GFTC’s 2021 Year in Review

Founder Gym_2021 Round Up Blog

Celebrating the launch of our first-ever case study, a series of equity, diversity, and inclusion, and national recognition from the National Science Foundation – and more!

As we all know, 2020 was a year of setting and resetting goals while adapting to the massive changes in the tech industry and society. At GFTC, as we turned the page to 2021, we are deeply grateful to say this was a year of tremendous growth and excitement. We’re thrilled to share the roundup of our GlobalForce Insight highlights and company milestones while taking a look back on an exciting and incredible year. Read on to catch up on what we’ve been up to!

Our first priority was putting pen to paper on what we learned from our “2020 pivot”. In a January GlobalForce Insider post, we discussed how small businesses could incorporate strategic planning to ensure success in the new year. Come February, we celebrated loudly and proudly when GFTC Founder and CEO Qyana M. Stewart was appointed Program Manager of the Entrepreneur Development Network DC (EDNDC), a joint venture with The George Washington University and Howard University, supported by the Wells Fargo Foundation. In 2021, EDNDC welcomed more than 100 local innovators to their Intro to Lean workshops! 

In March, we were proud to do our part to support a sustainable world. Our founder joined a team of expert mentors and judges for Plan-It Earth, Georgetown University’s premier sustainability entrepreneurship ideathon, mentoring two teams addressing climate change and responsible water consumption. We also continued to drive our commitment towards building a diverse and equitable tech ecosystem when we launched our series on equity, diversity, and inclusion opportunities. Our series explores what that means for the future of tech, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. 

Next, we celebrated Women’s History Month with our friends at ACT | The App Association! Our fearless leader, Qyana M. Stewart, MS, was featured as part of their Amplify series spotlighting small business app developers. Check out the interview where she talks about successfully carving out her own niche in a rapidly growing industry and doing so by upholding GFTC’s core beliefs: People. Process. Safe and Secure Products. 

With the arrival of April, we were thrilled to welcome warmer weather and the George Washington University New Venture Competition with a feature in Forbes. GFTC is a proud partner of the competition. We were thrilled to see several of the teams we mentor make it to the semifinals (shoutouts to Mesean Spices, W!PE, and Happy Plate!) and the finals (We see you, Mesean Spices, Put Me On (PMO), and VFitting!). On GlobalForce Insights, we took a closer look at how understanding the gaps in technology access and advocating for action were two ways tech industry stakeholders, policymakers, and entrepreneurs could help break down these barriers in 2021 and beyond.

In May, we wished a huge congratulations to our CEO on her graduation from Founder Gym (FG), the premier fundraising program teaching underrepresented founders how to raise venture capital for their tech startups, Founder Cohort 16, along with 25 other talented FG mates. Next, we highlighted three crucial pieces to know when bringing innovations to market to chart a path towards success. Then, in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, we highlighted how the tech industry can help shape positive and proactive changes in their mental health and wellness approaches that provide support at the individual and communal levels.

Rolling right into June, we celebrated a major GFTC milestone with the launch of our first case study of Minted, GFTC’s modular-based learning platform. Minted incorporates critical expertise from STEM educators while providing resources and connections to young women to foster interest in these areas during their high school careers – a pivotal period for development and learning. Plus, our newsletter, the GFTC Insider, turned six months old! Are you subscribed? We also chatted with Shanice Black, a GWU Class of 2020 MBA graduate and founder of the tech-forward digital beauty brand Bèlsou, about her experiences as an entrepreneur and founder as part of our Entrepreneurship Profiles series. Check out our follow-up, where we shared five secrets of entrepreneurship we wish we could tell our younger selves. 

After taking a small break for the summer, we kicked off fall with a bang! GFTC received recognition from global intellectual property stakeholders when the World Intellectual Property Organization – WIPO and the Intellectual Property Office of Trinidad and Tobago (IPO TT) invited our CEO to serve as a panelist on intellectual property in mobile applications this October. We were thrilled to highlight how GFTC has leveraged IP to establish its brand, client portfolio, and product development success.

November brought even more exciting opportunities. First, GFTC’s CEO received recognition and accolades from National Science Foundation (NSF) for her efforts as an industry mentor for a George Mason University academic research team through the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Program. We’re proud to report that the team met the 100-customer discovery interview requirement, which is no small task!

Second, GFTC was also represented on a panel on bringing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship to young Black leaders hosted by The Trust for the Americas  and the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) as part of the #DIASummit2021

Next, as our CEO wrapped up her first semester as a Ph.D. student in the Howard University Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies program, the state of entrepreneurship and the importance of incorporating entrepreneurship into the academic experience was top of mind. GFTC was represented on a panel hosted by The George Washington University School of Business Black MBA Association, when Qyana was invited to discuss innovation in academia, community-based entrepreneurship, and her work in entrepreneurship with GFTC.

What a year! Before we close the books on another year filled with new opportunities, partnerships, and experiences, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention two significant milestones for small businesses and the tech industry that GFTC has been proud to support through our work and advocacy efforts. First, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill signed into law by President Joe Biden last month was an essential step in will filling the creating gaps that the lack of affordable broadband access created in the workforce and challenges for students outside of the classroom in tribal lands, rural areas, and in many underserved urban communities. Second, we were thrilled to see the announcement that the Small Business Administration is elevating its Office of Women’s Business Ownership to report directly to the SBA administrator, raising its profile and power and reflecting the importance of women-owned small businesses! 

As we look ahead to 2022, we’re looking forward to many more good things to come. First and foremost, continuing our work in developing tools, resources, and methods to prepare entrepreneurs, students, and small business owners to leverage technology as a pathway to long-term growth, development, and success. Thank you for reading and, above all, being a part of our GFTC community! We look forward to seeing you in the new year!

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