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Founder Institute opens first accelerator program in Caracas


The world’s largest pre-seed accelerator is making headway again in Latin America. The Silicon Valley-based Founder Institute is opening its first accelerator program in Caracas.

The inaugural Venezuelan program will be held virtually and applications are due by SeptemberFor interested entrepreneurs in the country. The Founder Institute’s instruction relies on hands-on sessions where participating startups grow their businesses through expert feedback, collaboration with fellow founders, and a variety of course tools. Incentives-based models split equity equally among startups. This results in entrepreneurs who are more open and willing to share their knowledge and collaborate.

“Great companies are built through teamwork, through having a support network of people to help you throughout the entire process,” Founder Institute co-founder Jonathan Greechan says of his organization’s unique accelerator process. “Everybody in every Founder Institute cohort shares equity evenly with all of the companies that are created in each program. Everybody is incentivized to help you because everybody shares a bit of your equity.”

Jonathan Greechan

The Founder Institute has helped over 5,000 companies secure pre-seed funding of nearly $1 billion in just a little over a decade. The group assists founders and startups in every stage of the pre-seed process. This includes turning their idea into an actual business and gaining valuable advice from a global network.

The Founder Institute already offers dozens upon dozens of programs to help entrepreneurs and start-ups in Latin America, including Mexico and Argentina. The accelerator has graduated hundreds more startups than $20 million in the region. The Founder Institute also has approximately 2,000 mentors in Latin America.

Notable alumni include the Sao Paulo-based Play2Sell, a software firm that trains real estate managers through gamification models; Costa Rica’s Indigo Drones, which uses unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor agriculture; and Replik, a Mexican 3D printing company. They also count a number of impact startups — startups that have a positive impact on the environment or society engrained in their business models — from the area, including Brazil’s Polen, Peace Labs and Sol Lar.

It can be difficult to get a startup up and running in Venezuela. According to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business IndexIt is the third most difficult place to run a business in the world, after South America. It is testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of so many Venezuelans, that there are many successful startups that have come out of Venezuela. Startups such as CityWalletWe have made the lack of cash in the country a business opportunity by creating an online payment system to park.

The Founder Institute’s new chapter in Caracas will allow local entrepreneurs to get a better feel for the resources available to them in the country. It is crucial that Venezuela has a stable source for funding in order to recover from the pandemic.

The Founder Institute will be hosting the following eventsthis month to prepare for its premier accelerator cohort at Caracas

The Caracas Virtual 2021 Founder Institute program is now in its third year. Numerous business leaders have been invited to share their knowledge with aspiring businesspeople.

Sandy Gómez

Among those who will be participating in mentorship roles in Caracas are Aracelis Nass, the business program manager at Microsoft; Oscar Costero, the president of the board at Wikimedia Venezuela; and Sandy Gómez, the Founder Institute’s Caracas director. Gómez is a local startup leader in Venezuela who, along with José Acuña and Marco Villegas, was instrumental in helping open the Founder Institute’s Caracas chapter. 

Venezuelan entrepreneurs interested in starting a business can apply for the Caracas accelerator here. The Early Course Fee is $175 if you apply before August 15th and $199 if you apply after September 19.

Disclosure: This article refers to a client of an Espacio portfolio firm.

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