Graduating from the Founder Institute is challenging. A Founder needs to develop an engaging idea for a technology company, plan out the business, work on an offering and incorporate a company, all within a four month timeframe. For the Graduates, there are multiple rewards. Here are ten, ordered from tangible to intangible:
- Bonus Pool: Each Graduate joins a ten year Bonus 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.
- Discounts: Over 40 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 $2,000.
- Media Outreach: The Institute works closely with top technology publications and has developed release templates to ensure that each Graduate gets coverage in target blogs and publications when launching major offerings.
- Investment Support: The Institute has forged relationships with a dozen regional investment groups to fast track applications of Graduates, and the Institute has innovated in the creation of the Class F stock to protect Founders, the Plain Preferred term sheet for fair investments and fundraising guides. When ready, the Institute works with each Graduate to secure key meetings with appropriate local investors.
- Events: TheFunded operates a series of events to assist seed stage companies in exposure and fundraising, such as the quarterly Founder Showcase and the annual Future of Funding, and Graduates get special access, free tickets, prizes and other discounts.
- Alumni Network: Each Graduate joins a network that will include 300 meaningful and enduring technology companies in 2010, and the Graduates communicate through a mailing list and other tools to organize monthly alumni gatherings and discuss progress.
- Mentor Network: Graduates are invited to attend any session in any location around the world to meet one of the 200 top startup CEO Mentors, and Mentors regularly help Graduates that request assistance.
- Safe Haven: The scale of the Founder Institute encourages fair treatment of Graduates by investors and discourages service providers from taking advantage of Graduates with poor service and bad rates. The Institute proactively confronts investors and service providers that take advantage of Graduates.
- Credibility: The training and apprenticeship program offered by the Institute have helped Graduates secure investment, close partnership deals, find cofounders and win industry awards.
- 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.
There are other intangibles benefits. The Institute helps Graduates get exposure of new offerings across all enrolled Founders, sometimes as customers and other times as beta users. Graduates regularly meetup at large events and share information on different programs, business challenges and opportunities. Graduates even share workspace.