“Finding a group of people who understand my experience as a queer founder has also been daunting, which is why I’m so grateful to the StartOut community for congregating people that you really want to have at your table.”
For Gold Darr Hood (she/they), the call to entrepreneurship has always been present.
Coming from a technology background with doctoral work in AI, Gold is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for effecting real change. With their company, FULL, Gold envisions a world where “everyone, everywhere, can have community-grown produce for a healthy life and a healthy planet.”
A member of our current StartOut Growth Lab cohort, Gold and FULL are truly paving the way forward for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs all over the world.
Gold, what challenge is FULL taking on?
At FULL, we connect people with land to make gardening easy and accessible. We’re creating community gardens with a social edge to bring everyone the benefit of fruits, veggies, flowers, and fun.
Unlike high-tech vertical gardens, community gardens offer a space for people to come together, which can be extremely helpful for mental health. We even have data that shows community gardens can help lower crime in high-density areas.
Our goal is to put clean air back into major metro areas and help feed people with healthy, fresh, high-nutrient foods.
What gave you the idea to launch?
My co-founder and I wanted to appeal to the new generation of buyers who have a more sophisticated expectation of technological depth and ecological balance. Studies show that the apple you eat today has far less nutritional value than the apple you ate as a child and that’s a frightening realization to have.
We looked at what already existed in the world and how we could expand on that through technology. We’re pretty spread out across the US, with some operations in global cities like London and Paris.
We incorporated in the Spring of last year and pivoted pretty fast into sustainable developments through our gamified project management app.
What challenges have you encountered over the years as a serial entrepreneur?
Raising capital has always been such a heinous process that I’ve only agreed to do it a handful of times. Pitching to investors can be exhausting, especially when you’re dealing with investors who don’t always see the value in what you’re doing. I’ve had bad enough experiences that I didn’t want to ever work on a startup again.
But the post-pandemic way of working has opened a ton of new doors. Pitching through Zoom allows me to bring my full and authentic self to every investor and if they don’t like what that is, I can end the conversation with a click of a button.
Finding a group of people who understand my experience as a queer founder has also been daunting, which is why I’m so grateful to the StartOut community for congregating people that you really want to have at your table.
How did you discover StartOut?
As a serial founder, I haven’t done a good job of finding a community. Being an underrepresented founder, I tend to be closed off and introverted in professional settings, so I was thrilled when a prospective investor recommended I join StartOut. After researching the organization some more, I applied for the StartOut Growth Lab and we were accepted.
Growth Lab has been by far the most helpful accelerator I’ve ever seen and been a part of. The resources and questions posed to us have been genuinely thoughtful and eye-opening. The conversations I’ve had with other founders have helped me be ruthlessly pragmatic and refine my communication. Chris Davidson has also been such a guide as we plan the next five years of FULL.
What advice would you give to a founder looking to launch a startup this year?
I learned over the course of my career that asking for help is OK and it’s something I would really stress to any new founder as they begin their entrepreneurial journey. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re not capable of doing something, it just means you can decipher if and when you’re the right person for that job.
Looking back, I wish I could’ve sat my younger self down and said, ‘please take folks’ help’ but it’s a learning experience that’s made me wiser and helped me move forward one startup at a time.