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Throughout the Founder Institute's storied 14+ years in existence, we've been proud to be supported by our Local Leaders who work tirelessly to turn talented individuals around the world into top entrepreneurs. However, one of our Local Leader Has continuously proven his dedication to the Founder Institute's credo that "Great Companies Start with Great People".

That Director is Erdinç Ekinci

In the realm of entrepreneurship, few individuals embody the spirit of innovation and collaboration as profoundly as Erdinç.

With a career spanning over a decade in international business strategy, Erdinç has cemented his role as a key figure in fostering startup ecosystems across multiple continents. From his early days to his current ambitions of launching a venture capital firm, his journey is a testament to the power of resilience and strategic foresight. In this exclusive interview, Erdinç shares insights into his professional path, personal growth, and the lessons he's learned along the way.

In fact, while we currently operate chapters in over 180 cities worldwide, along with Yuli Shein, Erdinç launched the first ever Founder Institute chapter in Korea and Japan.

Erdinç's Professional Background and Key Achievements

Erdinç's career is a mosaic of significant accomplishments and strategic roles. As the Co-founder and CEO of OpenFor.Co, a Global Partnership Accelerator born in Silicon Valley, he has driven the company to a nine-figure impact by leveraging partnerships that span the globe. His role as Managing Director of the Founder Institute in Japan and Korea showcases his knack for adapting and scaling business models across diverse cultural landscapes.

"Helping founders build, validate, and scale impactful startups by utilizing partnerships," Erdinç begins, "has been both a passion and a vocation." His efforts have directly contributed to the launch and growth of 29 startups in less than two years, a feat achieved through building a robust mentor and partner network from the ground up.

When asked about what makes him unique, Erdinç highlights his expertise in "go-to-market partnerships and startup ecosystem development." His approach is deeply rooted in community building, which has been essential in navigating and molding thriving startup environments.

Challenges and Discipline in Early Career

Reflecting on the start of his career, Erdinç recalls the myriad challenges he faced, from financial constraints to the difficulties of integrating into the startup community from his home country. "I took those challenges very seriously and built a company by completely bootstrapping," he states. This early experience laid the groundwork for his disciplined approach to business and personal growth.

Developing Expertise and Overcoming Obstacles

Erdinç's expertise evolved through hands-on experience with startups, where he started with basic support roles and gradually moved into more strategic partnerships and roles. "I started working with startups very early in my career, progressing from simple collaborations to more serious partnerships over time," he explains. This incremental growth has been pivotal in shaping his success and ability to coach other entrepreneurs.

Coaching Founders on Growth and Navigating Obstacles

Erdinç's firsthand experience with the early stages of startup challenges gives him a unique perspective when coaching founders. "I've had their challenges already at the most painful stage of building a startup," he notes. This empathy and understanding allow him to provide valuable insights and guidance to entrepreneurs navigating similar paths.

As a Co-Director for the Founder Institute's chapters in Japan and Korea, Erdinç has observed unique challenges and opportunities in these diverse ecosystems. "Main challenges are language, culture, and mindset," he notes. His tailored mentorship approach, combined with a collaborative ethos, has helped many startups overcome these hurdles and succeed internationally.

Erdinç emphasizes the importance of communication and adaptation for entrepreneurs looking to scale their businesses. "Talk with your customers, seek collaborations to understand their problems easily, and offer solutions rapidly," he advises. Being open to change and adjustment is crucial in the dynamic world of startups.

If you could benefit from Erdinç's startup expertise, apply to the Founder Institute today!

To sum up, Erdinç's journey through the realms of entrepreneurship and global partnerships is a powerful narrative of ambition, adaptability, and the relentless pursuit of growth. His advice and experiences offer invaluable lessons for any aspiring entrepreneur or business leader looking to make a mark in the global startup ecosystem.

"To early-stage founders, always talk with your customers! Utilize partnerships and collaborations as early as possible," Erdinç concludes, offering a timeless piece of advice that resonates across all stages of business development.

Learn more about Erdinç on his LinkedIn page.


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The Founder Institute is the world's premier pre-seed accelerator, with chapters across 200+ cities and Graduate companies that have raised over $1.75BN in funding. The company's mission is to “Globalize Silicon Valley” and empower communities of talented and motivated people to build impactful technology-enabled companies worldwide.

Learn more about running an FI program at, or apply to build a business with the Founder Institute at

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