Accelerators

Experience with Founder's Space accelerator in San Francisco?

Steve Sheehan Founder at launchU

September 2nd, 2014

Our startup has been accepted into an accelerator called Founder's Space. It seems to be a relatively new program, so I was hoping to connect with companies and founders who have participated to get an idea of their experience. Thanks!

Daniil Brodovich Cofounder and CEO at TalkToChef and Marketing Strategy Consultant

March 6th, 2015

I've been involved in the first batch of startups, then visited most of second batch meetings (we could do that), and now occasionally visiting the space seeing training of other batches. I can say for sure that the program is evolving and improving each time. Steven as an ex-entrepreneur takes feedback very seriously and iterates till the best satisfaction of people who he is doing this for - entrepreneurs.


All of the instructors were entrepreneurs or work closely with them during their life, so have great first hand experience to share. At the same time, we had guest speakers coming every week who were either the experts in a particular field, either investors who were looking to share what they are looking for and learn more about Founders Space's startups. There are no limits to learn if you are proactive enough and would like to follow up with instructors and guests anytime during the program or even after you graduate. This perfect synergy of in house support and a warm introduction to the outside entrepreneurial world makes the program so successful. 


Outside of most other programs, where there is a strict week by week schedule with certain deliverables, Founders Space mentors are very flexible and they tailor their course around your particular needs. They help not like teachers, but more like consultants who want to maximize value for the time with them. The success of such approach results in a number of investments to startups which graduated from Founders Space. One of these startups was TalkToChef.com, which received its next round of financing right after graduation from Founders Space. Mentors, including Steve were very supportive, helping with valuable advice through the process of negotiation. 


One of the unique advantages of the program in support of not only the current batch of startups, but also alumni. Even after you graduate you can always reach your mentors and use the coworking space if needed. I use the space relatively often when there is a need to stop for a few hours between meetings in the neighborhood. Since Founders Space conveniently located just next to the Caltrain station, what is pretty much between two worlds San Francisco and Silicon Valley. 


PS: wasn't sure where should I add it, but Steve Austin, an Instructor at Founders Space, is one of the most inspiring individuals and the best salesman I've ever met.

Edward Heywood CEO of Waffle. MSc Imperial College Business School Graduate. TedX Speaker.

September 4th, 2014

Hey guys,

I'm updating my post to reflect my complete experience with Founders Space so far. This replaces my previous post (which is now outdated). When I joined Founders Space, they'd recently launched their accelerator and it was a brand new program.  Naturally, there was a learning curve as they got it off the ground.

The first thing that struck me was they only offered sessions 1 to 2 days per week, which I felt wasn't enough.  I'm happy to say that has changed.  They sent me their latest schedule, and it's far better, they have classes and/or mentoring sessions almost every single day now.

The other thing that bothered me was they didn't offer a Demo Day when I joined.  Apparently, this was an experiment. Steve Hoffman (the program director) honestly believed that Demo Days distracted the startup founders from focusing on core business issues.   I'm happy to say that immediately after other startup founders and I complained, they started doing Demo Days for all their batches.

Unfortunately, I had to fly back to the UK, so I couldn't take advantage of this. To Founders Space's credit, they said I could pitch to investors at a future Demo Day when I'm back in Silicon Valley. Founders Space also has a policy of letting founders tap back into any mentoring sessions and workshops whenever they are in town. I'm not sure if any other accelerators do this, but it's very founder friendly and a good feature other accelerators should adopt.

All in all, I believe Ycombinator, Tech Stars and 500 Startups have a head start on Founders Space. They've been around much longer and have dedicated funds. But Founders Space is working hard and really listens to its founders, so if they keep this up, they are in good stead to catch up with the big guys.

Steve Hoffman Captain of Founders Space

February 16th, 2015

Hi Leena,

Unfortunately, we haven't actually met and you haven't been through our program.  I'm not sure why you have such a vendetta against us.

As I mentioned, I'm happy to have you come and observe our program to see how it runs. I can also connect you with our instructors so you can chat with them. In addition, if you'd like to come to any of our events or seminars, just let me know.

To set the record straight, we experimented with pricing models after we launched. This is the lean startup method. We wanted to find out what worked best. 

Draper University, Founders Institute and many other programs charge fees and have varying models.  It's quite common in Silicon Valley.

Again, you should at least take the time to come meet with us before leveling such extreme criticism.  It's a shame you haven't even bothered to visit Founders Space once.

Steve Hoffman

Steve Hoffman Captain of Founders Space

February 15th, 2015

Hi Leena,

I wish you would have actually participated in our program or at least come to meet with us, so you could see what we do and how it works. You are assuming so many things which are not true.

I'm not sure where you got many of your facts from, but I'll try to set the record straight below...

First, read what our graduates have to say about our program:

http://www.foundersspace.com/category/feedback/

They actually participated in our program and can give you a good feel for what we actually do.

Next, let me answer your concerns:

1) Our model is pretty simple. While most accelerators take 5% - 10% equity, we take 5% or less depending on the stage of the startup. A startup can also opt to pay a fee and less equity. It's entirely the startup's choice. After testing out a number of different models, we found this works best.

We have not run any 4 month programs. I don't where you got this from.

2) Our accelerator launched in the summer of 2014. Before we launched our accelerator, we spent 4 years educating startups and connecting them with top level advisors. We have a strong community that spans the globe with thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Our Facebook group alone has 10,000+ members.

3) Please take a look at our website, and you'll find an abundance of information about us, our mentors, and our program.

4) We do our best to respond to emails. I don't think anyone who has interacted with our team would say that we are unresponsive.

5) We list our graduates on our website. They are all clearly visible. You just have to look.

7) We don't have any sector preferences. On our blog, we occasionally mention sectors we think are hot. Like Y Combinator, we are open to all types of startups.

8) On our application form, we ask practically the same questions as Y Combinator and other accelerators.

You should at least take the time to come meet with us before leveling such extreme criticism.  It's a shame you haven't even bothered to visit Founders Space once.


Phat Le Co-Founder at LYFEBOAT, Inc. & EiR at Jaguar Land Rover

February 19th, 2015

Hey guys,

Back in December, I got invited to the Founders Space accelerator last minute. My co-founders and I were hesitant to go because we were still college students and we had finals the next week. Maybe it was boldness or maybe it was stupidity, but I skipped my finals to attend Founders Space and since then, I haven't looked back. It was one of the best decisions of my life and a key decision for growth and knowledge for my startup, LYFEBOAT. Now days, I'm taking some time off of school with my co-founders to pursue LYFEBOAT full time. I believe that being part of such a great accelerator was key in laying a great foundation for all of us as founders.


Let me be clear from the very beginning, if you want an accelerator that's easy or slow and boring, then this is not the one for you. If you're looking to be taught by some of the most experienced people in the industry and you're not afraid to be called out for your BS then this is the place for you. The value of this program is far more than what we paid for and continues to give back time and time again through their mentor pool and through the amazing people we met. Founders Space started teaching us before we even got to San Francisco through their members-only emails that give you great book summaries and through their online learning course. Steve Hoffman (Captain Hoff) and Naomi Kokubo have outdone themselves in creating such a valuable program for such a short amount of time that it runs. They brought in some great Venture Capitalists, Angel investors, marketers, and coaches.


Through the teaching of some of the mentors there like Scott Gray and Steve Austin, I have learned a lot in the two week boot camp (unfortunately they only had the two week boot camp during December, I wish I could have stayed longer). Scott was powerful in teaching me how to pitch effectively and how to understand the fundraising aspects of early stage startups. Steve did a great job in teaching us growth hacking, business strategy, and financial complications; everything a tech startup needs to understand.


The two weeks were packed with back-to-back classes, some of which ran over time but NONE of the participants complained because we were all taking so many notes and completely engaged. Nothing was sugar coated either, Steve and the speakers they brought in had no problem calling us out when they felt like we weren't doing something that made us our best. I saw people who walked in there and could not speak in front of a crowd to delivering powerful pitches during the pitch event. All of this value is still valuable to this day because once you are part of Founders Space you are always invited to attend their future classes and you get a great startup kit with all the legal documents and tools your startup will need to survive. I look forward to going back to Founders Space and work in their huge workspace that's right in central SOMA. If you have any questions at all please feel free to reach out to me. Cheers.


Phat Le

Mael Caldas CEO & Co-Founder at bkper Inc.

February 3rd, 2015

Hi Leena,

Didn't you receive any response yet?

Cheers,
Mael