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

Challenges convention

Drive to achieve

Followership

Smart

Clarity of thought

Valuable technical knowledge, skills or understanding

Applicability or commerciality

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.

What do we mean by ‘Applicability’ and ‘Commerciality’?

Founders need to be able to focus on customers and solve their problems, so both CEOs and CTOs need to demonstrate how they can capture value through particular technologies.

For CTOs in particular, we’re interested in how you can directly leverage your valuable technical knowledge or skills, and use your technology to solve big problems.

For CEOs in particular, we want to know that you can discuss how you can create value and then capture it across different industries and within companies, with a focus on the customer.

How do CTOs demonstrate ‘Applicability’?

We want to know that you see, and can articulate, ways your technology can be applied outside of academia or research.

You don’t need to come with perfectly formed ideas (we don’t evaluate applicants on the basis of their ideas, more their talent and behavior), but we want to know what factors you’re considering when you think about how your technology might be applied more widely.

  • Tell us about various use-cases for your technology, across multiple disciplines – where are there opportunities for impact?
  • Show us that your technology is viable, and that there’s commercial demand for what you could create.
  • Show us how your technology can solve real-world problems.

We don’t assess the applicability of your technology, rather, your ability to articulate where and how your technology could be applied in the real world.

How do CEOs demonstrate ‘Commerciality’?

We want to see that you can think boldly and creatively about business models in order to create and capture value.

Commerciality, for us, isn’t necessarily about having commercial experience or a sales background. Rather, it’s about being market-minded and customer-obsessed.

We want to see that you know how to create value for users, and capture it for yourself and your company.

  • Tell us about how value is created within different companies or industries, e.g. explain different business models and how you might apply them, as well as how you might get ROI.
  • Provide examples of how you’ve created or captured value in past work or projects.
  • Explain how different products impact the customer and improve their lives, and provide examples of how you’ve done this in your own work or projects.

Some of our most commercial founders haven’t had commercial roles, but are able to demonstrate that they’re market-minded.

Ready?

Apply to Entrepreneur First, and begin your journey to becoming a founder