Preparing to apply

Do I need a team?

Not at all – Entrepreneur First is a Talent Investor which means we invest in you before you have a co-founder or incorporated company. We choose people based on their potential and their desire to make an impact, and our team 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 already 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 our programme is designed to be the best place to find a cofounder if you don’t have one.

Do I need an idea?

No – you don’t need an idea to apply to Entrepreneur First. 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, approximately 20% of our cohort is non-technical. 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 co-founders 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 Entrepreneur First team will work with you to help you understand customer development, validate your idea and figure out the 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, but each co-founder will have to apply as an individual, as we admit people to the programme on an individual basis instead of on their team/idea.

Can I apply directly to Launch?

Potentially, yes. Although Launch is primarily designed to help teams formed at Entrepreneur First to fundraise, we occasionally have some capacity for external teams. This may be a good option for teams that have been working full-time on their idea for 3-6 months, have a clear short and long term vision for the company, have taken little outside investment (0-10%), and can demonstrate some traction in the form of users or customers. If you join Launch, you would receive initial investment from Entrepreneur First, and begin fundraising after the next bi-annual Demo Day.

If Launch is the right fit for you, you would have to complete a Launch Application, which is the first step in the the same investment process that teams formed on Entrepreneur First go through. If you are interested, please contact [email protected]

Please note that Entrepreneur First is likely not a fit at all if: you have already raised significant external investment (>20%), you have been working on your company full-time for more than 6 months, or you are looking to start fundraising within the next 5 months. Such teams are usually at a much later stage than the companies we work with at Entrepreneur First.

Which cohort should I apply to?

We recommend that you apply to the cohort located nearest to you, or where you have an existing connection, as relocation can be difficult, but ultimately it should be determined by what makes the most sense for your business.

Do I have to relocate?

Yes – Entrepreneur First is based in London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangalore, Paris 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 any of those locations after the programme, though most of our alumni do.

Can I work on something else while doing Entrepreneur First or could I do the programme 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 Entrepreneur First 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 on our homepage. If you’ve just missed out on the application window contact us at [email protected].

How do I know who’s in my cohort?

Many people considering joining Entrepreneur First 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.

Can I defer my place at Entrepreneur First?

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 on the Programme

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

No – we don’t tell you what to work on or give you ideas. We’ll facilitate team-building 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. Prior to that, on our Form programme you’ll have a check in weekly with someone from the Form team or an Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR). These check ins are a critical part of your development throughout Entrepreneur First. You can see our VPs here.

Who owns my IP?

The company you create does. Entrepreneur First does not own any IP that belongs to your company, and does not take a proportion of your profits. 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 co-working spaces in each of our six locations, which are accessible 24/7 to cohort members. The buildings have wifi, coffee and tea facilities and events space.

Does Entrepreneur First focus on any vertical/industry/type of technology?

No – we invest based on talent not sector, so 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 Entrepreneur First has built over 200 companies which have gone on to be collectively valued at $1.5bn. More than that, though, our companies have had a transformative impact on certain industries.

Tractable are using AI to appraise accidents for insurance purposes and recently raised a $20m Series B, while Kheiron have created the first better-than-human diagnostic for detecting breast cancer in mammograms. Cleo have helped 800,000 young people – and counting – to manage their finances, and CloudNC recently raised a £9m Series A to help automate parts of the manufacturing process.

Some notable exits include Represent, Avocarrot, Bloomsbury.ai and the largest, Magic Pony Technology which was acquired by Twitter for a reported $150m in 2016, just 18 months after the founders met on Entrepreneur First.

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

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 Entrepreneur First portfolio companies and we help with introductions. Some return to academia, 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 Entrepreneur First community – and perhaps even re-apply to join a later cohort, as many have done. There is also no need to give the stipend back – that is yours to keep.

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

No, though many companies choose to stay in these locations. 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.

Investment

How does financial support during Form work?

Entrepreneur First 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 or equivalent in Bangalore / €2,000 a month in Berlin or Paris / HK$30,000 a month in Hong-Kong for 3 months during Form. If you leave Entrepreneur First at the end of Form or Launch 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 Entrepreneur First to cover their costs of living.

Other

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

Absolutely – we can share with you a list of roles our companies are hiring for and make introductions where appropriate. Some Entrepreneur First alumni first worked for our portfolio companies before joining the programme. It’s a great way to gain experience of working in a startup and engage with the Entrepreneur First 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 Entrepreneur First?

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 Entrepreneur First community before you’re ready to join. You can get in touch with us regarding becoming one of our Student Partners on campus here.

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