Introducing Entrepreneur First Graduate

Alice Bentinck
10 November, 2022

The CEOs of five of Entrepreneur First’s six most valuable companies all had just one year of work experience – or less – when they joined the Entrepreneur First programme. What you do after you graduate is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your lifetime – especially when you have a non-zero chance of building a top, venture-backed startup. 

Your first move, post-university, can change the trajectory of your entire career. That’s why we’ve built Entrepreneur First Graduate, a new programme designed to give you the training, funds and mentorship you need to fulfil your potential. We believe the best way for exceptional students to realise their ambition is to build a globally-important company – and Entrepreneur First Graduate is designed to give you the best run at that goal.

The Entrepreneur First Graduate programme is the most intense learning curve you can take post-university. It’s an opportunity to test what you’re capable of – including building a billion-dollar company that changes the world. It sounds grandiose, but we’ve seen it happen multiple times at Entrepreneur First.

In ten years, we’ve helped thousands of people meet their co-founders and build companies that are collectively worth more than $10B. What we’ve learned is that graduates are fully capable of building impactful, venture-backed startups. 

One of our top companies, Accurx (which recently raised a $38M Series B), was co-founded by Jacob Haddad and Laurence Bargery, who were both fresh out of their undergraduate degrees when they started the company. Jacob had spent one year working at a healthcare consultancy, and this became the basis for their idea (digitally connecting healthcare teams and patients).

Another aspiring founder was interviewing for a place at Entrepreneur First back in 2014. They were smart, driven, unconventional – everything we look for in a founder. But we turned them down. That person, Alex Dalyac, went on to create a groundbreaking AI startup called Tractable, which recently announced its unicorn status.

Fortunately for us, Alex did end up founding Tractable through Entrepreneur First – a year later after he re-applied. After we said no, Alex went away and completed a one-year degree in artificial intelligence, with a focus on what was a cutting-edge branch of the discipline called deep learning. He hadn’t become a world expert in a year, but he had learned enough to spot opportunities in the space, and attract a co-founder with a world-class research background in deep learning.

““Tractable was created by two people just out of a Master’s degree - not even a PhD - with zero professional experience... and I think if Entrepreneur First didn’t exist, I would never have thought that this would be possible.””

You don’t need years of experience to become a founder. A lot of people delay founding because they think they need one more year of work experience, one more promotion, one more badge on their CV. They’re waiting for the day that they become “ready”. In reality, the only way to become ready is to start. You can’t become an exceptional pianist by reading books – you have to actually play. The same is true of founders. To increase your chances of success, start now, and be ready to learn as you go.

We don’t expect you to have fully-fleshed out ideas about what you want to do, or the sort of company you might build. We’re here to help you crystalise your thoughts and ideas into something meaningful and important.

Who is EF Graduate for?

You want to pursue big, meaningful work. You have been searching for the right environment and field in which to apply this ambition.

You’ve proven to yourself that you can take on challenging ideas and problems, and you’re eager to find ways to use this ability in service of real goals.

You have high expectations for yourself and the people around you. You want to confront your ideas and ideals to reality.You have a proven interest in technology, demonstrated by seeking out opportunities to build, create and think deeply about creative uses for different technologies.

How does it work?

You might think of Entrepreneur First Graduate as a post-university launch pad, accelerating your career and giving you the highest possible chance of building a venture-backed startup. 

You’ll explore ideas, act on hunches, and work with some of the most exceptional talent the world has to offer. You’ll also receive support and training from our roster of exceptional leaders in fields like climate, crypto, health, consumer, finance, biotech, social impact and more.

Our three part programme is specifically designed to help you get the most out of yourself and your career:

Part 1: Immerse yourself in the startup world.

This is the foundation of your founder journey. You’ll become immersed in the startup world, and will begin building a network that has the potential to change the trajectory of your life. You’ll have access to top mentors and advisors from Entrepreneur First’s network, who will help you transition from student to founder.

You’ll participate in a pre-programme that will fast-track your learning and allow you to explore your own interests, come up with ideas and team up with people from your cohort. You’ll get one to one support, lectures, workshops and opportunities to immerse yourself in the tech world through internships at venture-backed startups.

Part 2: Find a co-founder and an idea.

This is when ‘Form’ begins. Form is an intense, once in a lifetime experience. Alongside your peers, you’ll explore ideas that you might have developed in the past few days, or had bubbling in the back of your mind for many years. This is your chance to act on your hunches.

You’ll test co-founding with others from your cohort, with no obligations to stay in the team – in fact, you’re encouraged to break up if it’s not a good fit. We celebrate co-founder breakups as a sign of progress.


Part 3: Get funded, launch your company.

After 3 months, if you’ve found a co-founder, you’ll have the opportunity to pitch your idea and startup to our Investment Committee. It’s a competitive – and thrilling – process, and only those building potentially globally important businesses will pass this stage.

If you haven’t found a co-founder, we’ll help you secure your next role. With access to hundreds of top startups, we’re well-placed to help you navigate your next steps, including giving you access to roles that are under-the-radar.

For those of you who successfully build a startup, you’ll join our accelerator ‘Launch’, where we’ll prepare you to raise funding from some of the world’s best investors, from London to Silicon Valley. 

The knowledge you gain and the network you build as an Entrepreneur First Graduate will be foundational to your career success. 

Entrepreneur First Graduate is a career accelerant, regardless of whether or not you build a company. Once you’ve joined the Entrepreneur First community, you’re a member for life – and it’s a community that you’ll benefit from throughout your entire career.

Whether or not you’ve considered founding before, if you’re someone with a lot of ambition, we’d encourage you to apply to Entrepreneur First Graduate. This is where you learn what you’re capable of – and the only certain way to fail is to never try.

Applications are now open.

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