The Founder Institute, which is dubbed as the “world’s largest entrepreneur training and startup launch program,” began in 2009 and has graduated over 1,310 companies across 85 cities. In Canada, Founder Institute is based out of Toronto and Montreal and recently two of its startups were accepted into its Founder Lab W15 program.
The past several years, especially on our home turf, many Canadians have felt the urge to jump on a possible idea and apply to one of the various incubator or accelerator programs across the country. Founder Institute goes by the mantra of “Make the Leap from Employee to Entrepreneur” and differs from others as its 4-month program is part-time and doesn’t require those accepted “to quit your day job to participate.” Some investors would say that this structure shows mixed commitment, others possibly not putting their livelihood at risk.
One in five startups fail within their first five years and many hubs has seen an influx of applications. The Founder Institute is one of them and announced a massive amount of interest to join its program. On Twitter, FI noted its Montreal location has experienced the “most applicant demand in history.” In an email to BetaKit, Sergio A. Escobar, Director of the Founder Institute in Montreal, stated, “911 people attended our recruitment events, which started the last week of November. To give you a perspective, that’s 2.5x times higher than the recruitment done last year while we were opening Canada for the first time… We had to shut down applications one week earlier due to high volume of applications.”
Founder Institute’s Toronto location is also experiencing great interest as the chapter closed applications early January with about 400 applications. For perspective, Silicon Valley recruitment is apparently around 300-400 people.
“I think the Montreal entrepreneurial ecosystem has a huge potential and it’s growing exponentially year after year. The proof is that we suddenly have an enormous amount of professionals willing to make the leap from employees to entrepreneurs. Montreal is the Canadian city with the biggest concentration of universities, so there is a ton of talent (both domestically, and from abroad),” said Escobar. “In general, the city has a very creative culture due to its bilingual English/French nature. It truly has the potential to be the technological innovation epicentre for Canada. That being said, the biggest challenge for entrepreneurs in Montreal is how to scale beyond Quebec Province, beyond Canada borders, and into the larger North American market.”