Only about 1 percent of venture capital-backed startup founders are black, according to CB Insights data. Even fewer are black women or Latino. There's not a lot of age diversity and geographic diversity, and underrepresented founders don't always have access to the networks or training programs that can help them get startup funding. Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon is a former public school teacher, startup founder and was a mentor for entrepreneurs at the VC firm Kapor Capital. About a year ago, she created Founder Gym, which is an online-only training program for underrepresented, would-be startup founders. Host Molly Wood talked with her at the AfroTech conference last week in San Francisco.
Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon: Just like if you want to be a lawyer you go to law school, if you want to be a doctor you go to medical school. But there is no school for people who want to be venture capital-backed startup founders. And oftentimes the schools that are formed are informal, right, by your networks. And a lot of underrepresented founders don't have the people in their networks who've raised venture capital, who've been venture capitalists. So we're literally creating from the ground up this first-ever curriculum specifically tailored to meet the needs and have a deep level of empathy for the lived experiences of underrepresented founders.