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The Founder Institute is proud to present the winners of the Startup Ecosystem Builder Awards, announced during the 16th Founder Showcase.

Our 300+ Founder Institute Directors are the backbone of the Founder Institute as they provided the passion, dedication, and support that helped launch more than 1,500 companies since FI was founded in 2009. These individuals have committed their time and energy to building their local startup ecosystem and help new entrepreneurs.

All of the local Founder Institute Directors below have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their local startup ecosystems in 2014, laying the foundation for promising founders to build enduring technology companies.

Best Director in LATAM & South America: Alan Colmenares (Managing Partner at Socialatom Ventures) started FI in Colombia when there was basically zero startup ecosystem, and now his grads have raised over $2M in funding across Bogota and Medellin.
Best Directors in EMEA: Ali Erhat Nalbant (Co-Founder and Head of Product for WeDecide), Ertan Atay (Business Consultant and General Manager for Azel Outdoor AŞ), and Kutlu Kazanci (Co-founder and Chief Sales Officer for WeDecide). Istanbul is a challenging market, but Kutlu and his team have run two successful semesters in Istanbul and launched several companies that are growing sustainably.
Best Directors in Asia: Andi Zain (Founder & CEO, PT Numedia Global), Novistiar Rustandi (Co-founder & CEO, HarukaEdu), and Sanny Gaddafi (Co-founder, 8villages). The Jakarta Founder Institute has launched some of the most successful startups in Southeast Asia since launching in 2012.
Best Director in Australia: Benjamin Chong (Partner at the investment firm Right Click Capital, and General Partner at the Sydney Seed Fund) has galvanized the Sydney startup ecosystem, started a fund, and is behind one of our fastest growing grads -, a company that makes every car a "smart car".
Best New Directors (Western Hemisphere): Aman Singha (Managing Partner for AQ Ventures) and Henri Duong (Founder & Chief Advocate at Kids In Code). Even though it is sandwiched in between LA and SD, Orange County is becoming a startup force, and these guys are behind the push.
Best New Directors (Eastern Hemisphere): Andrei Komarovski (Co-Founder, and Jane Smorodnikova (CEO, led a successful inaugural Founder Institute chapter in Saint Petersburg, graduating 11 promising companies.
Most Supportive Director: Jason Jacobsohn (Managing Director of Reliable Venture Partners) has helped launch over 50 companies in Chicago and is consistently one of the highest rated mentors for the support he provides companies both in and out of the program.
Most Innovative Director: Jeanine Jacobson (Co-Founder of FounderList) has helped launch nearly 100 companies, including some of our most successful companies like Realty Mogul. Her innovations, like requiring advisers in the program, have pushed founders in FI forward globally.
Best Directors in North America: Kamal Hassan (CEO of entrepreneurial management platform IncMind); Ilona Hassan (fashion entrepreneur); and Sunil Sharma (Managing Partner of Extreme Venture Partners). Toronto is one of our fastest growing markets, and the community of mentors and graduates the director team have built in just 12 months has been incredible.
  Most Innovative Graduates: Tuan Pham (Founder & CEO, TOPICA Education Group), Cao Cong Minh (Founder, Amazing English), and Cong Tran have been instrumental in launching two very successful Founder Institute Chapters in Vietnam, with amazing Graduates like Appota, Yton, and more.
Best Ecosystem Builders: Drazen Nikolic (Co-founder of Adrenalin Think Thank), Marjeta Vehovec (CLO for Kompare Online), Vanja Andric (Business Development Manager at Clover Studio), and Vladimir De Franceschi (Founder of De Franceschi & Associates) are building a thriving country-wide startup ecosystem in Croatia. 
Best Overall Director: Sergio Escobar (Global Facilitator, Startup Weekend) has led one of the fastest growing chapters in Founder Institute history, and is producing some of the fastest growing FI companies, like Makerbloks, Loggr, Heddoko, and more.

And let's not forget about all of the other nominated Directors, whose continued efforts in developing their local startup ecosystems deserve recognition.

  • Alain Baritault & Pierre Beyssac (Paris)
  • Allan Tan, Dale David, David Elefant & Jorge Azurin (Manila)
  • Bartos Canete & Esteban Almirón (Andalucia)
  • Ben Larson & Peter Tatischev (Silicon Valley)
  • Carla Tanas & Michalis Stangos (Athens)
  • Carlos DaSilva (Lisbon)
  • Cedric Delzenne, Leo Ku & Martin Kessler (Hong Kong)
  • Celeste North & Andres Bianciotto (Mexico City)
  • Claire Robertson & Estelle Oliveri (Perth)
  • Erik Cavalcante & Luis Novo (Sao Paolo)
  • Gabe Zichermann (New York)
  • Gary Gaessler, Adam Swiecki & Bradley Brown (Denver)
  • Heislyc Loh, Edwin Wang & Tzu Ming Chu (Kuala Lumpur)
  • Ignacio Castro, Randall Trejos & Vivian Arias (Costa Rica)
  • Jan Kennedy, Manfred Tropper, Markus Ortmann & Oliver Thum (Munich)
  • Jeffrey Paine & Alvin Yap (Singapore)
  • Kenshin Fujiwara & Narimasa Makino (Kansai)
  • Krating Poonpol, Benjamin Ranck & Charle Charoenphan (Bangkok)
  • Marcos Polanco, Ramphis Castro, & Sofía Stolberg (Puerto Rico)
  • Mari Suviste & Lauri Antalainen (Tallinn)
  • Maria Dykstra & Ram Valliyappan (Seattle)
  • Matt Allen, Sebastian von Conrad & Sally Gatenby (Melbourne)
  • Naveen Lakkur & Srikanth Bhagavat (Bangalore)
  • Pablo Ambram & Gonzalo Illesca (Santiago)
  • Peter Tatischev & Maria Adamian (Moscow)
  • Pieter Dubois (Brussels)
  • Rocky Liu & Yingpiao Gu (Shenzhen)
  • Roia Shefayee & Omar Ansari (Kabul)
  • Sascha Karstaedt & Didier Vermeiren (Berlin)
  • Satoshi Okuda, Thibault Danjou & Toshio Furuta (Tokyo)
  • LP Maurice (Montreal)
  • Srinivas Kollipara & Ramesh Loganathan (Hyderabad)
  • Urs Rothmayr, Oriol Bes & Juan Castilla (Barcelona)
  • Victor Chapela & Shai Rosen (Mexico City)

If you would like to be a leader in your local startup ecosystem, apply to become a Founder Institute Director today.

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