Founder Institute opens first accelerator program in Caracas

By July 7, 2021

The world’s largest pre-seed accelerator is making headway again in Latin America. The Silicon Valley-based Founder Institute will be opening its first-ever accelerator program in Caracas.

The inaugural Venezuelan program will take place virtually and applications are due by September for interested entrepreneurs in the country. The Founder Institute’s instruction relies on hands-on sessions where participating startups grow their businesses through expert feedback, collaboration with fellow founders, and a variety of course tools. The incentive-based model splits equity evenly among startups in a given cohort, resulting in entrepreneurs who are more willing to share and collaborate.

“Great companies are built through teamwork, through having a support network of people to help you throughout the entire process,” Founder Institute co-founder Jonathan Greechan says of his organization’s unique accelerator process. “Everybody in every Founder Institute cohort shares equity evenly with all of the companies that are created in each program. Everybody is incentivized to help you because everybody shares a bit of your equity.”

Jonathan Greechan

In just a little more than a decade, the Founder Institute has already helped more than 5,000 companies get nearly $1 billion in pre-seed funding. The group helps startups and their founders in every step of the pre-seed process, including turning their idea into a business and getting valuable expertise from a global network of mentors.

The Founder Institute already has dozens of programs that help get entrepreneurs and startups off the ground throughout Latin America, from Mexico down to Argentina. The accelerator has graduated hundreds of startups in the region that have raised more than $20 million total. In addition, the Founder Institute has around 2,000 mentors in Latin America.

Notable alumni include the Sao Paulo-based Play2Sell, a software firm that trains real estate managers through gamification models; Costa Rica’s Indigo Drones, which uses unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor agriculture; and Replik, a Mexican 3D printing company. They also count a number of impact startups — startups that have a positive impact on the environment or society engrained in their business models — from the area, including Brazil’s Polen, Peace Labs and Sol Lar.

Getting a startup going in Venezuela is not without its challenges. According to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, the South American country is the third most difficult place in the world to run a business. It speaks to the commitment and entrepreneurial attitude of so many Venezuelans that there is a record of successful startups that have come from the country. Startups like CityWallet have turned the lack of cash available in the country into an opportunity by creating an online payment system for parking.

The Founder Institute’s new chapter in Caracas will allow local entrepreneurs to get a better feel for the resources available to them in the country. As Venezuela looks toward recovery from the pandemic, bringing a stable source of funding to booming startups with revolutionary ideas will be critical.

The Founder Institute will host the following events this month in leading up to its premiere accelerator cohort in Caracas:

Once the Caracas Virtual 2021 Founder Institute program gets underway, the organization has brought on dozens of influential business leaders to share their tricks of the trade for up-and-coming businesspeople.

Sandy Gómez

Among those who will be participating in mentorship roles in Caracas are Aracelis Nass, the business program manager at Microsoft; Oscar Costero, the president of the board at Wikimedia Venezuela; and Sandy Gómez, the Founder Institute’s Caracas director. Gómez is a local startup leader in Venezuela who, along with José Acuña and Marco Villegas, was instrumental in helping open the Founder Institute’s Caracas chapter. 

Interested entrepreneurs in Venezuela can apply to the Caracas accelerator here. The Early Course Fee costs $175 if applications are received by August 15 and $199 if done by September 19.

Disclosure: This article mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company.