Founder Institute nears launch of Baltimore chapter - Baltimore


Oct. 6, 2014 8:02 am

Founder Institute nears launch of Baltimore chapter

The institute has chapters in more than 80 cities worldwide. The Baltimore chapter could win approval within the next two weeks.

The FI program has mentors work with budding entrepreneurs.

(Photo courtesy of Founder Institute)

Two Johns Hopkins Carey Business School instructors are working to bring the Founder Institute to Baltimore.

The Founder Institute is an intensive four-month program with a network of visiting mentors from businesses near and far.

“Think of it as an individually-specialized MBA customized to your particular business,” said Neil Kleinberg, founder and CEO of the Riva-based mergers and acquisitions startup DiliVer and an adjunct faculty member at the Carey Business School.

Kleinberg, with Hopkins professor Rick Milter, are spearheading the effort to bring the accelerator program to Baltimore. The Silicon Valley-based Founder Institute has chapters in 85 cities in 40 countries, including nearby Washington, D.C. The new Baltimore chapter has been in the works for about a year.

“We’re trying to see if Baltimore has what it takes in terms of interest to make its own chapter,” Kleinberg said.

The chapter is nearing approval from the organization’s front office. Kleinberg said he expects that approval to come sometime in the next two weeks.

What separates the Founder Institute from similar programs is the discerning application process, the pair said.

“You have to apply to be accepted into the program,” Milter said. “If you don’t meet kind of the mark for what Founder Institute is about, you’re not going to make it into the program.”

It’s that application process, the pair said, that contributes to a high success rate for graduating companies — 90 percent survive after five years, according to FI statistics.

Once an entrepreneur does get in, the program consists of 14 mentor-led sessions covering topics including idea and product development, team formation and fundraising.

“We’ll get somebody from Silicon Valley teaching in Baltimore one night,” Kleinberg said. “We’re an attractive destination.”

What also gives Batimore an edge, they said, is the region’s high concentration of quality universities — including Hopkins — along with medical and cybersecurity titans.


“It’s a place that’s just ripe for that, so to us it makes sense,” Kleinberg added.

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