How We Raised US$12M from Some of the World’s Best Investors

Author: Matt Clifford
Posted: 12 September, 2017

A new chapter for Entrepreneur First...

Entrepreneur First is partnering with some of the world’s most renowned investors to scale our mission of enabling the world’s most ambitious people to become founders.

Greylock Partners are leading a $12.4m funding round, alongside Mosaic Ventures, Founders Fund and Lakestar. Reid Hoffman, partner at Greylock and co-founder of LinkedIn, is joining our board.

Our new investors have backed some of the most important companies of modern times — such as Facebook, Airbnb, Ali Baba, Tesla and Spacex.

For our new partners, investing in a company like EF is a little unusual. We’re not a software company or a traditional startup. I wanted to share some of what we told them about why EF can become the most valuable career path for the world’s most ambitious people.

The world is missing out on its best founders

Our starting point is the belief that the world misses out on some of its best potential founders. There’s a dangerous myth that “entrepreneurs are born” and so anyone who could be a great founder will find a way. We don’t think that’s remotely true. The supply of great founders is not fixed.

If founding a company is culturally abnormal where you grow up, you’ll likely be drawn into some other career path (perhaps finance or government, depending on where you live) that allows ambitious people to have high impact.

We think that’s a waste. It’s increasingly obvious that in the 21st century technology entrepreneurship is where the most talented people can maximise their impact.

Entrepreneur First systematically supports exceptional people to build important companies. We’re the place where outliers come together.

EF Bootstraps an ecosystem from scratch

If you ask people why there hasn’t been a Google of Europe or Southeast Asia, the answer is usually that Silicon Valley is better at scaling companies. There’s a lot of truth in that, but it’s only a partial answer. Scaling companies is the last segment of the funnel. Silicon Valley’s secret weapon is that it gets the best people to be founders, gets them into the best teams and gets them working on the best ideas. It’s much easier to scale companies if you’re starting with the right ingredients.

If you ask us why there hasn’t been a Google of Europe or Southeast Asia, our answer is different. We’ll tell you it’s because the Mark Zuckerberg of Europe is likely (doing extremely well) at a big hedge fund. And Singapore’s Larry and Sergey got discouraged because their colleagues thought the first version of their idea was crazy.

EF is for people who don’t want to fall into these traps. At EF, it’s normal to start a company and it’s encouraged to have enormous, global-scale ambition.

Most importantly, we’re open to individuals purely on the basis of talent, ambition and skill.

We don’t expect you to already have the right team or the right idea. In fact, we’ve designed everything we do to maximise your odds of finding these. Each of our cohorts represents an extraordinary concentration of brilliant people who want to do something huge. We think it’s the best and most reliable way to find your co-founder. We’ve designed the advice our team gives to nudge you towards the most ambitious and exciting version of what you might build. If you’re good enough to get into EF, you’re too good to waste your time building something small.

A new kind of institution

As I’ve written before, entrepreneurship needs new institutions. At EF, we’re planning for an era where a large proportion of the most ambitious individuals want to start companies. We want to be the iconic institution of this era.

There are already world-class institutions, like HBS, for amplifying individuals pursuing traditional ambition.

Places like Y Combinator have become world-class institutions for amplifying companies pursuing entrepreneurial ambition.

Entrepreneur First is the world-class institution for amplifying individuals who want to pursue entrepreneurial ambition.

We want EF to be accessible to all the world’s most ambitious people. And we want our support to be so good that EF is the obvious place to start a company, whoever you are. This funding gives us the capital and relationships to make this possible. We’re excited to get started scaling EF’s mission globally.