Accelerators / Resources / Startups

Founder Institute is relaunching its Philly chapter with an accelerator this spring

Third time's the charm? The global entrepreneurship org returns, with Don Samoil at the helm.

Founder Institute. (Courtesy image)
Global accelerator and entrepreneurship organization Founder Institute is taking another shot at a Philly chapter.

The org set up shop here originally in 2013, then again in 2017. Don Samoil stepped up to recently revamp the org’s presence, with the hope that the third time’s the charm.

The Philly chapter is ready to accept its first cohort for its early-stage accelerator program next month. The accelerator will run from April 26 through Aug. 3, and will review the entrepreneurship process, including defining a strong business vision, customer development revenue and fundraising. The accelerator isn’t just for tech companies, but the business needs to be scalable. Participation costs $999.

Samoil, who is also the COO at BlackSite.Solutions, hasn’t yet determined how many companies will make it into the first cohort. But it’ll likely be between 30 and 50, he said, because the virtual format allows them to work with many companies. The cost shouldn’t deter anyone though, he said, because they offer scholarships for some, and folks can withdraw up to three weeks into the program and get their money back.

Everyone leading the chapter does so on a volunteer basis and they’re working with a network of local CEOs, professors and entrepreneurs. The curriculum is set by the main organization, but will be localized to the Delaware Vally through their network.

He described the accelerator as serving anyone outside of the “idea on a napkin” phase of their business. The group’s leaders are not looking to replace any of the existing programs that exist in Philly, but rather, add to the ecosystem here.

“If you’re willing to do the work, we’ll take you from idea stage through to being a viable company. We’re taking early-stage folks and getting them ready for groups that are already established,” Samoil said. “We’re getting better quality candidates [ready] for their next stage of growth.”

And though it is virtual, there will be opportunity to get together, network and share ideas. Founder Institute also runs an event series with talks like “celebrating women in tech.”

Applications for the accelerator are open through April 17.

Apply here

Mike Krupit, who ran Founder Institute during its first Philly stint in 2013, told that a few things led to the chapter closing in Philly then: It was the height of accelerators in the city at the time, and there was a lot of competition for early-stage programs. The $1,000 fee was a deal breaker for many, and Founder Institute couldn’t gain momentum. There was also pressure from the national org to add cities quickly, and the team “felt a clash in core values with the FI leadership in California and parted ways,” he said.

Krupit met with organizers the second time around, but the programming was “underwhelming,” and very similar city to city. But he’s hopeful about Samoil’s leadership. The pair met in September so Krupit could share his experience and offer advice.

“I am a firm believer in rising tides and hope that Don and team can achieve now what I couldn’t back then,” Krupit said.

Companies: Founder Institute

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