Founder Institute launches sixth Canadian chapter in Calgary


Founder Institute, a global pre-seed accelerator, is opening a new location in Calgary. This represents Founder Institute’s sixth Canadian location, making Canada the accelerator’s third-largest market globally.

Founder Institute’s program aims to provide founders with structure, support, and a network of entrepreneurs.

The accelerator plans to run two semesters annually and launch over 20 technology startups per year in the Alberta city. Founder Institute works with entrepreneurs at the idea, prototype, and early company stages of growth, providing members with mentorship, business-building, and a network of Silicon Valley mentors.

The Calgary 2020 program will include the Founder Institute’s new curriculum that aims to address the needs of advanced founders as well as aspiring entrepreneurs.

According to its website, each Founder Institute alumnus contributes four percent of their company equity to a shared liquidity pool for each cohort. After a liquidity event, such as an IPO or acquisition, the pool’s financial returns are distributed, with one percent each going to mentors, alumni, the program’s leadership, and Founder Institute headquarters.

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In 2014, Founder Institute first launched in Canada in Toronto and Montreal through its local program directors, Sunil Sharma, also managing director of Techstars Toronto, and Sergio Escobar, also CEO and partner at BCF Ventures. The accelerator operates across more than 185 cities and six continents. Founder Institute has helped more than 200 companies in Canada so far, including Fight Camp, Streamline Genomics, and SpaceiShare.

Founder Institute opened up its Kitchener-Waterloo chapter in January 2019 and in September announed the launch of a chapter in Halifax, however, the Nova Scotia city branch does not currently appear on the organization’s website.

A spokesperson for Founders Institute explained to BetaKit that after running a few events in Halifax, the accelerator “didn’t see enough demand” to actually launch a program – despite having announced an official launch in September.

“We fully believe there are many talented entrepreneurs in the region and we look forward to working with them in the future,” the spokesperson stated.

Founder Institute’s decision to ultimately not launch the East Coast accelerator comes as reports have found that Atlantic Canada saw a record-breaking 2018 for private capital investments. The region is also home to programs like innovation hub Volta and virtual accelerator Propel.

Image source Unsplash. Photo by Toni Reed.

With support from Meagan Simpson

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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