Frequently asked questions

Preparing to apply

Do I need a team?

No - we work with individuals usually before they have a cofounder. EF spends hundreds of hours screening individuals to give you the best shot at finding the right cofounder. If you do have a cofounder or team we ask that each of you apply individually outlining your team status. We have had success working with pre-formed teams in the past, but EF is designed to be the best place to find a cofounder if you don’t have one. Read more about how we build teams here.

Do I need an idea?

No - you don’t need an idea to apply to EF. Insights, strong convictions and beliefs about the future are encouraged, though. If you do have an idea, that’s great, but its strength and weaknesses won’t affect how we assess your application. We care most about the size of your ambition. Read more about how we help you develop an idea from your edge here.

Can I apply if I’m non-technical?

Yes. 80% of EF cohort members are from STEM backgrounds and so usually have technical skills gained in industry or academia. This is because we believe the most defensible startups are ones which use applications of deep technology. If you don’t come from a technical background but have strong beliefs formed from working in industry we’d welcome an application from you. Some of our most successful companies have been built by cofounders with a combination of technical and domain expertise. Again, we care most about the size of your ambition.

I'm technical, and I don’t have any business experience in starting a company, can I still apply?

Absolutely - we’re strong believers that technically-skilled individuals can make some of the best founders. The EF team and your mentor will work with you to help you understand customer development, validate your idea and figure out go to market strategy. We’ll help you develop core founder skills every step of the way. You can view the backgrounds of some of our technical founder alumni here.

Can I apply if I have raised investment already?

You are still eligible to apply if you have taken a very small amount of investment or been awarded a grant. However, depending on the arrangement, it does sometimes prevent us from being able to invest in your company and therefore prevent us from offering you a place. We deal with these situations on a case-by-case basis and you should email [email protected] for more information.

Can I apply if I already have a team?

Yes, though we would still encourage every member of the team to apply as an individual and be considered on an individual basis.

Can I apply to the London, Singapore, Hong Kong and Berlin cohorts?

We recommend that you apply to the cohort located nearest to you, or where you have an existing connection.

Do I have to relocate?

Yes - EF is based in London, Singapore, Hong Kong and Berlin (whichever is closest to you). People we select relocate to join us from all over the world. We offer support to help you apply for a visa if required and to help you settle into the regions. There's no commitment to stay in London, Singapore, Hong Kong or Berlin after EF, though many of our alumni do.

Can I work on something else while doing EF or could I do EF part-time?

No. Building a successful company requires full-time commitment from day 1 and is almost impossible to do if you’re simultaneously working on something else. We fund you in order to enable everyone to be able to focus on EF without the need to work elsewhere. 

Is there a deadline to apply?

Yes - each cohort has a deadline to apply. You can view the next deadline here. If you've just missed out on the application window contact us at [email protected].

Selection Process

How do I know who’s in my cohort?

Many people considering joining EF attend our invitation-only events. If we make you an offer to join we’ll invite you to a cohort meetup and give you a login to your cohort dashboard loaded with everyone’s searchable profiles. We take cohort composition seriously - every offer is made based on degrees of likelihood that you’ll meet a suitable cofounder.

What happens if my application is successful?

If your application is shortlisted you will be invited to a phone interview with the EF team. From there we make an assessment to determine whether we’d like to offer you a place on the next cohort.

Can I defer my place at EF?

No - at this point we do not allow deferrals. There are two reasons for this; one is that each cohort is carefully composed based on the backgrounds and skills of the strongest applicants meet during the selection cycle for a cohort - this means we can optimise for strong cofounder combinations. The second is that we believe in urgency and not delaying building the company you believe should exist. You can read more about our thoughts on the opportunity cost involved in not starting now here.

Working with EF

Is there a restriction / preference for what I work on at EF?

No - we don’t tell you what to work on or give you ideas. We’ll facilitate teambuilding and ideation and have several frameworks and tools to help you reach the strongest founder-idea fit. We’re most interested in building companies which are technically defensible and can become globally significant.

How often do I see a Venture Partner (VP)?

On our Launch programme you will have a VP check in once a week. On our Form programme you'll also have a check in weekly with someone from the EF Form team. These check ins are a critical part of your development throughout EF and you will continue to meet with a VP regularly once you have left EF. See our VPs here.

What is a Science Partner?

Science Partners are field-leading academics who advise EF. Twice a year we host a dinner event for our SPs and invite a selection of relevant EF companies. This is a unique opportunity which can sometimes lead to one of our SPs becoming taking an advisory position in an EF portfolio company. You can view our Science Partners here.

Who owns my IP?

The company you create does. EF does not own any IP that belongs to your company. If you have further questions about IP or a current project you’re working on please contact us at [email protected]

Do you offer office space?

Yes - we have coworking spaces in London (Bermondsey), Singapore (Clarke Quay), Berlin (Lohmühlenstraße), Paris and Hong Kong which are accessible 24/7 to cohort members. The buildings have wifi, coffee and tea facilities and events space.

Does EF focus on any vertical/industry/type of technology?

No - we’re technology and sector agnostic. We’re most excited by applications of new and emerging technologies applied to hard or underserved problems. You can view our full portfolio of companies here.

What successful companies have you built?

To date EF has built over 140 companies which have gone on to raise over $150m in venture funding. Our portfolio is valued at well over $1bn. Three of our companies have exited - Represent, Avocarrot, and the largest, Magic Pony Technology which was acquired by Twitter for $150m in 2016.

What happens if I don’t build a company at EF?

You will gain invaluable founder experience which will equip you with many transferable skills for whatever you choose to do next. Many of our alumni join existing EF portfolio companies and we help with introductions. Some return to academia whilst others to industry. We will work with you to help you figure out what the best next steps might look like and support you along the way. Regardless of what you choose to do you will always be part of the EF community - and perhaps even reapply to join a later cohort.

Do I need to stay in London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris or Berlin?

No, though many companies choose to stay in London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris or Berlin. For any company the most important thing is to be close to its customers and sometimes this means relocating to where these customers are. We have companies based in the US, South Africa, Netherlands and China as well as many other locations. Your Venture Partner will work with you closely to help you assess relocation decisions where suitable - after all, we want the best outcome for your company too.


How does financial support during EF Form work?

EF funds you as an individual from Day 1, and if you form a company, we are your first investor.  To start we will pay you £2,000 per month in London / S$5,000 per a month in Singapore / €2,000 a month in Berlin or Paris / HK$30,000 a month in Hong-Kong for 3 months during EF Form. If you leave EF at the end of Form the stipend is yours to keep.

How does investment during Launch work?

If your company is offered a place on Launch we invest £80,000 in London, Paris and Berlin, and S$75,000/US$55,000 in Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangalore,  in return for a 10% equity stake in your company. We also commit to invest in your seed round where our local fund structures permit - so your future investors know we’re “all in” on you.

Can I use the investment to pay myself?

Yes - most cohort members use the pre-seed funding from EF to cover their costs of living.


I’m not ready to build a startup yet, can I work for an EF company?

Absolutely - we can share with you a list of roles our companies are hiring for and make introductions where appropriate. Some EF alumni first worked for EF portfolio companies before joining the programme. It’s a great way to gain experience of working in a startup and engage with the EF community. There are hundreds of roles open in our portfolio companies, many can be found here.

I’m still at university - how can I get involved with EF?

If you’ve yet to graduate but are thinking about building a company once you leave university we’d still like to hear from you. We have a number of ways of getting involved with the EF community before you’re ready to join. You can request to meet us for a coffee here or apply to be one of our Student Partners on campus here.