The Founder Institute

Aug 15, 2012 by

Founder Institute - Start Your Dream Company

Image from the Founder Institute website

Do you have an idea for a start-up technology business? Be accepted into the Founder Institute’s program and within four months you’ll have launched your new company and be pursuing the exciting, intense entrepreneurial dream. Or if you’ve already launched, the Founder Institute can help you succeed.

What is the Founder Institute?

From the Founder Institute’s website:

 “The Founder Institute is an early-stage startup accelerator and global launch network that helps entrepreneurs create meaningful and enduring technology companies. Through a part-time 4-month program, existing and prospective founders can launch their dream company with expert training, feedback, and support from experienced startup CEOs – while not being required to quit their day job. Our unique Graduate Liquidity Pool also enables graduates and mentors to share in the equity upside of each class, creating local, teamwork-based ecosystems where great new businesses can flourish.”

The Institute’s vision:

“Starting a company is an arduous and lonely journey, and technology entrepreneurship is a constantly evolving discipline. Early mistakes can be deadly. The Founder Institute aims to improve the rate of startup success by providing high-potential entrepreneurs with expert training, critical objective feedback, and peer support in the early stages of building a company.”

In a little over three years, the Founder Institute has helped entrepreneurs launch over 550 companies in 27 cities worldwide.

Here’s the essence of the Founder Institute program:

  • Takes place in worldwide locations, including this fall in Seattle and many, many other cities across the globe. (See worldwide schedule.)
  • Four-month curriculum covering topics ranging from “Startup Basics and Operation” to “Naming and Branding” to “Marketing and Sales” to “Fundraising.”
  • A roster of 900 mentors to whom program participants may have access.
  • A “Graduate Liquidity Pool”: Each Graduate contributes 3.5% of their company equity in warrantsto a 10-year Bonus Pool with other peers from the current semester. The Pool returns are then distributed as follows:
    • 40% goes to the Founder Institute, its Local Directors and Partners.
    • 30% goes to the Mentors, and each Mentor’s individual share is based solely on anonymous ratings received from the Graduates.
    • 30% goes back to the Graduates themselves – allowing them to earn returns based on both their success, and the success of their peers.

The cost for all this: $995, plus another $4,500 “if a company is successful and receives significant financing from third parties.” To me, this all sounds like an unbelievable opportunity and a fantastic way to launch a business! And I’m not getting paid to say so. 😉

How to Apply to the Founder Institute

You needn’t have a business idea or business experience to apply to the Founder Institute. The suggested self-screening applicant criteria are:

“Anybody who is passionate about building a technology company is welcome to apply: idea or no idea, full-time job or unemployed, young or old, male or female, experienced in business or straight out of school. We also support a wide range of technology industries: including digital media, software, biotech, cleantech, ecommerce, advertising, consumer electronics, and more.”

You can apply online. Be prepared to, among other things:

  • Explain why you want to be an entrepreneur
  • Give one idea for changing or improving the Founder Institute
  • Create a 120 second YouTube video introducing yourself, your passion, and your idea.

Applicants also take a “Predictive Admissions Test.”

About 30% of applicants are accepted into the program.

Program Results

The Founder Institute’s program is challenging, which is as it should be it seems to me. Fewer than 40% of participants graduate. The graduation criteria shed light on the seemingly low matriculation rate: To graduate, “a Founder needs to develop an engaging idea for a technology company that is validated by the program mentors, plan out the business, work on an offering, incorporate their company, and complete all of the required assignments – all within a four month timeframe.”

Based on my entrepreneurial and business experience, I’d say that’s a monumental task to get done in sixteen weeks. I’m amazed that nearly 40% are able to do it!

What Do You Think?

If you have entrepreneurial ambitions, would you consider the Founder Institute? Might focused curricula and training like that offered by the Institute take the place of costly higher education for many? Wouldn’t it be fun to apply and take the Predictive Admissions Test?

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