A group of colleagues and I have decided to take the plunge and launch the Cincinnati chapter of Founder Institute. The Founder Institute is the world’s premier idea-stage accelerator & startup launch program. For talented entrepreneurs up to the challenge, our comprehensive step-by-step program provides the structure, mentor support, and network of entrepreneurs needed to start an enduring company.
Based in Silicon Valley and with chapters across 60+ countries, the Founder Institute’s mission is to “Globalize Silicon Valley” and build sustainable startup ecosystems worldwide.
Strategic Position in Cincinnati Region
We looked at the regional StartupCincy landscape and determined there was a gap in the systematic development of investment-worthy founders. Nearly all of the existing accelerator programs are “idea focused” as opposed to targeting the founders themselves as they look to make the leap from employment to entrepreneurship. While some of the ideas may be okay, the existing programs are clearly having trouble trying to bring founders up to speed on what is necessary to start and build a company. This requires a comprehensive curriculum, one that takes a lot of time and effort to create. In fact, there’s no reason to re-create the wheel when Founder Institute has launched over 2,000 companies globally.
Identify and Develop Entrepreneurial Talent
The other strategic aspect is a way to identify and develop entrepreneurial management talent in the region. This is probably one of the biggest gaps in any region trying to develop new companies or even attract existing, fast-growth ones to the area. Founder Institute requires all applicants to take a pretty hefty test to gauge their Entrepreneurial DNA. It’s a combination of fluid intelligence skills along with a “MBTI on steroids” assessment. The combination is an extremely powerful tool to help predict outcomes. When combined with the comparative analysis of companies launched and success, the predictors are amazingly accurate.
The Founder Institute Program
We graduate each new company who completes the program with a $1 million valuation to represent their sweat equity. We do this through our warrant agreement structure, where founders agree to pledge a small percentage of warrants in their new company to the Founder Institute warrant pool. This is also a pretty unique aspect of Founder Institute because the warrant pool is actually shared among founders in the cohort, mentors, directors, and Founder Institute HQ. This shared warrant pool creates community support and a cooperative environment as opposed to how many accelerators operate as a zero sum game of competitive “one upsmanship”.
Goals For Founder Institute Cincinnati
Our goal is to recruit new entrepreneurs, get them into the program, and graduate as many as possible into the StartupCincy ecosystem for further development. I will be pleased as can be to create 15-20 new companies annually, which is my personal target as managing director. Based on our goals, we will be creating $15-20 million annually in new asset private equity value. The deal structure also level sets a lot of the companies coming into the ecosystem for angel investors, who are generally skeptical about huge pre-sales, pre-money valuations of $4-5 million in the mid-west.
The program is designed to transform would-be entrepreneurs into ideation/validation machines. It’s not about the idea you have today, it’s about the idea you have and validate in your market in three years that keeps you in business in eight years. All ideas have a market shelf life, but creating world class founders is the ultimate mission.
Some notable Founder Institute graduates…. Udemy.com, Realty Mogul just to name a couple. Approximately 80% of Founder Institute graduates are still in business after two years. Around 50% of graduates receive some form of capital funding. The numbers are solid. The program works.
If you are passionate about launching a company, then apply to the Founder Institute today