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Silicon Valley Spring 2013
Applications: Mar 17, '13
Sessions: Apr 01, '13 - Jul 09, '13
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 50 cities worldwide.
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is the premier legal advisor to technology and growth enterprises worldwide, as well as the investment banks and venture capital firms that finance them. Over the past four decades, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has established its reputation by having an unmatched knowledge of its clients' industries and deep and long-standing contacts throughout the technology sector. The firm's legal expertise serves clients at all stages of growth, from venture-backed start-up companies to multibillion-dollar global enterprises. The firm's clients include some of the most recognized names in the technology, retail, life sciences, venture capital, and finance sectors. The firm has offices in Austin, Palo Alto, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Shanghai, and Washington, D.C.
First Republic Bank and its subsidiaries provide private banking, private business banking and the full range of wealth management services with an emphasis on exceptional relationship-based service and a solid commitment to responsiveness and action.
Ravix Group - Ravix Group Inc.provides seasoned consulting expertise to outsource the finance, human resources, and facilities functions of early-stage and middle market companies so that management can focus on their priorities to increase the value of their company.
Purplepatch Services is a strategy consulting firm offering technology firms Marketing Communications and User Experience Design solutions.
Globalizing Silicon Valley
The Founder Institute is an early-stage startup accelerator and global launch network that helps entrepreneurs create meaningful and enduring technology companies. Through a part-time four month program, existing and prospective founders can launch their dream company with expert training, feedback, and support from experienced startup CEOs - while not being required to quit their day job. Our unique Graduate Liquidity Pool also enables graduates and mentors to share in the equity upside of each class, creating local, teamwork-based ecosystems where great new businesses can flourish.
In just over three years of operation, the Founder Institute has helped launch over 650 companies across 40 cities and five continents - making us the world's largest startup accelerator. Our goal is to "Globalize Silicon Valley" by launching 1,000 meaningful and enduring technology companies per year in over 50 cities worldwide.
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. Early mistakes can be deadly. The Founder Institute aims to improve the rate of startup success by providing high-potential entrepreneurs with expert training, critical objective feedback, and peer support in the early stages of building a company.
Great People + Expert Training + Aligned Incentives = 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 best people. This social science test was developed along with leading university social scientists, and is regularly calibrated to identify entrepreneurial personality traits and remove all forms of subjective bias. Our unique applicant screening approach has been featured in CNNMoney.com in a piece by FI Mentor and Founder of Mint.com, Aaron Patzer.
We provide a four-month program with weekly company-building assignments guided by a worldwide network of over 900 Mentors that are founders themselves. Topics range from “Startup Legal and IP” towards the beginning of the program, to “Fundraising” near the end. Our curriculum was initially crowdsourced by the 17,000+ CEO members of TheFunded.com, and has since been improved using the Institute's experience running chapters in over 27 cities.
- Click here to see our full Curriculum
- Click here to see our full Mentor roster
(it will take a minute to load the 900+ Mentors!)
Amazing things happen when smart people work together towards a common goal. To create and foster a teamwork-based ecosystem, 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.
- 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 because sessions are held once a week at night. 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 $50 USD Application Fee to cover the costs of administering the Predictive Admissions Test.
- Next, each Founder accepted into the program contributes a $995 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)
We believe that great founders are often overlooked by the current entrepreneurial system. As a result, 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 $50 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. 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 an idea, 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;
- Distributes an exclusive “Founder Angels” mailing list every quarter to thousands of angel investors;
- Hosts several local and global events for startups to pitch investors (including the prestigious Founder Showcase event once a quarter in Silicon Valley);
- Hosts weekly 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 550 startups and 900 CEO Mentors across 27+ and 5 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:
- Why The Founder Institute? via @DonationMatch
- "The biggest takeaway from Founder Institute is earning the entrepreneur's acumen." - Daylong Soh of Curious Core - via e27
- 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
- The End of the Beginning: A Thought on Founder Institute Graduation - via @ProjectBoeja
- Jakarta Founder Institute: Preparing Entrepreneurs - via Remco Lupker
- 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]
- Why the Founder Institute is Great for Women - via @mediamum
- My Founder Institute Experience - via @hugotroche
- 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