexpected expenses, and routine spending.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Robert Dates, Founder of Yaheard

Yaheard is a social network mobile app that takes debating to the next level.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Shani Dowell, Founder of Possip

Possip gives schools a weekly pulse on parent feedback.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Sunny Washington, Founder of Because Learning

Because Learning provides exciting a hands-on STEM program for the classroom and home to engage students with hands-on Sensor Kits and over 130 experiments that they can conduct with their kit.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Susan Sierota, Founder of Waggit

Waggit is the future of pet health with the entry point being a collar and app that can improve and extend the lives of our dogs.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Tammy Kwan, Founder of Cognitive ToyBox

Cognitive ToyBox develops an early childhood platform for kindergarten readiness.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Tashoma Vilini, Founder of Nitrate

Nitrate is a blockchain enabled video marketplace where content creators save
money marketing their content, and users can make money by discovering
content when it’s new and selling it on to their followers.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Tunji Williams, Founder of dealWIP

dealWIP is a legal technology company developing integrated, cloud-based, workflow solutions to power seamless business-to-business contract negotiation and world-class attorney-client experiences

LinkedIn | Twitter

Xiaohoa Michelle Ching, Founder of Literator

Literator enables teachers to reach every single student with the relevant strategies they need to improve in reading.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Go here to read testimonials from the FG Graduates

Thank you to the Cohort 1 Trainers

Founder Gym Cohort 1 Expert Trainers pictured left to right: Mitch Kapor, Charles Hudson, and Ellen Pao

7 venture capitalists and 7 venture-backed founders graciously contributed their time and expertise to train the founders, and we’d like to recognize them for their incredible contributions.

Venture Capitalists

Mitch Kapor, Kapor Capital

Charles Hudson, Precursor Ventures

Ellen Pao, Kapor Capital

Shauntel Poulson, Reach Capital

Marlon Nichols, Cross Culture Ventures

Amit Patel, Owl Ventures

Carolina Huaranca, Kapor Capital

Venture-Backed Founders

Porter Braswell, Jopwell

Ryan Williams, Jopwell

Jess Gartner, Allovue

Mike Teng, Swing Education

Laura I. Gomez, Atipica

Michael Perry, Kit powered by Shopify

Adam Stelle, Loftium

Become a Cohort Member! Apply at Founder Gym

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Mandela SH Dixon

CEO of Founder Gym | Bringing Silicon Valley to the streets since 2011