Founder Gym aims to help underrepresented startup founders build tech startups

Founder Gym, co-founded by Mandela Schumacher-Hodge and Gabriela Zamudio (pictured above), is unveiling its online platform to support and train underrepresented founders building tech startups.

Instead of describing it as a school, bootcamp or incubator, Founder Gym describes itself as a topical, four-week training program that covers topics like fundraising, pitching, user growth and problem validation.

“We’re trying to use different language in order to break paradigms that have been established,” Schumacher-Hodge told me over the phone. “What we’ve seen time and time again is that model doesn’t work. What we’re trying to do is create a new model.”

In week one, founders will learn fundraising basics from VCs like Kapor Capital’s Mitch Kapor and Carolina Hauranca, Charles Hudson of Precursor Ventures and Shauntel Poulson of Reach Fund, as well as from founders like Atipica’s Laura Gomez and Jopwell’s Porter Braswell. Week two is all about winning the game of entrepreneurship, week three is about the unwritten rules of fundraising and week four is when Founder Gym will do its version of a demo day.

Schumacher-Hodge used the analogy of a gym to further describe what Founder Gym is all about. With a gym membership, the idea is that you go year-round because your fitness level is constantly evolving. There’s no concrete beginning and end.

“This is how it is even with founders,” Schumacher-Hodge said. “There are different muscles you’re going to have to exercise. And you can always get stronger. We want to break the traditional paradigm that you take these accelerators and incubators and then you’re good to go. Becoming a founder is an ongoing process.”

Similar to the gym, it’s about taking the right classes, doing the right exercises and having the best equipment, Schumacher-Hodge said. Founder Gym, then, is sort of like a gym for startup founders. It wants to be a place where founders can go to continue learning what it takes to be a great entrepreneur.

Founder Gym does not take any equity in startups, but it does charge a fee of $396 to participate. There are also payment plans and scholarships available to those who are eligible. Down the road, Founder Gym plans to offer free solutions.

Applications for Founder Gym’s first cohort open today and close November 30, with the four-week program kicking off January 8, 2018. The ideal candidate for this program, Schumacher-Hodge said, will already have some traction and skin in the game.