Seed Cohort

Seed Cohort

April 22, 2019 - May 31, 2019

The FG Seed Cohort is a 6-week virtual program designed for founders who are already beyond the pre-seed stage, and who are seeking to raise $1MM to $5MM from venture capitalists. There is one FG Seed Cohort operating from April 22, 2019 to May 31, 2019. FG Cohorts are typically 15-50 founders per cohort. All FG programming is 100% virtual, so founders can participate from anywhere. Trainers for each cohort will be announced as they are confirmed.

Seed Cohort

Daytime Trainings
9am-5pm PST

Week 1: Orientation

The Gym is officially open, and it’s time to get to know your fellow Gymmates from around the world! FG staff and alumni 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 accelerators, private equity firms, and loan officers? What do they care about when making investment decisions? Learn who 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 startups 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 online or in-person, it’s essential to learn the communication etiquette investors prefer.

Week 5: Founder Advice

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

Week 6: Graduation

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 your 2-minute pitch in front of your FG Cohort and invited alumni, plus get a chance to be voted “Best in Cohort!” by your peers.

Expert Trainers

The Founder Gym Seed Cohort will have four expert trainers comprised of venture capitalists and venture-backed founders. New trainers will be announced as they are confirmed.

Training Sessions Facilitated By​


Paige Hendrix Buckner

Cohort Leader

Program Director at Founder Gym


Vanessa Larco

Venture Capitalist

Partner at New Enterprise Associates (NEA)
Vanessa Larco is one of the only Latina venture capital Partners in the industry. She joined NEA in 2016 and focuses on Enterprise SaaS and Consumer Services investing. NEA is one of the world’s largest venture capital firms, with more than $20 billion in committed capital across 16 funds. Some of NEA’s companies include Salesforce, Groupon, Jet, and Workday. Prior to NEA, Vanessa was the Director of Product Management at Box, which IPO’d in 2015. Her passion for design and analytics stems from her experience in the gaming industry, which includes working at Xbox and Disney. Vanessa holds a BS in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology.


Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins

Venture-Backed Founder

Co-Founder & CEO of Promise
Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is one of the few African-American female founders to raise venture capital from some of the most notable firms in the industry, including Y Combinator, First Round Capital, Kapor Capital, and Roc Nation (cue Jay Z). To-date, Phaedra has raised $12MM to scale her tech startup, Promise, which helps criminal justice agencies reduce recidivism, minimize costs, and promote public safety. Prior to co-founding Promise, Phaedra was Head of Care at Honor, another venture capital-backed startup that has raised $115MM in funding to scale their work to improved personalized home care for the elderly.

jennifer (1)

Jennifer Carolan

Venture Capitalist

Managing Partner at Reach Capital
Jennifer Carolan is the Co-Founder and General Partner of Reach Capital, one of the leading edtech venture capital firms focused on investing in early childhood, K-12, and higher education, as well as lifelong learning. With over $135MM under management, Jennifer and her team have made early bets on several successful edtech companies, including Newsela and Class Dojo. Prior to launching Reach Capital, Jennifer co-founded NewSchools Seed Fund, was a classroom teacher in Elmwood Park, Illinois, and earned a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Teacher Education from Stanford University.

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Kirby Harris

Venture Capitalist

Managing Partner at Base Ventures
Kirby Harris is Managing Partner and Co-founder of Base Ventures, a pioneering venture partnership in Silicon Valley. Base Ventures is an early-stage firm that has made more than 80 seed investments, including Rinse, Blavity, Olly Vitamins, Mayvenn, Plangrid (Acquired by Autodesk), and Baker Technologies (IPO as Tilt Holdings). Kirby started his investment career at an Oakland based boutique private equity firm where he was Vice President. In 2010, he joined Erik Moore to form Base Ventures where he enjoys helping entrepreneurs turn their dreams into massive companies. Kirby is a Kauffman Fellow, MBA graduate, and alumnus of Morehouse College.


Mandela SH Dixon

Startup Coach

CEO of Founder Gym
Mandela SH Dixon has helped hundreds of founders raise startup capital and build successful businesses. She was the founding Portfolio Services Director at Kapor Capital, the Global Director of Startup Weekend Education, and a tech startup founder backed by Kapor Capital, 500 Startups, and Imagine K12 (acq. by Y Combinator). Mandela is a member of First Round Capital's prestigious Angel Track program. She is a sought-after speaker and has shared her frameworks on over 80 stages. Mandela has also received various recognitions, including being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List and LinkedIn's Top 10 Voices in Venture Capital and Startups.

What People Are Saying

Meet a Graduate: Derrick JohnsonEncounter AI (Cohort 4)

Cohort Tuition

Founder Gym does not take equity in startups; we are an application and fee-based training program. Just like college, you must apply to be admitted, and if accepted, you must be able to pay the program fee. The tuition for all FG Cohorts is the same.

A limited number of scholarships are also offered by our program partners. Within the FG Cohort application, you will find more information on how to qualify for these.

Pay In Full

Pay in full and receive an exclusive bonus training, led by a surprise FG Expert Trainer
$ 2000 one-time
Save 10%

Payment Plan

Divide your tuition amongst 4 payments
$ 550

Scholarships Provided In Partnership With

Compare: 2-Day Conference vs 6-Week Cohort

Up to this point, most founders have been limited to in-person conferences as their only option to participate in live learning experiences. Founder Gym is changing that. Our new model provides greater benefits than most conferences and is offered at a lower daily cost. Review the comparison charts below to learn more.

Choose the Right Cohort for You

The ideal Founder Gym applicant for both pre-seed and seed cohorts has these qualifications:

Underrepresented Founder 

Tech Company 

Billion Dollar Market 

Scales Fast 

Use the chart below to help you decide which FG Cohort you should apply to:

Pre-Seed Cohort
Seed Cohort
Functional Product
Users and/or Revenue
Chief Technical Officer
Raising Less Than $1MM
Raising More Than $1MM
Understands Pre-Seed Fundraising
Understands Seed Fundraising

Application Process

Application OpensFeb 12, 2019

Set aside 30 minutes to complete the application. Applications will be reviewed as they are submitted. If you pass the application screen, you will be invited to participate in a video interview.

Application ClosesMar 31, 2019

Late applications will not be accepted, so be sure to leave plenty of time to submit yours before the deadline.

Selections AnnouncedApr 8, 2019

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.

Cohorts FinalizedApr 11, 2019

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

Cohort BeginsApr 22, 2019

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 6 weeks.

Cohort EndsMay 31, 2019

You did it! You survived one of the most intense founder training programs. Now it’s time to use your new knowledge, network, and know-how to catapult your startup to the next level.

Ready to take the first step?

The deadline to apply is March 31, 2019.
Read this article for tips and best practices for your application.


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