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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 psychology, 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 expert training from investors and experienced founders. The program is 100% virtual and highly selective.

Founder Gym Diagram

Apply to Cohort 2:

The Fundraising Basics

The application period for Cohort 2 is now closed. Subscribe to our newsletter to find out when the Cohort 3 application opens.

Thank you to our sponsors

Learn How to Fundraise in 4 Weeks

Week 1

Inside the Mind of a VC

Who are venture capitalists, where does their money come from, and what do they really care about when making investment decisions? Learn who these people are and what makes them tick, so you can better position your startup to be an attractive investment opportunity.

Week 2

Unwritten Rules of Fundraising

There are some things only people on the inside know, like the importance of warm intros, the etiquette of social media, and the red flags of pitching. It’s crucial that you learn what the small things are that make a big difference when fundraising.

Week 3

Use Differences as Strengths

As an underrepresented founder, there is an extremely high chance you will be pitching investors who don’t share your identity, background, or lived experiences. You must learn how to articulate your differences as your strengths.

Week 4

Demo Day Showcase

The best way to prove you have learned something is to demonstrate it. For Demo Day, you will craft a polished deck and pitch in front of your Gymmates and invited guests. You will also get to step in the shoes of an investor and score your peers.

Meet the Cohort 2 Expert Trainers

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

Parker Thompson


Parker Thompson is a Partner at AngelList, a former Partner at 500 Startups, and he has made over 70 investments to-date.

Suzy Ryoo


Suzy Ryoo is a Partner at Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures, whose investments include Warby Parker, Lyft, and Dropbox.

Monique Woodard


Monique Woodard is a former Partner at 500 Startups, Co-Founder of Black Founders, and her investments include Blavity and O.School.

Expert Trainer Alumni

As a member of Founder Gym, you will get exclusive access to the recorded Expert Training Sessions from Cohort 1, featuring:

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, with over 70 pre-seed investments. 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.

See What Our Founders Are Saying

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Founder Gym was an immensely valuable experience for me as a founder that is new to institutional venture fundraising. The expert trainers and personal coaches demystified the process for us and showed us the blueprint for navigating the Silicon Valley fundraising dance. It was like getting an insider’s look at how the game works. Because of the cohort, we are much more prepared to fundraise and I would definitely recommend this program to others.

Tunji Williams

Co-Founder of dealWIP

Brooklyn, New York

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When I applied for Founder Gym, I was personally very exhausted and discouraged with my fundraising experience. However, being accepted into FG really changed that. Because of the program, I found renewed energy and motivation to continue on with fundraising and was successful in raising capital! I really appreciated getting to learn from experts that I never imagined I could interact with, as well as getting to know many amazing founders.

Sunny Washington

Co-Founder of Because Learning

Salt Lake City, Utah

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Because of Founder Gym, I was able to get clear about the fundraising needs of my business, and I am now much better prepared to go out and secure capital. This has truly been an awesome experience. Mandela and her team are pros and it shows in the quality of information and mentors they were able to bring to the table. I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the inaugural cohort.

Laura Wittig

Co-Founder of The Brightly

San Francisco, California

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Even after writing almost 100,000 lines of code over the summer, I can confidently say that participating in Founder Gym is the most important step I’ve taken as a CEO so far. With the techniques I’ve learned, I feel way more prepared to not only fundraise, but build a company that scales. I just wish I would have known about Founder Gym sooner; it would have saved me a lot of time and energy.

Al Nolan

Founder of Notearise

Dallas, Texas

Application and Selection Process

  • February 25th

    Application Deadline

    Set aside 15 minutes to complete the application and give yourself a chance to get admitted. If you pass the application screen, you will be invited to participate in a video interview.

  • March 2nd

    Selections Announced

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

  • March 5th

    Cohort Finalized

    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.

  • March 12

    Cohort Begins

    The cohort kicks off with Orientation. You will get the chance to meet your Gymmates and get your life in order, so you can focus on going hard in the Gym for the next 4 weeks.

April 13

Cohort Ends

You did it! One week of Orientation and 4 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. 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.

Cohort Fee for One Founder

$99 / week

Cohort Fee for Two Co-Founders

$179 / week

There are 5 weeks of total programming: one week of orientation and four weeks of training.

In the future, Founder Gym will also produce free offerings, 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.

Exclusive Cohort Benefits

Be valued for who you are

Founder Gym was specifically designed for underrepresented tech startup founders. We offer an inclusive and collaborative experience that values a diversity of identities, lived experiences, and viewpoints.

Participate from anywhere

100% of the program is virtual, meaning you can participate from anywhere.

Master the essentials

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. Our training style is relatable, digestible, and engaging. Tech “buzzwords” and “startup lingo” are always defined and clarified, ensuring no one gets left behind.

Learn from the best

Live trainings take place every Wednesdays at 5:00pm PST, granting you direct access to the Expert Trainers. Sign up for office hours and get additional training from experienced startup industry professionals.

Stay accountable to your goals

Complete a strength and conditioning plan to develop your entrepreneurial muscles in between the weekly expert training sessions. Lock into your accountability group to stay focused and motivated to finish what you started.

Build your fundraising toolkit

Walk away with polished public profiles, a well-crafted executive summary, presentation deck, pitch scripts, investor email template, and a target list of investors.

Flex your muscles

Present at the virtual Demo Day, showcasing your growth to peers and invited guests, and receive real-time feedback.

Develop a network for life

Build relationships with high-quality founders from around the world, who are serious about being successful and who are willing to help you succeed too.

Join our Community

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.


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

Tech Startup

A company that develops its own technology and wants to grow as big 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’re not sure if you’re doing the right things, and you need advice from experienced people.

Meet Our Team

Mandela Schumacher-Hodge 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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