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Washington DC Autumn 2013
Sessions: 2013-11-19 - 2014-03-04
Our vision is to Globalize Silicon Valley by creating and fostering local startup ecosystems in promising markets across the globe. We aim to help launch 1,000 technology companies per year in over 75 cities worldwide.
The Founder Institute is Globalizing Silicon Valley
The Founder Institute is the world’s largest entrepreneur training and startup launch program, helping aspiring founders across the globe build enduring technology companies.
In the Founder Institute's four-month, part-time program, promising startup entrepreneurs “learn by doing” and launch a company through structured training courses, practical business-building assignments, and expert feedback from a large network of business mentors. Plus, aspiring founders are not required to quit their day job to participate, so they can begin building a business around their ideas without putting their livelihood at risk.
In only 4.5 years of operation, the Founder Institute has helped launch over 1,017 companies across 55 cities and six continents. Our goal is to “Globalize Silicon Valley” and build sustainable startup ecosystems that will create over 20,000 new jobs per year by 2020.
The Founder Institute was founded in 2009 by serial entrepreneur Adeo Ressi, and is operated out of a small office in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Learn more about our model for Globalizing Silicon Valley through this infographic.
Starting a company is an arduous and lonely journey, and technology entrepreneurship is a constantly evolving discipline. The Founder Institute aims to improve the rate of startup success by creating local startup ecosystems that emulate the unique characteristics of Silicon Valley.
Great People + Expert Training + Collaboration = Exponentially Better Chance of Success
Great Companies Start With Great People
It's very hard to judge a new founder by the quality of their idea, because there is too much subjectivity involved. To apply to the Founder Institute, you do not need to provide an idea. Instead, we use a proprietary Predictive Admissions Test to find the most talented people.
To date, over 20,000 people have applied, and the Founder Institute can predict with 85% accuracy somebody's potential to become a successful technology entrepreneur. Our research has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, and Forbes. Learn more about our revolutionary Predictive Admissions Test here.
The best way to learn is by doing. Through a structured, 4-month curriculum of weekly training courses and business-building assignments, you graduate the Founder Institute as the Founder of an enduring company.
The curriculum was built using Silicon Valley best practices, and each training course is led by members of the Founder Institute's worldwide network of over 2,500 Mentors, that are founders themselves.
Silicon Valley is an amazingly collaborative ecosystem, where people of all skill sets, backgrounds, and experiences share ideas, best practices, metrics, and feedback. Why? Because helping each other and sharing expertise leads to faster iteration, more efficient innovation, and faster market growth.
To create and foster a similar collaborative culture in markets across the globe, the Founder Institute employs a unique Graduate Liquidity Pool where everyone shares equity in the companies formed from each semester. Here's how it works - each Graduate contributes 3.5% of their company equity in Warrants to a 10-year Bonus Pool with other peers from the current semester. The Pool returns are then distributed as follows:
- 40% goes to the Founder Institute, its Local Directors and Partners.
- 30% goes to the Mentors, and each Mentor's individual share is based solely on anonymous ratings received from the Graduates.
- 30% goes back to the Graduates themselves - allowing them to earn returns based on both their success, and the success of their peers.
When one succeeds, everyone receives financial upside. Learn more about our Graduate Liquidy Pool here.
- Flexibility - Most incubators provide a small amount of money so that Founders can work on their company full time. As an early-stage accelerator, the Founder Institute takes a different approach. With our part-time four month program, you are not required to quit your day job, so you can begin building a business around your ideas without putting your livelihood at risk. And, we welcome applicants of all kinds; idea or no idea, early stage company or no company, technical or business, solo founder or with a team.
- Services and Scale - We leverage our global scale to secure free and discounted services from leading law firms, hosting companies, technology providers, and over 100 other vendors. We also collect data, feedback, and reviews to select the best Mentors, improve the curriculum, fine tune the Predictive Admissions Test, and improve the experience for participating Founders.
The Institute keeps costs low, bets on the success of the companies created, and shares in the returns.
- First, Founders pay a $0 USD Application Fee to cover the costs of administering the Predictive Admissions Test.
- Next, each Founder accepted into the program contributes a $950 USD Course Fee to cover location fees, Mentor travel, and other expenses of running a 16 week program. The Course Fee varies by location, and is calculated by dividing costs by the expected number of accepted Founders.
- Third, Graduates from the program are asked to contribute Warrants for 3.5% of their company priced at fair market value into the shared Graduate Liquidity Pool that is split between the other Graduates, the Mentors, and the Institute. 30% of the Pool's returns goes right back to the Graduates themselves, allowing them to earn returns based on the success of their peers.
- Lastly, if a company is successful and receives significant financing from third parties, the Institute asks that the company pay a one-time Tuition of $4,500, which supplies the growth capital for the Institute. The success of the Institute is based on the success of the graduates, as it should be.
“If you're lucky enough to get accepted and graduate from the program, these costs are negligible. In fact, I would go as far as saying that this is the best money you'll ever spend on your business” - Gary Herman, Silicon Valley Graduate (@garyjherman)
Anybody who is passionate about building a technology company is welcome to apply to the Founder Institute: idea or no idea, young or old, business or technical, solo founder or as a team. Our application process was designed to be as objective as possible.
In each Application Period, there are two deadlines - the Early Admissions Deadline, and the Final Admissions Deadline. If you apply by the Early Admissions Deadline, you can take the Predictive Admissions Test for free (in select locations), and you have a greater chance of being accepted. All other applicants must contribute $0 USD to help cover the administration costs of the test. From there, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, and once accepted you are granted access to a library of exclusive training content that will help you better prepare for the course ahead.
On average, the Founder Institute accepts roughly 30% of applicants, and performance on our Predictive Admissions Test is the predominant factor in our admissions process.
Graduating from the Founder Institute is challenging. In fact, less than 40% of accepted Founders generally make it through the program to Graduation. Reasons for not graduating differ, but each Founder who leaves is invited to join a future semester, when they are ready to launch a business.
In order to graduate, a Founder needs to develop an engaging idea for a technology company that is validated by the program mentors, plan out the business, work on an offering, incorporate their company, and complete all of the required assignments - all within a four month timeframe.
At the conclusion of the program, founders have a company, and path to growth fully validated by experienced startup founders. In addition, they have developed crucial leadership skills and a strong network, are ready to pitch prospective investors and team members, and have access to;
- The Graduate Liquidity Pool: Each Graduate joins a ten year Graduate Lidquidity Pool that distributes cash generated from peer success. The shared upside reduces the risk of launching a company and creates camaraderie between Mentors and Founders, who all share in the pool.
- Investment Support: Not all Graduates seek external funding. But for those that do, the Institute;
- Has forged relationships with dozens of regional investment groups to fast-track investment;
- Hosts several local and global events for startups to pitch investors (including the prestigious Founder Showcase event once a quarter in Silicon Valley);
- Hosts conference calls with founders to answer their specific questions and provide crucial advice during their fundraising processes;
- Has innovated in the creation of the Class F stock to protect Founders, the Plain Preferred term sheet for fair investments, the Founder Advisor Standard Template (FAST), and other fundraising guides.
- Our Global Network: Each Graduate joins an elite global network of over 1,017 startups and 2,500 CEO Mentors across 55 and 6 continents, to leverage for feedback, advice, best practices, and support. The Founder Institute facilitates communication through a mailing list, online discussion tools, periodic alumni gatherings, resource repositories, and more.
- A Plethora of Discounts: Over 100 product and service partners, ranging from office space to legal, provide free or discounted offerings to Graduates - reducing the cost of starting a technology company from over $20,000 in the first year to as little as $5,000.
- Safe Haven: The scale of the Founder Institute encourages fair treatment of Graduates by investors and service providers. The Institute proactively confronts those who take advantage of our Graduates, and has published an internal “Blacklist” to steer Graduates away from unsavory characters.
- Prestige: The growing success of Graduates, combined with the difficulty in completing the program and the credibility of the Mentors, make graduation a prestigious accomplishment to help you secure investment, close partnership deals, find co-founders, and ultimately build a meaningful and enduring business.
- “A radically new idea in itself... This is entrepreneurship at a tremendous scale. What's different about the Founder Institute is the data it collects...” - Aaron Patzer, Founder & CEO of Mint.com, Founder Institute Mentor (@apatzer)
- “I participated in this Summer's program as a Mentor and have spoken with a number of entrepreneurs who have graduated. All found it to be a great experience.” - Michael Arrington, Founder & Co-Editor of TechCrunch, Founder Institute Mentor (@arrington)
- "Being a mentor for the institute not only gave me the opportunity to give back to fellow entrepreneurs but also to learn from them and the other mentors as well. Truly nothing else like it for tech startups. Wish I had this when I started my first company." - Jon Carder, Chief Mojo, MojoPages.com, Founder Institute Mentor (@joncarder)
- "Being involved with the Founder Institute program has already opened huge doors and great opportunities for CloudCanvas. We are excited and prepared to take it to the next level. We've all spent a lot of time getting our houses in order to complete the program and now our bases and backs are covered." - Chance Roth, CEO & Founder, CloudCanvas, San Diego Graduate (@aobjects)
- "After graduating from the Founder Institute, I highly recommend that anyone serious about their startup joins an incubator. You will learn what you’d learn by going through 2 or more startups. You will also meet fantastic mentors and have a great network of entrepreneurs going through the same things you’re going through." - Steffany Boldrini, Founder & CEO of EcoBold, Silicon Valley Graduate (@ecobold)
- “The Founder Institute was a critical factor in Udemy's successful fundraising. I can't say how valuable Adeo and the Founder Institute team was in providing advice and introductions throughout the fundraising process. Without Adeo's sage wisdom, Udemy may not have raised any money.” - Gagan Biyani, Co-Founder of Udemy.com, Silicon Valley Graduate (@gaganbiyani)
- "The Founder Institute has become this thing that helps people articulate their ideas, bonds founders within a community, and channels creativity into a funnel and spits out amazing little businesses with big ambitions." - Tom Frazier, Co-Founder of ProcessGo!, Sydney Graduate (@processgo)
- “The community is worth its weight in gold." - Lecole Cole, Founder & CEO of Skydera, Silicon Valley Graduate (@lecole)
Blog Post Reviews:
- My Experience at the Founder Institute - via @gangadhargs
- We are Now Proud Members of the Founder Institute - via Crowdville
- What it was like in the Founder Institute - via Spikes
- Bootcamp for Your Brain - What I got at the Founder Institute - via @AlBsharah
- Founder Institute + Zengaged = <3 - via @zEngaged
- Our Experiences at the Founder Institute - via Page27
- The Founder Institute is Your Startup Muse - via @processgo
- Should You Join the Founder Institute? - via @elishatan
- Engage-a-Pro Graduates from the Founder Institute - via @_JohnWhelan
- Founder Institute Graduation: The End of the Beginning for FotoJelly - via @cmross
- A Terrific Experience at the Founder Institute Paris - via @MayaTheBuzz
- 3 Lessons Learned from the Founder Institute - via @vladblagi
- The End of the Beginning: A Thought on Founder Institute Graduation - via @ProjectBoeja
- Jakarta Founder Institute: Preparing Entrepreneurs - via Remco Lupker
- Just How Glamorous is a Founder's Life? - via @cherylmarquez
- A Founder Institute Review - via @marenkate
- The Founder Institute Experience - via @brajeshwar
- Founder Institute Graduation - via Seth Cohen
- Newly Minted European Grads Talk About Graduation [VIDEO]
- If You're a Founder the Founder Institute is Your Hippo - via @adrianaherrera
- Why the Founder Institute is Great for Women - via @mediamum
- My Founder Institute Experience - via @hugotroche
- Finding My Passion Via The Founder Institute - via @aguywithanidea
- How I Used My Summer Vacation to Start a Business - via @caringwise
- My Experience at the Founder Institute Paris - via @gangadhards
- If You're a Female Founder Stomp Your Feet via @alexfriedman
- I'm a Singapore Founder Institute Graduate via @elishatan