Founder Institute Moscow Has Reached Its Halfway Point

July 20, 2013

Less than half of Founder Institute Moscow’s course participants were able to move on to the final stage of the training program: some were weeded out by the accelerator’s mentors following the results of their idea’s midterm quality evaluation, while some couldn’t handle the typical entrepreneurial workload, which includes extracurricular tasks, colossal responsibility, and independent decision-making.

However, some of the remaining participants have already managed to advance their projects to the beta testing stage.

“Not everyone is prepared to work 80+ hours per week.

But for those who are willing to make those changes, to be flexible with their idea, the progress is obvious,” comments Peter Tatischev, one of the directors of FI Moscow and curator of the Digital October Center.

As you might recall, training at the Founder Institute consists of 15 weekly evening consultations with local mentors (experienced entrepreneurs and field-specific business experts), as well as ‘extracurricular’ work, in which participants use FI materials and mentor recommendations to improve their projects outside of class time.

Participants can also take advantage of office hours to meet with FI’s directors and ask them question in between classes.

The launch of the Moscow chapter of the program was announced in March, and applications were accepted over the course of two months. During that time, FI’s head office received over 150 applications from Russia.

The admissions process for those who wished to lay the foundations for starting their own business without leaving their current job was based not on ideas (people could apply without them), but on the results of a test gauging a person’s aptitude for entrepreneurship. Information from the specially designed online questionnaire crossed the desk of the head ‘founder’ Adeo Ressi and his colleagues.

Testing an idea and its author for market-readiness

is the Founder Institute’s primary goal.

“Despite having the word ‘institute’ in the title, our working model is far from academic,” clarifies Maria Adamian, the second director of FI Moscow. “Founder Institute is for the kind of people who have already made the decision to start their own businesses; after all, the program is designed in such a way that hesitant or flighty participants won’t be able to complete the training. We give people the chance to play with their idea, and then consciously reject it if it doesn’t have big potential. After all, our primary goal is to help mature, educated people found meaningful and sustainable companies.”

Some of the 38 people who made it through the selection process dropped out almost immediately, when, after the meet-and-greet event, course participants received a timed assignment that would require them to sacrifice their weekends.

It’s interesting to note that, right before the start of classes, Adeo Ressi sent FI Moscow a letter in which he told participants that their training would be something like an elite boot camp – and that first call to action turned out to be the last for 10 people.

Later on, it came time to weed out ideas: having met the participants and spent some time working with them on their business plans, the mentors hosted the first of three planned Idea Review sessions, during which they pointed out the weak points of the proposed projects.

Two projects didn’t make it to the next step, while some participants had to complete a large-scale, time-sensitive project to fix the most problematic aspects of their project in order to stay.

Some of the participants who were weeded out plan to join the second semester of FI Moscow, using the remaining six months to rework and improve their concept. Others took advantage of an available option and joined one of their colleagues’ projects, having signed a special agreement for the occasion.

On the other hand, certain projects were of such interest to the mentors

that some of them joined their advisory boards.

Founders’ diplomas still aren’t a sure bet, even for the course’s strongest students: the active stage of classes will end in the middle of August, and participants still have to complete a mandatory aspect of the course by registering their company in the United States, go through the Progress Review session on July 22nd, and, on September 2nd, they’ll have to take an exam, which will take the form of a 5-minute pitch in front of investors.

Founder Institute is a network of local accelerators that offer entrepreneurs practical training and access to experts. The program is headquartered in the Silicon Valley, and has been spreading for the past three years all over the world. Since its inception, FI has trained the founders of 807 companies, which employ over 5000 people, while the global network of FI mentors has grown to over 1000 members. Founder Institute’s graduates include the founders of Udemy and Getable. The FI chapter in Moscow started the first semester in May 2013. Enrollment for the second semester of FI Moscow will begin in October and last until the end of the year.

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