FAQ

WSGR
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is the premier legal advisor to technology, life sciences, and other growth enterprises worldwide. We represent companies at every stage of development, from entrepreneurial start-ups to multibillion-dollar global corporations, as well as the venture firms, private equity firms, and investment banks that finance and advise them. The firm's broad range of services and practice areas are focused on addressing the principal challenges faced by the management, boards of directors, shareholders, and in-house counsel of our clients.

CodigoDelSur
CodigoDelSur is a designer and developer of digital products. Having worked with Founder Institute startups in the past, they come as a highly recommended Founder Institute referral. They are composed of highly skilled software, web, and mobile app developers, who are excited to incorporate the latest technologies into the applications they develop.

100Vets

 

Through the 100Vets Fellowship, any U.S. veteran or service member who wants to start a technology company can apply to a U.S. Founder Institute chapter for free, and the best overall applicant from each chapter will be invited to participate in the Founder Institute's step-by-step startup launch program for free as well.


Veterans and active service members possess the work ethic, high character, and strong leadership skills needed to launch meaningful and enduring technology companies. To inspire and enable the military community to build technology companies, the Founder Institute has partnered with Vet-Tech, the nation's leading startup accelerator for military veterans, to offer the 100Vets Fellowship.

Through this Fellowship, any U.S. veteran or service member who wants to start a technology company can apply to a U.S. Founder Institute chapter for free, and the best overall applicant from will be invited to participate in the Founder Institute's step-by-step startup launch program for free as well.

Learn more about the program at http://FI.co/vets.


Eligibility: In order to be eligible for the 100Vets Fellowship for the upcoming semester, you must complete your application and admissions test by Sunday, December 11th, 2016, using this link.


Grant: The recipient of the 100Vets Fellowship will be awarded within 5 days after the deadline.


Click here to apply for the 100Vets Fellowship.


Xero
Xero is everything you need to run your business financials. Work with a beautiful small business accounting software complete with accounting, invoicing, payroll, inventory and more. Xero seamlessly integrates with over 500+ business apps, including CRM, point-of-sale, time tracking, ecommerce, just to name a few. Join the 700,000+ businesses using Xero in more than 180 countries.

Startup Weekend

 

Through the Startup Weekend Fellowship, members of the Startup Weekend Community who want to start a technology company can apply to the Silicon Valley Founder Institute chapter for free, and the best overall applicant will be invited to participate in the Founder Institute's step-by-step startup launch program for free as well.



Eligibility: In order to be eligible for the Startup Weekend Fellowship for the upcoming semester, you must complete your application and admissions test by Sunday, December 11th, 2016, using this link.


Grant: The recipient of the Startup Weekend Fellowship will be awarded within 5 days after the deadline.


Click here to apply for the Startup Weekend Fellowship.


FAQ DirectoryCommon Questions | Ideas | Applications | Program |  Mentors | Founder Agreement | Warrant/ Liquidity Pool | Investment

 

Common Questions

Do you only accept tech companies at Founder Institute?
The Founder Institute focuses on technology and technology-enabled businesses. This can include hardware and traditional businesses such as food, ecommerce, and brick and mortar, so long as the business has the ability to scale through technology. We typically do not accept founders looking to build non-scalable service-based companies, such as consultancies and agencies.

How is the Founder Institute different from a seed-accelerator program, like Y Combinator or Techstars?
Seed-accelerators typically take a company with a team, live product, and some traction and provide them with operating capital and/or a small seed investment to help them prepare for an angel or VC round of funding. The Founder Institute works with entrepreneurs before this point in their process, when they may or may not have a team, company, validated idea, product, strategy or plan, and provides them with a structured process, expert mentorship, and a global network to launch their company or push their idea forward.

Is the Founder Institute a "pre-accelerator"?
"Pre-Accelerators" exist to help you get into a seed-accelerator. While many Founder Institute Graduates do go on to seed-accelerators like Techstars, Y Combinator, and 500 Startups, this is not the sole purpose of the FI program. In fact, many companies that Graduate the Founder Institute are further along than a seed-accelerator, or may not need funding at all. Only approximately 15% of FI Graduates go on to a seed-accelerator program, and we have relationships in place to facilitate that process when it makes sense for the company.

What is the schedule for the Silicon Valley Winter 2017 semester?
To see the full calendar, visit FI.co/curriculum.

Where will the training sessions be located?
The local session locations are typically held in the same venues as the public pre-semester events listed on FI.co/curriculum. The training sessions are not open to the public, so their locations are not listed on the training session pages.

Can I participate in the program remotely?
We do not allow remote participation. We have tested remote programs in the past and found that these participants did not receive the irreplaceable value of an in-person program.

What is the time commitment required by a Founder?
The Institute requires a minimum of 20 hours of work per week, on average. Participating Founders are required to attend each three and a half hour weekly session. The sessions will have between five and ten hours of assignment work that needs to be completed before the following session. If a participating Founder is also working on a prototype or some other aspect of the business, then the time commitment can be much greater.

How does a Founder graduate from the program?
In order to graduate, there are four criteria. First, a Founder must attend all sessions. Second, a Founder must complete all of the challenging company-building assignments. Third, the Founder must incorporate a suitable company. Fourth, once the Founder is invited to graduate, the incorporated business must issue a Warrant, and the Founder will join the Shared Liquidity Pool. The Institute supports the efforts of every entrepreneur, but the program is very hard, because building a meaningful company is harder. On average, about 30% of founders are able to Graduate from the program.

Do I need to attend every session?
Attendance is mandatory, however, it is understood that Founders may have emergencies, illness, or pre-planned travel that may prevent them from attending one or two sessions. The Institute makes exceptions on a case by case basis, but Founders are advised to communicate any conflicts in schedule as early as possible to their Local Directors. In particular, the Orientation, Mentor Idea Review, and the Mentor Progress Review sessions should never be missed.

What does the $50 USD Application Fee for the Silicon Valley Winter 2017 semester cover?
The $50 USD Application Fee covers the cost of processing the Admissions Test, which is handled by a third party testing provider. The fee is non-refundable.

What does the $2300 USD Course Fee for the Silicon Valley Winter 2017 semester cover?
The Course Fee covers the cost of operating the sessions and administering the program (including things like location fees, audio visual, food, etc). The Course Fee is FULLY REFUNDABLE before the third session of the program, so that participants can see if the program is right for them.

Can I pay the course fee in installments?
We do not accept Course Fee payments in installments. For Founders that would like to pay in installments, we recommend applying for Paypal's "Bill Me Later" program.

What is the Course Fee Refund Policy?
You can receive a FULL refund of your Course Fee in your first Founder Institute semester if you drop out before the start-time of the third program session (currently, the "Research and Customer Development" session). This gives you the opportunity to try out the program for two sessions, with no risk. You can see the semester schedule at FI.co/curriculum, and all refunds are processed within a few weeks of your drop out date.

What happens if I drop out after the third session?
After the “Research and Customer Development” session, if you cannot finish the program for personal reasons or get dropped by the Founder Institute, you can use your already paid Course Fee towards a future semester of the Founder Institute in the same city, so long as that program begins within one calendar year of the start date of the program you dropped out from. If the Course Fee for the new semester is significantly higher than your original semester, FI reserves the right to require you to pay the difference in order to enroll in the new program. However, we will not refund the difference if the Course Fee of the new semester is lower.

If I am already accepted, what is the deadline for enrolling in the program?
In order to guarantee a spot in the program, we encourage Founders to complete their enrollment promptly. Typically we close enrollment approximately 7 days before the start date of the program, but if the class fills up before then you may not be guaranteed a spot. 

Keep in mind that you can receive a full refund before the 3rd session in the program, so enrolling is risk-free.

What is the “Tuition”?
The $4,500 Tuition fee is due once the company has raised $100,000 in equity or debt funding during or after the Program. Loans and previous funding will not count towards that threshold. This tuition fee ensures that if you do well and raise funding, we can also access additional capital to continue growing our program and support initiatives. 

How do I start a Founder Institute program in my city?
The Founder Institute is always interested in speaking to qualified startup experts and local ecosystem leaders to start a local chapter. For more information, visit FI.co/lead

 

Still have questions? Feel free to contact us, or join an upcoming Q&A Conference Call with Founder Institute Directors. 

 


FAQ DirectoryCommon Questions | Ideas | Applications | Program |  Mentors | Founder Agreement | Warrant/ Liquidity Pool | Investment

 

Ideas

Do applicants have similar ideas to one another?
Yes. The Institute does not ask applicants to submit their specific business idea in the application process, since our focus is on developing you as a Founder. In past Semesters, Founders have shared ideas and collaborated accordingly.

Can Founders submit more than one idea?
This is up to you. The Institute is more interested in the person, and less interested in the business idea. Founders must select one idea to turn into a company within the first 60 to 90 days of the program.

How will you get involved in the idea creation phase with the entrepreneurs?
In the beginning of the program, the Founders are broken into smaller working groups by related ideas, and provided with very specific assignments for refining, researching, and validating ideas.

How is our intellectual property protected during the Program?  Will somebody steal my idea?  
All Founders, Mentors, and Directors attending sessions of the Founder Institute have to sign NDAs before participating in the program. Your IP is protected under the NDA.  

 

Still have questions? Feel free to contact us, or join an upcoming Q&A Conference Call with Founder Institute Directors. 

 


FAQ DirectoryCommon Questions | Ideas | Applications | Program |  Mentors | Founder Agreement | Warrant/ Liquidity Pool | Investment

 

Applications

How does the application process work?
After submitting an application and paying the $50 USD Application Fee, candidates will be sent the Founder Institute's Predictive Admissions Test. Candidates will have three days to finish the Admissions Test, which takes just over an hour to complete, and then they will either be Accepted, put on a "Finalist" List, or Rejected.

What is the Founder Institute's Predictive Admissions Test?
We focus on founders, not ideas. As a result, all applicants are required to take a proprietary psychometric/ aptitude test developed by the Founder Institute and leading social scientists. Learn more at FI.co/DNA.

How do Co-Founders apply to the Founder Institute?
The Institute encourages all Co-Founders to apply to the program, and when Co-Founders enroll in the program together they each get a 25% discount on the Course Fee. However, each CoFounder is required to take the Admissions Test.

What are the application deadlines for the Silicon Valley Winter 2017 semester?
The Early Application Deadline is 2016-11-13, and the Final Application Deadline is 2016-12-11. To apply, visit FI.co/join.

What is the benefit of applying before the Early Application Deadline?
If you apply by the Early Admissions Deadline (2016-11-13) in Silicon Valley), you will be invited to take the Admissions Test for free, you will be eligible for a reduced Course Fee, and you will be eligible for several Founder Institute Fellowships, which provide our best applicants with a full refund to participate in the program for free.

How do I apply for a Fellowship? Which ones are available in my city?
Fellowships provide the very best applicants to the Founder Institute a free Course Fee. The criteria for Fellowship recipients is purely merit-driven, and they are typically awarded to only the top 1-5% of applicants to the program. Anyone who applies before the Early Admissions Deadline (2016-11-13) in Silicon Valley) is automatically eligible for a Fellowship - no special process is needed. To find out more about the Fellowships available in your program visit http://fi.co/fellowships.

How do I know if I have received a Fellowship?
Fellowships are normally awarded within 5 days after the Early Admissions Deadline (2016-11-13) in Silicon Valley). All Fellowship recipients are notified by email no later than 7 days after the Early Admissions Deadline, and unfortunately due to the large number of applications, we cannot always notify all applicants that they have not been chosen for a Fellowship.

Can I defer my acceptance or application to another semester, or do I have to apply all over again?
You can apply to any other Founder Institute semester without redoing your application or retaking the Admissions Test.

If you want to defer your acceptance from this semester to the next semester, just let us know via email. We will then mark you as “Declined”, and you will be notified via email when the next semester opens applications. Typically, this will take place in the next 6-12 months. While most people who defer their acceptance are admitted to the future program, we cannot guarantee this because you will be judged against a new cohort of applicants.

If you want to change your city, just log into the Founder Institute website and go to the application page (http://fi.co/join), where you can see the semesters currently enrolling and pick a new one.

Will information from the application process be shared or made public?
The Institute will not reveal any application information to the public.

Is it better to apply sooner rather than later to the Institute?
Yes. All applications are processed in the sequential order that they are received. If you apply before the early admission deadline, you will have two separate chances to be admitted into the program. Space is limited, so apply early.

Can I apply if I have an established startup?
Yes. The Institute is appropriate for both aspiring founders, and founders that are running a business that is less than two years old and with less than half a million in annual revenues. Founders that are more advanced in the program can utilize their extra time towards advanced assignments, and creating more lasting connections with the mentors. 

What if my company is already incorporated? Can I or should I still enroll into the Program?
We have had many successful cases of Founders that go through the program to receive valuable feedback from Mentors while they already have an incorporated company. If the company is incorporated with an acceptable legal structure, then the company only needs to issue the warrant or option with the help of a law firm, or professional firm. Otherwise, the legal partner needs to work with the company to transition an incorrect structure to the proper structure as part of the engagement. 

The Founder Institute does not accept partnership and LLC formats because these companies are not optimal for issuing shares and raising capital. 

How many Founders will be in the program?
The Institute accepts between 20 and 50 Founders. A number of factors encourage limiting the group size, such as the capacity of reserved meeting facilities, the ability to deliver a meaningful mentorship experience, and the quality of the shared upside among participants.

I applied, but did not receive an email response. Did you get my application?
Yes. After you successfully apply, you will be logged into the Founder Institute site. On the right hand side, it should say: "Semester: [Semester], Role: Founder, Status: Applied." This indicates that your application has gone through. As the Institute processes applications, your status will change to "Reviewing," "Accepted," "Finalist" or "Rejected." The Institute will email you with your application status once it changes.

 

Still have questions? Feel free to contact us, or join an upcoming Q&A Conference Call with Founder Institute Directors. 

 


FAQ DirectoryCommon Questions | Ideas | Applications | Program |  Mentors | Founder Agreement | Warrant/ Liquidity Pool | Investment

 

Program

What is a typical training session like?
See a sample Founder Institute session here.

Do Founders need to quit their day job?
No. The Institute has a mix of full-time and part-time Founders in the program. Many businesses get started with part-time Founders until the company gains traction. Once a company gets off the ground and properly capitalized through revenues or investment, the Institute expects that the Founders will start working full-time.

Can participating Founders find co-Founders in the program?
Yes. Since participants have shared areas of interest and hail from a variety of backgrounds, it is common for founding teams to be established with different program participants. In one case a Mentor even joined one of the Institute companies as a Co-Founder.

Why do some people not make it to Graduation?
Graduating from the Founder Institute is challenging. First, only roughly 30% of applicants are accepted to the program. Then, less than 35% of accepted Founders generally make it through the program to Graduation. 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. 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. 

If I drop out of the program or get dropped after the refund deadline, can I return to the next semester for free? Can I join a different location?
If you cannot finish the program for a personal reason or get dropped by the Founder Institute, you can join the next semester in the same location for free. Approximately 30-40% of Founders that drop out of the program return to the next semester.

If you want to join a future semester, in either your location or a different location, you will need to pay a small re-enrollment fee ($50), plus any difference in course fee. We will not refund any fees if the course fee for a future semester is lower.

What are the key steps to succeed in the Founder Institute program?
The process of building your company will be a lot harder than you ever expected. Maintaining your enthusiasm, passion, and enjoyment of pursuing your vision is paramount.

 

Still have questions? Feel free to contact us, or join an upcoming Q&A Conference Call with Founder Institute Directors. 


FAQ DirectoryCommon Questions | Ideas | Applications | Program |  Mentors | Founder Agreement | Warrant/ Liquidity Pool | Investment

Mentors

How does the Founder Institute select Mentors?
The Institute selects Mentors with a broad range of industry experiences, including hardware, software, manufacturing, biotech, entertainment, digital media, investment, services, and B2B/B2C. Most Mentors have started multiple companies and are currently running a well-known startup. In addition, all Mentors are anonymously rated by program participants for the sake of quality control.

How do Founders get paired with Mentors?
The pairing process is informal. Founders have the opportunity to ask questions of Mentors before, during, and after each session both online and in-person. While some Mentors are extremely busy, it is expected that the majority of Mentors will help Founders where they have common interests. The Mentors are compensated through the Shared Liquidity Pool, and Mentor compensation increases with positive ratings from participating Founders. This gives Mentors the extra incentive to help the Founders, provide introductions, etc. In addition, a final review is done after the program is completed, creating an incentive for longer term Mentor involvement.

 

Still have questions? Feel free to contact us, or join an upcoming Q&A Conference Call with Founder Institute Director

 


FAQ DirectoryCommon Questions | Ideas | Applications | Program |  Mentors | Founder Agreement | Warrant/ Liquidity Pool | Investment

 

Founder Agreement

Where can I find the Founder Agreement?
To see the Local Founder Agreement, select the city of your choosing from the drop down on the top right corner of the site, and then go to FI.co/agreements

I see that there is a requirement for incorporation. Will the Founder Institute be able to help with that?
The Program will include a session about legal topics during the Startup Legal and IP session. If you need help with getting incorporated, you can always ask for help during the program's office hours, or speak with our Local Legal Partner, Directors, or Mentors.

Do I need to be working with a law firm now?
You should engage a law firm for incorporating your company during the Program, and we will provide you with the guidance and tools to do so. In some countries, professionals, such as corporate secretaries or accounting firms, are customarily hired to incorporate a company. It is important that you hire a professional to create the corporation to ensure that it is done properly and investors can fund your company.

Does the Founder need to use the program's local legal partner?
The Founder Institute strongly recommends that Founders use our legal partner in each city, but we do not mandate it. Most legal partners also provide discounted and/or deferred pricing. 

Am I required to incorporate a company in my home country?
You are allowed to incorporate in whatever country you see fit, as we have localized agreements in many jurisdictions. During our "Startup Legal & IP" session, we will give you advice on how/where to incorporate as well. For those incorporating in the United States, we recommend Delaware C-Corps as they are the most conducive to raising venture capital. There are similar safe-havens for corporations all across the globe. 

What if the Founder can't incorporate due to work, unemployment or visa conflicts?
This question should be asked to your law firm as each country has different laws and policies. The Founder Institute does not sponsor nor facilitate any processes with regards to Visas. If you cannot incorporate a company, you cannot Graduate from the program.  

I already own a company, but I want to work on a new company in the Program. Will FI own part of my old company?
No. At approximately 1/2 way through the Founder Institute program (around the "Startup Legal & IP" session), you will sign the warrant or option agreement for the company you are building in the program.

Does the Founder Institute have voting power in my company after I graduate?
The Founder Institute does not have any voting rights in our Graduate companies, and we do not hold any board seats either.

If I drop out, do I still owe 3.5% equity in the form of a warrant to the Founder Institute?
If you drop out with more than 45 days left before Graduation (2017-04-19), then you are not obligated to issue the warrant. However, if you drop out with less than 45 days left in the program, then you are contractually bound to issue the Founder Institute warrants in accordance with the Founder Agreement. This prevents people from cheating the system and leaving the program at the very end, thereby purposefully avoiding contribution into the Liquidity Pool and cheating their peers, mentors, and the Founder Institute. 

Why is any company that I create during the program, and within 6 months after Graduation of the program, obligated to join the Shared Liquidity Pool?
Similar to the 45 day stipulation above, this clause is meant to prevent Founders from immediately starting a new (identical) company after Graduation that is not part of the Shared Liquidity Pool, thereby cheating their peers and the Founder Institute. We would only use this clause if the new company formed within 6 months was identical or very similar in nature to the company you formed in the program. 

Why are founders required to start a "commercially viable product" within 24 months after the program?
This clause was added to the Founder Agreement after receiving feedback from Graduates, and it prevents Graduates that do not try to build a company within 2 years after the program from participating in the Shared Liquidity Pool.

I cannot upload the Founder Agreement / Warrant. What do I do?
Please send the signed to agreement to mailing (at) fi (dot) co with your information, including full name and location of the program where you intend to enroll. Alternatively, you can reply to any emails you have received from us.

I have legal questions about the FAST agreement.
The FAST agreement (http://fi.co/FAST) gives you the legal framework to engage with mentors and advisors. It was developed by our CEO, Adeo Ressi with our partner law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, LLP (WSGR). It is a public document for anyone to use and edit. For any questions regarding the document, please consult a legal counsel.

 

Still have questions? Feel free to contact us, or join an upcoming Q&A Conference Call with Founder Institute Directors. 


FAQ DirectoryCommon Questions | Ideas | Applications | Program |  Mentors | Founder Agreement | Warrant/ Liquidity Pool | Investment

 

Warrant & Liquidity Pool

What is the Bonus Pool (AKA "Liquidity Pool")?
Each graduate company contributes 3.5% of their equity into a Shared Liquidity Pool, which is shared between each cohort's Graduates, Mentors, Directors, and the Founder Institute. This encourages teamwork in the local cohort, and provides returns to everyone involved in each semester (including Graduates). For more information, visit http://fi.co/liquidity.

How does the allocation work?
Graduating founders allocate 3.5% of your company to the Founder Institute through the form of a Warrant or Option, and the Founder Institute then contractually allocates any money that is generated from the Warrants or Options to various stakeholders. Upon exercising the warrant, The Founder Institute would become on official common shareholder for easy corporate housekeeping, but the contractual allocation spreads returns from the Warrants or Options with others, allowing you have the benefit of multiple shareholders without the complexity.

How does the allocation work for Co-Founders?
Each Founder that contributes a company to the Shared Liquidity Pool receives an equal share of the 30% allocated to Founders. If there are 10 Founders in the Pool, then each Founder gets 1/10 of the Pool, or 3%. Co-Founders split their allocation. So, If there were 13 Founders contributing 10 companies, and one of 10 companies had three Co-Founders, then each Co-Founder would get 1%, while all other single Founders would get 3%. Since value in the Shared Liquidity Pool is derived from companies, shares in the Shared Liquidity Pool are allocated for each company contributed.

What are the potential returns?
Even in small acquisitions of $5 MM or less, the financial return from the Shared Liquidity Pool far exceeds the average Course Fee by multiple times. Below are four hypothetical situations where a Founder in the Shared Liquidity Pool sells their company for anywhere between $5 MM and $250 MM. The models assumes that the Shared Liquidity Pool will be diluted over time as the company gets larger and brings on investors, senior employees and partners. The model also assumes that there are 10 graduating Founders, each getting 1/10 of the Shared Liquidity Pool 30% allocation to Founders, or 3% each. Please note that Shared Liquidity Pool returns are paid out to individual Founders, not to their companies, so returns can be used for anything that you want, from paying rent to investing in your startup.

Exit Valuation $5,000,000 $75,000,000 $150,000,000 $250,000,000
Warrant or Option Strike Price $1,000,000 $2,500,000 $2,500,000 $2,500,000
Initial Liquidity Pool % 3.50% 3.50% 3.50% 3.50%
Dilution of Liquidity Pool % 0% 35% 40% 45%
Final Liquidity Pool % 3.50% 2.28% 2.10% 1.93%
Total Liquidity Pool Return $140,000 $1,653,000 $3,097,500 $4,776,750
All Founders Liquidity Pool Return $42,000 $495,900 $929,250 $1,433,025
Personal Liquidity Pool Return $4,200 $49,590 $92,925 $143,302.50

 

How and When does a Founder join the Liquidity Pool?
At approximately 1/2 way through the Founder Institute program (around the "Startup Legal & IP" session), you will be required to incorporate your company and sign the warrant or option agreement. At this point you will be added to the Bonus Pool. Founders that do not wish to join the Shared Liquidity Pool need to withdraw from the program before the last 45 days of the program (the Silicon Valley Winter 2017 program ends on 2017-04-19).

How does the Liquidity Pool generate returns?
When a Founder in the Shared Liquidity Pool achieves a liquidity event by selling their business or by going public, the Founder Institute distribute the proceeds to the stakeholders through the following process. The Founder notifies the Institute that there is an impending liquidity event, and the Institute will provide some strategic advice on closing the deal for the best terms. The Institute will also work quickly to provide any necessary signatures and approvals. When the transaction is completed and a payment is sent to the Institute, the Institute then takes the total return and divides it up by the contractual allocation, which is stored in our systems and checked by our accountants. Individual distribution checks are then cut for all of the stakeholders and mailed along with a nice letter. In the future, the Institute may switch to PayPal for convenience.

Do I have to Join the Liquidity Pool to graduate?
Yes, it is a requirement for graduation.

How long does the Liquidity Pool last? Does the Warrant Expire?
The warrants and the Liquidity Pool expire after 10 years from the issue date. The Institute set a realistic timeframe for companies in the Liquidity Pool to achieve some type of liquidity event, such as a merger, a sale or a public offering. The vast majority of businesses will either fail or succeed within 10 years.

Does the Founder Institute have voting power in my company as a result of joining the Liquidity Pool?
The Founder Institute does not have any voting rights in our Graduate companies, and we do not hold any board seats either.

Why is the Liquidity Pool 3.5%?
The Institute analyzed multiple equity programs, and choose 3.5% as the smallest amount of equity to contribute that can still return reasonable value to the Liquidity Pool. As one example, setting up an advisory board normally requires 5% of a company to attract 5 or 6 advisors, and the Institute wanted to be less than 5% to attract over two dozen Mentors during the program. As another example, most funding incubators purchase approximately 10% of a company for approximately $20,000, and the Institute wanted to be less than half the equity for these type of programs. At 3.5%, Founders in the Liquidity Pool can get $100,000 in cash returns from low a nine figure exit.

Why Warrants versus equity?
Warrants have a number of advantages over equity.
(1) Successful Founders from incubators often feel that they receive bad investment terms from the incubator. Warrants ensure that any equity placed in the Liquidity Pool for the Institute and other stakeholders is priced by the market, creating a win-win scenario.
(2) Warrants do not give the Institute any control or voting rights in the company

How does investment work with the Warrant or Option?
There are two types of investments done by Founders, either a convertible investment or an equity investment. The Warrant or Option only matters with respect to a qualified equity investment, which is defined as any equity investment for $100,000 USD or more completed by external investors, people other than the Founder or Founders themselves.

When a Founder in the Liquidity Pool completes a qualified equity investment, the shares in the company are given a value by the outside investors. At this point, the strike price of the Warrant or Option is set. The number of shares of the Warrant or Option is also set at 3.5% of the company after the investment is complete. Hundreds of Founders have raised capital with the Founder Institute Warrant or Option in place. Most investors are used to investing in companies with Warrants or Options present.

Will the Institute buy the Warrant or Option?
The Institute does not intend to purchase the Warrant or Option until a liquidity event occurs with a greater value than the strike price, at which point the Institute will purchase the Warrant or Option to return value to the Liquidity Pool.

What is the exercise share price of the warrant/ option? How many shares are included?
The exercise price is the price-per-share granted via the Warrant.  The share price is set by your investors during the first Qualified Equity Financing. The price your investors paid-per-share is the price of the Founder Institute's shares, and thus determines how many shares are included in the warrant.

How is the 3.5% equity of the company determined? Is it a flat 3.5% or dilutable?
The warrant grants the Founder Institute 3.5% at the time of the first Qualified Equity Financing of $100,000+. This 3.5% is fully dilutable over future rounds of investment.

How does the net exercise clause in the warrant work?
This clause allows the Founder Institute to exercise the warrant and obtain shares without having to pay with cash. Please consult your lawyer if you have specific questions about this clause.

If the Founder Institute sells the equity in a Founder's company, does that Founder continue to participate in the Bonus Pool?
FI reserves the right to sell the equity granted via the Warrant at a time of its choosing. Graduate companies continue to participate in the Bonus Pool until its termination (10 years) even if their equity has been sold. 

Why is there a termination clause that requires a company to pay $100,000 if the Founder resigns as the CEO of my company?
This provision is there to protect a Founder from involuntary termination. This clause is there to help the Founder in the case that the Board wants to remove the Founder as the CEO. If you leave the company as the CEO voluntarily and would like to appoint a new CEO, the company is not required to pay the penalty.

 

Still have questions? Feel free to contact us, or join an upcoming Q&A Conference Call with Founder Institute Directors. 

 


FAQ DirectoryCommon Questions | Ideas | Applications | Program |  Mentors | Founder Agreement | Warrant/ Liquidity Pool | Investment

 

Investment

Can I apply if I am not planning to raise money?
Yes. The Institute encourages Founders with standalone business ideas that are capital efficient to apply. The majority of topics covered in the curriculum are relevant to any business, such as team building, vendors, and revenue. The Institute is working with two dozen partners on discounted or free offerings to dramatically reduce the cost of launching a new company, making enrollment worthwhile.

Can I apply if I am already fundraising?
Yes. The Institute encourages active fundraising throughout the Semester for Founders that are prepared and require outside capital. The goal is to get Founders in front of investors multiple times before the Semester ends.

How will Founders interact with investors?
At graduation, top rated angel investors and venture capitalists will be invited to attend and contribute. At this investor session, you will be experienced and very well prepared to pitch. In past investor sessions, over a dozen venture capital companies have been represented, with additional angel investors. The Institute also facilitates investor meetings outside of the program.

Are investors turned off by the Class F stock and Liquidity Pool?
Some are, yes, and others are not. Only the best teams and the best companies will receive financing in the current economic climate, and these strong opportunities will be able to push for better terms. The Institute aims to foster the best, and that is reflected in the terms. The Institute does not mandate that companies use the documents nor that the Founders participate in the Liquidity Pool.

How much money should participating Founders plan on raising?
The Institute invites a wide range of Founders from different sectors to apply. Some companies need more capital and will raise more capital during the program. The amount of money that a participating Founder can expect to raise is ultimately based on the business, its specific needs, and the execution.

Does the Institute make investments?
The Founder Institute does not invest directly in Graduate companies. However, we do facilitate investment through introductions, local/ regional/ global events, and more. 

Does the entrepreneur have input into and veto power over the valuation?
The Founders choose the investors, negotiate the terms, and sign the deal with assistance of, but no control from, the Founder Institute. Everything is up to the founder and the shareholders. Keep in mind that the Founder Institute will not be a shareholder of any kind pre-funding.

 

Still have questions? Feel free to contact us, or join an upcoming Q&A Conference Call with Founder Institute Directors. 

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