Focusing on Founder Wellness

With our upcoming Health and Wellness Accelerator, ABQid is taking a proactive approach on addressing the health and wellness of our founders as well.  It has become increasingly prevalent that a focus on founder wellness has been lacking in accelerators across the globe, and we want to be on the cutting edge of changing that mindset.  By empowering founders to focus on their wellness in addition to their companies, we not only create healthier founders, but healthier companies as well.  ABQid wants health and wellness to be paramount in the culture of all our portfolio companies, and it starts with us.

Below is an article by Patrick Riley of the Global Accelerator Network commenting on how accelerators are moving forward with addressing this issue.  We applaud every accelerator that is acting as a catalyst, and ABQid is incredibly excited and prepared to improve founder wellness as well!

 The Founder Wellness Pact: How Accelerators are Addressing Depression Among Founders

By Patrick Riley

Most of us have experienced depression or anxiety in one form or another. Whether we have personally faced it or watched a family member or founder struggle through it, we’ve seen how it can impact our work, our relationships, and the overall health of those going through it along with the people who care about them.

The GAN community has dealt with the impact that depression can lead to as two founders in the past year have committed suicide. When we get this horrible news, it absolutely breaks our hearts. I was at the Rise of the Rest conference last month when I heard the news about the second founder who committed suicide, and I got pretty emotional. While I know this isn’t a problem unique to accelerators, I know we can take actions as a group to help prevent this from happening again.

At the last GAN Summit, I was proud and honored to be around a group of GAN MDs who wanted to put together a pact for the ways we could support the overall health of founders going through a GAN accelerator program. While we can’t be 100% responsible for the mental and emotional well-being of our founders, we can take reasonable steps to provide an environment that allows them to thrive as humans and entrepreneurs. Here are the ten things those GAN accelerators committed to doing for founders in our programs:

  • Introduce the topic of Founder Wellness at the beginning of every accelerator program, which will cover what it means to maintain personal and professional wellness as an entrepreneur
  • Look at our culture and be upfront and honest about what negative behaviors our accelerator programs may be promoting
  • Educate ourselves on the signs of depression to be able to recognize those as early as possible
  • Regularly listen to our founders and provide an open door for them to talk with the leaders of each accelerator
  • Host a weekly, off the record meeting with the purpose of giving founders the chance to provide status updates for both personal and professional well-being
  • Give each team a coach or mental health counselor or the resources to find one
  • Celebrate the small wins of each founder
  • Promote balance between a founder’s work and rest
  • Commit to one full day dedicated to “Founder Wellness” during the program where accelerators get out of the office to do a hike, plan a fun activity or something else that cares for founders
  • Encourage founders to ask for help if they’re struggling

While this list isn’t exhaustive by any means, it’s a great start for the actions we can take to help founders while they are in our programs.

As part of the GAN’s commitment, we’ve also contracted with certified counselors at Foundations Family Counseling who have worked with numerous startup founders, and beginning this week they have agreed to offer any GAN founder a free counseling session to talk through any issue where they’re struggling. If they want more support, the team at Foundations is equipped to counsel founders on a weekly or bi-weekly basis of which the GAN is providing funding to help subsidize the cost for any founder who needs to talk with a counselor on an ongoing basis.

Finally, we know that we can’t solve every issue and don’t want to give the impression that we can. If you know of a founder who has a crisis situation, they should immediately call the Suicide Prevention Hotline if you’re in the States. That number is: +1.800.273.8255 and you can also chat with them online here. If you’re outside the States, you can find your country’s Suicide Hotline here.

This is really important. We’re excited to take one step forward in helping founders in this way and ease some of the burdens on our founders.

*GAN Founders, if you’d like to speak with a certified counselor send an email to confidentialsupport@gan.co, all emails to and from this address are confidential. This email is not monitored by GAN as it will go directly to Foundations, you will receive a response within one business day from our partners at Foundations Family Counseling. This will only go to the counseling group, and no one will see your request except for certified counselors who are required to keep any conversation confidential due to the United States’ HIPPA regulations.

2017 Health and Wellness Accelerator Program

ABQid is incredibly excited to announce our upcoming 2017 Health and Wellness Accelerator Program!  After our initial unveiling during 1 Million Cups at FatPipe, our new direction has been met with encouragement and approval.  There have also been some questions regarding our strategy of utilizing themed cohorts, namely why Health and Wellness?  We love answering this question because ABQid strongly believes in the potential of a Health and Wellness focus!

Here in New Mexico, considerable research and development constantly occurs within the realm of health and wellness.  Much of this innovation comes from our national laboratories and research universities.  Because of the growth in this sector, ABQid will have the opportunity to partner with many prominent individuals and businesses in the Health and Wellness space.  We can then apply these partnerships to our cohort companies providing them access to our partners and their processes.  This is a huge benefit for companies in this sector as market access can be one of the largest hurdles a startup needs to overcome.

Health and Wellness is an omnipresent focus as well.  This sector is taking on big problems that need big solutions.  There is ample value in solving these problems from both a societal and investment viewpoint.  Health and Wellness is an evergreen direction with continual innovation and potential.

If you are interested in applying for our 2017 Accelerator Program, applications will open on Friday, April 7th.

Learn More

2017 Ski Lift Pitch Contestants

ABQid is excited to announce this year’s contestants at our 3rd annual Ski Lift Pitch competition in Taos, NM!  After evaluating the many applications, these 12 startups rose to the top.  The competing startups are:

CivNet – Albuquerque, NM.  An online network to connect with like-minded individuals, find opportunities to get involved, and organize to take action.

EquiSeq – Albuquerque, NM.  Identifying genetic markers for diseases common in horses and developing tests for breeders.

HoneyMoon Brewery – Santa Fe, NM.  Brewing a new genre of alcoholic beverage based off an ancient, fermented tea known as Kombucha.

Innobright Technologies – Albuquerque, NM.  Reducing 3D rendering time and costs for visual and product designers.

iTherapyDocs – Albuquerque, NM.  Providing documentation and billing software for a section of Medicaid serving the developmentally disabled population.

Length Width Height – Santa Fe, NM.  E-commerce for customized upholstery and home décor.

MetaPipe – Albuquerque, NM.  Making it easy for Visual Effects artists to use the cloud as a complete solution for infrastructure and software licensing.

NoStamp – Tijeras, NM.  Leveraging image capture and comparison capabilities of smartphones to allow for the exact payment of postage.

Peak Alpaca – Amsterdam, NY.  Creating an eco-friendly, sustainable, hypoallergenic product line that will offer sustainable warmth for the outdoors and home.

Revolution Agriculture – Rio Rancho, NM.  Creating closed system, organic farms that produce greater yield, run on renewable energy, and use less water.

Stow – Windsor, CO.  A marketplace for storage allowing users with extra space to make extra income by listing it on an app.

Twistle – Albuquerque, NM.  A healthcare communications platform with device and electronic health record (EHR) integration.

ABQid unveiled these contestants at our announcement party on February, 9th and we are excited at this diverse group!  During the party, the startups were paired up with a sponsor for the event.  A special thanks to our Ski Lift Pitch sponsors which include: The City of Albuquerque, Taos Ski Valley, Wells Fargo, Sun Mountain Capital, Epic Ventures, Jaynes, SendGrid, Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation, BBVA Compass, Sorenson Capital, Peacock Myers, Nventify, Recarnation, Taos Mountain Energy Bar, Taos Mesa Brewing, and Taos Inn.

This year’s ABQid Ski Lift Pitch Competition will take place on February 28th at the Taos Ski Valley.  The selected companies will pitch their business ideas on the chair lift to a panel of experienced investors.  The grand prize winner will walk away with $10,000 for their startup.  Ski Lift Pitch is an incredible opportunity to showcase entrepreneurship and bring people together from across the country to see the impact we are making in New Mexico.  For more information, please visit www.skiliftpitch.com