Generation Teach: Bringing together a love of teaching and a passion for accounting
Joey Womack’s father was born in Africatown in Mobile, Alabama. Founded by survivors of the transatlantic slave trade in the US, the historic community of Africatown is also known for creating the local baseball culture that supported Hall of Famers Satchel Paige, Hank Aaron, Billy Williams, and Willie McCovey.
Womack’s mother comes from Centennial Hill in Montgomery, Alabama, the home of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. The two families were so close that Womack’s mother’s aunt was in the Kings’ home when it was bombed in 1956.
“From the family stories I heard growing up,” Womack says, “I came to understand that the trust that lives within communities has driven more change than capital ever has. Relationships and trust have the power to change the world.”
It’s this understanding that led Womack to found Goodie Nation, a nonprofit dedicated to closing the relationship gap that stands in the way of success for far too many promising entrepreneurs, especially those who are women, people of color, or don’t live in coastal financial centers.
“Because of the ways access and opportunity have traditionally been distributed, both in the U.S. and around the world, social entrepreneurs and diverse founders are less likely to know people from top colleges and companies,” Womack explains. “They don’t have those networks to draw on for advice, customers, funding, and professional growth. We’re here to change that.”
And BILL is at their side helping Goodie Nation to distribute capital and build and deepen those relationships.
Goodie Nation seeks to close the relationship gap for marginalized entrepreneurs
Womack saw a chance to bring meaningful change by building communities for entrepreneurs. Goodie Nation initially started in 2010 as a Facebook Group called SF35. “In 2011 and 2012 we took the group offline to do something called Founders Therapy,” Womack told us. “In 2014 we did a hackathon called Goodie Hack, connecting talented coders with entrepreneurs who needed those skills. In 2016, we officially founded Goodie Nation—but it’s been about helping business founders make connections from the beginning.”
One of those connections came about when a friend introduced Womack to Jewel Burks Solomon, an entrepreneur with a good idea who lacked the connections she needed to make it happen. Womack helped make those introductions, her idea took off, and eventually she sold her company to Amazon.
Solomon then took a position at Google as an “Entrepreneur in Residence,” and helped Womack put together the Goodie Hack, sponsored and later hosted by Google. But in 2020, the connection between Womack and Solomon became the kind of transformational relationship that Womack is now dedicated to creating for everyone else around him.
“In 2020, we were still very small. I was paying for a lot of things out of pocket, and then COVID hit,” Womack said. “I thought we might have to close down. And then George Floyd was killed. America was reeling from it. I was reeling from it. The next thing I know, Jewel’s calling to tell me Google is giving away $5 million through the Black Founders Fund, and she wants to know if Goodie Nation can distribute those funds.”
Suddenly, Goodie Nation needed a fast and secure way to distribute $5 million across 76 companies
Womack said yes immediately, but he had no idea at the time how he would distribute the money. The fund launched with $5 million in non-dilutive capital to be divided among 76 companies. The awards also came with other benefits, including mental health support, Google ad and cloud credits, and help for up to a year from Goodie Nation’s network of experts.
It was a dream come true for Womack, but the logistics threatened to be a nightmare.
“Some of the companies we were helping were right at the edge of survival. COVID-19 did that to a lot of entrepreneurs,” Womack commented. “We needed to get them their money fast. But the thought of trying to wire the right amounts to the right bank accounts across 76 different companies was incredibly stressful. There had to be a better way.”
Womack started researching options, but the first ones he tried were too complicated even to consider.
“Whatever payment platform we chose, we weren’t the only ones who would have to set it up quickly. We were asking 76 other companies to set it up too.”
“We needed a payment platform that was easy. It had to be secure,
and it had to work right out of the box, practically overnight. BILL saved my life.”
— Joey Womack, CEO and Founder, Goodie Nation
“When I think about the stress I was under at the time, knowing all those people were counting on me, I’m not exaggerating. There’s a real chance that it literally saved my life.”
BILL helped Goodie Nation distribute funds to grateful entrepreneurs across the country
Fortunately, Goodie Nation had been paid through BILL before, so the intelligent business payments platform was already on their radar.
“When I looked into BILL, it was exactly what I needed. I wanted something really simple that would let companies fill out their own payment information so I never had to see it, giving us all that extra security and peace of mind. BILL was perfect.”
Because of Goodie Nation’s relationship with Google, Womack also needed the solution to provide a high level of transparency.
“If anything had gone wrong in that first round, it would have ended our relationship with Google. I had to be able to account for every payment. To show when it was approved and where it went.”
“The automatic audit trail in BILL was fantastic. I knew every one of those payments went exactly where it needed to go, and the fund managers could see that too.”
— Joey Womack, CEO and Founder, Goodie Nation
Goodie Nation looks forward to distributing more funds through BILL for years to come
What’s next for Goodie Nation? Womack plans to strengthen those community roots and extend them beyond traditional tech startups into new arenas.
“I’m excited to get more in-person with the help we can offer,” Womack told us. “So many entrepreneurs have been working from home. It’s efficient and it’s cost-effective, but it can be isolating too. It can make the relationship gap even wider.”
Womack continued, “We’d also like to reach beyond what people usually think of as tech startups. Like content creators, for example. Founders who are using tech—who need tech—but who aren’t necessarily selling tech services or building apps.”
Thanks to their initial success, the future of the program looks more promising than ever.
“We’ve helped so many companies,” Womack said with a huge smile. “Our founders are the real heroes here. Like Kanarys. They’re helping Fortune 500 companies analyze their DEI efforts. Or Cyber Pop-up. They’re like the Uber of cyber security professionals. If you have an emergency, you call them. There are so many great stories. Combining that funding with a solid network has done so much good already, and we’re just getting started.”