Bridget Jones (she/her) could be considered a newbie to StartOut, joining as a member only four months ago. But in that short window of time, Bridget’s gone from a mentee learning from our community of experts to a fully-developed member of the StartOut Growth Lab’s 8th Cohort.
Bridget, the Founder and COO at Chisel Tech Lab, was introduced to StartOut by Growth Lab alumnus Demetrius Curry, the CEO and Co-Founder of College Cash. The two originally met through Melanence, an ecosystem that supports Black tech startup founders. After joining the StartOut community, Bridget says that she felt at home.
“I entered the space as a mentee, and after meeting people like [Angelic Williams] and [Sarah Burgaud], I was encouraged to apply for the Growth Lab,” she said. “I knew that I absolutely wanted to be part of a group of people that felt like a family.”
Chisel, a workforce development and consulting company, applied for the Growth Lab to support their latest product – Finroth by Chisel Tech. Their custom CRM solution seeks to support fintech startups from the early stages of development through their growth cycles. And to Bridget, the desire to support these startups is something that hits close to home.
Like so many, Bridget knows that the playing field is not leveled for Black founders. Challenges in the funding world often leave BIPOC entrepreneurs without a seat at the table, and inclusive biases can discourage founders from applying for certain support opportunities.
“I think that the conversation about equality in the startup sector is the wrong conversation to be having,” Bridget said. “Instead, we should be focusing on equity and supporting equal access to opportunities like funding. We have to get balanced first, and then we can compete.”
For this exact reason, StartOut launched the Black Founder Empowerment Initiative to support BIPOC entrepreneurs with funding opportunities specifically designed to bring more underrepresented founders into the ecosystem. These 12-month scholarships, generously sponsored by Google, help startups with any costs or expenses that prevent them from entering and thriving in the entrepreneurial space.
To Bridget, focusing on supporting marginalized communities allows founders the ability to work in a different way where success is defined from within. For underrepresented entrepreneurs, the pathways don’t always follow the traditional corporate structure – something Bridget thinks is a blessing in disguise.
“We get to create our own roadmaps to get to those places,” she said. “Being able to share vulnerability and resources in a community of marginalized people lets us make space where there was none before. And we get to pave the way for the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
We’re so proud to have Bridget in our corner, and she’s already proven herself to be an eager and committed role model for the BIPOC, LGBTQ+ community. When we asked her how we could continue supporting her and Chisel Tech Lab, she had this to say:
“StartOut’s customization is so important to me. I’ve been part of so many accelerators and incubators, and the level of support I get in the specific areas I need – like tech and fundraising support – is unmatched. I’m so proud to be part of a community that gives someone like me a voice, and I know there’s so much more to come for StartOut and I.”