Pivoting the inaugural Founders Academy to a virtual setting didn’t deter Jewel Burks Solomon and the Google for Startups team. Over the course of eight months — in the middle of the pandemic — the Academy worked with over 40 Georgia-based founders to help them get an idea off the ground and work through with any necessary pivots and changes in the wake of the pandemic.
Solomon’s goal was simple: “How do we make sure that these amazing founders have the tools they need to not just make it through the year…but to thrive and grow in their businesses in spite of the realities [of 2020].”
After the first cohort’s graduation, Google for Startups said 85% of the Georgia-based founders reported job creation, revenue growth, new pathways to investment, fresh strategic partnerships, or brand exposure.
Now, the Founders Academy is expanding nationwide.
Looking specifically for founders behind Black, Latinx, and military veteran-founded startups, Founders Academy will bring on 40-50 founders from across the country to join its second cohort.
The 2021 Founders Academy will be six months, down from the eight-months of the inaugural cohort. Solomon told Hypepotamus that the updated program structure was based on participant feedback and a few tweaks to the curriculum.
Atlanta’s Influence Goes National
For Solomon, who was tapped to lead Google for Startups in the US in January of 2020, Atlanta was the right place for such a pilot program. But she is ready to bring the Academy’s work with Atlanta-based founders to those across the country.
“We really wanted to start with Georgia-based founders because we wanted to showcase that we could go deep in a market like Atlanta,” Solomon told Hypepotamus. “We didn’t anticipate that everything would have to go virtual. But what we learned is that we have the capacity and the ability to work with lots of founders at one time.”
The Georgia cohort included founders like Christian Zimmerman of Qoins, the Atlanta startup automating extra payments to help users pay down debt or increase savings, and Ifrah Khan, the founder behind Usit.
One of the founders, Dominique Boseman, spoke to Hypepotamus about the process of going through Founders Academy with her company SPRAISE.
“Having this program at the height of COVID was imperative. For founders, us having the structure, the weekly sessions, and the accountability partners really helped to keep us focused,” said Boseman.
As a skincare company, Boseman said that the sales training curriculum was important as she learned how to navigate conversations with wholesalers. Boseman reports that SPRAISE doubled the size of its team and increased revenues by 150% since graduation. You can read more about Boseman’s experience on Google for Startup’s blog.
Applications for the second cohort will be open through February 9, 2020.
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