Founder Institute Bangkok
Yesterday marked the first official Founder Institute event in Bangkok. At HUBBA we got introduced to the local chapter of the largest Startup accelerator in the world. The place was packed to the roof, beer was flowing, and presentations were great, particularly the one by Tomas Laboutka, CEO of Hotel Quickly.
So what is the Founder Institute and why would you even consider joining? Founded by Adeo Ressi in 2009 it set out to globalize Silicon Valley and has done ever since quite successfully. Currently FI is running chapters in 55 cities all around the world and has spawned more than 1000 companies. FI prides itself not only with being the largest accelerator but also being one with the highest survival rate (self-reported 89.5%) and a huge creator of jobs (10k+).
FI’s concept is unique and makes it very attractive for Entrepreneurs. Unlike many accelerator and incubator programs, FI only requires participants to attend evening sessions, which means nobody has to quit the job, allowing participants to jump of a cliff with a parachute instead of going all the way. You can hit rock bottom nevertheless, since only 40% of the participants graduate from the program. In order to get in applicants have to go through an admission test and pay certain fees, which are moderate. As with most events there is something like an early bird (one week left for BKK). One would think that if you have to pay, getting in is easy. It’s not – only 30% of all applicants make it.
In order to be sustainable and financially healthy, FI has created a Graduate Liquidity Pool, which means that graduates have to warrant 3.5% of their company – which is eventually split between Graduates, Mentors and FI itself. 30% however go back to the Graduates which allow making money on your peer successes and encourages teamwork, and keeping in touch with other alumni. If a graduate raises significant funding he has to pay 4500USD tuition fee to the Institute, for it to grow and prosper. With a (graduate) network of significant size and prestige comes a plethora of other incentives, such as discounts, access to special networks, investment support and so on. Basically – there is always someone who can help you after graduation.
The FI curriculum is pretty straight forward and nothing too complex – in fact, it’s the basics you learn all over the world, Vision, Customer Development, Pricing, Naming, Positioning, IP etc. pp. The normal stuff really. But like with a Harvard MBA it’s less about content – it is all about who teaches and who is in class. The latter has to be determined the earlier we know. It’s basically everybody that is known to be a successful entrepreneur in Thailand. Everybody. Period. On the FI website are currently 16 mentors listed (among them half of Ardent’s Top Management) but I spoke with Charle Charoenphan and he told me that there are another 10 or so have confirmed.
Interesting about FI is that it runs kind of like a Startup itself – it’s currently in BETA and if the minimum batch size is not reached it won’t take place. The launch decision deadline is the 20th of October.
If you have the money, an idea and free evenings its worth considering application.