First Founder Institute Sacramento Cohort.

First Founder Institute Sacramento Cohort.Left to Right: (Back) Craig Pritsky, Co-Director (Sac Angels); Veronica Smith, Co-Director (Lead, Dress for Success); Carolyn Ulander Peer, Humaxa; Mariah Lichtenstern Managing Director (DiverseCity Ventures); Jagpal Singh, Bizefy; (Front) Chelsea Dudgeon, Croperr; Nathalie Mvondo, MultiCultural Press; Brenda Tello Horton, ProPlanr; Alexis Jones, Creditrak. Photo by Michael W. Parks Photography.

Earlier this month at Bennigan’s in downtown Sacramento, seven early stage Sacramento area startups wrapped up a grueling months-long program as the first cohort of Founder Institute Sacramento with the goal to take their startup to the next level.

The Founder Institute startup accelerator is an extremely challenging program, and graduating is a signifcant achievement. In fact, less than 40% of applicants are accepted to the program, and less than 30% of those generally make it through. So, given that high drop out rate, it’s only fitting that we recognize those who persevered through the challenging weeks.

The Graduates of Founder Institute Sacramento’s First Cohort

  • Alexis Jones, Creditrak (@Creditrak) – All-inOne Credit & Money Management Tool
  • Brenda Tello Horton, ProPlanr (@ProPlanr) – One Place For All Your Plans
  • Carolyn Peer, Humaxa (@HumaxaInc) – Human Resources, Maximized
  • Chelsea Dudgeon, Croperr (@Croperr_app) – Growing Better Together
  • Jagpal Singh, Bizefy (@Bizefy) – Digital Marketing Simplified for Restaurants
  • Juan Juan, Fanalyze (@fAnalyze) – The Analyze in Fantasy Sports
  • Natalie G. Mvondo, MultiCultural Press (@multicpress) – Multilingual Stories for Kids

Further congratulations are also in order for two of these startups – Croperr has raised seed funding, and Fanalyze is raising a 100K round presently.

I asked Sacramento Managing Director, Mariah Lichtenstern her thoughts on the experience of running this first Sacramento cohort.

“Diamonds are produced under pressure, and all of our graduates are evidence of that. As grueling as it was at times, I’m so glad that Veronica, Craig, and I, along with all the amazing mentors, were able to get to know and support these fantastic founders. I believe we also helped to prepare those who didn’t make it through for the next leg in their journey, and I expect to see some of them graduate in the future.

I was just beta testing, an intelligent transcription platform, which was founded by a friend I met in my first Founder Institute Silicon Valley working group. He went through several ideas looking for the one but did not graduate with the cohort. We continue to keep in touch and support to each other, and my hope is that the Founder Institute Sacramento participants continue to support and encourage each other as well. When you go through something this intense, it builds camaraderie, and founders need fellowship with others who understand the unique drive we share. That’s a very special part of FI – the local team, the support of headquarters in Silicon Valley, and the global network who all know what graduates have endured. Now, I want to see our grads go out, participate in other startup activities, take advantage of our region’s resources, and contribute to the ecosystem.”

Also, a big shout out of appreciation to Barry Broome of Greater Sacramento Economic Counsel, John Peters of Sac Angels, and Steve Young of AppMasters for being Keynote / Super Mentors respectively. Also, to Impact VC for hosting the cohort.

As for plans for a future cohort of Founder Institute Sacramento, Mariah says that she’s considering a Summer Session and will likely be looking for a Program Manager & EIR. Stay tuned – as we learn more details we’ll share them here.

Michael Parks Photography