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We Help Underrepresented Founders


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We Do Things Differently

Founder Gym is an online training center for underrepresented founders who want to build successful tech startups. Incorporating best practices from entrepreneurship, education, and sports, Founder Gym offers an innovative approach to develop the world's next great entrepreneurs. During the span of 4 weeks, founders complete structured exercises to increase their strength in a core area of startup success, and receive personal training from Silicon Valley investors and venture-backed founders. The program is 100% virtual and highly selective.

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Cohort 1: Fundraising Basics









The application period has closed. Subscribe below to find out when the next cohort launches.

Learn How to Fundraise in 4 Weeks

Week 1

History of Startup Fundraising

In order to effectively raise funds for your startup, it’s important to understand the big picture of how startup fundraising works, how it’s evolved over time, and what direction it’s headed in next.

Week 2

How to Win at Fundraising

Every investor has a scorecard: a list of things they are evaluating your company against. Find out what’s on their scorecard, so you can learn how to win the fundraising game.

Week 3

Unwritten Rules of Fundraising

There are some things only people on the inside know, like what to write in an email, what to say on the phone, and how to pitch in person. It’s crucial that you learn what the small things are that make a big difference when fundraising.

Week 4

Demo Day

It’s time to demonstrate what you have learned the past three weeks. Prepare a brief presentation for your trainers and gym-mates and show them how you have grown.


From Silicon Valley investors to venture capital-backed founders, our trainers are some of the best in the game.

Mitch Kapor


Mitch Kapor is the Co-Founder and General Partner at Kapor Capital. His investments include Twilio, Uber, Clever, and Class Dojo.

Charles Hudson


Charles is the Co-Founder and General Partner at Precursor Ventures. He was previously a Partner at SoftTech VC.

Ellen Pao


Ellen is a Partner at Kapor Capital. She was previously the interim CEO at Reddit and has served on the boards of Flipboard, Datameer, and Lehigh.

Laura Gomez



Laura is the Founder of Atipica (raised $2.5MM). She was previously at Jawbone and an early employee at Twitter.

Amit Patel

Amit A.


Amit is a Partner at Owl Ventures. He is on the Board of Securly, Lingo Live, Tinkergarten, and Panorama Education.

Jess Gartner



Jess is the Founder of Allovue (raised $6.9MM). She was previously the Education Director of Betamore and 7th grade teacher.

Marlon Nichols



Marlon is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Cross Culture Ventures (CCV). His investments include Gimlet Media, LISNR, and Mayvenn.

Adam Stelle



Adam is a Co-Founder of Loftium (raised $2.5MM). He was previously the VP of Growth at Galvanize and the COO of Startup Weekend.

Michael Perry



Michael is the Founder of Kit (raised $1MM and then was acquired by Shopify). He was previously the Founder of GVING.

Carolina Huaranca



Carolina is a Principal at Kapor Capital. She was previously a Co-Founder of Spriggle and an M&A investment banker at Citi.

Mike Teng



Mike is a Co-Founder of Swing Education (raised $7.5MM). He was previously the Director of Technology at Rocketship Education.

Shauntel Poulson



Shauntel is a Co-Founder and General Partner at Reach Capital. She was previously a Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund.

Porter Braswell & Ryan Williams

Porter &


Porter Braswell and Ryan Williams are the Co-Founders of Jopwell (raised $11.7MM). They were previously Analysts at Goldman Sachs.

See What Our Founders Are Saying

Prior to launching the Founder Gym, the CEO Mandela SH tested programming with 22 founders around the country. Here’s what they said:

Since joining this program, I have solidified the vision and mission of my company, finalized our B2B sales deck and investor pitch deck, created project management systems that REALLY work, clarified co-founder roles, and secured three of NYC’s top media companies, including Getty Images, as our first paying clients!

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Netta Dobbins

Founder of MimConnect

Brooklyn, NY

Before this program, I had a difficult time prioritizing tasks and effectively reaching out to potential clients. Within just two months of coaching, I have become more effective and efficient with planning my company’s goals, my clients have increased by 14x (yes, you read that right), and I’ve developed a game-changing partnership that will help scale my business.

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Kyle Miller

Co-Founder of Foodease

Washington, DC

As a first time entrepreneur, I cannot recommend this training enough. Before starting, I lacked strategic direction and focus in getting my business off the ground. This coaching taught me to think big and start small. I learned how to break down my business goals into small achievable steps and develop a systematic approach to understanding my target market. After learning how to conduct user interviews, market research, and competitive analyses, I now feel 100% more confident about launching a private beta this winter.

Rosellen Bliss headshoot

Rosellen Bliss

Co-Founder of Stealth Startup

Brooklyn, NY



    November 30, 2017

    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." - W. Gretzy. Review the application, set aside 30 minutes to complete it, and give yourself a chance to get in!


    December 7, 2017

    You will receive an email letting you know whether or not you passed the first round screen and are being invited to virtually interview with the Founder Gym team.


    December 12, 2017

    Interviews will take place via video conference and only the founders of your team will be invited to participate.


    December 17, 2017

    You will receive an email notifying you whether or not you’ve been selected for the cohort. You have 72 hours to submit your $99 down payment to reserve your spot.


    December 19, 2017

    Congratulations! You’re officially a member of the cohort! You will be granted access to the orientation materials, and begin preparing for the start of the cohort in January.


    January 8, 2018

    It’s go time! Over the next four weeks, you will complete structured exercises and receive personal training from Silicon Valley investors and founders.


    February 2, 2017

    You did it! Four weeks of intense training is over. Now it’s time to use your new skills, strengths, and network to catapult your startup to the next level.

Cost to Join the Cohort

We do not take equity in startups; we are an application and fee based program. Just like college, you must apply to be admitted, and if accepted, you must be able to pay the program fee of $396 (which amounts to $99/week for the 4-week cohort). The first payment of $99 is due December 18th. Payment plans are available, and a limited amount of scholarships are also offered. Within the application, you will find more details on how to qualify for these options.

In the future, Founder Gym will also offer free solutions, but as of right now, we are focused on creating a high touch, high quality experience for a limited number of founders. Our goal is to use these cohorts to test, learn, and perfect our trainings, so that we can eventually make them available for the general public to access and benefit from.

Exclusive Cohort Benefits

  • Specifically designed for underrepresented tech startup founders
  • 100% virtual programming; you can participate from anywhere
  • Small group trainings every Wednesdays at 5pm PST with direct access to investors and founders who’ve raised millions of dollars
  • Training style is relatable, digestible, and engaging; tech “buzzwords” and “startup lingo” are always defined and clarified, ensuring no one gets left behind
  • Strength and conditioning plan to develop your entrepreneurial muscles in between the weekly training sessions
  • Accountability partner(s) to help you stay focused and motivated to finish what you started
  • Strong network of underrepresented tech startup founders who are serious about being successful and who are willing to help you succeed too
  • Topic-based (e.g. Cohort 1: Fundraising Basics): four weeks are spent going deep on a core tenant of startup success (vs. spending four weeks giving a surface level overview of various startup topics)
  • Walk away with a polished executive summary, pitch deck, 10-second, 30-second, and 60-second pitch script, and an investor email template
  • Virtual Demo Day with peers and invited guests to showcase your growth and receive real-time feedback

Applications for Cohort 1: Fundraising Basics are closed. We will be launching new cohorts covering a variety of startup topics, including bootstrapping, recruiting technical talent, securing product market fit, budgeting and forecasting, etc. Subscribe below to find out when the next cohort launches.

Who Should Apply

Founder Gym is an online training center for underrepresented tech startup founders who are serious
about taking their business to the next level, but they lack access to people who can help them.


There are more people like you represented in the population than there are in the startup industry.

Tech Startup

A company that uses technology (whether your own or someone else’s) to grow as big as possible as fast as possible.


You would rather work 24/7 building your own business than 9-5 working for someone else.


You have already built something (MVP counts) that people are using and/or buying.

Needs Help

You don’t have people in your network who can teach you how to build a successful tech startup.

Meet Our Team

Mandela headshoot

Mandela SH Dixon

Founder & CEO

A former Division I soccer player and professional educator, Mandela began her career in Silicon Valley in 2011 as a startup founder backed by Kapor Capital, 500 Startups, and Imagine K12 (acquired by Y Combinator). Thereafter, she led a global entrepreneurial program called Startup Weekend Education (acquired by Techstars) that spanned six continents and empowered thousands of entrepreneurs to launch edtech startups. Most recently, Mandela worked at venture capital firm Kapor Capital, where she supported the success of over 120 tech startups and launched the Founders' Commitment, a first-of-its kind initiative teaching founders how to bake diversity and inclusion into the DNA of their early stage startups. To-date, Mandela has shared her frameworks for success on over 65 stages, including TEDx, Google, and Facebook. She has also received several recognitions, including being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List, LinkedIn's Top 10 Voices in Venture Capital and Startups, and Medium's Top 10% of Writers.

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Gabriela Zamudio

Founder & CTO

A former professional table tennis player for her native country, Peru, Gabriela Zamudio began her career in Silicon Valley in 2013 as a software engineer at ThoughtWorks. After developing products for clients such as Gap and Kaiser, Gabriela opened her own consulting practice, providing website development services to startups and non-profits as well as serving as a technical advisor for Mission Asset Fund. Over the past 4 years, Gabriela has taught software engineering (in both English and Spanish) to over 500 people at Women Who Code, Girl Develop It, General Assembly, and Dev Bootcamp. She has also organized and facilitated multiple events that have impacted over 10,000 women entrepreneurs and engineers, including Empowering Her. Most recently, Gabriela built a platform to teach Spanish-speaking women how to code their first website and developed programs and workshops with it.