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The Founder Institute opens its doors for autumn program

Tuesday, 12 February 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

The Sydney branch of start-up accelerator The Founder Institute has opened applications for its autumn 2013 program, having enjoyed huge success since it opened its doors in late 2011.


The Founder Institute, founded by Adeo Ressi in Silicon Valley in 2009, is an early stage start-up accelerator and global launch network, which helps entrepreneurs create tech companies.


Through a part-time four-month program, existing and prospective founders receive expert training, feedback and support from experienced start-up chief executives.


In a bid to “globalise Silicon Valley”, The Founder Institute has set itself the ambitious goal of launching 1,000 tech companies per year in more than 50 cities worldwide.


Benjamin Chong, who heads up the Sydney branch, says applications are now open for the autumn 2013 semester, due to start in March.


The scheme will cost successful applicants $1,100 each, subject to an entry test. Participants who raise more than $50,000 within 18 months of graduating are also obliged to pay $4,500.


Entrepreneurs have the option of selling 3.5% of their business to the program directors and fellow alumni.


The program is aimed at “anybody who is passionate about building a technology company”.


It doesn’t matter whether applicants are young or old, male or female, experienced in business or straight out of school, have a full-time job or are unemployed, and have a business idea or not.


The program also supports a wide range of industries including digital media, software, biotech, clean tech, eCommerce, advertising and consumer electronics.


The final application deadline for the Sydney autumn 2013 semester is Sunday, March 3.


After completing the application, applicants will be invited to take a predictive admissions test, which is the main criteria for evaluating applicants.


“We’ll be taking somewhere between 30 and 40 in this round. The number of applicants we take is very much determined by the number who apply,” Chong told StartupSmart.


“Part of the application involves a predictive admissions test. In this test, we try to look for some factors that help predispose people to entrepreneurialism.


“The thing we like are people who have demonstrated some level of fluid intelligence. This is the ability to change your thinking or adjust your thinking as the rules of the game change.


“Another thing we like to see is a lot of extroversion… You don’t want someone who is such an introvert that they’re afraid of sharing with other people what they’ve been doing.


“Openness [is also important]. Are people actually open to new ideas, to suggestions, to feedback?”


In both 2011 and 2012, the Sydney program attracted more than 100 applicants, Chong says. This year, the only change in the program relates to mentors.


“We get a bunch of mentors to present and this time we expect there to be around 40 mentors,” he says.


“Because we’re quite transparent in mentors giving feedback [to the founders], we thought the founders should also get to rate mentors.


“We’ll be inviting a lot of the highly rated mentors back. We’re also going to be inviting a whole bunch of new mentors to help these founders make their businesses a success.”