The Founder Institute has a mission to "Globalize Silicon Valley" and launch impactful and enduring technology companies that create over one million startup jobs worldwide.

In order to reach this scale, for the last 14 years we have worked with leading social scientists to develop an objective "Entrepreneur DNA Assessment" that predicts the likelihood that someone can become a successful tech entrepreneur - regardless of their idea, locale or demographic.

Our research, which has been featured in The New York Times, CNN and Forbes, is described below.

Decoding the DNA

Decoding DNA Image

Talented people and execution are the ingredients behind successful technology companies, so to apply to the Founder Institute, you don't need to submit an idea. Rather, applicants take a 30 minute online assessment containing a battery of personality and aptitude evaluations.

To date, over 175,000 people have applied, and the Founder Institute pre-seed accelerator has helped launch 7,000 technology companies across 6 continents. Through evaluation of performance both in the accelerator and in the real world, along with frequent calibration, the assessment has proven to be very accurate in predicting entrepreneurial success.

What Makes a Good Entrepreneur?

We have found many traits that correlate positively with entrepreneurship. Here is a sampling of the major traits:

Professional Experience

You don't have to drop out of college to be a successful founder. Our data shows that 34 year-olds with domain expertise and management experience have the advantage.

High Fluid Intelligence

Can you quickly learn a rule set and apply it to solve a novel problem? With a constantly changing playing field, founders must recognize patterns and quickly adapt to survive.

High Openness

Are you constantly seeking new experiences and knowledge? Does your curiosity cause you to challenge accepted norms? The best entrepreneurs seek change - not the status quo.

Moderate Agreeableness

Can you balance cooperation with antagonism? Are you generally warm and considerate, but straightforward and harsh when necessary? The best equipped founders are flexible.

Bad Founder DNA

Some traits can limit you as an entrepreneur. For example:

Irrelevant DNA

Some major traits have no correlation with entrepreneurship, such as:


As surprising as it may sound, we have seen no correlation between I.Q. and founder success. So much so, we recently removed I.Q. from our assessment.


Conscientiousness measures the responsibility and industriousness of a candidate, but we have not seen a strong correlation with success.

See the full infographic here: English, Spanish and Russian

Want to see sample questions?

Learn more about our admissions process and see sample questions from the assessment at

Think You Have Entrepreneur DNA?

Apply to Take the Assessment