PEOPLE: Founder Gym Program Director Paige Hendrix Buckner Talks About You are Who You Hang Out With

This article was written by inter-TECH-ion intern, Noah Chavarria…

Startup Grind’s National HQ’s recent homage to black leaders in tech saw Paige Hendrix Buckner speak about the importance of building strong entrepreneurial communities and Networks. Buckner is the program director of Founder Gym in Portland, which has trained over 500 entrepreneurs in more than 23 countries and has raised more than $57 million. People from all over the world reach out to learn new and exciting ways to run fundraisers, increase revenue for businesses and how to connect with other entrepreneurs.

Founder Gym is an online program training under-represented founders on how to build successful startups.Trainers are among Silicon Valley’s most successful investors, including Partners at Y Combinator, Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and First Round Capital. Founder Gym is supported by leading organizations in the startup ecosystem, including Google for Startups, Microsoft for Startups, Shopify,, Kapor Center for Social Impact, and Silicon Valley Bank.

Buckner discussed three main topics: why it’s so important to connect with others and create good relationships to help your business grow; why we should connect and the secrets to finding that answer; and tips for budding entrepreneurs.

She spoke about empathy and how it plays a key role in connecting with others. When you share the same feelings and goals as other people, you experience the same struggles such as the challenges of the hiring process, creating a business model and creating the right team. Connecting with someone gives off the “I care about you” effect which leads to mentorship, capital, experience, and customer channel access. Creating this teamwork doesn’t only make for aligned employees, but ideally, customers as well.

Next, she gave an example on why we should connect and reach out to others. The CEO of VictimsVoice, Sheri Kurdakul, and the creator of Halo App, Taylor Simpson, came together to strengthen their companies and help out one another. VictimsVoice has the goal of simplifying the process of collecting evidence of domestic violence by trying to make it easier for victims to document what’s really needed, help prosecutors increase convictions and hold abusers accountable for a safer society. The Halo App is a private, peer lending community that connects people for loans up to $1,000.

Both shared the same empathy and wanted to join forces to make a better world. Looking for happier lives and justice for those who were done wrong, together they have paved a way for accusers to be held more accountable for their actions.

Together they have created a donation fund where they can help those in life-or-death needs. The VictimsVoice Halo Fund ensures that a person in need has the opportunity to document their abuse, the evidence needed to get protection and seek legal justice while aiding the justice system in holding abusers accountable, then use the cash for whatever they need to feel safe.

Buckner offered tips for those looking for building stronger entrepreneurial communities. Connecting with your community around you is a fantastic start. You want to see where you can help and hopefully fill in the gaps. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You won’t be able to do everything on your own so reaching out to those who may have experience can really benefit you. As you strive to build networks, you want to go for diversity. Age, gender, race, ethnicity, and religion shouldn’t hold you back when reaching out and connecting with others. Everyone has different ideas and views, and creating a diverse group like that can make your company stronger.

Buckner shared a story about how her father would always tell her, “You are who hang out with.” What is a simple parenting phrase still sticks with her today. She is so passionate to share her experiences and her knowledge, that she goes out of her way to connect with those and explain her “secrets.”

Buckner wants the best for her company and wants to help others along the way.

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