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The Journey Venture Studio: Closing The Racial And Gender Opportunity Gap In Entrepreneurship

What The Journey does

The Journey is a mission-driven venture studio building disruptive healthcare companies in partnership with the next generation of diverse founders.

The Journey Current Landscape

Venture Studios are a new and evolving model in the venture space that is growing in popularity. Most studios are built on a common foundation – providing resources and expertise to rapidly launch startups in a more capital-efficient manner. The Journey stands apart in its commitment to its mission; closing the racial and gender opportunity gap in venture. As a 501(c)3 non-profit The Journey works exclusively with underrepresented founders from as early as the ideation stage; providing financial backing and culturally competent leadership development to prepare women and minority founders to launch their companies.

Company Birth Story

The Journey is the brainchild of Justin Bayless, a serial entrepreneur and healthcare executive. Justin led Bayless Integrated Healthcare to be featured on the prestigious Inc. 5000 list for the fastest- growing private companies in America three years in a row (2018, 2019, and 2020) before executing a strategic transaction with Magellan Health Inc. (NASDAQ: MGLN), a Fortune 500 company, in December 2020. Magellan Health was subsequently acquired by Centene Corporation (NYSE: CNC), a Fortune 25 company, in January 2022.

Since his exit, Justin has dedicated his time and resources toward promoting entrepreneurship in diverse communities and empowering underrepresented founders. Since experiencing first- hand disparities in venture funding and the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem, Justin set out to understand and remove the social determinants of entrepreneurship. With those goals in mind, The Journey was born.

The Solution

The Journey’s “Founder-in-Residence” program offers aspiring entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds a 6 month, $100,000 “fellowship” where they will test and validate venture concepts in the healthcare space with the opportunity to be formally incorporated and named as Co-Founder and CEO at the end of the 6- month program.

The Team Culture

The Journey is led by Managing Director Mark Moeremans. Prior to launching the studio, Mark led many of Arizona’s tech and startup initiatives on behalf of the Arizona Commerce Authority, the state’s economic development agency. As the son of an immigrant from a working-class family – Mark’s has spent his career at the intersection of the private, public, and social sectors. A values-driven leader, Mark has worked to leverage entrepreneurship as a way to create opportunities for others.

Mark is joined by Jill H. Johnson, The Journey’s Director of Development. For the last decade, Jill has worked with the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley. Jill has 20-plus years of experience in fundraising, media & marketing experience, and celebrity event management. As an Arizona native, Jill graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in communications and an emphasis in women’s studies. Her passion for helping others and creating a pathway to success for ALL is what drives her to be a part of this journey.

A founder quote

“If you've ever dreamed of building a startup but let self-doubt or the realities of systemic challenges and financial obligations get in the way...this is for you. We don't guarantee success, but we can promise you the chance to really go for it - so come build with us. Applications for our inaugural cohort are now open – together we can show that when you bet on underrepresented founders, you can get outsized success”

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