Pre-seed startup accelerator Founder Institute is seeking applicants for its first Columbus cohort. The founder-focused program is active in more than 180 cities across the globe and making its way to Central Ohio at the hands of Co-Chapter Directors Neil Collins and Chase Petrie.
After seeing the success of the program in Cincinnati, Collins thought, “We really need to bring this to Columbus; it really fills a void that exists here.”
That void exists in resources for early-stage startups. Both have seen it first-hand. Collins runs Innovate New Albany, and Petrie is an analyst at LOUD Capital. LOUD Co-Founder and Managing Partner Darshan Vyas connected with Collins from his days working at Innovate New Albany and was interested in getting the venture capital firm involved.
“LOUD Capital recognized that there was not sufficient resources for early-stage founders given the number of early-stage founders that there actually are,” Petrie says.
In Collins’ mind, the more resources for startups, the better.
“If we have more options that can help people with either the itch to be and entrepreneur or a great idea that they want to bring to market, if we can offer them different options, different ways to do that, that’s better for both the entrepreneur as well as the startup ecosystem,” he says.
Aptly stated in its name, Founder Institute is focused on the entrepreneur versus the idea in its admission process. Collins says they, of course, hope that the idea the founder presents becomes a big success, but even if not, they’ve create a whole new generation of individuals that have been educated in the discipline of how to launch a tech or tech-enable startup successfully. It’s a great resource for a community like Columbus.
The intensive 14-week program includes a weekly session covering specific topics like vision and ideas, research and customer development, team building, branding and marketing, bootstrapping, fundraising and more.
“It is a structured curriculum that facilitates the process by which a founder takes an idea and commercializes it to the extent that it is scalable and ready for significant growth,” Petrie says.
Founder Institute sources mentors and subject matter experts to cover the various sessions. Petrie says the caliber of the mentor base is one of biggest benefits of the program.
Participants are also expected to complete extensive work outside the classroom. Homework assignments aren’t conceptual, they’re real-world tasks like generate revenue, develop an advisory board, or talk to customers. Entrepreneurs are held accountable – miss a homework assignment and there’s a one-week grace period to make it up before being being dismissed from the program.
Founder Institute ensures its participants are invested and ready to make the time commitment through an enrollment fee of $799 for early birds through November 4, and $999 thereafter. The final deadline for applications is December 16.
The Columbus cohort has room for 25-35 entrepreneurs. The programming is focused on pre-seed startups. Petrie describes it as companies ready to go from zero to one. Tech or tech-enabled companies are also the sweet spot.
“It doesn’t have to be a brand new patented technology, but something where you are using technology to enable a better solution in a given market or market segment,” Collins says.
Founder Institute kicks off with orientation in early January of 2019 and wraps up with graduation in April of 2019. Collins says graduation is the end of formal programming, but the beginning of what’s next.
“Now you’re ready to pitch to funders. Now you’re ready to pitch to key partners, employees,” he says. “All those people that it’s going to take to make your company successful over the long haul.”
That sentiment is exactly why LOUD wanted to get involved. The venture firm is often approached by businesses that aren’t ready for funding, and previously really had nowhere to send them. With some guidance, these organizations might be ready for a deal from from LOUD or other funders in town.
To learn more about Founder Institute attend an upcoming event:
- Thursday, November 15 – Startup Legal 101: Advice from Top Startup Lawyers
- Thursday, December 6 – Startup Pitch Bootcamp: Learn How to Pitch from Top Entrepreneurs