When Nichole Bestman was building her startup Shipfair, a logistics company for small-scaled textile and apparel producers, she ran into a problem. It was extremely expensive and difficult to hire engineers that could help her build a customizable webpage.
As she dug around, researching alternative ways that she could bring her product to life, she stumbled upon Bubble, a visual, no-code development platform.
“I wanted to build a full-blown marketplace, which was really difficult to do,” Bestman told the Org. “Although you could learn to use Bubble on your own, I wanted to have someone guide me through the process of learning how to build and what I wanted to build.”
Bestman applied to become a participant in Bubble’s Immerse program: A free, 10-week, no-code virtual accelerator for BIPOC entrepreneurs that helps them build web-app products and connects them with investors and other BIPOC founders.
The Immerse program was first launched in 2020 by Bubble’s founder Emmanuel Straschnov to bridge the gap for entrepreneurs who have typically and historically been excluded from tech and VC circles. Its mission is to remove barriers for underrepresented founders and empower them as builders through coaching.
After completing the program in December 2020, Bestman decided to join Bubble as a growth manager, where she now leads the Immerse program with one other person while simultaneously building her startup.
“I was so passionate about the space,” Bestman said. “I came on the Bubble team in June of last year, and I spent a couple of months trying to figure out how we were going to scale the program.”
Currently, Immerse accepts a wide range of founders from various stages of building their startups into the program. The one thing Bubble requires for its applicants to be considered are wireframes – a blueprint of the website that its applicants hope to build.
“That is the one sort of technical process we ask everyone to go through because it indicates to us that you have thought about what every page and screen of your app could look like,” Bestman said. “We have found that when founders come into the program with that level of preparation, they’re more likely to be really successful and be able to hit the ground running and start building a lot faster.”
Each cohort of the program targets different underrepresented groups from different regions so that it can better cater to their market and needs.
“We have people building apps on our platform worldwide, so having a program that is intimately able to walk non-technical founders through the process of building an app in 10 weeks is something I’d like to make sure is curated and really tailored to where people are from,” Bestman said.
Once participants complete the 10-week program, participants who have the most robust and promising products and have proven to continuously engage with the program throughout will have the opportunity to present their ideas to potential investors and the broader tech community on a demo day.
Over the past three cohorts, Bubble’s Immerse program has received roughly 1600 applications and for the upcoming cohort in March, the program will accept 10 to 12 applicants from Black and Afro Latinx backgrounds.
“What we found out after teaching hundred of boot camps experiences is that being in an intimate environment where you have an instructor that you are meeting with week to week to guide you along the product roadmap for your app is extremely valuable,” Bestman said.