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HGL6 founders in front of the Chicago skyline
2023 Accelerator: HGL6 Intensive 1 in Chicago

HGL kicked off the accelerator program for our sixth accelerator cohort in Chicago this past July. Throughout four days, the eight selected startups learned about the political tech ecosystem, product development, and pitch coaching while gearing up for Netroots Nation 2023. GoodChange co-founders Becky Pittman and Emily Wineland detailed their experience below.

HGL6 founders traversed across Chicago throughout the week.

Becky’s Experience

The first intensive of the HGL Accelerator was pivotal for GoodChange. Firstly, with people who I have learned… are my people. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a political geek, and more than likely, a bit of a tech geek. When you’re a hammer, everything is a nail, and when you’re a political entrepreneur, every challenge you face is a potential startup idea! And the entire HGL organization exists to nurture these solutions. 

HGL’s team of political industry experts is here to nurture tech and political entrepreneurs and get their products ready to deploy on a large scale. What does this look like in reality? For HGL founders, four months of programming connected with three week-long mentorship intensives drive creativity, learning, and partnerships. Here’s how the first week looked: 

On Monday afternoon, my co-founder Emily and I flew into Chicago and had dinner with our fellow cohort members. We learned a bit about the stories of the people who are shaping the future of political technology — and incredibly, we found folks who spoke our language and shared an understanding of the challenges we face every day — in business and in our communities.

From Tuesday to Thursday, we packed months of learning the political tech business landscape into just a few days, thanks to the HGL experts leading us. We heard from highly skilled cybersecurity experts and product managers and walked away with a roadmap to make our product stronger, gain stronger customer insights, and run our businesses in the safest ways possible. We also learned how to better tell our stories, received incredible one-on-one coaching from the HGL team, and had a round-robin style meeting with a group of buyers. 

And then, of course, we loved spending time with our fellow cohort members (FUN)! Everything we learned was incredibly valuable, but a couple of things have already fundamentally changed for us. As we’ve been building GoodChange, we’ve struggled with things that many entrepreneurs struggle with, like how to go to market, how to pitch better, and more. After the first intensive, we walked away with actionable ideas and are already improving everything about our business.

The connections and the shared desire to learn from and help each other are absolutely invaluable, and it’s an environment that doesn’t appear organically. It takes purposeful, intentional, and strategic development, all of which the HGL team excels at. And, I can’t wait for the next intensive!

This stellar panel of political tech buyers joined us in Chicago. We’re grateful to Gautham Arumilli, Ryanne Brown, Cayana Mackey-Nance, Mike Nellis, and the many other experts who shared their insights with us that week.

Emily’s Experience

It’s an honor to be part of a group that has been identified as leaders in driving the progressive political landscape forward. And, to be surrounded by other political entrepreneurs is a unique opportunity that lends to further creation, renewed motivation, and connections that truly will fuel the future of progressive politics.

My most valuable takeaway is that I am now part of a group that’s as passionate about innovation in the political tech world as I am. HGL is invested in providing honest feedback and constructive critiques, and more importantly, a group that understands political organizations and campaigns, which means they truly understand the product. 

Often as women founders seeking feedback from our friends and colleagues, one of two things happens. The first is that our friends and colleagues love us, so they often tend to be overly delicate. Friends are reluctant to provide meaningful thoughts and comments on our product as they fear being “critical.” But the truth is, we rely on that feedback and actually crave it. 

The second instance occurs when some feedback comes from people outside of politics. Specialized industry experts are hard to come by in niche markets, like political tech. As users, they can provide invaluable insight into our product’s usability, and we’re grateful for that. But people with deep industry knowledge are a hugely valuable thing, and it’s something we can only get through the HGL Accelerator. 

Receiving expert feedback from a position of respect and understanding with the shared goal of improving the political landscape is a unique find. We are truly excited to continue to work to push our company to the top and make the most of the opportunity.

HGL’s Community Director Leah Bae and Managing Director of Fund IV Gerard Niemira kicked off the accelerator.

About GoodChange

GoodChange is the intersection of responsive financial technology and advocacy fundraising. Combining the latest fintech and financial management innovations with proven fundraising strategies, GoodChange helps advocates easily reach, convert, and engage new and existing donors.

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