My Time In The Founder Institute Keystone Cohort 2022-23

Graduating FI is a major milestone for Our Public Assembly and me.

I started this company in 2021 in response to the January 6 insurrection. I was so frustrated with how the entire political system was leaving all peoples in the United States so unsatisfied – that there needed to be a way for people to come together to make the change they needed to see. I had been working on trying to build a platform for people to buy and restructure distressed businesses as worker-owned cooperatives through crowdfunding. While I do wish to see that product someday – I thought there was a far greater need in the society that needed to be addressed.

I had been working as a contractor to a criminal justice nonprofit in the Philadelphia area and working odd jobs to make ends meet. It is hard to find a team with next to no money. I would find someone only for them to be recruited by a firm with an insane offer. I rotated through a handful of teams until I got an incredible designer to build our product requirements and an incredible designer to help use make a mock up.

When I started FI I was a founder of a company with no money, no assets, no revenue and no idea how to move forward. Every time I talked to someone I heard something different. What I did have was the responses to over 600 interviews conducted through random sampling. I needed to find a way to turn that into a finished product and a company that could sell it.

FI was grueling.

I still had my nonprofit job and had to keep working with my team to keep them engaged. The homework sometimes felt like I was in graduate school again; learning alot, overworked and underpaid.

But as I did the homeworks, attended the sessions/events, did the sprints and met with founders and mentors; I started understanding what it really was to start up a business; even with nothing in the bank to spare.

Attending FI not only gave me so much homework that I feel like I’ve already written OPA’s diligence packet; but I am moving forward confident that I reasonably evaluate the decisions that need to be made from how to conduct my team to how to to get traction and investment.

I am incredibly thankful for the FI – Keystone team, their insights and work; and to the fellow founders for how engaging and dedicated they were.

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