The Founder Institute is a unique program that focuses on founders instead of ideas, and helps founders and companies get to traction and funding at the pre-seed stage. As a result, we approach admissions very differently than other startup organizations.
Read about our unique admissions methodology below.
The Founder Institute is far more advanced than many educational, bootcamp, workshop, or free programs run by governments and universities, but is earlier-stage than seed-accelerators that provide funding and / or space for startup teams.
Aspiring Founders learn basics through courses or bootcamps.
Founders and teams get a business to traction / funding.
Teams with a product and traction/ funding prepare for seed funding.
Fast-growth startups raise a proper seed round of funding.
At the Founder Institute, we believe Great Companies Start with Great People, and the greatest variable in the success or failure of any company is its leadership. As a result, we focus on the Founder versus the idea in our admissions process.
While most seed-accelerators evaluate your product, company, or traction, the Founder Institute focuses on the pre-seed stage and instead looks for people and teams with the raw skills, experience, determination, and problem-solving skills to adapt and build a great company.
The Founder Institute is designed to help founders of tech or tech-enabled businesses and teams at the pre-seed stage. This includes;
After completing the written portion you are invited to take our Entrepreneur DNA Assessment which is our main criteria for acceptance.
We are serious about our belief that "Great Companies Start with Great People". In fact, we have been working with leading social scientists since 2009 to develop a test that identifies people with the raw skills and personality traits conducive to entrepreneurship.
Through many years of iteration and calibrating the real-world performance of thousands of startups with the test results of their founders, we have developed online aptitude and personality tests that have proven to be over 85% accurate in predicting entrepreneurial success.
The Entrepreneur DNA Assessment is a required component of our admissions process, and the current iteration is online and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
There is no way to prepare for the test, however we strongly recommend you take the test in a quiet location with minimal distraction.
We do not share the raw results of the Assessment, because that is proprietary information. However, as part of a new beta test, you may be offered the opportunity to see an instant "Entrepreneur DNA Report".You can see a sample report here.
All applications to the Founder Institute are human-reviewed, so you will not receive an immediate answer. Our Admissions Team is based at our Silicon Valley Headquarters, and they are typically able to provide an Admissions Decision via email within 72 hours (this timeframe may be slightly longer over the weekend, or during U.S. holidays).
Admissions are done a rolling-basis, and every applicant is judged in comparison to the other applicants in their semester. Our Admissions Team uses the following review criteria (in order of importance):
Each Founder Institute semester has three deadlines. Deadlines for the Washington DC program:
Since all admissions are done on a rolling-basis, the earlier you apply, the greater your chances of acceptance.
The Founder Institute encourages founding teams to apply to the program, and a typical cohort contains roughly 40% teams, and 60% solo-founders. Founding teams can decide to send one Co-Founder, multiple Co-Founders, or all Co-Founders to participate in the program, but each Co-Founder must apply separately (noting the name of your company in your application, in the "Company Name" section).
Simply reply to any admissions email and we will quickly respond.
The Founder Institute is the world’s most proven network to turn ideas into fundable startups, and startups into global businesses. Since 2009, our structured accelerator programs have helped over 6,500 entrepreneurs raise over $1.75BN in funding. Based in Silicon Valley and with chapters across 95 countries, our mission is to empower communities of talented and motivated people to build impactful technology companies worldwide.