Over the last few months, the Founder Institute has set up Founder Councils in a half dozen cities worldwide. The vision has been to bring together various local technology leaders and collaborate on helping build billion dollar technology companies in each city.
There have been some great ideas and initiatives that have emerged from this effort. There have also been mistakes. Unfortunately, we have decided to stop the Founder Council to focus all our efforts on the Founder Institute (http://FI.co). As of today, we will close the Founder Council mailing lists and stop hosting Founder Council events. I will quickly share the positive lessons and the reasoning for closure, so please read on if you are interested.
When the Founder Council started and we hosted brainstorming calls with various local leaders, there was magic. In a hour and a half long conversation, we covered all of the challenges and opportunities in a city, formulating real strategies to improve the local startup ecosystem. Three trends emerged.
First, most leaders felt that the level of local expertise in the best practices for building startups needed improvement, so we discussed creating an event series to fly in global startup thinkers to share cutting-edge concepts. Second, most leaders were concerned that local companies were not scaling internationally fast enough, so we discussed increasing the local training programs from international organizations, like the Founder Institute. Third, most leaders complained about the availability of funding, so we discussed adding investor training events and local showcase events for top startups.
Real plans and actions were being undertaken by the Founder Council to execute these solutions, but a concerning trend was also emerging. As the startup scene grew in notoriety with media exposure, government grants and new opportunities, the competitive sentiments between various leaders in the local startup ecosystems also grew. Leaders that once collaborated became less friendly, and everyone became increasingly busy. As a result, unless we pushed collaboration, nothing would happen.
Our goal was always to help the local ecosystem get organized to build great companies. When it became increasingly clear that we needed to do much of the organization ourselves and push to get key leaders involved, we had to make some hard choices. On the one hand, the Founder Council was helping to unite leaders and address challenges in markets. On the other hand, there was some brand confusion in the market between the Founder Institute and the Founder Council. More importantly, it was taking more and more work for the Founder Council to get less and less results, and all of this was happening while the Founder Institute was expanding at an increasing rate.
So, like any good startup in a customer development phase, we decided to stop working on the Founder Council and focus on expanding the Founder Institute into 100 cities.
Ultimately, I firmly believe that it takes a city to raise a startup. The Founder Institute prides itself on bringing together as many players in an ecosystem to help build meaningful and enduring companies. I plan to continue the mission of the Founder Council in our daily work at the Founder Institute.
We are entering an inspiring time for global innovation. I hope that we can find ways to keep in touch and work together. Let’s build some amazing companies!
Founder and CEO of Founder Institute