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Founder Institute Sydney opens doors for start-up applications

Monday, 21 November | By Oliver Milman

A Silicon Valley training and networking scheme for start-ups has opened up applications for its new Sydney chapter, aiming to attract 30 budding entrepreneurs to the program.


As StartupSmart reported in October, the Founder Institute is moving its entrepreneurial model to Australia, with a Sydney branch set to launch in February.


The concept, originally created by entrepreneur Adeo Ressi in Silicon Valley in 2009, involves tech start-ups taking part in a 14 week “semester” to prepare themselves for the business world.


The scheme will cost successful applicants $1,000 each, subject to an entry test. More than 30 mentors will be on hand to provide advice on topics including finance, HR and international expansion.


On top of this, participants that raise more than $50,000 within 18 months of graduating are obliged to pay $4,500. Also, entrepreneurs have the option of selling 3.5% of their business to the program directors and fellow alumni.


Entrepreneurs have been encouraged to put their names forward following an “Ideation Bootcamp” in Sydney, which featured more than 80 attendees working through their ideas with experts including Shoes of Prey founder, and StartupSmart blogger, Michael Fox.


The Founder Institute’s expansion to Sydney comes after the launch of several chapters across the world, including Singapore, Brussels, Amsterdam and Paris.


Benjamin Chong, head of the course in Sydney, says that the US headquarters will help with providing mentors.


“We want to help start-ups take that next step and equip them with the skills they need,” he says.


“Entrepreneurs may be working full-time and incubating an idea in their spare time. Sometimes, they won’t be sure if they’ve got the right education, so we want to help with that.”


“We want folks who are persistent and have a desire to push their ideas forward. They have to be able to work well with other people too. We want complementary skills and a good team environment.”


Chong denies that the recent explosion in start-up incubators and accelerators in Australia undermines the need for a program such as the Founder Institute.


“No other programs focus on education for a 14 week period,” he says. “I’ve spoken to Pollenizer and Startmate who have said that the graduates could well be a perfect fit for their programs.”


“I see it as complementary to what else is out there, rather than competitive. We need to work together.”


For more information on the program, click here.