The Founder Institute remains committed to providing founders with the highest quality pre-seed accelerator program in the world, while also keeping everyone safe by recognizing regional health advisories.
To keep people safe and #StopTheSpread, we have moved all programs with start dates in Q3 2021 or earlier to a virtual format.
Founders in these programs are joining interactive feedback sessions with mentors over Zoom, collaborating with their cohort via Slack, leveraging our newly released Virtual Office Hours Tools to speak privately with mentors, using our existing backend course tools to build their business, and getting access to new benefits like weekly "AMA" events with Silicon Valley leaders.
If your program has been moved to a virtual setting, we are sure you have questions. Below is a collection of answers to the most common questions we are receiving, and you can learn more about our response to COVID-19 here.
Will the entire program be virtual?
As of May 13 we have announced that all programs with a start date in or before Q3 2021 will be fully virtual.
We anticipate that, for some programs, Local Leaders may decide to host in-person sessions after local governments and officials deem it safe. However, participants in these programs will still have the option to participate remotely if that is their personal preference. It is very important that want don't make anyone feel unsafe, or put their (or their family's) health at risk.
Is a virtual program as good as an in-person program?
We have already transitioned the program to virtual in 40+ cities around the globe (including our flagship Silicon Valley program), and the feedback has been very positive. The program quality is not changing.
In fact, Founders in programs that are going virtual will receive even more opportunities for collaboration, relationship building, and feedback when building their startup, such as;
- More Office Hours Opportunities with Local Leaders and Mentors, and early access to our newly released Office Hours scheduling tool.
- Weekly AMA ("Ask Me Anything") Conference Calls and Private Webinars with the Silicon Valley FI Headquarters Team (including Adeo Ressi, CEO of Founder Institute), so you can get even more answers to the biggest questions you have building your business across a variety of topics.
- Fast Track to our Post-Programs ("Founder Lab"), where you can work closely with our Silicon Valley HQ virtually to reach advanced milestones like raising a seed round of funding for your business.
- Free and unlimited global program access for life. As an FI Grad, you can attend any in-person program session in any city around the world at anytime (including any future in-person program in your city).
- In addition, we anticipate slightly smaller cohorts during this time period, will should increase the personal attention and feedback each individual founder receives.
Since the program is virtual, can I apply to and attend any program?
We reserve the majority of spots in every program for local participants. While sessions may be virtual, building a local network remains a large benefit of the program. Pre-seed and seed fundraising are almost entirely local. One of the main advantages that FI Alumni have is that many of the FI Mentors involved in their local programs are either angel investors themselves or know local investors. This gives FI Alumni a head start in this area. If you apply to a program other than the program in your local area we reserve the right to transfer your application to the program located closer to you.
Aren't economic downturns a bad time to start a company?
No. In fact, they are great time to start a company, and this is not just conjecture: the Founder Institute was founded in April 2009, during the "Great Recession".
Obviously, recessions are extremely challenging times for established businesses, and as a result, their contractors, partners, and employees. The macroeconomic and personal devastation caused by downturns cannot be overstated. They literally change the world.
However, if you are going to try to find a positive in the all the pain recessions cause, it is the opportunity for idea-stage, pre-seed, and nimble CEOs to quickly adapt and build products that resonate in the changing market. During a recession, large companies will move slow, talent is readily available, and the normal costs of real estate/ goods/ services is significantly lower. Many of the world's largest tech companies used these benefits to their advantage to launch and get traction during an economic downturn, such as Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Udemy, etc.
But isn't it hard to raise money from investors in a recession?
Yes, it is. Available money will be scarce, and the money that is available will likely have bad terms attached to it for the coming months (if not years).
But keep in mind that, even in a booming market, any professional investor will want to see a fully formed business, validated revenue model, full-time team, and initial traction before investing in your business. If you don't have all of these criteria right now, then this is the opportune time to work on getting them while the cost of doing business is so low. Then, when the market turns, you will be ready to capitalize.
Will I still be able to connect with mentors and other founders?
Yes. In addition to meeting your Mentors and fellow Founders on the weekly virtual sessions (which will take place on Zoom), you will get dedicated Slack channels and Zoom Rooms to effectively leverage working groups, sessions, and pitching opportunities.
Are you going to cancel programs?
Our virtual program sessions are a great experience for our founders and we do not anticipate cancellations. If an unexpected cancellation does arise, all Founders still enrolled in the program will of course receive a full refund on their course fee and be released of any other contractual obligations.
Should I postpone until the next cohort to have the in-person experience?
That is a personal decision, and we are happy to defer your acceptance to a future cohort. However, please keep in mind that we cannot guarantee when the next cohort will take place, or if that cohort will be in-person or virtual again.
What if I don't think a virtual program is right for me?
In our opinion, COVID-19 will fundamentally change how the world does business. Once the pandemic is contained we will not simply "go back to normal". Instead there will be a "new normal", where remote networking, management, and collaboration will play a significantly larger role than before the pandemic.
Even if you don't think a virtual FI program is right for you, we strongly recommend you adapt to doing business and collaborating remotely (you likely will have no choice).
If the public events are virtual, does that mean the core program is as well?
We will keep all events and sessions virtual for as long as needed to ensure founder, leader, and mentor health and safety.
Will COVID-19 affect my company operations?
Building a global company in 2021 requires a strong understanding and framework of virtual operating systems, all of which the Founder Institute has been leveraging for 10 years of global growth. We are here to help you build the best foundation for your startup for the future.
How can I get answers to more questions?
We understand you may have questions, so we have many options for you to get them answered. You can check our general program FAQ, or get in touch with us in any of the following ways: