Two Founder Institute Scholarships

December 29, 2013, 23:59

Investors often say that, first and foremost, they invest in people rather than ideas. The experience of many tech industry stars also goes to show that their personalities are significantly more important than what they’ve had to start out with.

But how can you determine the potential of a person who doesn’t already have some proverbial ‘traction’?

Adeo Ressi, the founder of The Founder Institute, the international entrepreneurial accelerator, could hardly have guessed that his college roommate, with whom he had come up with a new sales model for marketing beer to students, would end up participating in the founding of PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla Motors just a few years down the road.

That roommate was Elon Musk. He was one of the first people Ressi asked to test drive the Founder Institute entrance exam, which identifies the inborn talents necessary for running one’s own business.

At the time, Adeo already had 15 years of business experience under his belt, along with four successfully sold companies. He had also started TheFunded, an international network of tech entrepreneurs, with whose help he discovered that, at the end of the 2000s, the ‘average CEO raising investment money’ was a man under the age of 30, and decided to change the situation.

In order to do that, he developed an accelerator training program for people who wanted to try their hand at running their own business – a program whose admissions requirements didn’t look at an applicant’s idea, age, or sex.

Founder Institute mentors would help to create a student’s ‘dream company’ over the course of their training,

and students could keep their day jobs during the program’s first stages. For four months, they would learn the tools of the modern entrepreneur’s trade, learn to work within their chosen market, and come to understand all the organizational and legal aspects connected with working in business.

Program admission was based on the very test that had been calibrated on the results of Musk and Ressi’s other successful colleagues. The exam is somewhat similar to an IQ test; it allows for the evaluation of a number of personality traits, which psychologists, sociologists and other specialists from leading US universities help Founder Institute to interpret.

The evaluation methods, as well as the test results themselves, remain a closely guarded secret (you are either accepted for the semester or you aren’t), but

the results of FI’s several years of experience suggest that the test has an 86% success rate

for determining an applicant’s potential as the future founder of an international startup.


To maintain ‘newbie’ interest in entrepreneurship, each of the Founder Institute’s 55 branch organizations offers two tuition-free slots per application period. One goes to the applicant who garners the strongest results during the early application period.


The other scholarship is aimed at closing the gender gap in the field of entrepreneurship. It has been offered by all FI branches since 2011, and, since then, the number of companies founded by program alumnae has grown to 26% of the total number of startups making up the Founder Institute network. During the last application period, 40 women competed for the Moscow accelerator’s Female Founder Fellowship.

Founder Institute Moscow’s second semester will begin in February of 2014 at the Digital October Center.

Up through December 29th, one could compete for a scholarship from our branch by taking the free entrance exam (usually, the test costs $50, which goes towards the expert analysis of the results). We will announce the scholarship recipients at an information session on January 15th.



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