Get your idea off the ground with the world’s #1 pre-seed accelerator

Build a proper business in just 14 weeks.

Leverage a global network of 25,000+ Mentors, Grads and CEOs of successful companies for a life-time.

Final Deadline for applications of the Fall 2022 Cohort is on the 25th of September! Hurry up!

"The program is quite complete"

The FI program is quite complete, so you have everything that you need to start your company. That's a lot.

David Hentschel GreenSoEasy
David Hentschel Alumnus, GreenSoEasy

"Even with a business administration background, you learn a lot"

Even if you have a business administration background, you learn a lot of new things about many tasks and challenges involved in starting a business.

Yascha Roshani Honest and Rare
Yascha Roshani Alumnus, Honest & Rare

"Founder Institute will believe in you"

It's not easy. But if you believe in your company or idea then the people at Founder Institute will believe in you as well.

Marios Messios Paramedicos
Marios Messios Alumnus, Parameticos

"The framework is excellent"

I have learnt and done things I couldn't have otherwise in the given period of time. The framework is excellent.

Former Founder
Jasvir Dhillon Former Founder

"One of my best experiences"

This program is one of my best experiences, I want to do it again.

Daria Ivnitsky SODA Buro
Daria Ivnitsky Former Founder, SODA Buro

"Very well structured program"

Thanks to an amazing set of mentors and a very well structured program, I have been able to evaluate the business idea in a very short amount of time. During the program, PaketConcierge was incorporated and we are ready to take on customers.

Gregor Herdmann PacketConcierge
Gregor Herdmann Alumnus, PaketConcierge

"The key to this program is DOING"

The key to this program is DOING. Instead of just thinking about ideas you are gently forced to turn your business idea into reality. Execution is everything after all.

Gregor Herdmann PacketConcierge
Gregor Herdmann Alumnus, PaketConcierge

"Life-changing"

No drama, no excuses, no compromises! Barely two weeks into it, and it's already life-changing. I'm humbled and deeply grateful.

dora petrova FemGems
Dora Petrova Alumna, FemGems

"Got me out of my comfort zone"

FI really got me out of my comfort zone CONSTANTLY, otherwise I would have waited forever until I felt ready.

mia sari just juno
Mia Sari Alumna, Just Juno

"Emphasizes on what matters the most"

... more importantly, it helps you get rid of the unnecessary information and emphasizes on what matters the most.

Marios Messios Paramedicos
Marios Messio Alumnus, Paramedicos

From Silicon Valley to Europe’s startup and technology capital

A program designed for idea and early-stage startups, specifically

Who

Globalizing Silicon Valley

Founder Institute is the world’s first idea-stage accelerator. Our program was built with early-stage Founders in mind specifically, meaning you can join with just an idea or MVP.

We provide invaluable knowledge from top Mentors and deliver decades of startup and entrepreneurship experience in an intensive 14-week offline format. We quickly switched to a pure online format when Covid19 hit and are now offering the most valuable networking session in a hybrid (online and offline) format.

Berlin Founder Institute portfolio
Why us

Unicorns, Zebras & Camels

Since its inception in Palo Alto, in 2009, Founder Institute’s proven methodology has helped build over 6,000 companies across 6 continents. Among them Udemy, TravelCar or Kindara to name a few.

In Berlin, we have trained 500+ people and helped create 100+ companies since 2010 such as ItemBase, Tab-Ticketbroker, TeamBay (exit to Staffbase), Veodin (exit to Templafy), PaketConcierge, Honest & Rare, Ajinomatrix, Workademy, Coolbeez, Silatha, Kopply, FemGems,

Our mission

Let’s put your idea to the test

Contrary to other early-stage accelerators, we welcome anyone with just an idea for a Startup. Can you turn this into a scalable business? That’s what we will help you figure out.

Our mission is to support forward-thinking and ambitious Founders, helping them validate and develop an idea fast, and build solid foundations for a sustainable business.

Founder Institute Berlin Startup Accelerator Program
Join us

The Berlin Chapter

We actively contribute to Berlin’s diverse and fastest-growing early-stage entrepreneurial ecosystems: close to 500 startups are created every year in this city; since 2019 the Founder Institute Berlin Chapter helped launch more than 60.

  • 40% of them are female-led companies.
  • 40% are Climate Impact entrepreneurs — but all are actively encouraged to integrate a SDG into their solution.

We offer the 14-week core program as well as regular workshops on Customer and Product Development, Pitching, Marketing and PR, and mentoring and support on validation, growth and investment.

We are the first FI chapter in the world with a dedicated Impact track alongside the regular curriculum!

What to expect

14 weeks to give life to your business idea

On average, only 30% of our Founders make it through the semester, by design. We will challenge you every step of the way to ensure your business stands on solid grounds and you are equipped for what comes next.

Our program is notoriously hard because growing and sustaining a business is much harder. 

We ask our Founders to commit 25 hours to the program on a weekly basis, minimum. This means you can keep your regular job while testing your idea with us.

A Structured Methodology

Since 2009, Founder Institute’s proven methodology has helped over 5,500 companies across 6 continents build businesses that matter. Know what to work on, and when, with our proven business-building sprints and structured approach.

A Challenging Process

Each week in the program, participating Founders join a 3+ hour Session to receive training, pitch the Mentors and get evaluation and feedback. After each session, our Founders then build their businesses for the rest of the week through a series of practical and challenging Business-Building Sprints, Office Hours, and group meetings. The Founder Institute is hard, because building an enduring business is much, much harder.

World-Class Mentors

CEOs and Founders of top companies such as Get your Guide, Plan A, Delivery Hero, Cavalry Ventures, nuri or ClaimCompass have generously mentored for FI Berlin in recent years.

Constant Feedback

Pitch every week in front of peers, Mentors and your Local FI team for direct feedback on your idea and progress.

A Community of Peers

Join our next batch and create life-long relationships with fellow Founders, who face the same challenges as you.

A Lifetime of Support

Get access to a lifetime of support that far exceeds any comparable program. Many of the world’s fastest-growing startups have used FI to raise funding, get into seed-accelerators, generate traction, recruit a team, and much more.

Problem/Solution fit

Confirm the Market Demand

A common trap first-time Founders fall into, is to develop a product for which there is no market demand. At Founder Institute Berlin, our goal is not to graduate companies but to help idea-stage Founders validate their customer problem, so to start out with strong foundations. 

Or move on to their next idea if they cannot find the right Problem/Solution fit — an idea is nothing but a blocker of the next idea if it is not acted upon. 

After building a great company, the second-best possible outcome you can take from the program is understanding quickly that the problem you’re trying to solve is not big enough.

With the Berlin Chapter, you will be supported by a structured growth process that defines your next steps, helps you move quickly, and has proven to reduce the time and cost to building a startup.

Learn from the best

Pitch like it’s second nature

With so many Founders competing for attention, how do you make sure your idea stands out? 

  • Pitch every week and get feedback on your progress from the team and Berlin’s top entrepreneurs and investors.
  • Train with the best coach in town. With over 10 years of coaching, pitch expert Dirk Lehmann has helped hundreds of Founders gain stage presence and deliver the right message, the right way.

We’ll turn you into a pitching machine in record time!

Founder Institute Berlin Mentors
Build meaningful relationships

Leverage a Local & Global Network

Build a global business by leveraging the world’s largest network of Startup Mentors, Founders, and Investors. Based in Silicon Valley, FI spans worldwide across chapters in 200+ cities & 6 continents, with a global community of 25,000+ Mentors, grads and CEOs of many successful companies.

In Berlin, you’ll have the support of 400+ local Mentors, 50+ actively contributing in each cohort.

What our Mentors say

"A fantastic collection of thinkers and doers"

The Founder Institute Berlin's community is a fantastic collection of thinkers and doers, all gathered by the ambition to build companies driven by their passion and ambition! Honoured to be a mentor and support such incredible entrepreneurs on their journey!

Lubomila Jordanova Mentor Founder Institute Berlin
Lubomila Jordanova Mentor, CEO & Founder at planA.earth

"Startups in the program are incredibly brave, tapping into today's Zeitgeist"

Startups in the Founder Institute program are incredibly brave, tapping into today's Zeitgeist. Mentoring them through their first steps during founding phase is both an honour as well as satisfying seeing them grow, pivot and excel.

Lieke Ypma Mentor Founder Institute Berlin
Lieke Ypma Mentor, Partner at Hello Impact & White Octopus

"It will save yourself at least 6-9 months"

If you want to save yourself at least 6-9 months, while iterating on your startup idea, boost your pitching skills 10x times and receive an overwhelming amount of feedback points from a community of Berlin-based entrepreneurs, investors, founders and industry operators - look no further than Founder Institute Berlin. It’s an invaluable track for first-time and even seasoned founders to accelerator your go-to-market, get rid of things that don’t work for you customers and scale your venture fast.

Kyrill Zlobenko Mentor Founder Institute Berlin
Kyrill Zlobenko Mentor, GM Europe at Seedrs

"It forces you to diligently take every little baby step"

The Founder Institute itself is a schizophrenic beast: it wants you to think big and build a billion-dollar business that changes the world, and at the same time forces you to diligently take every little baby step to get there.

Tobias Dickmeis Tandem
Tobias Dickmeis Mentor and former Alumnus, CPO & Co-Founder at Tandem Language

What our Founders say

Marios Messios Paramedicos
Marios Messios Alumnus, Parametricos

Founder Institute doesn't stop at graduation. The Directors and Mentors are always there supporting you with everything they can help.

"Founder Institute doesn't stop at graduation"

Tshepiso Machele INTU SKIN
Tshepiso Machele Alumna, INTU SKIN

I came in with just an idea and I was a little bit scared. Was I good enough, was the idea good enough? Meeting different people with different perspectives, different industries and leveraging on that was definitely a highlight.

"Was I good enough, was the idea good enough?"

Alissa Rentowitsch Workademy
Alissa Rentowitsch Alumna, Workademy

When I enrolled, I was hoping to improve my entrepreneurial skills and I actually improved my life. Really, my life is not going to be the same. One of the best parts of the program is finding out that there are actually teams who work along with each other. There is no competition when everyone is interested in each other's growth. This was so overwhelming for me.

"There is no competition when everyone is interested in each other's growth"

Yascha Roshani Honest and Rare
Yascha Roshani Alumnus, Honest & Rare

Even if you have a business administration background, you learn a lot of new things about many tasks and challenges involved in starting a business.

"Even with a business administration background, you learn a lot"

dora petrova FemGems
Dora Petrova Alumna, FemGems

It is a life-changing experience. For me, it felt like finding my tribe. People who are proactively taking on challenges that make them suffer, knowing exactly why they’re doing it. People who are willing to live beyond their comfort zone for the purpose of growing, serving, and making a difference. People who work crazy hours, make no excuses, and commit to high performance – no matter the circumstances.

"It felt like finding my tribe"

Tobias Dickmeis Tandem
Tobias Dickmeis Alumnus & Mentor, Letsmake, Tandem Language

It will flip your idea and who you thought you were upside down. At some point you won't even know top from bottom anymore, and you want to get the hell out. But it's fun, it's exhilarating and once you're done, you just want to one more time.

"It's fun, it's exhilarating and once you're done, you just want to one more time."

Olga Filipova Workademy
Olga Filipova Alumna, Workademy

Before joining the Founder Institute Berlin I thought I was ready to run a business. Shortly after joining the program I realized I was not ready at all. It created some sort of panic in me that grew into the will of accepting a challenge. After being three months in the program I figured that now I am ready. Ready to be crazy enough to face the challenges and to ride this rollercoaster. Let's go! 🧡

"I realized I was not ready at all. Now I'm ready"

Katja Hentschel ImageMate
Katja Hentschel Former Founder, ImageMate

Thank you so much Ferdinand, Stéphanie, Ana, Rikke, Dirk, Kai and Sascha for an amazing 7 weeks - I have learnt so much! I'm glad I joined FI and while I may not be ready to incorporate in 2020 I am super excited to take on board everything I have learnt in the program and use it to build a strong foundation for my startup. Thank you for all that you have done, I'll always remember it!

"I have learnt so much!"

Björn Wagner Kopply
Björn Wagner Alumnus, Kopply

FI Berlin has helped us a lot to connect with other like minded people and deeply think about our product and the business model. We've learned a lot and we even benefit from it after the program as part of the FI worldwide network and post-programs. I can highly recommend it to every person that thinks about starting a business.

"We benefit from it after the program as part of the FI worldwide network and post-programs"

We are a bunch of entrepreneurs, helping other entrepreneurs

The Berlin Team

FI Berlin Rikke Klitskov

Rikke Klitskov

FI berlin Dirk Lehmann

Dirk Lehmann

FI Berlin Kai Malkwitz

Kai Malkwitz

FI Berlin Ferdinand Muehlhaeuser

Ferdinand Muehlhaeuser

Amanda_1516228159897

Amanda Fornal

FI Berlin Javier Rincon

Javier Rincon

A high-risk accelerator

The Equity Collective

To give entrepreneurs a critical support network to help them across the entire lifecycle of their business, Founder Institute has developed a groundbreaking Equity Collective where everyone shares equity in the companies formed from each program cohort.

About halfway through the program, companies contribute 2.5% in Warrants to a fifteen-year Equity Collective to incentivize the support during and after the cohort.

1.5% of the Equity Collective returns go back to your local cohort: 1% goes back to HQ, 1% to your local Team and .5% to your local Mentors. That means that everyone supporting is invested in your success.

2.5% is the smallest amount of equity to contribute that can still return reasonable value to the collective. As one example, setting up an advisory board normally requires 5% of a company to attract 5 or 6 advisors, and the Founder Institute wanted to be significantly less than 5% to attract over two dozen Mentors during the program.

This is also a paid program ($899).

Why is that, when other accelerators might be free, provide funding and take no equity?

This is because we are a pre-seed, and typically high-risk, accelerator. Contrary to other later-stage structures, we will welcome anyone with just an idea and invest our time, efforts and network into giving life and shape to your dream company, starting from the ground up.

Moreover, Founder Institute is a long-term partner. Our commitment to you and your company goes far beyond graduation.

They help us help you

Our Sponsors  & Partners

Founder Institute Berlin Partners
Founder Institute Berlin partners

Apply now for Berlin Fall 2022 program!

Applications are open for the 2022 Fall batch!

We are industry agnostic and our program is open to anyone who’s building a Tech company with Impact. We are however particularly excited about seeing applications for mobility, sustainability, social impact…

We ask our Founders to commit 25 hours to the program on a weekly basis, minimum. This means you can go through our program and test your idea while keeping your job.

To complete the program, a Founder or Team needs to develop an engaging idea for a technology company that is validated by the program Mentors, plan out the business, work on an offering, incorporate their company, and complete all of the required assignments – all within a four-month timeframe.

Reasons for not graduating differ, but each Founder who leaves is invited to join a future program, when they are ready to launch a business.

Dates

We are constantly watching the COVID precautions for running our cohorts, but expect to run the fall cohort in a hybrid form with both online and in-person events starting in October.

Early Application Deadline:

August 28, 2022

Final Application Deadline:

September 25, 2022

Calendar:

October 4, 2022 – January 25, 2023

Course fee:

$699 (Early Bird)

$899 USD (Final Fee)

"Enjoy the ride!"

We all highly recommend the experience. Should you consider undergoing it yourself, we have just one final tip: enjoy the ride!

Tobias Dickmeis Tandem
Tobias Dickmeis Alumnus & Mentor, Letsmake, Tandem Language

"One of my best experiences"

This program is one of my best experiences, I want to do it again.

Daria Ivnitsky SODA Buro
Daria Ivnitsky Former Founder, SODA Buro

"I don’t want it to end ever"

I can’t believe my Founder Institute Berlin journey is coming to an end in less than two weeks! I feel really sad and don’t want it to end ever.

dora petrova FemGems
Dora Petrova FemGems
* You’ll have two sessions at the start of the batch to decide whether you want to stay with us. If not, you’ll get a full refund.
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Currently, Founder Institute Berlin runs virtually and we’re open to Founders from all around the world.

We have an office in Mitte, provided by our partner Unicorn Workspaces. You are very welcome to visit, at the same time, we will continue working quite virtual, so please book an appointment to make sure we are in!

Founder Institute, Berlin Chapter: Unicorn Wedding, Gerichtstr. 51, 13347 Berlin, Germany

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Come visit us!

We have an office in Mitte, provided by our partner Unicorn Workspaces. You are very welcome to visit, at the same time, we will continue working quite virtual, so please book an appointment to make sure we are in!

Founder Institute, Berlin Chapter: Unicorn Wedding, Gerichtstr. 51 13347 Berlin, Germany

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