Founder Institute seeks start-ups - TechCentral

Founder Institute seeks start-ups

Odette Jones and Keith Jones

Odette Jones and Keith Jones

The Founder Institute, an early stage start-up accelerator with a presence in 35 countries, is coming to South Africa. The first 15-week programme will commence on 28 May in Johannesburg and the organisers hope to attract 30 to 40 participants.

Started by Adeo Ressi in the US, the Founder Institute model is being brought to South Africa by IT entrepreneur Keith Jones and human capital development specialist Odette Jones.

Keith Jones says the programme has already assisted in launching more than 650 businesses around the world since it began three years ago.

Interested parties can get more information about the programme and apply online and are required to complete an aptitude test that comprises a personality test and a pattern recognition test.

“We process the aptitude tests and score them. That’s the first cut. We’re selective about who gets onto the course, and expect a further 40% to drop out in the first half of the course,” Jones explains.

He says the incubation stage is the hardest for start-ups and the Founder Institute is focused on giving entrepreneurs the necessary tools and skills to succeed while also reminding them that “business is hard”.

The programme is challenging, he adds, but this accounts for a high success rate of those that complete it. Of those who graduate, Jones says “more than 80% will go on to get funding and become successful business owners”.

Successful applicants are expected to attend three back-to-back lectures once a week. The lectures are delivered by CEOs who have themselves created successful start-ups.

The programme costs US$950/person and the Founder Institute takes a 3,5% stake in graduates’ businesses. Of that 3,5%, 25% goes to the local directors of the programme, 30% goes to the mentors and lecturers, 30% is split between the other graduates, and 15% goes to the US arm of the programme.

“So, if you graduate, you get a 1% stake in other graduates’ businesses,” Jones explains. This model is “more to create hooks than to drive value” — it gives all parties a vested interest in one another’s success.

Jones says the Founder Institute is interested in any technology companies, not only online ones, although he expects those to account for the bulk of applicants.

“We’re interested in anything to do with technology,” he says. “It could be a garden sprinkler or some other physical product. It doesn’t have to be a Web-based business, but most of the opportunities today are online.”

There will be a number of “information sessions” before the programme starts in May. These will offer potential participants information regarding the programme’s criteria, costs, and expectations. The first of these will take place at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg next week.  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

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