What are the minimum requirements to get in?
The Founder(s) must be working exclusively on their FI company
The company needs to have a functioning product (“Beta” version, at a minimum)
The company needs demonstrable customer demand or traction
Be willing to spend at least 25 hours per week for the next 3 months to raise seed funding
Your team has to be larger than two including yourself
How much time does it take?
Fundraising takes an organized and concerted effort. Weekly fundraising sprints will take a minimum of 30 hours+ per week. However, it’s not uncommon for fundraising to take upwards of 40+ hours per week, especially in the closing phase. If you are unable to realistically dedicate 25 to 40+ hours per week exclusiveley to fundraising in addtion to the time required to run your company, you will not be in a position to succesfully fundraise from professional investors. The majority of founders that drop out of Funding Lab do so because they are unable to dedicate the necessary time to fundraising.
Who is Funding Lab for?
The Founder Institute developed Funding Lab because many of our Alumni struggled to raise pre-seed and seed money due to an ineffective fundraising process. There are many nuances in the fundraising process that first-time fundraisers will need to get acquainted with.
To help, we meticulously developed a playbook based on many years of experience from multiple top Founder Institute mentors that provides founders structure and guidance to increase their probability of success.
You are in the sweet spot of Funding Lab if you are looking to raise a pre-seed or seed round from professional investors. If you are raising a friends & family round, you may be too early. If you are raising a Series-A round, we can work with you directly on this.
What is Funding Lab?
Funding Lab is a fprogram that's designed to help FI Alumni accelerate their fundraising process. The program is similar to the Founder Institute program and it will require a similar level of intensity.
Over the course of 3 months, the Alumni Success team will advise you through the entire fundraising process from material development to term negotiation and finally to close. During this time, our team understands that you will need answers quickly, so participants of Funding Lab get priority fundraising support.
How much does it cost?
The program is free and cost 0$ for Founder Institute Alumni companies.
What is the work like?
The program is fixed into 12 weekly fundraising sprints that take ~30+ hours each.
During the first 4 weeks, you will be developing your target list of investors, improving your deck and you will be developing your data room so that you can pass investor diligence. In weeks 5 - 9 you will be actively meeting 10+ investors a week and improving your materials based on market feedback. In weeks 10 - 12 you will be negotiating terms with interested investors and closing capital.
Throughout the entire program, you will use office hours to discuss your strategy with Founder Institute Headquarters (FI HQ).
Where will the sessions be held?
Funding Lab is a virtual program. We host a series of live and interactive webinars on various fundraising topics with various influencers. We cover topics such as best practices for developing your target list and the in-depth due diligence process of a VC.
Once you begin meeting investors starting in Week 5, we work to address your specific situation 1:1 via Office Hours and on Slack.
How will the Funding Lab team help me?
We help 100s of FI Alumni companies raise money every year worldwide. We provide you with advice on all facets of the fundraising process via webinars and office hours. You will receive extensive feedback on your pitch deck, investor target list, your data room, and your term-sheets. We will guide you through every step of the investor outreach, negotiation, and closing process.
Who will I be working with?
Mike Suprovici leads the program. He helps hundreds of Alumni companies raise money each year. You will set up regular office hours and you will be able to reach him on Slack. The Alumni Success team is frequently available for extended work hours. Your Local Leader (f.k.a. Director) is given a structure around providing support as well. In addition, various FI mentors are brought in to help.
How do I leverage the 11,000+ FI Mentor / Director network?
The Alumni Success team works to help you develop the best process to leverage the Founder Institute mentor network. The key here is for you to understand that connections cannot be forced and that is it ultimately your responsibility to generate interest, follow up, close the meeting, and build the relationship. Luckily, we can give you the best advice to make connections.
This guide on how to write a forwardable email introduction is a great place to start.
Will the Funding Lab team make introductions to investors?
In general, no, because Founder Institute Headquarters may not be connected in your specific local area. FI Alumni have a pretty solid head start in this area because most of your local mentors and leaders are either investors or know investors.
Can I raise funding outside of my local area?
Yes, however, the earlier your company is in your startup's lifecycle, the closer that investors want to be to your company. As a result, the majority of companies that enroll in Funding Lab raise their rounds from investors in their local eco-system.
How does Funding Lab cater to different fundraising environments?
FI Alumni have successfully closed their rounds in most of the startup ecosystems worldwide. As we are on the 15th iteration of Funding Lab, we have gained nuanced experience working with Founders in emerging markets with inexperienced investors. The team at Founder Institute Headquarters as well as your Local Leaders will also help you navigate your local fundraising environment.
Why do I need to be working exclusively on my company?
This is not just a requirement of Funding Lab, but also for most professional investors. You must be working exclusively on your company to have a realistic shot at raising money from professional investors. If you're not full time on your company, you are shifting all the risk onto the investor. As a result, professional investors will not fund you.
What is the success rate?
The majority of companies that finish Funding Lab close investment by the end of the program.
How do I prepare?
You will need to dedicate a minimum of 25 hours per week to fundraising in order to be successful. We recommend that you begin to start delegating work to other team members so that you can make the necessary time for fundraising.
What happens when I drop out?
We will recommend that you come back to a future program. We run Funding Lab 3 times per year and we’ve had multiple companies successfully close their round on their second try.
What happens after the program?
By the end of the program, there is a high likelihood that you have hard-circled investors and are in the process of closing your round. From here, our team is available for continued support on anything regarding your business from your next funding round, to syndicating your latest press coverage.
Can I take the program if I’m not actively fundraising?
No. The most valuable asset that you have as a founder is your time. Fundraising is one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks that a founder can take on. If you’re not 100% committed to fundraising right now, this effort will be a massive waste of time and will severely affect your business in a negative way. If you are not making progress towards your fundraising targets, we will ask you to come back to a future program.