DURHAM — Two Triangle startups, All Elements and POLARISqb, are the latest to graduate from the Silicon-Valley-based Founder Gym, an online startup accelerator targeting underrepresented founders.
All Elements founder Mutuk Karpakakunjaram and POLARISqb’s Shahar Keinan were among 45 entrepreneurs from four continents making up fourteenth cohort to complete the program in October.
Both startups are based out of Durham’s American Underground and were nominated to receive Google for Startups scholarships.
“The Founder Gym experience sharpened my knowledge about the investment landscape,” said Karpakakunjaram. “Every week, I learned something new, a better way to do something, or the context behind a process. I leveled up, fast. Now, I’m confident knowing I have the tools and the support system to efficiently navigate fundraising.”
A former IBMer and corporate veteran, Karpakakunjaram said he experienced firsthand the pain of poorly designed people management tech. So he decided to found All Elements, an HR technology firm, in 2014.
“The goal is to change the relationship between managers and employees by replacing siloed, frustrating HR tech solutions with continuous, collaborative, unobtrusive conversations,” he said.
He is currently bootstrapping the company, while attracting paying subscribers nationwide.
Meanwhile, POLARISqb, founded in 2020 by Dr. Shahar Keinan and Bill Shipman, is on a mission of creating drug blueprints to treat all diseases for all people using quantum-inspired computing.
In the time it takes to complete a typical internet search, POLARISqb said its technology can narrow the potential field of candidate molecules from billions to dozens.
“I am much more confident in my pitch,” Keinan said, after completing the accelerator. “Now, I’m part of a community of other founders who are also underrepresented in tech, share the same difficulties, and support each other.”
Led by experts in Silicon Valley, Founder Gym is an accelerator program that teaches underrepresented founders how to raise money to scale their startups.
Participants are chosen through application or nomination and over six weeks are coached on pitch crafting, fundraising and teambuilding by venture capitalists and other experts.
Since its inception in 2017, more than 440 founders from over 20 countries have graduated from Founder Gym, having been featured in Forbes, WIRED, Essence, CNBC and on NPR.