TL; DR: Goodie Nation is a nonprofit organization that aims to close the relationship gap between entrepreneurs and networking resources that are out of reach for certain communities, including people of color and women, or those who don’t live near major metropolitan areas. Social Media Marketing Manager Tamay Shannon shares how Goodie Nation helps unite founders and their communities.
Entrepreneurship is touted as a path to success and economic mobility in the United States, but the reality is that not all businesses get to play on an even playing field.
Many entrepreneurs from marginalized communities, including rural areas, low-income families, and communities of color, face significant barriers to accessing resources and networking opportunities. For example, a tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley has better access to helpful connections and resources than a tech entrepreneur in rural America.
Nearly 80% of Americans agree that networking is vital to their career progression. Marketing, mentoring, and financial backing — these are all networking perks that founders need to get their service or product into the hands of their communities.
For those born into the “right” area or have the “right” educational or financial background, these resources and opportunities are accessible. But they’re not for everybody, and that’s the issue the founders of Goodie Nation seek to challenge.
How Goodie Nation Came to Empower the Underdog
Goodie Nation may be a relatively new face, but its roots go back more than a decade with a program that still operates today: Founders’ Therapy. In 2012, Founders’ Therapy was just a nickname for the small group of Atlanta entrepreneurs who met to vent and discuss things only other business owners would understand.
Naturally, this piqued the interest of like-minded individuals. So in the mid-2010s, what was an occasional gathering quickly grew into Goodie Nation — a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization that aims to bring the right resources to those in tech who strive to be an entrepreneur, no matter their background or location.
The real upgrade occurred when Goodie Nation received a grant from Tech Done Right, another organization that aims to promote diversity and inclusion in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. From there on, Goodie Nation shifted its focus to give entrepreneurs that sense of community and connections to investors, mentors, and much more within the tech space.
Tamay Shannon, Social Media Marketing Manager of Goodie Nation, said she loves what the organization brings to the table for founders — and what the community brings back to them.
“We have investors, mentors, and experts, so founders have the opportunity to reach out to them and ask questions and get mentorship,” said Tamay. “Then those people will have the opportunity to give back in a way that they feel that it’s going to make an actual impact.”
As of Q2 in 2023, Goodie Nation has more than 500 active founders in the program, 1,200 experts in the network, and more than $40 million in capital raised and awarded.
What to Expect When You Join Goodie Nation
Whether you’re just curious or thinking about taking the leap, know there’s no actual leap to make. Goodie Nation is a free program open to any underrepresented tech or social entrepreneur who wants to connect with other like-minded people and mentors or investors in the tech industry and, more specifically, your niche.
But they do have one condition:
“We do ask that you spend one good hour (1) per month on relationships that help another founder in the program with coaching, capital, and/or customers. Cool? If so, then proceed.”
Admissions are rolling, which means Goodie Nation accepts founder applications throughout the year. If interested, fill out an application.
Squashing the “Relationship Gap”
The relationship gap is a Goodie Nation-coined term that explains the entire focus of the organization.
The gap refers to the social, economic, and location-based space between founders — think entrepreneurs and business owners — who also happen to be people of color or women, or who don’t live near metropolitan areas.
Tamay explained it best:
“Founders who go to Harvard have these connections. So an old classmate might do things for you that they wouldn’t do for anybody else, like make introductions for you,” said Tamay. “But if you don’t have those types of connections, if you grew up differently, if your background is different, then you’re out here just trying to figure things out. Goodie Nation helps to close that.”
At its core, Goodie Nation aims to bring light to these disparities and work toward creating a more accessible environment for all founders by building bridges between communities. With a focus on tech — one of the most diversity-lacking industries in the world — people from different backgrounds have the opportunity to claim their spot in the space.
“We provide relationships, resources, and opportunities, and then they do with it what they will,” said Tamay. “That’s why there’s so much success: We put it out there; we don’t force them to take it.”
Of course, there’s plenty for the taking. Goodie Nation has resources, programs, mentorships, training, and networking opportunities to connect underrepresented founders with industry authorities, including other business owners, investors, and stakeholders with shared interests in promoting diversity, inclusivity, and connection. Check out their current programs and incentives to learn more.
“If you don’t have those types of connections, if you grew up differently, if your background is different, then you’re out here just trying to figure things out. Goodie Nation helps to close that.” — Tamay Shannon, Social Media Marketing Manager
Diversifying Your Circle
We asked Tamay how she thinks business leaders everywhere can close the gap in their circles. The answer: avoid homogeneity.
“Take a look at your circle and who you interact with,” said Tamay. “Is it all looking the same? If it is, then how can you change that authentically? Is there a way you can follow resources or money so that your circle doesn’t look the same?”
There’s a lot of truth to this piece of advice. Several reports and studies show that diversification can increase creativity and innovation, improve decision-making, and lead to better business outcomes:
- Ethnic and racial diversity in management are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean
- Companies with at least one female board member yield higher returns on equity and higher net income growth than those who do not have women on the board
- Diverse teams lead to more accurate group thinking and problem-solving with fewer errors
- Companies with more women and culturally diverse individuals are more likely to introduce innovations into the market
All evidence points to the benefits of leaders and founders finding a way to expand their circles, even when it means diving into unfamiliar territory — which Goodie Nation strives to accomplish. Whether you’re a founder, a coach, or an investor, there’s a spot for you. Learn more about Goodie Nation today.