5 Questions with Joey Womack, Founder of Goodie Nation

Jul 12, 2021

With a life’s purpose of helping to equalize socioeconomic disparities in communities all over the world, Joey Womack’s goal is to positively impact one billion people by the year 2039. A convenor, community builder, and ecosystem developer, he is the Founder and CEO of Goodie Nation, a national support nonprofit that is closing the relationship gap for tech-focused social entrepreneurs and diverse founders.

Joey, a TEDx speaker, has been named a 2020-2021 Game Changing Founder of Color by SOCAP, one of Atlanta’s 500 most powerful business leaders by Atlanta Magazine, received the Technology Association of Georgia’s (TAG) Diversity in Tech Game Changer Award for Community Engagement and Equity Champion Award by Startup Atlanta, featured by McDonald's, PepsiCo, and Jack Daniels for commitment to social impact.

He serves on the boards of Startup Atlanta, Venture Atlanta, and the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative as well as advisory boards for SXSW and SOCAP’s Spectrum Conference. An entrepreneur since his student days, Joey launched his first startup in 2002 while earning his MBA at Florida A&M University, where he was also initiated into the Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Goodie Nation is a participant in the Accelerate Equity program of the Techstars Foundation in 2021.

01. Give us the elevator pitch for Goodie Nation.

Goodie Nation is eliminating the Relationship Gap that stands in the way of success for far too many promising entrepreneurs, especially those who are people of color, women, or aren't located in coastal financial centers. We support 250+ diverse founders that are graduates from accelerators and similar programs with international efforts to connect them to strong networks for coaching, customers, capital, and talent. 

02. How does Goodie Nation create a more diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem?

The Relationship Gap is defined as the lack of connection between entrepreneurs and “strong networks” — those that are influenced by graduates from top colleges and employees from top companies. This means these entrepreneurs have less robust networks to draw upon, yes, for capital. But it also means they have fewer people to draw upon for advice, customers, talent, and professional development. Unfortunately, diverse entrepreneurs (Black, Latinx, and women) are less likely to be connected to strong networks than their counterparts.

For those diverse founders that graduate from accelerators and similar programs, Goodie Nation promises a community that will hold them accountable for making progress, while also developing them as leaders and as humans.

Specifically, this means we ensure they have set priorities and goals for the next three to six months, put them into virtual accountability groups that meet on a weekly basis, host monthly meetups for founders and experts in the same vertical, and make warm introductions when they indicate help is needed. Our superpower is making the right introduction at the right time. We also funnel them to opportunities like Google For Startups Black Founders Fund (where we are the official partner) as well as pro bono support programs with Verizon, SAP, AARP Innovation Labs, and other large companies. Finally, we track their morale and host monthly Founders’ Therapy sessions where they can vent about problems only other entrepreneurs can understand.

In the last 18 months, we’ve driven $20M+ into founders' hands by making 1,000+ warm introductions. 

03. How will the grant from the Techstars Foundation be used to further the mission of your organization?

Techstars Foundation and the Techstars network could act as force multipliers of our work — providing even more people from strong networks for coaching, customers, capital, talent, and related opportunities. Also, funding will help us to scale operations, and increase our impact 2-3x. Finally, brand association and press will create more opportunities for our founders as well as funding leads for Goodie Nation. 

04. How did you come to do this work and why is it important to you personally?

I’ve always naturally understood that relationships are powerful — especially in business, and, more importantly, for entrepreneurs. Like many others, older generations of people passed down phrases to me like “your network is your net worth,” and “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And I’ve heard stories from trusted family members about how they can create transformative change.

My father is from Mobile, AL — the neighborhood of Africatown to be exact. This is where a small group of Africans from the Clotilda, the last-known slave ship to come to the United States of America, settled and built a community-led by Cudjo Lewis. During the first part of the 20th century, this community created a baseball culture in Mobile that supported Hall of Famers Satchel Paige, Hank Aaron, Billy Williams, and Willie McCovey — causing an inflection point, or significant moment, not just for Mobile, but for baseball as a whole. My mother is from Montgomery, AL—- specifically the neighborhood of Centennial Hill — a quarter square mile tight-knit community near the State Capitol. It’s where an employee of the community pharmacy, owned by entrepreneur Dr. Rich Harris, headed the Pulpit Selection Committee that recruited a charismatic 25-year-old leader named Martin Luther King Jr. to serve as the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, thus creating an early inflection point for the Civil Rights Movement.

From the stories told by my mother, father, grandmothers, aunts, and uncles, I learned how the power of community, relationships, and trust have the ability to change the world. Those stories taught me to be a convener — a community builder — an ecosystem developer; and to use entrepreneurship as a means to equalize socioeconomic disparities on a global level.

As a former startup founder from a college town in Florida, I didn’t have access to strong tech networks.

But I believe the Relationship Gap is a solvable problem, and I’ve dedicated my life to leveraging my natural abilities to make sure as many high-potential founders don’t have to experience it as possible.

05. Tell us the story of a specific entrepreneur you are proud to have supported.

In 2016, an inspiring social entrepreneur named Jasmine Crowe emailed me about whether her idea, an app to deliver excess food from restaurants to those who are food insecure, was feasible, and if our pre-accelerator could help turn it into reality. I said “yes, and yes,” and that idea turned out to be Goodr, which helps eliminate food waste and food insecurity.

Read our 5 question mini-interview with Jasmine Crowe, founder of Goodr.

After the pre-accelerator ended and through my business relationships with the City of Atlanta, I helped her secure a contract with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, a deal that was huge for her business’s growth and a big win for Georgia’s startup ecosystem. Jasmine’s success showed us what it would look like if a group of dedicated influencers rallied behind a talented founder, and supported them with introductions. Since then, I’ve met with over 2,500 underrepresented entrepreneurs around the country and made it my life’s mission and the mission of my nonprofit, Goodie Nation, to help them succeed with relationships.

Donate now and advance equity through entrepreneurship with the Techstars Foundation.