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We’re supporting people who have recently graduated, or who have a few years of industry experience. Often, they’ve never tried founding a company before, so how do we know if they have founder potential?

How do we recognise potential founders?

Having started in London a decade ago, we have now worked with thousands of potential founders across Europe, Asia and North America.

In that time, we’ve learned to recognise world class founder potential before anyone else. 

We’ve found that there are certain characteristics that make you more likely to succeed on our platform. That’s not to say that you can’t succeed as a founder without these characteristics – rather, having these characteristics makes you a good fit for EF specifically.

Our platform is best suited to a particular kind of founder who wants to build a particular kind of company. There are many different forms of entrepreneurship; from single person enterprises, to lifestyle businesses, to VC backed behemoths and everything in between. 

At EF, we’re looking for people with the potential to found high growth, globally important technology companies – the type of company that would benefit from venture capital funding.

In most cases, these individuals could probably found decent companies without us, but we believe that they’ll be much more successful, and succeed at a faster pace, if they start their founder journey at Entrepreneur First, where they can meet a co-founder and join our network of founders, advisors and investors.

What do we look for?

We’re taking a bet on high-potential individuals, who we believe can become successful founders.

We decide who to select based on their current trajectory. In other words, we look at what you’ve achieved and how you’ve behaved in your life so far, to assess what you could possibly achieve in the future.

To help us understand your trajectory, we look at how you stand out from your peers. World class founders are outliers. We believe that, if you can demonstrate exceptional abilities and behaviours relative to your peers, there’s a higher chance that you are an outlier and that you’ll succeed not only on EF, but in the global market.

How do you stand out from your peers?

We want to know what you’ve done and how you’ve behaved differently to those around you: your peers.

In the application form, we ask you to provide an example of something you have done, built or created that demonstrates your unique skill or ability (something that most people could not, or would not have done.)

The clearest indicator of a potential outlier is when you compare their behaviour and ability to their peer group.

At Entrepreneur First, we define a candidate’s peer group based on their biggest milestone at work or in academia to date. In most cases, this means a candidate’s current colleagues, people with comparable roles or qualifications, or people they are studying alongside, but this is not always the case.

In order to identify your peer group, identify what you believe to be the highest point in your career so far and think about the other people who have achieved comparable things. We are not assessing candidates based on who their peer group is; we are looking to see how they have outperformed or differentiated themselves from others in a comparable position.

This really matters as we are looking for potential, not experience; the chances are that if you are currently outperforming your peer group, you will continue to do so.

Some, because of socio-economic background, education, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, personal circumstances, or other inequalities in society, will have had far less opportunity to achieve great things than others. That’s why we encourage you to help us understand who your peers are, and how you stand out from them.

We want to know, can you succeed in big ways, if you were given the right resources and opportunities?

How we assess your application

Founding a company is hard, and it’s a big commitment. That’s why we have a rigorous application and interview process.

  • Thinking through your application, and writing it up can take 1-2 hours.
  • Around 30% of applicants are invited to interview with our team.
  • We usually conduct two 30 minute interviews with candidates who make it to this stage, but may ask for a follow-up call if we have more questions. One interview will focus on your behaviours, and the other on your abilities.
More info: Application

Selection criteria

We know that communicating your founder ability isn’t an easy task. To help you, we’ve outlined exactly what we look for so you can decide what you want to focus on in your application.

Our criteria shouldn’t be read as a checklist, and they’re not designed to select people out. It’s extremely rare for someone to score highly on every criteria.

We want people with a variety of backgrounds. We’re looking for outliers, who have done unusual things. Typically, our founders are particularly strong on a couple of criteria, but not all.

If you’re unsure whether or not you’re a good fit, we’d recommend going through the application process anyway, as it’s the best way to determine whether EF is right for you.

Read more about our 9 selection criteria here: