Founders Embassy Unlocks Silicon Valley For International Founders

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Published in Hackernoon

It’s time to democratize access to Silicon Valley. That’s why we started Founders Embassy. It’s the first accelerator with the mission to give international entrepreneurs the connections, capital, and know-how to build successful companies here or at home. Too often, these resources are reserved exclusively for privileged founders with Ivy League educations who look like the last crop of big CEOs. So we’ve launched an equity-free two-week bootcamp-style accelerator in San Francisco that gives top global startups an entryway to the epicenter of technology.

Our program, which has its first class of startups coming May 30th, 2018, provides three primary categories of support: Financial Capital, Human Capital, and Social Capital.

Startups experience a packed daily schedule of workshops and events. They learn the ins and outs of raising their next funding round, from which milestones to focus on to pitching venture capitalists to negotiating deal terms. Our founders meet with experts on hiring, immigration, legal, management, engineering, sales, and growth to give them an operational edge. And through personalized mentorship sessions and after-hours social gatherings, they’ll the build a community to help them throughout their startup journey. It all culminates in the Founder Embassy’s Borderless Summit on June 5th, where they’ll enjoy talks from from Silicon Valley heroes and pitch their startups to a crowd of A-list investors.

Founders Embassy is designed for post-seed, pre-Series A startups who have solidified their product and are gaining significant traction. It’s unique in that it doesn’t take equity from the participating companies, and instead charges a sensible cash fee. Nor does it require a lengthy stay, as the opportunity cost of leaving a team back home can be significant. The companies selected aren’t looking for $50K or $100K checks to get started. They’re looking for assistance preparing to raise two, five, or ten million dollars in their next round. TechCrunch european Editor-At-Large Mike Butcher wrote about us, noting that “Most accelerators take a significant amount of equity, which, if a company is valued at something reasonable like $30 million dollars, that equity amasses to a significant amount of money for those companies. By [Founders Embassy] offering startups a chance to pay cash to be introduced to the Valley ecosystem instead, they get to keep their equity.”

Each class’s program is tailored to the specific industries and needs of the startups involved. We recruit thought leaders and match mentors for each company so they can benefit from the deep experience of leaders in their vertical, from logistics marketplaces to augmented reality to on-demand transportation. Beyond the hard skills, they’ll also learn the norms and tricks of Silicon Valley. That means how to win at the delicate dance of networking hustle, as well as what investors or partners to trust. Plus, the founders will get to build life-long bonds with their fellow Founders Embassy peers as part of a club that will grow year after year.

To truly build for everyone, the tech industry must embrace a diverse range of perspectives. As two female founders ourselves, Andee Gardiner — an Irish citizen, and Anastasia Crew — a Russian immigrant, we’ve seen how hard it can be to break into this scene. We previously ran C100, Canada’s top accelerator that brought the country’s best new companies to San Francisco to raise money and receive guidance. But while running over 50 events together, we discovered that every country had entrepreneurs that needed a bridge to Silicon Valley. For investors and governments looking to stimulate job creation, overlooked international startups are tomorrow’s growth opportunity.

MEET THE FOUNDERS EMBASSY SUMMER 2018 CLASS:

Our inaugural program welcomes a remarkable set of founders from all over the world. These startups are tackling serious challenges in their respective countries and developing solutions that are applicable worldwide. All are post-seed funded with teams ranging from 4 to 15, and they’re ready to take their companies to the next stage:

• Load-Me (Dubai, UAE) — An online marketplace for transporters that connects load owners with available trucks in their area.

• BUSSI (Mexico City, Mexico) — The vanpooling platform for commuters that creates crowdsourced routes to build reliable on-demand transportation.

• Backpacker College (Toronto, Canada) — Backpacker College is in the business of helping colleges, universities and professional accommodation providers market vacant beds for travelers to book, and help them find and share great local experiences.

• Myra Mirrors (USA/Poland) — Myra Mirrors seeks to redefine augmented reality, and change the way developers create apps for smart surfaces.

• STEMN (Sydney, Australia) — The Open Source Network for Science and Engineering. Cloud native developer tools for team collaboration.

How does it work?

International founders are encouraged to apply for the program on the Founders Embassy website. Applications and interviews are reviewed by a selection committee made up of Silicon Valley-based VCs, founders, and executives with experience in evaluating companies at the post-seed stage. Selected founders are then invited to participate in the program along with up to one member of their team, during which the founders live under the same roof in the heart of San Francisco for two weeks.

For the Summer 2018 class, Founders Embassy will bring founders to unique spaces throughout the city. Sessions will take place at venues including Bespoke, Covo, 500 Startups, WeWork, and Runway. Here, they will meet with their matched mentors and participate in investor roundtables and workshops led by our thought leaders. Examples of workshops include “Demystifying Silicon Valley”, “The Art and Science of Building Your Network”, “How to Grow Your Startup — The Foolproof to Finding Product-Market Fit”, “Scaling International Sales Teams…on a Startup Budget”, “Building Strategic Partnerships”, “Market size from a VC perspective”, and more.

In addition to their two-week stay, they’ll get a “demo day”-style pitch on stage at our Borderless Summit on June 5th in front of over 75 Silicon Valley-based investors, plus other founders and executives from the Bay Area’s most reputable companies.

The full-day Summit lineup will include Robinhood Founder Baiju Bhatt, Twitch Founder Justin Kan, Indiegogo Founder Slava Rubin, Omni Founder Thomas McLoed, Zum Founder Ritu Narayan, and Anomalie Founder Leslie Voorhees Means, among others. Partners from Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia, GGV, Social Capital, Village Global, General Catalyst, Off the Grid and Plexo Capital will also join us on stage. Programming will address provocative topics and challenges that the global startup community is currently facing from conversations on the current political landscape and cross-border collaboration to fundraising opportunities, disruptive technologies, and emerging markets. Panels and fireside sessions include: “Diversity in VC”, “Investing in International Founders”, “How to Attract Customers”, “Establishing an International Supply Chain for Under $1,000”, “A Playbook for New Market Expansion”, “The Blockchain Means Global Equality of Opportunity”, “Avoiding Human Capital Mistakes”, “Urbanization and the Sharing Economy”, “Capital-as-a-Service: Democratizing Venture Through Data”, and others including immigrant founder’s stories, startup demos, and a comedy show as a part of the closing cocktail reception.

What’s next?

The next Founders Embassy class will land in San Francisco this fall and applications are currently open here. Companies are not required consider relocation to the US and applications are welcome by both international founders as well as immigrant entrepreneurs already residing in the US.

Great startups come from everywhere. We want to give them their best shot at making an impact. If you want to help us build a more inclusive Silicon Valley, apply to become an official Founders Embassy Thought Leader here.

Apply for the Founders Embassy Fall 2018 class or recommend a company here.

Propose a workshop or talk here. Inquire about sponsorship opportunities here.

Andee Gardiner