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2023 is about to leave and shut the door behind itself, so it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. But before that, let’s have a healthy dose of retrospection. Reviewing which startup trends were most prominent during the last 12 months will help to outline the expectations for 2024. 

Here’s an overview of what happened at Founder Institute in 2023, the global themes we observed in early-stage entrepreneurship, and what might be lying ahead. 

Founder Institute Highlights

  • Growth - We operated in 174 cities and ecosystems, compared to 132 in 2022

Founder Institute ran more accelerator programs than ever, reaching diverse emerging markets.

  • Entrepreneur DNA Test Updates  

After over 14 years of research and 175K test takers, the Entrepreneur DNA Assessment has significantly advanced. Now, we have a huge amount of statistically validated data, and we decided to make the test public. Moreover, we added new use cases to it. 

  • Founder Showcase with HubSpot for Startups, Adrian Mendoza, and Gary Amaral

We never get tired of hearing the pitches of our grads, and this year, we were also blessed with exceptional keynote speaker appearances

February Founder Showcase with Adrian Mendoza Replay

June Founder Showcase with Kelsey Aina from HubSpot for Startups and Gary Amaral

  • FounderX Returned to Silicon Valley 

FI’s biggest community event, FounderX, gathered local leaders, alumni, mentors, and investors together in November

Have a sneak peek of our panel with Adeo Ressi, Jason Calacanis, and Peter Pham.

  • FI 50 for 2023 

Last but not least, we introduced the list of the fastest-growing FI graduate companies, divided by region. This year, we added two additional award categories - Rising Star and Startup of the Year.

Top early-stage startup trends in 2023

We’ve been running frequent startup events throughout the year, meeting the community, discussing entrepreneurship goals and challenges, and receiving invaluable feedback. 

Keeping our ears open allows us to identify what founders need and want to know in an ever-changing environment. It’s a true privilege, and in combination with analyzing the results of our marketing efforts, it enabled us to feel the pulse of time. 

What’s new with the popular startup topics, and what’s popular with the new ones?

  • How to raise funding

This question will always be in fashion. This year, we had a whole arsenal of startup experts, including investors and advisors, who helped find the  answer and shared their unique perspectives. 

You can find a compilation of fundraising advice in this webinar roundup article.

  • Pitching

All founders need to pitch on all possible occasions. Besides Founder Institute’s regular Pitch Practice event, we hosted multiple other webinars aimed at refining pitching decks and skills.

Here are the summaries of a few of them:

In The Pitch Toolbox Workshop, Dorothy Fulop shared her expertise in creating captivating pitch decks that stand out to investors. She emphasized the importance of a unique brand and a refreshing format. Dorothy also talked about narrative, clarity, and image-heaviness.

In the Art of Storytelling for Early Stage Founders webinar, Allen Martinez, the Chief Growth Strategist at Noble Digital, discussed the significance of storytelling in the success of startups. Martinez also mentioned why founders should be able to convey a clear value proposition, concentrating on user needs.

Startup mentor Lance Cottrell joined us to examine the fundamentals investors seek in a startup presentation. During the Pitching Principles event, he provided his proven five-step framework for building a pitch deck: gather information, focus on the key points, organize the information into a deck, practice presenting the deck, and make necessary adjustments.

  • AI 

So much is happening in the AI space that it has become hard to follow.  In this list, with your help, we tried to put together the most useful and accessible AI tools for early-stage startup founders. Indeed, it quickly became viral!

Furthermore, we organized educational events with some of the most competent AI and no-code specialists.

Find a recap of webinars on AI below: 

The co-founder of and FirstPrinciplesAI, Saroop Barjwani, was our guest speaker for the 10x Your Productivity with ChatGPT event. He delved into prompt engineering technology, different prompt writing strategies, and AI's future. 

In How to Use Midjourney to Optimize Your Visual Content, Drew Brucker, founder of Brainchild, explained the challenges teams face in finding and creating visual elements that represent their brand. He then demonstrated how to create various brand-specific visual elements with Midjourney. 

AI apps can be built even with no-code instruments, and Rodrig Naska proved that in the Build an AI App in Less Than 60 Minutes Without Writing Any Code hands-on session. He walked us through building a chatbot using Bubble and Chat GPT, emphasizing providing context when formulating AI prompts.

  • Go-to-Market Strategy

A winning Go-to-Market strategy requires consistent experimentation. There are multiple tactics for performing tests.

Get ideas from our webinar guest speakers:

Last April, we were joined by Daniel Francavilla, Director of Strategy and Partner at King Street Media, who hosted How to Create a Go-To-Market Strategy. He introduced major GTM aspects such as understanding the target audience, positioning, marketing plan, and customer journey.

Later on, both Greg Vasil, CEO and founder of ClientDrive Marketing, and Trevor Longino, owner of  CrowdTamers, covered a variety of GTM experimentation techniques in the webinars they hosted: 

Greg Vasil: How to Validate Your Idea with Only Facebook Ads and Landing Pages

Trevor Longino: Launching a Product in One Week, How to Create Facebook Ads, and more

2024 Startup Market Outlook

Finally, after careful consideration and data evaluation, we expect the above tendencies to further develop next year. Here is how this will look in a nutshell.

  • Fundraising - focusing on traction and showcasing progress before raising funds.

Check your metrics here

  • Back to basics - revitalizing startups’ specific narrative around team, vision, and traction.

Find resources on startup hiring here

Find resources on idea validation here

  • Pitching - storytelling and leading with the biggest advantage.

  • AI - utilizing AI to improve efficiency with limited resources.

We're excited to witness the unfolding of events in 2024 and discover fresh trends that are currently beyond our foresight.

Until then, enjoy the holiday season!

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The Founder Institute is the world’s most proven network to turn ideas into fundable startups, and startups into global businesses. Since 2009, our highly-structured accelerator programs have helped entrepreneurs raised over $1.75BN in funding across over 200 cities worldwide.

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