One of the largest startup launch programs in the world is planting roots in Dallas.
After a successful move into Texas last year with its Austin chapter, Founder Institute plans to expand its presence in the state with chapters in Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston. It already has about 200 chapters in more than 65 countries around the world.
Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Adeo Ressi and Jonathan Greechan founded the idea-stage accelerator in 2009 to focus on educating founders at the beginning of their business journey.
“By design, the program is to really instill this strength in founders such that when they leave they are really set up for success.”
Through the course of the program, founders receive help on formalizing their ideas into a business and building out their teams, so they’re ready to launch by the time of graduation — if not before.
“We consider it the cocktail napkin sketch of the idea,” said Martin Martinez, managing director for Founder Institute’s Austin chapter. “We take entrepreneurs that want to start companies right at that idea inception and we provide them with a very rigorous curriculum that’s structured in a way that challenges them to do an enormous amount of work over the course of three and a half months.”
And, it’s not easy.
On average, a class of 30 entrepreneurs might only see 10 or less graduate the program, said Martinez, who’s also leading efforts for the Dallas launch.
“By design, the program is to really instill this strength in founders such that when they leave they are really set up for success,” he said.
Martinez said many Founder Institute graduates are “healthy and thriving,” five years after they’ve left the program and more than 35 percent have “significant funding,” too.
Take Udemy, a San Francisco online learning platform backed by more than $173 million or Los Angeles-based RealtyMogul, a crowdfunder for real estate investments with more than $46 million in funding raised.
FOSTERING MORE COLLABORATION IN THE TEXAS TRIANGLE
With the Dallas chapter, Founder Institute is working to foster more connections between the Texas Triangle (Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio) and diminish the “competition and siloing of activity, resources, and talent,” Martinez said.
“When all the cities are working together holistically the state benefits as a whole and we’re thinking in much bigger terms,” he said.
The goal aligns with the ideas Josh Baer of Capital Factory put forth in The Texas Startup Manifesto, just at an even earlier stage.
“When all the cities are working together holistically the state benefits as a whole and we’re thinking in much bigger terms.”
“We love what Capital Factory does; they’ve definitely set the tone for Austin in terms of what it means to be in the startup world. What they’re doing up in Dallas is amazing, but we’re even more top of funnel,” Martinez said.
As an idea-stage accelerator, Founder Institute provides education in the ideation phase of the business process and yields entrepreneurs who might eventually end up in Capital Factory or other accelerators.
“If anything we’re doing them a service by providing an additional layer of resources to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs,” Martinez said.
DALLAS CHAPTER FINDS HOME AT GENIUSDEN
Details for the Dallas chapter are still being firmed up, but Martinez said will it be housed at GeniusDen Business Incubator in Deep Ellum and likely have its first cohort in early 2019.
President of the local shared office provider, Joe Payton, will serve as entrepreneur in residence for the Founder Institute’s Dallas chapter. Other local leaders will be finalized over the coming months.
“What the Founders Institute has a track record of doing is creating successful entrepreneurial ventures, so that in any city will contribute as a resource to founders …”
He believes the accelerator aligns with GeniusDen’s values to be a force multiplier, bring the future into the present, and interrupt cycles of poverty. It won’t take away from its current membership either.
“This is a great program on a starter, early-stage level because we haven’t typically been focused on that. We’ve been focusing on more mature, fast-growing companies,” Payton said.
As one of the local chapter leaders, Payton will help build a community of mentors for the program and host events to recruit aspiring entrepreneurs, Martinez said.
“What the Founders Institute has a track record of doing is creating successful entrepreneurial ventures, so that in any city will contribute as a resource to founders who want to do it, do it right, and get it right the first time,” Payton said.
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