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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 six 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 4:

Raising Venture Capital

The application closes on August 29th at 11:59pm PST.
Apply Now

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Learn How to Fundraise in 6 Weeks

Week 1


The Gym is officially open, and it’s time to get to know your fellow Gymmates from around the world! FG veterans will help you get a clear understanding of what you need to do, in order to succeed in the cohort, and you’ll feel empowered and inspired to hit the ground running.

Week 2

Inside the Mind of a VC

Who are venture capitalists? How are they different from angels, accelerators, syndicates, and loan officers? What do they care about when making investment decisions? Learn who these VCs really are and what makes them tick, so you can better position your startup to be an attractive investment opportunity.

Week 3

The Metrics That Matter

What makes VCs invest in some companies and not others? Is it the number of users, the amount of revenue, the size of the market, the founders on the team, the story behind the vision, or something else entirely? Uncover what metrics really matter, so you can stop wasting your time on the ones that don’t.

Week 4

Communication Counts

You only get one chance to make a great first impression and you don’t want to blow it. What you say, how you say it, and who co-signs what you have to say are incredibly important when it comes to fundraising. Whether it’s a tweet, DM, email, or in-person pitch, it’s essential that you learn the communication etiquette investors prefer.

Week 5

Founder Advice

Learn from an experienced underrepresented founder who’s already done what you’re trying to do: secure the bag! There is a very high chance you will be pitching investors who don’t share your identity, background, or lived experiences, so it’s important that you learn how to navigate the nuances of fundraising from someone who’s walked in your shoes.

Week 6


You’ve learned A LOT in a short amount of time. Now, it’s time to "walk the talk" and show everyone what you’re made of. For graduation, you will present a 2-minute pitch of your startup in front of your FG Cohort peers and invited alumni. You will also get to step in the shoes of an investor and decide which of your peers is most deserving of investor capital.

Meet the Cohort 4 Expert Trainers

From seasoned investors to venture capital-backed founders, Founder Gym Trainers are some of the best in the game.

Arlan Hamilton

Partner at Backstage Capital

Starting in 2015, Arlan built a venture capital firm from scratch, while homeless. Her firm, Backstage Capital, is dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are of color, women, and/or LGBT. Arlan has now invested in over 100 startup companies led by underestimated founders.

Michael Seibel

CEO and Partner at Y Combinator

At age 23, Michael co-founded Justin.tv which became Twitch and sold to Amazon for $970 million. At age 33, Michael became the CEO of Y Combinator, arguably the most successful startup accelerator in the world. He has invested in over 50 companies, including Reddit, Jopwell, and Walker and Company.

Kathryn Minshew

Co-Founder & CEO of The Muse

Kathryn overcame 148 investor rejections, bias, and sexual harrassment to go on and raise $28 million for her company, The Muse, a career platform serving millions of people all around the world. Kathryn is also an Operating Partner at X Factor Ventures that invests in pre-seed and seed stage startups that have at least one female founder.

Expert Trainer Alumni

Over 35 venture capitalists and VC-backed founders in Silicon Valley and beyond have joined Founder Gym to train the next generation of successful tech startup founders. The FG Cohort curriculum and structure has been influenced by these trainers, especially the experts listed below.

Mitch Kapor

Partner at Kapor Capital

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

Charles Hudson

Partner at Precursor Ventures

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

Venture Capitalist

Ellen was a Partner at Kapor Capital and Kleiner Perkins. She was also the interim CEO at Reddit and served on the boards of Flipboard, Datameer, and Lehigh.

Suzy Ryoo

Partner at Cross Culture Ventures

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

Parker Thompson

Partner at AngelList

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

Monique Woodard

Venture Capitalist

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

Phin Barnes

Partner at First Round Capital

Phin Barnes is a Managing Partner at First Round Capital. Formerly an early employee at AND 1, Phin is a self-proclaimed sneakerhead. He's made over 50 investments, including Birchbox and Blue Apron.

Erik Moore

Partner at Base Ventures

Erik Moore is a Managing Partner of Base Ventures. Originally an angel investor in Zappos, Erik has since made over 70 investments in tech companies, including Olly, StyleSeat, Mayvenn, and Blavity.

Freada Kapor Klein

Partner at Kapor Capital

Freada Kapor Klein is a Founding Partner of Kapor Capital and diversity & inclusion expert. Freada has made over 100 investments, including Twilio, LendUp, and Genius Plaza, and has pioneered gap-closing social impact investing.

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

Meet All the Founder Gym Graduates

Application and Selection Process

  • August 29th

    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.

  • September 12th

    Selections Announced

    You will receive an email notifying you whether or not you’ve been selected for the cohort. You have 48 hours to submit your down payment to reserve your spot.

  • September 14th

    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.

  • September 19th

    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 5 weeks.

October 26th

Cohort Ends

You did it! You survived one of the most intense startup training programs. 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 education 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


Cohort Fee for Two Co-Founders

$3400 total

Currently, we are focused on creating a high touch, high quality experience for a limited number of founders who are ready to invest in the growth of their business. In the coming months, Founder Gym will begin offering additional programs and products at different price points and some at no cost. Subscribe to our newsletter to find out when these launch.

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

Six weeks are spent going deep on a core tenant of startup success vs. spending six 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 virtual trainings take place weekdays at 5:00pm PST, granting you direct access to the Expert Trainers. From seasoned investors to venture capital-backed founders, Founder Gym Trainers are some of the best in the game.

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 your startup pitch at Graduation, showcasing your growth to FG Cohort peers and alumni, 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.

Apply Now

Who Should Apply

The Founder Gym cohort is specifically designed for underrepresented tech startup founders who are serious about raising venture capital to scale.


Your identity group (race, gender, etc.) receives dispropionately less startup funding than other groups.

Tech Startup

Your startup develops its own technology and aspires to grow as big and as fast as possible.


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 need guidance from experienced people.


You want a well-curated community that understands the challenges founders like you face.

Meet Our Team

Mandela SH Dixon

Founder & CEO

An entrepreneur, educator, athlete, and well-connected Silicon Valley influencer, Mandela is uniquely positioned to lead this movement. Previously at Kapor Capital and Startup Weekend, Mandela is a recent graduate of First Round Capital’s Angel Track.

Paige H Buckner

Program Director

Paige has operated at the intersection of education, entrepreneurship, and social justice. She is a well-respected leader in the Portland startup scene and has helped cultivate their ecosystem, including co-founding the XXcelerate Fund for women entrepreneurs.

Cordelro Brown

Digital Engagement Associate

After studying Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of Alabama, Cordelro founded Rapid Dissent, an emerging platform for social activists. Cordelro currently supports Founder Gym’s growing digital presence and brand development.

Mallory Valenzuela

Business Operations Associate

Mallory leverages her experience in marketing and customer design from Singularity to inform the development of new FG products. She is the Co-Founder of Kubo, a media platform for Filipino millennials, and serves on the Board of Filipino Advocates for Justice.

Cristal Harris

Writing Associate

After graduating from Law School at the University of San Francisco, Cristal became a Justice Change Fellow at the Haywood Burns Institute. When writing for FG, Cristal draws inspiration from her commitment to social equity and her interest in entrepreneurship.

Jeremy Young

Visual Storyteller

After teaching for six years in schools like Khan Labs, Jeremy transitioned into sharing knowledge with a larger audience using multimedia. He specializes in photography and videography, and you may have seen his work featured on ATTN: or TechCrunch.

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