Meet the Graduates of Founder Gym Fundraising Cohort 16

Paige Hendrix Buckner
Published in
17 min readMay 4, 2021

“Before Founder Gym, I had analysis paralysis when it came to creating a pitch deck and could never figure out how to start. With Founder Gym, I was forced to do the pitch deck with such clear guidance on the important pieces that it no longer became a daunting task and actually became an exciting one!” - Anand Dugar, Founder of Green Health Docs

“I was so anti-VC, mostly because I didn’t understand the VC universe at all! But Founder Gym truly opened up this enigmatic world and broke it down to a point where not only do I understand so much more, I know where to go to get started and be successful!” - Kimba Williams, Founder of KUSHAE

“The biggest transformation happened in my confidence. I am leaving Founder Gym with self-awareness of my strengths and a right-sized perspective on what stage of growth my company is in. Before FG, I was comparing my progress and metrics to everyone else and frustrating myself needlessly. Knowing where I am means that I can map out a clear path to where I want to go.” - Samantha Mathews, Founder of LOCI

“The best thing about the Founder Gym Cohort is the community of founders! Everyone is brilliant, talented, and purpose-driven. I love being connected to another community of strong, supportive founders who are also unapologetic about their missions and their desire to learn with each other.” - Qyana Stewart, Founder of Minted

We are excited to debut the graduates of Founder Gym Fundraising Cohort 16. For six weeks, from March 15th to April 23rd, we trained 26 founders in 2 countries on 2 continents on how to successfully raise money to scale their tech startups. With this latest set of graduates in FG Fundraising Cohort 16, the total number of Founder Gym Graduates is now 542.

Since graduating our first FG Fundraising Cohort in January 2018, Founder Gym’s Graduate community has grown 1,984%.

FG Graduates are building world-class companies.

Founders in FG Fundraising Cohort 16 are developing a variety of solutions across a wide array of industries. Here are a few examples of the companies our graduates are building:

  • a telemedicine platform connecting over 100,000 patients to medical marijuana doctors nationwide
  • the first and only OB/GYN-created, full-suite of non-toxic feminine hygiene products for every woman…not just periods
  • a social lending platform that combines the best of credit cards and the best of savings in one app
  • an EdTech company with a writing platform that empowers educators to inspire the budding writers and storytellers of tomorrow

But, as underrepresented founders, they face unique challenges.

The most recent 2020 reports show that:

  • Less than 1% of venture-backed founders are Black
  • Only 1.6% of venture-backed founders are Latinx

Another report revealed that in 2020 companies founded solely by women received only 2.2% of venture capital in the US.

At Founder Gym we’re working at lightning speed trying to change these stats. On Monday, June 7th, we’re training our inaugural fundraising cohort specifically designed for Black women who want to raise money to scale their startup.

If you’re ready to level up, secure your seat now. The deadline to apply is Friday, May 7, 2021, to apply! Apply here.

This is why we built Founder Gym.

For six weeks, we provided 26 select founders with an intense virtual training experience led by industry leaders in Silicon Valley and beyond. Founders had access to a robust library of video content featuring Founder Gym’s extensive network of investors, founders, lawyers, and financial experts. After completing the rigorous graduation requirements, we are now excited to officially introduce the graduates of FG Fundraising Cohort 16.

Before you meet the founders, let’s take a look at the numbers.

If you see yourself in any of the FG Graduates featured in this Graduation Article and want to learn how to level up your fundraising and founder skills, join other world-class Black women founders in our next cohort!

The deadline to apply for FG Fundraising Cohort 17 is Friday, May 7th. Apply here.


“Because of Founder Gym, I am now even more confident in my ability to be an effective CEO and raise the capital my company needs to win!”

  • Founder: Albert Mayden III
  • Company: Buddy Smoke Delivery
  • Description: We are a multi-vertical cannabis delivery service in Northern California.
  • Location: Newark, CA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I feel confident that I can pitch any startup idea to anyone in a clear, concise format.”

  • Founder: Anand Dugar
  • Company: Green Health Docs
  • Description: Green Health Docs is a telemedicine platform connecting over 100,000 patients to medical marijuana doctors nationwide.
  • Location: Chapel Hill, NC
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Before the Founder Gym Cohort, I was just a founder in the idea stage of my startup. The team really empowered me to get my wheels turning and develop the foundations for my startup. The FG Cohort built my confidence to build my business!”

  • Founder: Andy Rosas
  • Company: Help
  • Description: Help is a human safety product and service that communicates your call for help to your emergency contacts and the local authorities in the case of an emergency.
  • Location: Venice, CA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Founder Gym was an amazing experience that put me in direct contact with real investors who gave honest, open, and direct feedback. Applying this feedback will help me be better prepared to pitch future investors.”

  • Founder: Angel Torres
  • Company: RumRatings
  • Description: RumRatings is the largest rum community in the world.
  • Location: Gainesville, FL
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The best part about the Founder Gym Cohort was the resources available to each founder in various formats, laid out in a logical order for your personal and professional development. Everyone learns differently and FG provides readings, videos, live conversations with experts, examples, and more.”

  • Founder: Arielle Brown
  • Company: Bea’s Bayou Skincare
  • Description: Bea’s Bayou Skincare offers lightweight probiotic, herbal products for the frustrated product-lover with Seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, or psoriasis.
  • Location: New Orleans, LA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I woke up yesterday thinking ‘I want to work on my company today.’ I have a renewed sense of clarity, confidence, and enthusiasm on account of my experiences in this program.”

  • Founder: Brandi Coates
  • Company: Brooklend
  • Description: Brooklend is a social lending platform that combines the best of credit cards and the best of savings in one app.
  • Location: New York, NY
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The best thing about Founder Gym was hands down the other cohort members. We had an eclectic group of dynamic individuals that really motivated, helped, and cheered everyone on.”

  • Founder: Briana Earl
  • Company: Jita
  • Description: Jita (Just-in-Time Architecture) streamlines design and building communication.
  • Location: Levittown, NY
  • Get Connected: Linkedin

“Founder Gym was pivotal to me defining my strengths as a founder and tapping into my distance traveled as a strength. Before FG, I found myself dancing around the ‘why you?’ question. It wasn’t that I never believed in myself; I needed to change the way I presented my distance traveled in a way that showcased overcoming challenges to triumph.”

  • Founder: Candice Dietz
  • Company: GIVESPACE
  • Description: GIVESPACE is powering the world to give back, together.
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“After Founder Gym, I am a much more confident founder. I’m used to fading into the background to make sure my clients and others around me shine, but I understand that it’s important for me to flex too. I’m entering into spaces that I belong!”

  • Founder: Courtney Culmer
  • Company: Uplevel
  • Description: Uplevel is an online job marketplace that connects companies with experienced freelance writers and strategic communications consultants who create high-quality content for various stakeholder audiences.
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I am more confident, better grounded, better supported, and more aware of what’s required to successfully launch and raise capital. This program also helped me better define the story of Craft 225 and how to tell it. Paige kept reiterating ‘elevate the pain’ to articulate the problem my venture solves. My voice and ask are now more clear.”

  • Founder: Darren Armstrong
  • Company: Craft 225
  • Description: Craft 225 is an Atlanta-based craft beer bar for minority-owned and diverse craft brewers that serve the untapped, “beer curious” market, through educational experiences, talent development, and social justice engagement.
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The best thing was the shared experience with my gymmates. Even though the companies are so unique, almost all of the questions they asked and feedback they received could be applied to my company.”

  • Founder: Devanne Pena
  • Company: AFROSPACE
  • Description: AFROSPACE is a tech-enabled product bar and brick+mortar social club designed for DIY hair care and collective Black wellness.
  • Location: Charlotte, NC
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Founder Gym introduced me to amazing founders and investors that I would have otherwise never met. I’ve built friendships with a diverse array of successful people at a variety of company stages, and I will treasure those friendships throughout my founder journey and beyond!”

  • Founder: Erin McCune
  • Company: Easeenet
  • Description: Easeenet combines a simple, secure password manager with a digital vault, making it easy to safeguard your complete digital estate for peace of mind.
  • Location: Portland, OR
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“FG helped provide clarity, insight, and in-depth knowledge into the world of startups and raising capital. I’ve graduated from this program feeling much more prepared and confident to raise capital than I did before.”

  • Founder: Jameik Hurry
  • Company: The PIE Network
  • Description: PIE is an online marketplace allowing users to create high-quality video ads to sell their products and services to their ideal customers.
  • Location: Elmont, NY
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“I’ve grown so much as a founder and CEO. I learned a lot of insider information that I would have never known. I am thankful for the opportunity to grow and gain an amazing network of other cohort members.”

  • Founder: James Bertrand
  • Company: EverythingVR
  • Description: EverythingVR is a 360 immersive platform giving decentralized access to clients and consumers.
  • Location: Orlando, FL
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Before joining the Founder Gym Cohort, I was unsure of myself as a founder. Coming from a non-tech background, I often questioned, ‘Do I belong?’ During the cohort, I became more confident and sure of myself. After engaging with my classmates, I’m sure now that I have a place in the tech world.”

  • Founder: Jerone Bracey
  • Company: Childsbest
  • Description: Childsbest is an app for non-custodial parents to keep a record of everything they do to support their children.
  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I am much more confident about entering this VC game with the intention to win.”

  • Founder: Kimba Williams
  • Company: KUSHAE
  • Description: KUSHAE is the first and only OB/GYN-created, full-suite of non-toxic feminine hygiene products for every woman…not just periods.
  • Location: Lake Worth, FL
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The best part about Founder Gym was the opportunity to receive timely, consistent, excellent, constructive feedback in a rapid succession manner, from Paige, Mandela, and the amazing cohort members. It serves to accelerate progress with any materials you are developing as part of your fundraising toolkit and leaves you feeling 100% prepared to approach investors with confidence.”

  • Founder: Lily Cabrera
  • Company: wellmarkt
  • Description: wellmarkt is a tech-enabled, inclusive well-being company that solves for mental wellness at work and beyond.
  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“I am so much more educated and experienced in preparing for pitching investors, but most importantly, in understanding the business that I’m building and how to articulate it.”

  • Founder: Marlon Lindsay
  • Company: TechTrep
  • Description: TechTrep partners with school districts and other organizations to provide comprehensive STEM education to students across the country and build a 21st-century workforce shaped by robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence.
  • Location: Vineyard, UT
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Some of the details about my business were unclear (such as my business model), and I was unclear about what to look for in an investor and how to decide what’s best for me and my business. Upon completing Founder Gym, it has become clear what I need to do to take my business to the next level.”

  • Founder: Motunrayo Oyetunji
  • Company: Anfaani
  • Description: Anfaani is a tech-enabled wellness solution and a brick and mortar social and work space for Black women and non-binary individuals.
  • Location: London, UK
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“This 6-week Founder Gym Cohort allowed me to pour into myself and my business the way I pour into the world. I was able to really evaluate my next steps as well as get my assets together to secure the bag.”

  • Founder: Nzingah Oniwosan
  • Company: 365zing
  • Description: 365zing is a multifaceted wellness app designed to help Black women be intentional with their self-care so they can have sustainable wellness practices.
  • Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The best thing about the Founder Gym Cohort was being in a community of people that could all relate to each other and our shared experiences. The relationships that I have been able to build during the last few weeks with my Cohort mates have been extraordinary.”

  • Founder: Priyanka Raha
  • Company: PopSmartKids
  • Description: PopSmartKids is an edtech company with a writing platform that empowers educators to inspire the budding writers and storytellers of tomorrow.
  • Location: Bellevue, WA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I was able to remove the obstacles that prevented me from seeing the real opportunity for my product. I was able to develop a strategy for successful fundraising. That strategy is the exact blueprint I need to build relationships with investors and secure the funding needed to take my product to the next level.”

  • Founder: Qyana M. Stewart
  • Company: Minted
  • Description: Minted is an education technology learning management system that trains the next generation of young women of color in tech!
  • Location: Germantown, MD
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I know exactly what stage my company is in and feel confident to tell our story in a way that attracts the right community of customers and investors to grow with.”

  • Founder: Samantha Mathews
  • Company: LOCI
  • Description: LOCI lets those liable for the safety and wellbeing of others deliver highly engaging, gamified, microlearning experiences so people are smarter about public safety and more familiar with their surroundings.
  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Coming into Founder Gym, I was in the process of giving up on fundraising. FG changed my perspective on how to more effectively use my time and resources so that fundraising can make my work easier instead of being a distraction.”

  • Founder: Samantha Pratt
  • Company: KlickEngage
  • Description: At KlickEngage, we leverage edtech to create psychologically safe and supportive environments for all kids.
  • Location: Garland, TX
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The best thing about the Founder Gym Cohort was that everyone was so knowledgeable in so many different areas, but they all related to tech. Each week, you could count on learning from the expert trainers, but you could also bank on learning extra information from different members of the cohort.”

  • Founder: Dr. Timethia Bonner
  • Company: Titan TeleTech
  • Description: Titan TeleTech is using digital therapeutics to re-shape how underserved populations receive diabetes self-care management education and services.
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Before Founder Gym, I thought I had a good grasp on where I was directing the company. These past 6 weeks have helped me focus on the metrics that are important to the business and to investors so that I can strategically plan our product roadmap.”

  • Founder: Willie Joe Marquez
  • Company: Rental Property Dashboard
  • Description: The Rental Property Dashboard is a platform for investors to quickly and easily calculate and benchmark the return on a rental property.
  • Location: Stockton, CA
  • Get Connected: Linkedin

Congratulations to the FG Fundraising Cohort 16 “Best in Cohort”

To be considered FG Fundraising Cohort Graduates, founders deliver their 2-minute pitch at Graduation Day. FG Fundraising Cohort members then vote for the top three founders based on the effectiveness of their pitch and the strength of their deck. Congratulations to our FG Fundraising Cohort 16 Best in Cohort winners Samantha Matthews, Jameik Hurry, and Kimba Williams.


Six industry experts trained FG Fundraising Cohort 16 on how to formalize their financing strategy, craft their fundraising materials, and perfect their two-minute pitch. We would like to thank the following FG Trainers for everything they contributed to help level up our founders!


We always invite FG Alumni to join us for Orientation so Cohort Members can learn from their experience. We were fortunate to have FG Fundraising Cohort 15 Graduates Ben Camara, Founder of Remote Coach, and Dr. Tope Mitchell, Founder of Reflekt Me, join us. Thank you for your time and all the gems you dropped to help your newest community members successfully complete the FG Cohort experience.


“FG Fundraising Cohort 16 was a dynamic group that collaborated, showed up to get feedback every week at office hours, and showed out at Graduation. We are so proud of the innovative companies that they are building and can’t wait to see what’s next!”

Paige Hendrix Buckner, COO

Location: Portland, OR

Get Connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“I have been so impressed with the level of commitment and the desire to improve that this Founder Gym Fundraising Cohort demonstrated. They will go on to have many success stories and I am grateful that we have played a part in their journey.”

Cord Brown, Operations and Marketing

Location: Birmingham, AL

Get Connected: Twitter and LinkedIn


For only 5 more days, applications are open for Founder Gym’s inaugural fundraising cohort specifically designed for Black women who want to raise money to scale their startup. Read more about the vision for this unique experience in an article by Mandela SH Dixon, CEO of Founder Gym.

FG Fundraising Cohort 17 is open to all Black women, including trans women. The cohort operates for six weeks, from June 7, 2021, through July 16, 2021, and the deadline to apply is May 7, 2021. FG Cohort 17 is 100% virtual, so founders can participate from anywhere in the world. Be part of our global movement to bet on Black women! Apply now.

Get trained by top Black Women investors, founders, lawyers, and industry experts.

  • Arlan Hamilton, Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital and Author of It’s About Damn Time
  • Nmachi Jidenma, Head of Scouts and Partnerships at Sequoia Capital, a top-three venture capital firm in the world
  • Phaedra Ellis-Lamkin, Co-Founder & CEO of Promise, a $23m series A startup backed by First Round Capital, Kapor Capital, and Y Combinator
  • Mandela SH Dixon, CEO of Founder Gym, Silicon Valley’s #1 Fundraising Coach for Underrepresented Founders
  • Valerie Wood, Associate at Gunderson Dettmer, a top legal firm in Silicon Valley
  • Shauntel Garvey, Co-founder and General Partner at Reach Capital, raised $311 million, the most ever raised by a Black woman for a VC firm

Apply here to get trained by these experiences. Remember, the deadline is THIS FRIDAY, May 7th, 2021, at 11:59 pm PST.

Structure to Succeed

If you already had everything you needed to succeed, you would not be here. The truth is, everyone needs help to get where they want to go, and Founder Gym is here to provide you with an inclusive community, rigorous accountability, and a clear roadmap that will get you the results you have been searching for. Founder Gym has custom-designed a virtual experience unlike anything out there, and our model continues to prove effective in accelerating founder success.

We’re Here to Help You and Your Company Succeed

You’ve heard from our founders. You’ve seen the results. Now, join the first FG Fundraising Cohort dedicated to training exclusively Black women how to secure the bag!

Apply now to the FG Fundraising Cohort (takes 12 minutes to complete) and secure your seat today. FG Cohort 17 is 50% full, seats are limited and once this cohort is at capacity, it will be closed. The last day to apply is Friday, May 7th at 11:59 pm PST. Late applications will not be accepted.

CLICK HERE to apply to FG Fundraising Cohort 17.

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Paige Hendrix Buckner

Interim CEO | Founder Gym | An educator and entrepreneur who loves helping people pursue their passions.