Meet the Graduates of Founder Gym’s Cohort 11

“Because of Founder Gym, I realized my abilities were suppressed for years. They helped me go deep into my core, and mine out confidence, leadership skills, business acumen, and personality that I had never witnessed from myself before. An environment shift can be just as powerful as a mind shift. I truly believe it was Founder Gym that brought out the best in me.”

~Nathaniel Scott, Founder of Spacidey

“The tips we learned through our weekly sessions gave us an in-depth look at the world of entrepreneurship. I never had a formal background in entrepreneurship so it was great to hear from people who were already experts in the field. The FG Team was amazing at answering questions! They were so open to hearing what everyone had to say and gave a great critique that motivated us to work harder, rather than be discouraged.”

~Carolina Perez, Founder of STEM Hive

“It is inspiring to see and hear from successful founders who are coming from communities that are underrepresented in the startup world. This includes the FG Expert Trainers, FG Alumni and especially my fellow FG Cohort 11 Members. This experience gave me the push to leave the safe harbor of my day job and embrace my role as the full-time founder and CEO.”

~John Doan, Founder of Mobility 4 All

We are excited to debut the graduates of Founder Gym Cohort 11. For six weeks, from October 21st to December 6th, we trained 28 founders, spanning 3 countries and 3 continents on how to successfully raise money to scale their tech startups. With this latest set of graduates, the total number of Founder Gym Alumni is now 385.

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 11 are developing a variety of solutions across a wide array of industries:

  • An AI-enabled dietary restriction platform that makes it easy for you to make health-conscious food decisions
  • Career development and recruitment platform connecting healthcare organizations to diverse entry-level talent
  • A referral-only, peer lending app that connects people for loans from $100 to $1000 in value

But, they face unique challenges as underrepresented founders.

In a recent study, it was reported that only:

  • 1% of venture-backed founders were Black
  • 1.8% of venture-backed founders were Latinx
  • 2.4% of venture-backed founders were Middle Easterners

Another report revealed that women received only 2.8% of venture capital.

This is why we built Founder Gym.

For six weeks, we provided an intense virtual training experience for select founders, led by some of the most experienced founders in Silicon Valley. Founders also had access to a robust library of video content featuring FG’s network of investors and startup lawyers. Now, after completing the rigorous graduation requirements, we are excited to officially introduce the graduates of FG Cohort 11.

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

Meet the FG Cohort 11 Graduates!

“Because of Founder Gym, I’m more motivated. I learned how to fundraise from founders who have been successful. It inspires me to pursue my dreams and fundraise successfully as well!”

  • Founder: Ahmad Ibrahim
  • Company: Doctor X
  • Description: DoctorX is a platform that stores and updates medical records for refugees.
  • Location: Amman, Jordan
  • Get Connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“Before Founder Gym, I lacked the knowledge to successfully raise the money that I needed to grow my startup. I realize now that a fundraising plan is required and I can’t just reach out to investors and say, ‘Here’s a cool idea. Now give me money.’ I have not only learned the fundamentals of raising a round of funding, but I have also gained the ability to talk about my company in a way that makes investors want to invest. During the six weeks, we have transitioned from an idea to a business that is solving a real problem.”

  • Founder: Aireka Harvell
  • Company: Nodat
  • Description: Nodat is an engagement-based, loyalty coalition SAAS platform for small businesses.
  • Location: Nashville, TN
  • Get Connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“At the beginning of this year, I literally didn’t think I’d be wrapping up my 2019 with anything remotely similar to the FG Cohort experience. I came in with a half-baked idea that I was sitting on for a few weeks, and now I’m significantly clearer on what needs to happen next and where I need to focus my efforts. Being an entrepreneur is not a path that comes naturally to me, so I had to sift through the fear of not being good enough, the fear of pursuing something that is inherently risky, the fear of not following through and disappointing myself. After the FG Cohort experience, those voices are a little quieter, and just like with anything, there are actionable steps that you can take to move towards your goals.

  • Founder: Alyssa So
  • Company: Pintly
  • Description: Pintly is a bra box service that brings people their best fitting bras through tech-driven personalization.
  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“Because of Founder Gym, I am not just a founder, but a CEO (Chief Everything Officer) and feel totally ready and totally supported in conquering the world.”

  • Founder: Ashleigh Brown
  • Company: CLAIRE Fertility
  • Description: CLAIRE is a social network and marketplace leveraging women’s relationships to expand fertility solutions and build families.
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“I am ready to get this bag. I have more affirming voices encouraging me to persevere. I have a more polished toolset to execute on the fundraising process.”

  • Founder: Brian Ovalles
  • Company: The Orange Market
  • Description: The Orange Market is a data-driven platform that helps you discover healthy and sustainable food options nearby.
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“Because of Founder Gym, I am a proud underrepresented founder who wants to help other up and coming founders.”

  • Founder: Carolina Perez
  • Company: STEM Hive
  • Description: STEM Hive is a nonprofit organization that aims to close the gender gap in the STEM workforce by making STEM learning fun to underrepresented youth through gamified learning experiences.
  • Location: Yonkers, NY
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“Because of Founder Gym, I am more confident to strategically launch my platform and impact healthcare’s future workforce.”

  • Founder: Doris Jean Pierre
  • Company: AccessBridge
  • Description: AccessBridge is a career development and recruitment platform connecting healthcare organizations to diverse entry-level talent.
  • Location: Coconut Creek, FL
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“There’s no question that the people were the best part about Founder Gym. The caliber of the founders in Cohort 11 challenged me to think bigger and to become better. The mentors, leaders and the whole Founder Gym Team were genuine and shared such a wealth of information.”

  • Founder: Diana Morris
  • Company: Ladybug Collaborative
  • Description: Ladybug Collaborative Inc. brings clarity to personal finance by delivering relevant insights to improve your financial health.
  • Location: Indianapolis, IN
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“The FG Cohort experience gave me confidence in my ability to raise and helped me develop a strategy to successfully raise rounds following my graduation from the program. In addition to confidence, I gained an understanding of how VC’s think and what will give me the edge.”

  • Founder: DuMarkus Davis
  • Company: Musicbük
  • Description: Musicbük is a music education marketplace that connects quality music instructors with students for local music lessons.
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“Growth is and always will be necessary for my personal and business ventures. When you stop learning and growing you should move on to something different. FG Cohort 11 helped in my transformation to be a better, stronger CEO.”

  • Founder: Felicia Jackson
  • Company: CPRWrap
  • Description: CPRWrap is a single-use template that protects and guides non-medical responders during a cardiac arrest.
  • Location: Hixon, TN
  • Get connected: LinkedIn

“Because of Founder Gym, I became a better leader with more focus. I’m able to remove distractions and become laser-focused on my goals utilizing the tools and resources that were provided. It’s all about momentum for me moving forward. Joining Founder Gym, I was able to maximize the knowledge learned to build upon my weak areas. I have more confidence in taking the next steps to reach out to potential partners and investors. This experience was life-changing for me, and I really appreciate being apart of the Founder Gym family.”

  • Founder: Jamel Robinson
  • Company: Melini
  • Description: Melini is a local guide app giving you a review with a view, from real people, not bots.
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“The best thing about the FG Cohort is truly the power of human connection. From the live expert training sessions that have allowed us to learn and interact in real-time, to the best fellow Cohortians or gymmates that anyone could ever hope to have. The people aspect made it all so worth it and real.”

  • Founder: Jessica Laguerre
  • Company: Pink Purse
  • Description: Pink Purse is a platform that allows ad generated revenue from web searches to fund woman businesses.
  • Location: Florida City, FL
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“Because of Founder Gym, I quit my day job and am pursuing my entrepreneurial dreams.”

  • Founder: John Doan
  • Company: Mobility 4 All
  • Description: Mobility 4 All is the kinder, gentler ride service for seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Location: Shoreview, MN
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“The best fundraising tip I received in the cohort was to not be afraid to associate myself with big numbers. One of the biggest challenges for an underrepresented founder is that a million dollars being invested in our companies seem unattainable, but we fail to realize on our own that our thoughts are the only things holding us back.”

  • Founder: Karla Jacome
  • Company: STEM Hive
  • Description: STEM Hive is a nonprofit organization that aims to close the gender gap in the STEM workforce by making STEM learning fun to underrepresented youth through gamified learning experiences.
  • Location: Maspeth, NY
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“Because of Founder Gym, I know how to ask the RIGHT questions about fundraising.”

  • Founder: Kevon Butler
  • Company: Pantry Pal
  • Description: Pantry Pal is an AI-enabled dietary restriction platform that makes it easy for you to make health-conscious food decisions.
  • Location: Detroit, MI
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“The best thing about the FG Cohort was hearing the unfiltered perspective of investors and the experience of founders who’ve successfully closed a round of funding. In particular, hearing from those who share part of my identity was inspiring because I don’t have much of that around me.”

  • Founder: Kim Goulbourne
  • Company: You & Sundry
  • Description: You & Sundry is the first social club for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Location: New York, NY
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“Because of Founder Gym, I’m going to raise $1MM and put a revolutionary product on shelves everywhere that changes the way children consume water. Hellooooo! Did you read that? That’s actually going to happen.”

  • Founder: Lauren Powers
  • Company: GullyBurst
  • Description: GullyBurst is a startup beverage company that has designed the first and only 100% pure drinking water product for children. GullyBurst is the only pouched water with the straw already integrated with the pouch so a child can simply “peel and reveal” the straw independently without any support of an adult.
  • Location: Mableton, GA
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“The best thing about the FG Cohort was the community I was able to build. So often, I feel alone. Being in Colorado Springs, I don’t have many people who look like me, and often times I feel unsupported. To have a group of black and minority founders who I can reach out to is huge. The session with Delane was a turning point for me. It gave me the shot of energy that I needed. The videos of the different trainers also made gave me some insights on the fundraising journey.”

  • Founder: Lawrence Wagner
  • Company: Spark Mindset
  • Description: Spark Mindset is a bridge for low-income students into cybersecurity careers.
  • Location: Colorado Springs, CO
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“The best thing about Founder Gym is the people. The Founder Gym Team, the expert trainers, and my cohort teammates are all brilliant great people.”

  • Founder: Margo Falls
  • Company: Senior Park
  • Description: Senior Park is a web application streamlining business processes for senior placement agencies and assisted living facilities.
  • Location: Citrus Heights, CA
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“Because of Founder Gym, I am now confident in my ability to pitch my business to investors and get funding.”

  • Founder: Marques Jordan
  • Company: TaddleText
  • Description: TaddleText​ is a marketing and CRM application built to help eliminate cold calls by using text messaging to build warm introductions​.
  • Location: Artesia, CA
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“Prior to Founder Gym, I had very little knowledge about raising capital and the steps required to do so. After completing the 6-week program, I now know where to find investors, what kind of investors to look for and how I need to position my company to be attractive to them!”

  • Founder: Mike Jackson
  • Company: The Premium Experience
  • Description: The Premium Experience is an event marketing and touring platform that collects event data and helps venues, promoters and artists increase revenue by giving them a better understanding of their target audience.
  • Location: Farmington, MN
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“I have transformed as an entrepreneur and as a person. From my professional experience, I was accustomed to managing and executing millions of taxpayer dollars. As a new entrepreneur, I didn’t know about the process, confidence, preparation, and follow-through it takes to secure and execute investment from angel investors and venture capitalists. Mandela said, ‘Investors are interested in the GROWTH of your company.’ This GEM triggered me to focus on growing user intent, establishing partnerships, and finalize my core team. I feel months ahead due to this cohort, and I will be forever grateful to the FG Team.”

  • Founder: Nathaniel Scott
  • Company: Spacidey
  • Description: Spacidey is the only site that allows users to list, search for, and rent any space for any purpose.
  • Location: Waldorf, MD
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“With a superb team and like-minded individuals, I have learned a lot about how to meet, network and connect with investors. It is what I have always been looking for.”

  • Founder: Philip Gideon Aye-Darko
  • Company: Tukwan
  • Description: Tukwan helps tourists connect with inland tour guides, learn about the places they visit and spend less as they travel.
  • Location: Accra, Ghana
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“I feel confident in my pitch and I can clearly state my goals for fundraising.”

  • Founder: Renitta Sweet
  • Company: GUTS G-League
  • Description: GUTS G-League is creating the largest league of local video game tournaments for amateur gamers to experience esports like the pros.
  • Location: Columbus, GA
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“Because of Founder Gym, I’m feeling more confident about the fundraising process and standing taller as a founder. Oh, and best of all — I have an entire community to support and challenge me. Eternally grateful.”

  • Founder: Tameshia Rudd-Ridge
  • Company: Cool & Collected Africa
  • Description: Cool & Collected is a sustainable lifestyle brand that designs fashion-forward accessories using African Diaspora craftsmanship techniques passed down from generation to generation.
  • Location: Desoto, TX
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“I have been so incredibly inspired by my peers, mentors and the directors of Founder Gym. When I discovered that the theme for the cohort was investment, it made me smile. Although I am in the part of my startup journey where I am ready for investors, applying for this program was a significant investment in myself, and my company — and the yields have been incredible. I am forever changed by this experience. I am more confident than ever.”

  • Founder: Taylor Simpson
  • Company: The Halo App
  • Description: The Halo App provides financial freedom by giving people access to loans between $100 to $1000.
  • Location: Avon, IN
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“The best thing about the cohort was the camaraderie and everyone’s willingness to help. Everyone really came to the cohort with their specific skillset and was willing to share and pour into other people.”

  • Founder: Tishana Darden
  • Company: Boa Wrapz
  • Description: Boa Wrapz is the first 2-in-1 wearable tech glove/wrist wrap that provides wrist protection while working out.
  • Location: Brooklyn, NY
  • Get connected: LinkedIn

“I really thought the training sessions were amazing. I loved hearing the insights of those that have traveled their own entrepreneurial journeys and reached some level of success. Their stories were very inspirational.”

  • Founder: Victor Brown
  • Company: Xcellent Life
  • Description: Xcellent Life is an AI-powered analytics company that provides a consumer engagement and risk analysis platform for healthcare service providers and insurance companies.
  • Location: Lexington, TN
  • Get connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

Congratulations to the FG Cohort 11 Graduation Day Winners

To be considered FG Cohort Graduates, founders deliver their 2-minute pitch at Graduation Day. The FG Cohort members voted for the top founders based on the effectiveness of their pitch and the strength of their deck. Congratulations to our FG Cohort 11 Best in Cohort winners DuMarkus Davis, Marques Jordan, Taylor Simpson, John Doan, and Tameshia Rudd-Ridge.

Meet the FG Cohort 11 FG Trainers

Delane Parnell is currently the Founder and CEO of PlayVS, the venture-backed startup building the infrastructure for high school esports. Prior to starting PlayVS, Delane worked at IncWell Venture Capital where he became the youngest black venture capitalist in The United States. Delane was then part of the early team at Rocket Fiber that raised $31M and focused on retail strategy directly with the CEO. While at Rocket Fiber, Delane founded Rush Esports, an esports team that was acquired by Team Solomid.

In 2017, Delane was introduced to Peter Pham and Mike Jones of Science where Delane founded PlayVS. In April 2018, PlayVS announced its exclusive partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to collaborate on the national rollout of esports in high schools. In June of 2018, the company announced a $15M Series A led by NEA, the largest ever for a black founder in the consumer internet industry. Delane went on to raise $50 million for a total of $96 million raised in 13 months in a Series-C round. Among the investors are Adidas, Samsung, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and the VC arm of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Delane is the youngest Black founder to raise this much capital for a startup.

Get connected: LinkedIn and Twitter

Amy Nelson is the founder and CEO of The Riveter, a modern union for working women. A graduate of Emory University and the NYU School of Law, Amy practiced corporate litigation with a focus on high-profile First Amendment matters for over a decade in New York City and Seattle. She also served on President Obama’s National Finance Committee where she co-chaired Gen44, the under 40 fundraising arm of the campaign. Additionally, Amy previously worked with President Carter’s The Carter Center. In 2017, Amy launched The Riveter while pregnant with her third daughter in three years and she welcomed daughter number four in June 2019. The Riveter’s growth has outpaced even WeWork’s first years, and to date, they’ve raised over $20 million in venture capital. Amy is a contributor for Inc., has written for Forbes, and has been published broadly including in/on outlets including The TODAY Show, Refinery29, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post and The Seattle Times. She has spoken across the world on many stages, including Forbes Under 30, United State of Women, Cannes Lions, and SXSW.

Get connected: LinkedIn and Twitter

Megan Holston-Alexander is a Senior Associate at Unusual Ventures focused on building out and supporting Unusual’s consumer portfolio. While at Unusual, Megan has been instrumental in launching and running the Unusual Interns Program and Unusual Academy. Prior to Unusual and her MBA, Megan worked as the Program Director for All Stars Helping Kids where she managed the nonprofit’s incubator program, which gave new nonprofits funding and support with board governance, fundraising, and programming. She has held investment internships at Omidyar Network, Foundation Capital, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Originally from Montgomery, Alabama, Megan earned her BA in Sociology from Clark Atlanta University, an MA in Sociology from the University of Houston, and her MBA from Stanford University.

Get connected: LinkedIn and Twitter

Mercedes Bent is an investor and operator who was born far away from Silicon Valley in Durham, North Carolina. She currently works in venture capital as a Partner at Lightspeed. Previously served as an executive at a VR startup and a General Manager at General Assembly where she oversaw a multi-million dollar business lines during periods of explosive growth. She has an MBA and a Masters in Education from Stanford University and an AB from Harvard University. She serves as a board member for the non-profit Birthright AFRICA and wrote a piece for the NY Times on this topic. In her free time, she enjoys walks longer than 20 NYC blocks, chocolate soufflés, off-roading in her Jeep, and dealing playing cards very fast. She is an African-American of Bermudian, Grenadian, Colombian, and African heritage and was named a 40 under 40 for Tech Diversity.

Get connected: LinkedIn and Twitter

Mandela has trained hundreds of founders around the world on how to build successful businesses. Prior to launching Founder Gym, the premier online training program for underrepresented founders, Mandela 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 some of the most prominent investors in Silicon Valley (e.g. Kapor Capital, 500 Startups, and Imagine K12, which has since been acquired by Y Combinator). Mandela is an inaugural member of First Round Capital’s Angel Track program, comprised of select angel investors who are either operators or founders of some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent tech companies. Mandela is a sought-after speaker and has shared her frameworks for success on over 90 stages (e.g. TEDx, SXSW, Startup Grind) and 100 publications (e.g. Forbes, Wired Magazine, Business Insider). Mandela has received various recognitions, including being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List, as well as LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Venture Capital and Startups.

Get Connected: LinkedIn and Twitter

Special thanks to the FG Alumni Orientation Guest Speakers

During Orientation, three FG Alumni shared their best advice about how to maximize the benefits of the program. FG Cohort 11 really appreciated the opportunity to ask Arthur G. Smith, Laura Aiken Tett and Heber Miguel about their FG Cohort experience and hear about their progress after graduating. Thank you for joining us!


Paige Hendrix Buckner, FG Program Director

Location: Portland, OR

Get Connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“FG Cohort 11 bonded in such a powerful way and I loved getting to know every founder. From the marathon, gem-packed training session with Delane Parnell, Founder to PlayVS, to weekly Office Hours filled with spectacular questions and impressive weekly improvements. We are already hearing about founders who are using what they learned to start raising for their startups. I can’t wait to see their continued success and I count myself lucky to be part of their journey.”

Cord Brown, Digital Engagement Associate

Location: Tuscaloosa, AL

Get Connected: Twitter and LinkedIn

“It has truly been a privilege to serve the amazing founders of FG Cohort 11. In every way, they embody our motto, ‘We All Go Up Together.’ I am very excited to see the wonderful accomplishments they will achieve in the future.”


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!

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 12 and Cohort 13.

FG Cohort 12 and Cohort 13 operate from January 27 — March 6, 2020. The FG Cohort is a 6-week virtual program designed for underrepresented founders who want to raise money to scale their startup. The entire cohort experience is 100% virtual, so founders can participate from anywhere in the world. Cohort Trainers are announced as they are confirmed.

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.

If you apply by Sunday, December 22nd at 11:59 pm PST, you are eligible for an EXTRA bonus.

Founders who apply by Sunday, December 22nd at 11:59 pm PST are eligible for a live, virtual, group training session with Mandela SH Dixon, CEO of Founder Gym. Mandela’s trainings are helping founders step up their founder and fundraising skills. Here is what our founders say about live trainings with her:

“Mandela session rocked. It was filled with practical information. Got a lot of mini assignments from her sessions that I know will make me a better founder.”

“I LOVED Tuesday’s session with Mandela. I got a lot of essential information. My biggest issue with the learning curve is that I don’t know all that I don’t know, and that was a prime motivator for wanting to do Founder Gym. Mandela’s session introduced so much new information that gives me more to research, learn, and gather. I really appreciated the intellectual curiosity spurred without being so abstract that they were totally inaccessible.”

“I appreciated all the great advice Mandela gave during her trainer session. Now, I definitely understand the difference between an angel investor and a venture firm.”

If you are accepted into FG Cohort 12 or Cohort 13, you will receive an invitation to attend.

We have ONE more bonus for you.

If you pay in full upon acceptance, you will receive an additional live bonus training with Mandela. That’s TWO bonus trainings with our awesome CEO!

We’re here to help you start the new decade on the right path to success for your company.

You’ve heard from our founders. You’ve seen the results. Now, it’s time to take your fundraising game to new heights in the new decade. Join one of the world’s fastest-growing communities of world-class underrepresented founders. Set aside time to complete the FG Cohort application today. Applications will be reviewed as they are submitted. The sooner you apply, the sooner you will be notified and be able to secure one of the limited spots in the cohort. Once the cohort reaches capacity, it will be closed, so take action quickly. The last day to apply is Sunday, January 5th. Late applications will not be accepted.


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Paige Hendrix Buckner

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Program Director | Founder Gym | An educator and entrepreneur who loves helping people pursue their passions.


Stories that highlight the next generation of successful tech founders

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