Closing the Relationship Gap with Joey Womack, founder and CEO of Goodie Nation

Interview from Bridge's Connector series, in which we sit down with leading global connectors to share how they help their networks succeed.

In the last 18 months, we’ve driven $20M+ into founders’ hands by making 1,000+ warm introductions. Our goal is to positively impact 1 billion people by the year 2039.

Joey Womack, Goodie Nation

Can you tell us what the relationship gap is?

The relationship gap refers to the disconnect between entrepreneurs, particularly those who are people of color, women, or are not located in coastal financial centers, and “strong networks”. These “strong networks” are influenced by graduates from top colleges and employees from top companies. As a result, these entrepreneurs have less robust networks to draw upon for capital, advice, customers, talent, and professional development. Unfortunately, diverse entrepreneurs (Black, Latino, and women) are less likely to be connected to strong networks than their counterparts.

What inspired you to start Goodie Nation, and how does it work?

I founded Goodie Nation to address the relationship gap and support diverse entrepreneurs. Goodie Nation is a national nonprofit that offers support to tech-focused social entrepreneurs and diverse founders. We help over 550 diverse founders who are graduates of accelerators and similar programs by connecting them to strong networks for coaching, customers, capital, and talent.

How has Goodie Nation impacted diverse entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and what are your goals for the future?

In the last 18 months, we’ve driven $20M+ into founders' hands by making 1,000+ warm introductions. Our goal is to positively impact 1 billion people by the year 2039. We plan to achieve this goal by working with the likes of CARE USA, Google, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Ford Motor Company, Coca-Cola, Google For Startups, United Negro College Fund, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Village Capital, and the White House HBCU Initiative.

Can you tell us about a specific entrepreneur that Goodie Nation supported?

One of the most inspiring social entrepreneurs we've supported is Jasmine Crowe. In 2016, she emailed me about whether her idea, an app to deliver excess food from restaurants to those who are food insecure, was feasible, and if our pre-accelerator could help turn it into reality. I said “yes, and yes,” and that idea turned out to be Goodr, which helps eliminate food waste and food insecurity.

Goodr has since served 30 million meals to people in need, diverted 4 million pounds of food from landfills and drove $6.3 million in tax deductions for its partners.

How has Bridge helped you and Goodie Nation in closing the relationship gap?

Bridge has been a game-changer for us. For the last 6 months, we've been using Bridge to make introductions (mainly for founders), and it's saved us 150+ hours so far. If I had to start a fund, my first investment would be in Bridge! 🎊😁

How do you onboard new members to Goodie Nation, and what are your OKRs around that?

When onboarding new members to Goodie Nation, we first prioritize building relationships with them. We want to understand their goals and how we can help them achieve those goals. We also want to understand their strengths and weaknesses so we can provide the right support and resources.

We have specific OKRs around onboarding new members, including setting up at least one meeting with a mentor or investor within the first two weeks, introducing them to at least one other member with similar goals, and providing them with a roadmap for achieving their goals within the first month. We also have a rolling community for 12 months and usually work with 150 startups per year, with the CEO being the main point of contact.

How do you measure the success of Goodie Nation's programs and services?

We measure success by tracking our members’ progress and the impact of our programs. Bridge helps us also track feedback scores, testimonials, engagement, and completion stats to ensure our members are getting the support and resources they need. We also track the number of warm introductions we make and the amount of capital we drive into founders' hands. Ultimately, our success is measured by the success of our members and the positive impact they have on the world.

Can you tell us about the challenges that Goodie Nation has faced in closing the relationship gap?

One of the biggest challenges we've faced is the lack of awareness around the relationship gap and the need to address it. Many people don't realize that diverse entrepreneurs are less likely to be connected to strong networks, which can hinder their success. Additionally, there are systemic barriers that make it more difficult for diverse entrepreneurs to access capital, advice, customers, talent, and professional development. Goodie Nation is working to overcome these challenges by building awareness and providing support to diverse entrepreneurs.

What advice do you have for other connectors and community builders looking to close the relationship gap for their private network or community?

My advice is to prioritize building relationships with your members, understanding their goals, strengths, and weaknesses, and providing the right support and resources. Set up meetings with mentors and investors, introduce them to other members with similar goals, and provide them with a roadmap for achieving their goals. Keep track of NPS scores, testimonials, engagement, and completion stats to ensure your members are getting the support and resources they need. Use Bridge to organize, connect and share your private network. Most importantly, stay committed to your mission and keep pushing forward.

What is your ultimate vision for Goodie Nation, and how do you see it impacting the world?

My ultimate vision for Goodie Nation is to positively impact 1 billion people by the year 2039. I believe that by supporting diverse entrepreneurs and connecting them to strong networks, we can create a more equitable and just world. Goodie Nation is working to create a future where diverse entrepreneurs have the resources, support, and networks they need to succeed and make a positive impact on the world.

Finally, how can people learn more about Goodie Nation and meet your Founders?

You can find a list of all our founders on Bridge, see how many founders you already know, view common connections, and request introductions. If you're interested in investing in Black and Latino founders, we'd love to connect you.

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