Meet the Graduates of Founder Gym Cohort 10

Mandela SH Dixon
Sep 10, 2019 · 17 min read
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“Prior to Founder Gym, I didn’t understand fundraising. I would present my company in hopes of funding, but through the FG experience, I realized I was doing it all wrong. Now, I know how to best position my company as a valuable investment vehicle for investors and clearly articulate that.”

~ Heber Miguel, Founder of Eber Health

“The trainers are fantastic — candid, real and generous. Office Hours are a slice of growth-mindset heaven. The opportunity to review everyone’s work in a group setting really helped me to develop a critical eye for my own work.”

~ Laura Aiken Tett, Founder of Tusk

“The best thing about the FG Cohort was the plethora of expert training session videos by key venture capitalists and angel investors who shared and imparted their wisdom and genuine real world knowledge. This was wonderful access that provided and fostered an environment of inclusion and teamwork.”

~ Kurt Hailstock, Founder of My Trainer GPS

Coming into the program, I was in the ideation stage and not really sure what resources to start with or where to begin. This 6 week program provided the structure and support I needed, so now I feel like I have the ‘Google Maps’ directions to funding my company. I just have to be disciplined and follow each step as it’s laid out, and I’ll get there just fine.

~ Joy Ekuta, Founder of Hostowambe

We are excited to debut the graduates of Founder Gym Cohort 10! For six weeks, from July 22nd to August 30th, we trained 28 founders, spanning four countries and three continents on how to successfully raise money to scale their tech startups. With this latest set of graduates, the total number of Founder Gym Graduates is now 357.

Since graduating our first FG Cohort in January 2018, Founder Gym’s Alumni community has grown 1273%.

FG Graduates are building world-class companies.

Founders in FG Cohort 10 are developing a variety of solutions across a wide array of industries:

  • The first personalized skincare subscription service for women of color with the use of AI and medical expertise

But they face unique challenges as underrepresented founders.

In a recent study, it was reported that only:

  • 1% of venture-backed founders were Black

Another report revealed that women received only 2.2% of venture capital.

This is why we built Founder Gym.

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For six weeks, we provided an intense virtual training experience for select founders, led by some of the most experienced investors and founders in Silicon Valley. Now, after completing the rigorous graduation requirements, we are excited to officially introduce the graduates of FG Cohort 10.

But before you meet the founders, take a look at the numbers.

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Meet the Cohort 10 Graduates!

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“Before Founder Gym, I had the confidence but not all the right tactics to fundraise. Now, I’m ready! I have even more confidence and a bag full of tools to use.”

  • Founder: Adrian Wayman
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“My experience with FG Cohort 10 was invaluable. I was surrounded by such bright and innovative founders who looked like me.”

  • Founder: Alisia Ford
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“Because of Founder Gym, I now understand the principles of raising institutional capital.”

  • Founder: Arthur G. Smith
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“I have never connected with a group of startup founders (let alone persons with similar backgrounds) who are passionate about turning their vision into a viable business that disrupts the world.”

  • Founder: Bianca Roberson
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“This experience gave me an in-depth look into the thought process of investors and successful founders. I firmly believe that this experience has given me a solid foundation to become a successful startup founder and reach my fundraising goals.”

  • Founder: Deonte Smith
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“If you’d like to learn from the best trainers in the startup ecosystem, create great fundraising documents, and join a community of excellent founders, Founder Gym is the way to go!”

  • Founder: Donna Sanders
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“The accountability partners gave me a real feeling of support and togetherness. Getting on a call together and receiving feedback meant a lot.”

  • Founder: Fahim Pour
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“Before Founder Gym, I was not confident that I could articulate what my company was doing to investors. At the end of the cohort, I received feedback from one of the FG Trainers saying she understood exactly what I was doing from the very beginning of my pitch.”

  • Founder: GiGi Mcdowell
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“Fundraising is a game. And like any other game, you must first understand the rules to win. Then, you must hone your skills, look at the details, and prepare everyday to win. Fundraising is a full-time job.”

  • Founder: Heber Miguel
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“The best thing about the FG Cohort was the opportunity to hear from people who are where we want to be, as well as sharing and hearing real founder experiences.”

  • Founder: James Pritchett
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“Founder Gym believed in my dreams and made sure I knew I was significant throughout the whole process. They changed my future in a short time, and because of this, I pursue life with a different perspective of my visions and goals.”

  • Founder: Jasmine Fain
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“Before Founder Gym, I had a huge case of imposter syndrome and felt as though I wasn’t good enough. After the whole experience, I can confidently pitch my business and I now rise to the challenge and look forward to telling the world about Wonderfund, rather than hide away from it.”

  • Founder: Jessica Walker
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“The best thing about the FG Cohort experience was to see that other founders (some very successful) are also just human beings.”

  • Founder: Johanna Seeliger
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“I met other founders who had made the decision to take a bet on themselves. Joining this community makes me feel like I have a team that’s pushing me and rooting for me to succeed!”

  • Founder: Joy Ekuta
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“Because of Founder Gym, I have been able to put my team on the correct path and raise funds for our company.”

  • Founder: Justyn Eddins
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“The best part of this experience was participating in a cohort with people of color and women. Also, we were trained by two accomplished women who truly are educators and know how to teach.”

  • Founder: Katherine Martin
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“Founder Gym is the most professional cohort experience you can be a part of. It’s more than just learning experience — it’s a family.”

  • Founder: Kenyon Hall
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“The FG Cohort has given me the training and foundation to hold myself accountable for my success and the confidence to believe in my abilities to see my vision through to fruition.”

  • Founder: Kurt Hailstock
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“Before Founder Gym, I felt overwhelmed by all the material available about fundraising. All the different opinions made it difficult to determine which ones to apply. Founder Gym provided me with the confidence and motivation I needed to create a clear path for myself.”

  • Founder: Laura Tett
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“The primary way I transformed during the FG experience is getting into the mind of VC’s and entrepreneurs who have raised money. It helped me understand the game from a different perspective.”

  • Founder: Maikil Herndon
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Before the FG Cohort, I was not confident of the process and documents required for engagement with potential investors. I now understand better how to pitch and what type of investors to look for who will provide investment and support for my startup Wanngi.”

  • Founder: Maree Beare
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“At first, I thought fundraising was all about who you know (part of it is), but I learned that most of it is about strategy. Hearing from founders who have raised seed and series A funding made me feel more confident, letting me know that I can do it, too. I understand how to attract the attention of investors as well as find common ground with them.

  • Founder: Oluwasanmi Ariyo
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“Because of Founder Gym, I have met lifelong friends that will push me to be a better founder.”

  • Founder: Ricky Humphrey
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“I am even more determined and focused to develop as an entrepreneur, even as a ‘seasoned’ one! Your age should not limit you from having a dream!”

  • Founder: Robin Corbins-Robinson
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Before Founder Gym, I was unsure about my journey as a startup tech founder. FG gave me more confidence, reassurance, and enlightenment.”

  • Founder: Roderick Turner
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“Because of Founder Gym, I am part of a network of innovators and future tech leaders.”

  • Founder: Shavonn Doughlin
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“I now know what it feels like to be supported by strangers and to have them invest in your dreams in a genuine way.”

  • Founder: Teddi Rene Jackson
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“I had a high-level idea of what my product would do and look like. FG has brought me closer to turning it into a reality. I now understand what I need to do in order to deliver a finished product and pitch successfully to investors.”

  • Founder: Uttara Gopal

Congratulations to the FG Cohort 10 “Best in Class” Winners

One part of the FG Cohort graduation requirement is that founders deliver their 2-minute pitch at Graduation Day. The FG Cohort members then vote on the top three pitches. Congratulations to our FG Cohort 10 “Best in Class” winners: GiGi McDowell, Kenyon Hall, and Laura Aiken Tett.

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Meet the FG Cohort 10 Trainers

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Mandela SH Dixon has trained hundreds of founders around the world on how to raise startup capital and build successful businesses. She was the founding Portfolio Services Director at venture firm Kapor Capital, the Global Director of Startup Weekend Education, and a tech startup founder backed by Kapor Capital, 500 Startups, and Imagine K12 (acquired by Y Combinator). Mandela is an inaugural member of First Round Capital’s prestigious Angel Track program. She is a sought-after speaker and has shared her frameworks for success on over 90 stages, as well as in over 100 article publications. Mandela has received various recognitions, including being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List and LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Venture Capital and Startups.

Get Connected: LinkedIn and Twitter

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After working in micro-finance in South Africa, Adam Stelle became the COO of Startup Weekend, and later the VP of Growth at UP Global (Startup Weekend’s parent organization). At UP Global, Adam helped generate $14 million in revenue and opened 5 new offices across 4 continents. In 2015, UP Global was acquired by Techstars, the largest startup accelerator program in the world. Thereafter, Adam became the VP of Growth at Galvanize, a prominent co-working space offering educational programming to startup founders and employees. In 2016, Adam co-founded Loftium, a company dedicated to making it more affordable for people to live in cities. To-date, Adam and his co-founder, Yifan Zhang, have raised $18 million in startup capital to scale their startup.

Get connected: Linkedin and Twitter

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After working in Atlanta and Chicago as an investment banker, Ruben Harris entered Silicon Valley in 2014. His first startup role was in Growth Operations and Strategy at Alt School, a startup focused on personalized education. Thereafter, he transitioned to the Partnerships and Lead Generation team at Honor, which created a national network of home care providers. Ruben’s most recent startup role was as Special Advisor to the executive team at Hustle, the leading peer-to-peer texting platform. Ruben is the Co-Host of Breaking Into Startups, a media company and community focused on providing startup career advice. In 2018, Ruben co-founded Career Karma, which helps people find the best coding bootcamp for them. Ruben is a Y Combinator W19 graduate and recently closed a seed round of $1.5 million in June 2019.

Get connected: Linkedin and Twitter

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Tanya Soman is a Venture Partner at 500 Startups, one of the largest venture capital seed funds and global accelerator programs. With over $300MM in committed capital, 500 Startups has invested in 1,600 technology startups including Twilio, Credit Karma, Grab, and Udemy. Tanya focuses on seed-stage investment opportunities in the consumer space, with an emphasis on beauty and fashion. When she’s not leading the beauty and fashion specialty track at 500 Startups’ Mountain View Accelerator, she spends her time scouting companies all over the world. Previously, Tanya worked in the AdTech industry in New York and graduated from Babson College.

Get Connected: LinkedIn and Twitter

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Nashilu Mouen-Makoua is an investor and writer, currently investing as an Associate at First Round Capital, one of the most active seed-stage venture funds in the country. Before joining First Round, she spent time with founders and investors across New York as an Investing Partner at First Round-backed Dorm Room Fund, Co-President at student-run startup advisors InSITE Fellows, and a Senior Management Associate at Bridgewater Associates. Nash earned her MBA at NYU Stern and her Bachelors at UC Berkeley, spending many years in the Bay Area working at the intersection of people and economic opportunity in international development, urban development and edtech.

Get Connected: LinkedIn and Twitter

Special thanks to the FG Alumni Who Shared Advice at Orientation

During Orientation, four FG Alumni shared their best advice about how to maximize the benefits of the program. FG Cohort 10 appreciated the opportunity to ask Heli Prilliman [FG Cohort 3], Joshua Aviv [FG Cohort 7], Chuka Ikokwu [FG Cohort 7] and Karen KC Chan [FG Cohort 8] about their previous Founder Gym experience and hear about their progress after graduating. Thank you for joining us!

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MEET THE FG COHORT LEADERSHIP TEAM

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Paige Hendrix Buckner, FG Program Director

Location: Portland, OR

Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“As a former founder, I know how hard it is to start, run and grow a company. I am passionate about connecting founders with the tools, skills, knowledge, and network they need to build strong, sustainable startups. It is exciting to think about how many dreams we are supporting with each new cohort. I’m incredibly proud of our graduates and can’t wait to see what they do next.”

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Cord Brown, Digital Engagement Associate

Location: Tuscaloosa, AL

Get Connected: Twitter and Linkedin

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to support underrepresented founders from all walks of life. These founders will go on to build companies that will change the world and I am proud to know that FG contributed to that journey.”

JOIN THE MOVEMENT

Are you ready to level up your fundraising skills and join a global network of top-notch founders? Great, because we are ready for you!

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The FG Cohort is a 6-week program designed for underrepresented founders who want to raise capital to scale their startup. The entire cohort experience is 100% virtual, so founders can participate from anywhere in the world.

We are now accepting applications for FG Cohort 11.

FG Cohort 11 operates from October 21st — December 6th, 2019, and you can learn more about it by attending one of our FREE Masterclasses.

FG Masterclasses are for founders who are interested in experiencing the power of the FG Cohort, before submitting their official cohort application. FG Masterclass attendees will receive exclusive bonuses, not offered anywhere else. They are 100% virtual, but space is limited, so register today.

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Register for a Founder Gym Masterclass Here

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