THE GRAHAM & WALKER ACCELERATOR.
National. Virtual. Industry-agnostic. An accelerator by and for women and nonbinary founders. Want in?
Our alumni have raised over $20M (and counting)
at the pre-seed or seed stage.
Our Latest Cohort
“The Y Combinator for female founders.”
What Past Founders Have to Say
“Before Ready Set Raise, I was overwhelmed with inbounds from investors. No one I spoke to during that time seemed to be willing to invest in my pre-seed round despite our demonstrated traction. The accelerator set me up with effective meetings with the right investors, and I was able to oversubscribe my $500k round”Company#3 Cohort$1M Raised
“I would not be in this position today without you. I tried and failed to raise, and now after Ready Set Raise I have more commitments than space in my 1.5M round.”Company$2.4M Raised
“Before Ready Set Raise, I met with investors all across Silicon Valley, attended other ‘women founder programs’, and I tried for months to raise, unsuccessfully. Through Ready Set Raise I actually learned to pitch and the accelerator connected us to best-in-class mentors and investors with years of industry experience. Their guidance and coaching helped us close our first fundraising round within weeks of the program’s end.”Company$1M Raised
Best-in-Class counsel for founders
Cooley supports Graham & Walker Accelerator participants with best-in-class counsel, deferred fees, and discounted services.
“Cooley’s team did a great job at helping me navigate our raise. Their founder-friendly and collaborative approach helped us to close our complex round seamlessly.”
– Founder-turned-customer Paroma Indilo
We understand the unique challenges that await women and non-binary founders, especially those of marginalized identities. We are here to help. Even if you don’t think your company is qualified or ready for our accelerator, we encourage you to apply. Our program is designed to support a wide variety of founders, including first-time founders.
In our three years running the accelerator, we have learned that companies we are best suited to help fundraise have clarity on their business, their product, and have evidence of demand. This could mean anything from a waitlist, to signed LOIs, to pilot customers, to paying customers.
We specifically look for companies that understand their business model, target customer, and go to market strategy. We want you to use your time with us to fundraise, not to pivot! If you’re in the idea phase of your company or product, we’d be happy to refer you to other suitable programs, or would love to see you apply for the next Cohort!
If you are not selected, we will create an opportunity for you to get feedback from the selection process, and if eligible, you will be added to our Founder Community where you’ll benefit from programming, resources, and support from fellow founders year-round.
As far as you, the founder? Founders who succeed are highly coachable, skilled at interpreting and implementing feedback, and ready to put their full focus on the program.
Applicants must have a woman or non-binary CEO. CEOs are encouraged to bring co-founders to all programming.
With three Cohorts of 8 companies each under our belt, and over $15M raised by alumni at the pre-seed or seed stages, we are proud that Ready Set Raise has achieved demonstrable results specifically for women founders seeking vc funding. In our alumni’s words:
“I would not be in this position today without you. I tried and failed to raise, and now after Ready Set Raise I have more commitments than space in my 1.5M round.”
- Paroma Indilo, 2.4M raised
- TechCrunch: Datacy raises $2.4M to help consumers monetize their own damn data
“Before Ready Set Raise, I was overwhelmed with inbounds from investors, which felt great at first, but I was new to venture; I didn’t know how to build a strategy around fundraising. No one I spoke to during that time seemed to be willing to invest in my pre-seed round despite our demonstrated traction. RSR gave me the coaching, push, and access to experts to help me raise. The accelerator set me up with effective meetings with the right investors, and I was able to get commitments and oversubscribe my $500k round.”
- Ashlee Wisdom $1M raised
- Health in Her HUE on Good Morning America
Before Ready Set Raise, I met with investors all across Silicon Valley, attended other ‘women founder programs’, and I tried for months to raise, unsuccessfully. Through Ready Set Raise I *actually* learned to meet with investors, and the accelerator connected us to best-in-class mentors and investors with years of industry experience. Their guidance and coaching helped us close our first fundraising round within weeks of the program’s end.”
- Laura Wittig $1M raised
- Brightly on TechCrunch: Why these co-founders turned their sustainability podcast into a VC-backed business
There are four main pillars of the accelerator:
- Cohort Experience: the fellow founders in your Cohort are on the same path as you, and we facilitate connection & encouragement so you don’t feel alone in your CEO-seat. We start and close each week with just the Cohort. Founders from past Cohorts have said their Cohort is, in the long run, so much more valuable than they had anticipated.
- 1:1 Relationship Building with Investors: You’ll meet a lot of investors through Ready Set Raise. Close to 200, total, and approximately 50 in 1:1 settings. In the later part of the program, you can expect to have ~20+ 1:1 meetings per week.
- Weekly pitch practice: Each week the group spends Thursdays pitching our Coaches and getting feedback. Our coaches are active investors who will give it to you straight – not sugar coated, not veiled, and always in service of what will help you raise successfully.
- Group Sessions with industry experts, including exclusive and high value offers from partners: We bring experts in to provide knowledge and advice on areas specifically related to fundraising. Our conservative value of these is $100k, and in 2021, we’re democratizing access to this pillar by creating a pre-Accelerator available to ~32 companies. We will select the final Cohort 4 for Ready Set Raise from these companies.
In 2021, we’re thrilled to open the content portion of Ready Set Raise to a broader audience and offer a 3 week pre-Accelerator to ~32 of the companies who apply. We’ve realized that we can sustainably give more founders access to the best-in-class curriculum we’ve developed over the last three years, and we will select the final Ready Set Raise Cohort 4 from those founders who participate in the pre-Accelerator.
Here’s a preliminary outline of the pre-Accelerator:
Week 1: Your Business
- Go-To-Market Strategies
- Customer Acquisition & Retention
- Business Insurance 101
- Your financial tech stack
- HR – What you need in place, and when, to hire your team
- How to protect your company’s IP
- Building a strong foundation: your social presence
Week 2: Your Raise
- Investor-ready Business Models
- What is a data room, and what should be in it?
- Term Sheets: Everything you need to know
- Managing your Cap Table
- How to conduct investor research
Week 3: Your pitch
- Fundraising strategy
- The core components of a pre-seed pitch deck
- 1:1s with G&W’s team
- Group pitch practice with Ready Set Raise Coaches
In addition, the pre-Accelerator will incorporate select aspects of Ready Set Raise’s ‘secret sauce’:
- Monday Standups & Friday Highs/Lows/Props
- An intimate fireside with a superstar Founder who’s been in your shoes
- Group pitch practice
- 1:1 time with the G&W leadership team
- Investor Office Hours
The following are the terms of participation for Ready Set Raise:
- Admitted companies receive a $50k cash infusion on program start
- Program value of $100k includes:
- Custom investor coaching
- Direct access to 150+ mentors and investors
- Exposure to 600 investors in the G&W community
- 50+ custom-matched 1:1 meetings
- Encouraging & intentional cohort experience
- PR support
- Free services and cash-value discounts from partners
- And more
- Cost is 5% equity via a standard post-money SAFE (we use YC’s documents)
- Participants must abide by G&W’s code of conduct & sign the Ready Set Raise participation letter which includes information sharing and participation rights.
- We offer an equity-back guarantee for 30 days following the conclusion of the accelerator
Are these terms negotiable if my company is further along?
The RSR Deal is designed for companies we are best positioned to help fundraise: those with evidence of demand who need access to investor networks and help crafting their pitch to generate momentum in their fundraise. In past Cohorts we have welcomed founders whose fundraising efforts stalled despite having existing investors on their cap table, and have successfully helped them fundraise as well. As such, if founders have raised more than $500k in outside equity funding at the time of offer, they will receive an alternative offer.
You and you alone can fundraise for your company. However, we will give you guidance, tools, and coaching to help you through the process. Throughout the program, you will receive direct instruction on how to execute a fundraising process: pitch deck, pitch & investor Q&A, deal terms, building a data room, investor list building & outreach, taking investor meetings, generating momentum in your raise, and more. We close the program with a week of investor meetings where we will put you in front of 150+ investors.
Early interviews will be throughout October, so you will hear back from us by then if we’d like to interview you early. Additional interviews will be in early November.
We will not send any rejections until we have had the chance to review the entire application pool. Everyone will hear back from us by November 15th at the latest.
In 2021, we expect that the program will be fully virtual, occupying up to 30hrs/week during the program. If conditions permit, we will evaluate the option to return to a blended virtual and in-person program.
Our Investor Showcase features vetted investors from diverse geographies who are known to invest in women and non-binary-founded startups.
In addition to inviting G&W’s vetted investor community, we collaborate with the Cohort to invite your target investors to join us. Over the course of a week, we host a series of intimate investor meetings with live Q&A.
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. The final application deadline was October 17.
We honor your time in applying with our thorough review. Each application is read 3-5 times by startup experts and our most mission-aligned investors.
If your application rises to the top after after application review, we will invite you to a virtual interview.
From hundreds of applications, we will select ~32 companies for the pre-Accelerator. The final Ready Set Raise Cohort 4 of 8-10 companies will be selected from those who participate in the pre-Accelerator.
If you are not selected, it doesn’t mean you aren’t building something amazing! It more likely means we don’t believe we are the best vehicle to support you at this stage of your company, and we would hope to see you back in the pool the following year.