Is Entrepreneur First for you?

Article6 Minute Read

What is Entrepreneur First?

 

Entrepreneur First is the best place in the world to meet a co-founder and build a startup from scratch. If you’re talented, ambitious, and looking to found a company – EF is for you.

We invest in individuals who we believe have great potential, and give them the tools they need to succeed at an accelerated pace. We’ll back you before you have a team, and before you have an idea, based purely on your talent.

Over the last 9 years, we’ve learned to recognise extraordinary people before anyone else. We don’t believe you should have to jump through hoops for a decade to prove yourself before you do what you were meant to do. 

The pace at EF is intense. Our goal is to help you move quickly and amplify your impact. We believe in the power of urgency. EF isn’t a place to hang out while you figure out whether it’s a good time to start a company. It’s for people who believe the time is now and want to work with people who feel the same. 

How does it work?

 

On our 6-month programme, you’ll be introduced to a pool of exceptional people, who are committed to founding a company. They’re  pre-vetted future CEOs and CTOs, who we believe have what it takes.

You’ll be working in an environment where you get a chance to test out ideas and working relationships with multiple potential co-founders. We cover your living costs from day one, with a monthly stipend (it’s not a loan, and you’ll never have to pay it back).

“That was the main reason I came to EF – to find a co-founder,” says Stacy-Ann Sinclair, who co-founded CodeREG through our programme.

“Finding that compatibility with someone who understands the problem you’re trying to solve, and who’s also in the headspace to start a company right now, it’s invaluable. To find people like that is tough, and EF just brought all that together for you.”

You’ll work with EF’s network of exceptional founders, advisers and investors, who will support you throughout with discussions, workshops and talks from alumni and experts.

Most of our advisers are founders themselves, with an impressive set of companies and exits under their belts. You’ll hear from people like Reid Hoffman (Founder, LinkedIn), Demis Hassabis (Founder, DeepMind), Benedict Evans, Tracy Doree, Dr Gesa Miczaika, Chris Mairs, Nadav Rosenberg, Venkat Raju, Alex Norman, Shao-Ning Huang and Milad Alucozai. We’ll fast track your learning by taking you through everything we’ve learned from building 300+ companies since 2011.

Once you finish the first 3 months of the programme, you’ll meet with our Investment Committee (IC).

Presenting your company to our Investment Committee is a competitive process. Around half of the cohort don’t make it past this stage, so leave the programme after 3 months and join our alumni community. For those people, EF is still a life-changing experience.

Many of our alumni go on to become early employees at our portfolio companies, or rejoin subsequent cohorts.

Daniel Homola joined our 12th London cohort last year, where he began a healthcare AI startup with a co-founder he met through our programme.  While ultimately the company didn’t work out, the programme was transformative for Daniel:

“I probably learned more about myself and the world in those six months than in the preceding 2.5 years in my typical 9 to 5 corporate data-science job…Being surrounded by motivated, ambitious, highly educated and driven people who chose to veer off the traditional corporate track is amazing.” 

Joanne Kanaan, who co-founded Omini was motivated to use her knowledge to make an impact:

“In less than two months, I feel I’ve reached out and I’ve done something much faster than what I’ve done in all my academic years, which have given me my background, but didn’t give me this freedom of saying that I can do whatever I want in this world and leave a mark.”

Those who make it past our Investment Committee continue the programme for another 3 months.

At this stage, we’ll invest £80,000 in London, Paris and Berlin, S$75,000 in Singapore and Bangalore, and C$100,000 in Toronto into you and your company, plus the stipends already paid. This is in return for a 10% equity stake in your company. Our interests are aligned: we only make money if you do. In many cases, we’ll also invest in your seed round.

We’ve got a great track record of helping our founders raise capital from some of the best investors in the world. We’ve created 170+ seed funded companies in the past 9 years.

The companies we invest in pitch in front of hundreds of investors at a regional Demo Day, and spend the following week meeting investors one-on-one. 

The value of EF lasts far beyond the end of the programme.

We often see EFers hire, advise, invest in, buy from, sell to, and support each other. As our network grows and matures, it is becoming one of the most valuable things about being part of EF. The mindsets, habits and values you pick up at EF should last a lifetime. As one of our alumni put it, “EF is life acceleration”.

Is the Entrepreneur First programme for you?

 

EF is most useful to exceptional individuals with tons of potential. We want talented future leaders who are ready to challenge convention and build something game-changing.

EF is a great fit if you know you want to build a company, but you’re lacking a co-founder, you don’t necessarily have a fully-formed idea, and you’d benefit from a network of co-founders, advisers and investors. Or, you might have an existing network, but you’d benefit from EF’s fast paced approach.

We believe in the power of urgency. EF is for people who believe the time is now, and want to work with people who feel the same.

Take a look at these questions to help you figure out if EF is for you:

 

 

Could you scale your impact by becoming a founder?

We believe that founding a company today (not tomorrow!) is the single most impactful thing talented individuals can do with their lives. At EF, we look for people who are committed to founding a company right now, and have what it takes to succeed. 

 

Who is the best co-founder for you?

The best co-founder for you is probably someone you’ve never met. We believe EF is the best place in the world to meet that person. We have almost ten years of experience finding and nurturing talented people with huge potential, and helping them co-found companies.

For three months, you’ll test out ideas and co-founding partnerships with people from your cohort. This is your chance to explore what sort of co-founder would best compliment you and your expertise.

 

Do you need an idea to apply?

We accept people based on their potential, rather than the strength of their idea, but we do look for people who have great insights and observations about their field of expertise. 

If you have an idea, EF is a great place to explore it further, and build a company around it. If you don’t have an idea, that’s not a problem. Either way, we’re looking for you to demonstrate useful insights and observations in your application, and show that you’re excited about technology.

 

Where does technical ability come into it?

If you have deep technical expertise, you could make a great future CTO. If you’re tech literate and excited about technology (but not deeply technical), you could make a great CEO. Many of our best CEOs won’t have a formal technical education, but will have gone to great lengths to upskill themselves or surround themselves with technologists.

 

Would you benefit from a network of founders, investors, and experts?

Networks normally take years to build, but at EF, you have the opportunity to instantly become part of a global network of smart, talented, creative founders, experts and investors, from Reid Hoffman (Founder, LinkedIn), to Demis Hassabis (Founder, DeepMind), to Benedict Evans (Independent Analyst, Former Head of Microsoft Windows and Former Partner at a16z).

The EF community is one of the most valuable professional networks in the world.

 

Are you interested in solving a technically difficult problem?

EF is for people who are excited about building companies that solve hard technical problems; that might mean commercialising scientific advances like quantum computing or nuclear fusion, or it might mean tackling difficult software engineering problems, as Dropbox or Stripe did.

 

Have you achieved a lot in a short space of time?

Generally speaking, EF is most useful for those in the early stages of their career, who can demonstrate that they’ve achieved a lot in a short period of time.

We look for evidence that you have exceptional abilities and behaviours, relative to your peers. Of course, some people – because of background or personal circumstances – will have had far less opportunity to achieve great things than others. That’s why we recommend taking some time to think about who you see as your peers, and how you stand out from them.

We want to hear about what you’ve achieved, whether through your career, or academia, or on the side – perhaps you’ve started an interesting project or two, perhaps you’ve educated yourself about an interesting topic. If you’re unsure, reach out to our team for advice.

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