Meet the Graduates of Founder Gym Fundraising Cohort 18

Paige Hendrix Buckner
FounderGym
Published in
19 min readMar 22, 2022

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“I was very unsure and intimidated by the mere thought of fundraising. I had no clue where to begin and brushed it off out of fear of learning more. Oh baby, now?! I have my strategy ready to go! Being intimidated by fundraising is a thing of the past and I’m so grateful to walk to a different tune now.” — Rhea Perkins, Founder of Attyre Delivery

“Prior to the FG Cohort experience, I was an underrepresented founder that did not have the know-how, or the confidence, to raise funds to scale my tech startup. However, after going through this 7-week program, I’ve been able to develop the skills, knowledge, expertise, and confidence needed to raise funds to take my startup to the next level.” — Isaac Tavares, Founder of Clever Up

“The Founder Gym program has made me fundraising literate. Now, our company’s assets are ready to go. Without Founder Gym, I would still be spinning our wheels on how this whole VC thing works. We can walk into pitches and raise the capital that we need so we can get back to growing our business.” — Lisa Mullan, Founder of Uwila Warrior

“The best thing about FG Cohort 18 was the training from the expert trainers. Hearing, learning, and engaging directly with these thought leaders in venture capital has been impactful to me in building my confidence to raise funds.” — Akeem Joseph, Founder of GoMeet

It’s my honor to introduce you to Founder Gym Fundraising Cohort 18, our final graduating class.

From January 24th to March 11th, we trained 43 founders from 4 countries spanning 3 continents on how to successfully raise money to scale their tech startups. As you’ll see in this article, this group continues to uphold the Founder Gym tradition of being exceptional and they formed strong bonds that will last well beyond this experience.

With our final set of graduates, the total number of Founder Gym Graduates concludes at 656. Since graduating our first FG Fundraising Cohort in January 2018, Founder Gym’s Graduate community has grown 2,423%.

FG Graduates are building world-class companies.

Founders in FG Fundraising Cohort 18 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 digital bookkeeping and payment solution for African merchants.
  • The first fitness coworking space made for health and fitness professionals.
  • A platform for remote workers, sabbatical takers, empty nesters, and newly retired people to design their lifestyle and build community.
  • The diversity, equity, and inclusion travel planning site that provides the extensive details that people with disabilities require to successfully book their next best trip.

But, as underrepresented founders, they face unique challenges.

When only 2.1% of venture capital funding goes to Latinx founders, 2% goes to women founders, 1.3% goes to Black founders, and a dismal 0.34% of funding goes to Black women founders, a collective force and united movement are what is needed to create change.

This is why we built Founder Gym.

For seven weeks, we provided 43 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 18.

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

MEET THE GRADUATES OF FOUNDER GYM FUNDRAISING COHORT 18

“The Cohort transformed my vision and made it more focused. Now, my message and pitch are clearer. I am able to communicate my vision in a more effective and concise manner.”

  • Founder: A. Donahue Baker
  • Company: Money Avenue
  • Description: Money Avenue is a fintech startup that bridges the gap from traditional financial services to truly decentralized finance.
  • Location: North Plainfield, NJ
  • Get Connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“Because of Founder Gym, I have the knowledge, network, and know-how to successfully raise capital to scale my startup.”

  • Founder: Akeem Joseph
  • Company: GoMeet
  • Description: GoMeet is a cloud video conferencing platform that creates a frictionless and limitless environment for our users.
  • Location: Dublin, CA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“The best thing about FG Cohort is the hosts and the collaborative guests that they had on their platform. The training handholds you through accountability, community, and skill-building while founders feel supported through the small group accountability partners, the constant community support, and networking through social media and slack channels.”

  • Founder: Alexaraye Vallejo
  • Company: The Mindful Care Collective
  • Description: The Mindful Care Collective is the first online program to train nannies, daycare providers, and caregivers of children in mindfulness and social-emotional learning practices.
  • Location: Haiku, HI
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I feel extremely confident in Exploryst’s plans to begin our pre-seed round this summer.”

  • Founder: Angela Wilson
  • Company: Exploryst
  • Description: Exploryst is the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DE&I) travel planning site that provides the extensive details that people with disabilities require to successfully book their next best trip
  • Location: Thornton, CO
  • Get Connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“In this short period of time, Founder Gym has given me the knowledge and skills needed to present my business credibly to major investors. It has also clarified for me the importance of choosing investors that are a good match for what we’re creating.”

  • Founder: Camilla Warrender
  • Company: Newscoop
  • Description: Newscoop is building a collaborative platform and marketplace for global news, and embedding it in the creator economy.
  • Location: Concord, MA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I am more committed than ever to making the Global Solidarity Network a reality for all those that go through the challenge of a humanitarian crisis.”

  • Founder: Carlos Suarez
  • Company: Global Solidarity Network
  • Description: Global Solidarity Network is the first global marketplace for effective altruism
  • Location: Mountain View, CA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The best thing about the FG Fundraising Cohort was listening to experienced entrepreneurs not sugar-coat the entrepreneurship experience, and be vulnerable and authentic.”

  • Founder: Caroline-Lucie Ulbrich
  • Company: REPERIO
  • Description: REPERIO is two marketplaces in one: shop preloved clothes from your favorite mid-market brands AND find skilled tailors, shoemakers, and dry cleaners to keep your clothes much longer.
  • Location: Berlin, Germany
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I’ve learned to value and better explain who I am and why I’m the best person to lead my venture. I’m now better at ‘flexing’ and won’t be such a wallflower anymore!”

  • Founder: Celena Green
  • Company: ProsperWorks
  • Description: ProsperWorks creates shared prosperity for businesses and employees, with SaaS products that make it easy for employees to think and act like business owners, and for owners to empower and share financial gains with their employees.
  • Location: Tulsa, OK
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I feel more confident about the company I am building and feel ready to share our story with potential investors to help Placemade grow.”

  • Founder: Celia Lopez
  • Company: Placemade
  • Description: Placemade is the first fitness coworking space made for health and fitness professionals.
  • Location: Toronto, Canada
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I now believe that I belong in the rooms where the opportunities exist to raise capital for my startup.”

  • Founder: Christine Wright
  • Company: Personal Rx Solutions
  • Description: Personal Rx Solutions is a health information technology company that personalizes medicine by enhancing electronic medical records to improve patient safety.
  • Location: Lakeland, FL
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“I was much less confident about my pitch, narrative, and fundraising before Founder Gym. I had a lot of knowledge but just a small amount of application before the program. Now, I feel much more confident about my narrative and my ability to fundraise.”

  • Founder: Chukwudi Kanu
  • Company: Humblebrag
  • Description: Humblebrag is a social networking platform that allows investors to tap into the global VC scout community.
  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I am ready to meet the challenges of fundraising.”

  • Founder: Claudia Mercado
  • Company: CALIBUENO
  • Description: Calibueno is a cannabis brand and online dispensary that provides quality, affordable cannabis to adults throughout the state of California.
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I was able to improve my company, which will have a lasting, positive impact economically on the global Black community.”

  • Founder: David Hughes
  • Company: Give Black App
  • Description: Give Black is a social impact fintech app that allows users to donate to Black organizations globally.
  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Prior to FG, I had no cohesive message or story for our startup. Now, I know what investors are looking for, I know what the flow of a deck should be, and I know how to create a compelling story.”

  • Founder: Dennis Williams Jr
  • Company: My Financial Therapist
  • Description: My Financial Therapist helps users create dynamic and relevant financial plans in a therapeutic environment.
  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“Because of Founder Gym, I can confidently grow and nurture the relationships needed to pursue my passion for inspiring the masses to be NCMPRBL.”

  • Founder: Dr. Mario McCoy
  • Company: NCMPRBL
  • Description: NCMPRBL exists to be the premier modern minimalist company creating limited runs of advanced quality fashion accessories where simplicity is timeless.
  • Location: Katy, TX
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Throughout the cohort experience, I was inspired by the team, Expert Trainers, and my peers as I witnessed their dedication, perseverance, and resilience. It reminded me that I am not alone, and I am more than worthy of the success we envision.”

  • Founder: Ed Ross
  • Company: Core Ai
  • Description: Core Ai is a digital coaching platform that provides managers with curated insights to help their team thrive.
  • Location: Cary, NC
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Before FG Cohort 18, I did not have the necessary tools to begin the fundraising phase of the entrepreneurial process. This experience has taught me how to concisely and effectively start and follow through with fundraising.”

  • Founder: Emely Ramirez
  • Company: Bilingüe
  • Description: Bilingüe, is an engaging secondary language learning edtech app for kids ages 1–7 that incorporates digitally interactive tactile shapes.
  • Location: Milmay, NJ
  • Get Connected: Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I am ready to raise money. My fundraising toolkit is ready, my confidence is at the right place, and I’m looking for the right investor that fits our startup values and mission.”

  • Founder: Emmanuella Michel
  • Company: Cogni XR Health
  • Description: Cogni XR Health leverages virtual reality to help therapists serve their clients efficiently
  • Location: Montreal, Canada
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I will raise what I want on my own terms.”

  • Founder: Francene Chadwick
  • Company: Serve
  • Description: Serve is scaling access to trust funds so everyone can build generational wealth.
  • Location: Holly Springs, NC
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The best thing about FG Cohort 18 was the people. Not only were the other founders inspiring, so were the instructors. It’s wonderful to see so many women of color leading the way and breaking glass ceilings.”

  • Founder: Gabriela Bell
  • Company: Organized Q
  • Description: Organized Q provides virtual executive assistant services to small business owners, executives, and social impact organizations while also providing flexible remote work opportunities to military spouses, executives, and under-employed professionals.
  • Location: Alexandria, VA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“I came to FG open and available despite many years of business success. My goal was to move through the cohort with humility and kindness. What I discovered was a rich array of fellow FG Gymmates from all walks of life, levels in life, and understanding of business.”

  • Founder: Gary Mack
  • Company: MILO
  • Description: MILO is an ed-tech startup that combines culture and engagement to improve educational outcomes
  • Location: Beverly Hills, CA
  • Get Connected: Linkedin

“My biggest transformation was becoming a simplifier in my communication rather than a complexifier. I’ve learned how to get very clear and concise about the value our company brings to our customers and investors.”

  • Founder: Heba Gibani
  • Company: Serve
  • Description: Serve is scaling access to trust funds so everyone can build generational wealth.
  • Location: Westchester, CA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The best thing about the FG Cohort experience was receiving the intricate, detailed information from the various coaches, expert trainers, VCs, scouts, and founders needed to create a plan and approach to raising funds for my tech startup.”

  • Founder: Isaac Tavares
  • Company: Clever Up
  • Description: Clever Up is a fintech platform that aims to help Latinos in the U.S. reach the next level with their money.
  • Location: Lemon Grove, CA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I am bold enough to ask for funding and walk away from VCs when they don’t fit my target partnership.”

  • Founder: Iyobosa Ero
  • Company: Preparture
  • Description: Preparture is a solution that helps travel agents and travel content creators create, manage, and sell travel experiences.
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Before Founder Gym, I didn’t understand the sentiment of the VC community. Now, I realize that they are very pragmatic people who like to see results as much as they like to see the process.”

  • Founder: Joel Gurrero
  • Company: Tabu
  • Description: Tabu helps borrowers pay down student loan debt.
  • Location: Bronx, NY
  • Get Connected: Linkedin

“On my first day of FG, the word ‘worthiness’ was used by an FG Alum to describe her experience. Now, I totally agree. Before Founder Gym, I was experiencing moments of insecurity and doubt. Founder Gym has built up my confidence and I feel worthy to be in the room.”

  • Founder: Karla Cato
  • Company: Aisle Hop
  • Description: Aisle Hop is a marketplace for Latin and Caribbean grocers and chefs to offer their products and showcase their menus for their local communities.
  • Location: Alexandria, VA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I have been able to simplify my personal and startup story so I can deliver it in under 2 minutes. I had personally struggled with cutting down my pitch in the past because there are so many parts to Dukka that I always wanted to tell it all.”

  • Founder: Keturah Ovio
  • Company: Dukka
  • Description: Dukka is building digital bookkeeping and payment solution for today and tomorrow’s African merchants.
  • Location: Lagos, Nigeria
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I have a beautiful pitch deck I’m already using to shape my investor conversations.”

  • Founder: Dr. Kortney Ziegler
  • Company: WellMoney
  • Description: WellMoney is a money-sharing community that helps to cover financial emergencies with no strings attached.
  • Location: Johannesburg, Guateng, South Africa
  • Get Connected: Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I know many more amazing founders who inspire me and will continue to be a part of my circles of motivation going forward.”

  • Founder: Laure Cast
  • Company: GetWith
  • Description: GetWith is a research-backed conversation platform for cohesive communities.
  • Location: Portland, OR
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I will be able to raise the seed capital needed to launch our startup and change the world.”

  • Founder: Lekiesha French-Merritt
  • Company: Weed Street
  • Description: The world’s first stock market for cannabis, Weed Street is a Web 3 inclusive economic platform for cannabis operators and consumers.
  • Location: Marietta, GA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I am going into the fundraising process with my eyes wide open and our investor pitch ready to go.”

  • Founder: Lisa Mullan
  • Company: Uwila Warrior
  • Description: Uwila Warrior is an inclusively sized women’s underwear brand with fewer wedgies and more kickin’ ass.
  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The best part of the cohort was my Gymmates. I had the opportunity to share with people that relate to my struggles as a founder.”

  • Founder: Manuel Saez
  • Company: Beyond
  • Description: We are like car leasing, but for micro-vehicles (today e-bikes, scooters).
  • Location: Brooklyn, NY
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I am confident in telling my business story.”

  • Founder: Mariana Russo Chambers
  • Company: Cut + Clarity
  • Description: The premier destination for customizable, fine jewelry sustainably made in NYC on a mission to ignite systemic change.
  • Location: New York, NY
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I will seek out other founders for support and offer my advice. #WeAllGoUpTogether”

  • Founder: Maryann Kilgallon
  • Company: Pink Lotus Technologies
  • Description: Creators of POMM safety platform, a SaaS business that gives peace of mind to families while connecting their profile and location directly to 911 centers.
  • Location: Orlando, FL
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The FG Cohort experience has taught me to focus on a winner’s mindset. Coming off these seven weeks, I feel confident going into my fundraising conversations and in my unique ability to build and scale 312 Society.”

  • Founder: Rachel Azaroff
  • Company: 312 Society
  • Description: 312 Society is the platform for remote workers, sabbatical takers, empty nesters, and newly retired people to design their lifestyle and build community.
  • Location: Miami, FL
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The best thing about the cohort was getting great, actionable information from the trainers. Every video and live session left me with information to inform my fundraising, and evaluate and edit existing materials.”

  • Founder: Rachel Bell
  • Company: Printer’s Row
  • Description: Printer’s Row is a B2B marketplace for the book publishing industry, helping industry professionals streamline work, decrease operational costs, and mitigate supply chain issues.
  • Location: Portland, OR
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I am confident to fundraise.”

  • Founder: Rachel Weissman
  • Company: Design to Be
  • Description: Creating emotionally intelligent design critiques, culture, and community
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The FG Fundraising Cohort forced me to think beyond my limits and really level up! I didn’t quit my amazing job to play small and Founder Gym propelled me to the next stage. This was the greatest part because it completely changed the trajectory of my business and I’m actually ready for the next chapter!”

  • Founder: Rhea Perkins
  • Company: Attyre Delivery
  • Description: Attyre Delivery is a luxury delivery service for luxury businesses.
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I am more confident and prepared to meet with venture capital firms and fundraise the right way for my startup.”

  • Founder: Rich Sibert
  • Company: SelfBiz
  • Description: Selfbiz is the all-in-one payroll, benefits, and accounting platform for self-employed, micro, and small businesses.
  • Location: Virginia Beach, VA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“My experience with Founder Gym Cohort 18 has enabled me to grow, and as a result, I have become a much more confident person. I have also grown as a startup cofounder who better understands the intricacies of the investment community and is well prepared for investment discussions with angels and VCs.”

  • Founder: Sem Ponnambalam
  • Company: xahive
  • Description: xahive delivers holistic cyber solutions globally.
  • Location: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
  • Get Connected: Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I am more self-aware as a founder and CEO. I feel ready to raise money and scale my business.”

  • Founder: Tara Ghei
  • Company: Romp + Tumble
  • Description: Babies grow fast so Romp + Tumble creates rental solutions for parents.
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“The thing I loved most about the Fundraising Cohort was the gems. There were so many great bits of knowledge which fundamentally changed my perspective about fundraising, being a founder, and being human.”

  • Founder: Valerian Bennett
  • Company: POP Network
  • Description: POP Network is building Web3 infrastructure for the Creator Economy
  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“Because of Founder Gym, I felt less lonely not knowing it all, I made great connections with people going through similar experiences who come from similar backgrounds and that is huge.”

  • Founder: Vanessa Karel
  • Company: Greether
  • Description: Greether is a travel marketplace where female travelers can book local women guides to navigate the world with fewer risks in a more authentic and sustainable way.
  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

Congratulations to the FG Fundraising Cohort 18 “Best in Cohort

Congratulations to the FG Fundraising Cohort 18 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.

Great work, Keturah, Celia, and Rhea!

Meet the FG Fundraising Cohort 18 Expert Trainers

For seven weeks — from January 24th to March 11th — nine industry experts trained 43 founders across five countries (Canada, Germany, Nigeria, South Africa, and the United States) 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!

Special thanks to the FG Alumni Orientation Guest Speakers

We always invite FG Alumni to join us for Orientation so Cohort Members can learn from their experience. We were fortunate to have FG Cohort 13 Graduate Nicole Jarbo, Founder of Boost, and FG Cohort 4 Graduate Fred Burns, Founder of Safer Management.

Each has accomplished exciting milestones:

  • Fred Burns is our first Black FG Graduate to get accepted into Y Combinator.
  • Nicole Jarbo raised $1.5M before building a product and joined the FG Million Dollar Club.

Thank you to Fred and Nicole for setting such a powerful tone for FG Fundraising Cohort 18!

For our final FG Cohort, I had the pleasure of supporting our FG Cohort with Anastasia Simon, Founder Gym’s Program Director. Anastasia joined the FG Team with a strong background as a startup operator, advisor, and investor. During the program, she managed operations, offered feedback to founders during office hours and one-on-one sessions, and even met up with founders in person.

Anastasia shared, “I am so proud of the founders in FG Fundraising Cohort 18. Each week, they showed up with FG Expert Trainer Sessions with strong questions, applied what they learned to their fundraising materials, and connected with each other in a powerful way. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish!”

As Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon, Creator of Founder Gym, shared in her Medium article, “To Founder Gym: Goodbye and Thank You” on February 23rd, Founder Gym is sunsetting in April 2022. It has been our greatest honor to serve and support underrepresented founders from around the world.

On January 1, 2018, we launched our first fundraising cohort with 26 founders. Five years later, FG Fundraising Cohort 18 joins a global FG Community representing 656 founders in 26 countries on 6 continents who have gone on to raise $130 million (and counting!) for their startups. FG Graduates are brilliant thought leaders who are building solutions for their customers, transforming industries, making history, and shifting generational wealth. We can’t wait to see what they continue to accomplish for decades to come.

Go ahead, FG Fam. We’ll be watching, supporting, and cheering you on!

As we all embark on the next stage of our journey, we do so with the FG motto in mind: We All Go Up Together!

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Paige Hendrix Buckner
FounderGym

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