Founder Institute, the accelerator with a goal to “globalize Silicon Valley,” graduates its 650th startup today.
In its three-year life span, notable alumni include companies like CakeHealth, Udemy, and Retailigence. The program for early-stage companies is the largest in the world; presently there are chapters in 32 cities across 19 countries, including New York, Spain, Mexico, Germany, Israel, Vietnam, and Puerto Rico.
In some of these cities, it is at the central hub of the nascent tech community and connects a small cadre of entrepreneurs with mentors in the Bay Area.
Y Combinator may be known for its Paul Graham, an entrepreneurial rogue once described as a “folk hero to a generation of ambitious techies,” but Founder Institute has a more stable presence in the form of Adeo Ressi, the former roommate of Elon Musk, who dreams of replicating the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial ethic around the world.
“One of the driving missions of the Founder Institute, since its inception in 2009, is to demonstrate that the characteristics synonymous with Silicon Valley — entrepreneurship and innovation — are not based upon geography, but on people; and that Silicon Valley model can be successfully deployed globally,” said Ressi (pictured left).
“With this milestone, and projections that we will break 700 companies by year’s end, we are clearly demonstrating that successful entrepreneurs, cut from the cloth of Silicon Valley, can be incubated anywhere,” he added.
To provide entrepreneurs with fairer terms, Ressi unveiled a new financing model known as “convertible equity.” It is designed to keep founders of early-stage companies from being saddled with debt.
The graduation of the Silicon Valley class took place this month. As you would expect with the Founder Institute, it includes a diverse mix of companies, many of which have an underlying social or environmental mission. Here are their elevator pitches:
DatePress is developing an e-commerce marketplace for date experiences to help couples discover exclusive date packages catered specifically to the couple’s collaborative profile.
iotaGift is an online platform that allow people in need to request help, and for their friends to anonymously contribute to the financial goal. Founder Karla Hawkinson struggled financially from a divorce, which inspired her to start the company.
Fundfresh.com is a crowdfunding site specifically catered to minority communities within the United States. Founder Michelle Richards is African American, and hopes it will serve as a catalyst for minorities to become entrepreneurs in the tech sector.
PriceHub is an automotive marketplace that is built to provide real prices paid for new and used cars with VIN numbers. It collects and aggregates actual sold data on cars and uses this information to give consumers more confidence when buying a used car.
June Labs is an online marketplace for professional development courses to help teachers worldwide learn from educators in an innovative social learning ecosystem.
Archetris is developing design software that eliminates many of the complexities currently plaguing architects and designers. The software will be simple enough for non-architects to use yet powerful enough to improve the efficiency of professionals.
VeMa Research helps connect veterinary and human medicine to make life better for both by creating additional and improved treatments, with the ultimate goal of improving success rates of cancer treatments at the end of clinical trials.
BitPlanet is a backend that enables app developers to quickly develop mobile apps linking data from services in a corporate IT environment. Founded by Poornaprajna Udupi.
SnapPost.com offers a solution as easy as snapping a picture to solve the complicated process of selling on eBay. With just a snap of a photo, SnapPost.com enables sellers to list items for auction in a more efficient manner.
Spikes will offer the world’s most secure web browser, addressing the biggest security risk facing corporate networks today. Founder Branden Spikes has held high-status positions as companies such as PayPal, Cohesive and Zip2.
GoldMind is a software platform focused on the relationship between our thoughts, feelings and physiology. The founder aims to create highly designed, interactive, fun therapy techniques that interface with a biofeedback sensor and mobile device.
Sparc Digital is a developing platform designed to help performing artists from all over the world get discovered and build their personal brand online through the usage of social media, feedback from judges, and a voting system much like American Idol.