A few weeks ago, we decided to enrol in the program of the Founder Institute, dedicated to help young IT entrepreneurs to start their company. We tend to describe the Institute as a mix between professional training as sessions are given by professional of the IT sectors, mainly CEO, not by academics, and an incubator, as the expected result of the three-month program is a viable company - yours. Should you be in the same situation, here are some points that could help you to decide if the Founder Institute can help you.

Enrolling

Enrolment is based on a test, part SAT, part personality. The FI is very proud of a test that they tout as a very good indicator of someone capacity to succeed as an entrepreneur. In others words, people than pass the test tends to be successful in their business. They will also ask you to tell them something your passionate about, and why you want to be an entrepreneur.

Fee and bonus pool

The fee is around 900€. For something like 14 sessions given by professionals, it is not exactly expensive, and it is probably not much money in comparison with the day-to-day expenses you will soon face (like, your own remuneration). The FI has a rather complex "bonus pool" system, that can be summarized as:
  • You agree to give the FI a warrant on 3.5 % of your stock (when you will have stock).
  • That do not give them any voting right or any kind of power on your company.
  • They will only "exercise" the warrant when you're selling or going public - they will take the money at this time.
In other words: you are not giving away any control on your company, and this will 'cost' you money only if/when you decide to sell. 

Curriculum

Each weekly session is dedicated to a required step in your company creation process, such as ideas, market study, choosing co-founders, hiring, obtaining investments from Angels or VCs. Each one is given by one or more experienced CEO, which did start as you.

Assignments and Expectations

The program expects you to spend some 15h/week on it, in addition to the session themselves. Assignments are to be done between each, with ejection of the program as a sanction for not doing the required work. Some "milestones" are also set that you need to meet (such as being incorporated at a given date). The whole is hard and very fast paced - the discourse being:

people that do their work will succeed, others will drop.

The do/die approach is always present somewhere.

Some may argue that having "assignments" seems a bit "academic", when you're trying to create your own company, your way. It is, but the tasks that the FI sets for you are really useful (or necessary) for your business to succeed. Of course, it sets up constraints and deadlines that you would not have without - but this maybe a good thing.

Working group

Founders are split in small groups (5-6). The group will serve as your first line for help, support and critically feedback. You're expected to meet twice a week, and at least once in person. This quickly create a very strong camaraderie, as areas of expertise differ, which is very interesting. We're just starting, and my group has already helped me tremendously, and I look forward to our collaboration (inside or outside the FI).

We're still very new in the program, but this may give you an idea over what to expect. Finally, we think that the presence of the FI in Brussels is one step of the good direction, as are other initiatives, whether private or public, like Betacowork, IBBT programs, ABE support for entrepreneurs and Tech companies such as Software in Brussels, Betagroup, Microsoft Bootcamp among others. The region has a large untapped potential for innovation in the IT sector, and if support is still lacking, its dynamic makes us optimistic about the future.

Should you want additional information about our experience, you can contact us at info@8thcolor.com.