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The Founder Institute is the world’s premier startup launch program for talented entrepreneurs.
If you are up to the challenge, our comprehensive step-by-step curriculum will give you the structure, mentor support, and global network you need to start an enduring company. Many leaders of the world’s fastest-growing startups have used our program to transition from employee to entrepreneur, test their startup ideas, build a team, get their first customers, raise funding, and more.
Founder Institute Silicon Valley Winter 2016 Semester
Starting a company is an arduous and lonely journey, and technology entrepreneurship is a constantly evolving discipline. The Founder Institute's vision is to “Globalize Silicon Valley” and help entrepreneurs across the globe launch meaningful and enduring technology companies.
Our Formula for "Globalizing Silicon Valley"
Talent + Training + Teamwork = Exponentially Better Chance of Success
Talent: 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 35,000 people have applied, and the Founder Institute can predict with 85% accuracy somebody's potential to become a successful technology entrepreneur. In addition, we have found that there are great entrepreneurs everywhere. Our revolutionary entrepreneur research has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, and Forbes.
The best way to learn is by doing. Through our structured, step-by-step curriculum of weekly training courses and challenging business-building assignments, you graduate the Founder Institute as the Founder of an enduring company.
The Founder Institute curriculum was rigorously built using Silicon Valley best practices, and each training course is led by members of the Founder Institute's worldwide network of over 4,400 entrepreneur Mentors, that are founders themselves. Our curriculum is all action, and no theory.
Silicon Valley is a 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 Shared 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. When a liquidity event occurs, the returns for each cohort are then distributed as follows:
30% goes right back to the program Graduates, split evenly.
30% goes to the program Mentors, and each Mentor's individual share is based solely on anonymous ratings received from the Graduates. This incentivizes Mentors to take an active role in each cohort's success.
25% of the Pool Returns go to the Local Program Directors for their efforts in organizing, building, and running the local semester.
15% of the Pool Returns go to the Founder Institute, which provides operating capital for the business.
The Founder Institute is committed to building local startup ecosystems, and when one Graduate succeeds, the local cohort receives the vast majority of the 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, so you can begin building a business and test your startup ideas without putting your livelihood at risk. And, we welcome applicants of all kinds; idea or no idea, 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 200 other vendors.
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 Silicon Valley program contributes a $1950 USD Course Fee to cover location fees, Mentor travel, and other expenses of running a 16 week program. The Course Fee is FULLY REFUNDABLE as long as you drop out prior to the start of the Research & Customer Development session, so that founders can make an informed decision if the Founder Institute is right for them.
Third, Graduates from the program are asked to contribute Warrants for 3.5% of their company priced at fair market value into the Shared Liquidity Pool that is split between the other Graduates, the Mentors, and the Institute. This is not a cost, but rather an investment, because 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. Learn more about the Liquidity Pool here.
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)
Graduating from the Founder Institute is challenging. First, only roughly 30% of applicants are accepted to the program. Then, 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. Read the review of a recent FI Dropout here.
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 Shared Liquidity Pool: Each Graduate joins a ten year Graduate Liquidity 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 often has local relationships to fast-track investment, runs regular conference calls to provide fundraising advice, and host local and global events with investors (including the Founder Showcase in Silicon Valley).
Our Global Network: Each Graduate joins an elite global network of over 1,850 startups and 4,400 CEO Mentors across 100 cities 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)
The Founder Institute is the world’s premier startup launch program for talented entrepreneurs. If you are up to the challenge, our comprehensive step-by-step program will give you the structure, mentor support, and network of entrepreneurs you need to start an enduring company. Based in Silicon Valley and with chapters across 58 countries, the Founder Institute's mission is to "Globalize Silicon Valley" and build sustainable startup ecosystems worldwide.