FounderFuel is a mentor-driven accelerator that helps early-stage startups make meaningful progress on the venture path. Backed by Real Ventures, Canada’s most active seed-stage tech venture capital firm, FounderFuel has invested in 89 companies since 2011. Our 3-month intensive program is supported by a network of seasoned startup founders, investors, and executives along with the entire Real Ventures team. The program culminates with Canada’s largest Demo Day.
FounderFuel is run by a general manager who oversees the program and works closely with each team, and a program manager who is responsible for day to day operations. For more on our current team, click here. The program is supported by the Real Ventures operations team (finance, legal, comms, etc.). In addition, all Real Ventures investment partners are actively involved as mentors and speakers. Outside of the core team, FounderFuel is supported by a network of more than 100 mentors and a sponsor group consisting of leading firms from the innovation ecosystem.
Ten FounderFuel portfolio companies have raised Series A or later rounds: Sonder, Transit, Unsplash, Mejuri, Benchsci, LoginRadius, XpertSea, Bus.com, Oohlala, and Opencare. Another 20+ companies have raised seed rounds or have reached profitability, and 10 or so companies have had small exits. All of the portfolio companies together have raised over $325M in financing.
The number one reason to join FounderFuel is to solidify your company’s financing path. From kickoff to Demo Day, the program is designed to help you shape a compelling narrative, strategy and action plan that can unlock venture funding. FounderFuel is also designed to have a major positive impact on a company’s culture, support network and the speed and quality of execution.
FounderFuel’s program is built around a few major pillars:
FounderFuel is an intensive program that is also expressly designed to allow companies to continue executing effectively. The most intensive parts of the program are during the first 3 weeks (for mentor matching) and the last 3 weeks (for pitch prep and Demo Day). During these periods, co-founders can expect to spend 15-20 hours a week on FounderFuel-related activities. During the middle 7 weeks of the program, the time commitment is around 5-10 hours a week for talks, check-ins, and social events. The FounderFuel program is most intensive for the co-founder (usually the CEO) who will be pitching the business on Demo Day.
The next FounderFuel cohort starts on Monday, April 15, 2019, and runs for 13 weeks. Demo Day is on July 9, 2019.
In general, we look for teams that meet the following requirements:
For the record, it is possible to be accepted without meeting all of these requirements, but your chances are far better if you fit the above profile.
While many factors come into play, we’re especially focused on a few key aspects:
In our experience, startups have a much higher chance of success if there are at least two co-founders involved in the business. Co-founders not only share the enormous workload associated with startups, but they also help each other through emotional challenges. The intense environment created by an accelerator makes it even more desirable to have a co-founder. While we have accepted single founders before, co-founding teams are strongly preferred.
FounderFuel works with companies across all sectors that are using technology and business-model innovation to create value in large markets. While we view technology-powered innovation broadly, we focus primarily on companies that have software and data as part of their core technology. We are especially interested in companies leveraging artificial intelligence to drive innovation. This is driven by Real Ventures’ investment thesis and the strength of Canada’s AI ecosystems.
Yes, we do. Some examples include Mosaic Manufacturing, XpertSea, Vanhawks, Nectar, and YPC. When we do invest in hardware we prefer that the technology also has a software or data component.
FounderFuel works best for companies that have:
Companies that fit the above description are best positioned to maximize the value of the program.
Quite possibly. We do not consider the amount of time you’ve been working on the company as a key factor. What matters most is whether the company is at a point of time today where our accelerator can be impactful.
If your company has raised financing via friends and family, angel investors or micro VCs then the program could still be an excellent fit. Many of our most successful companies had already raised before joining the program. If your company has raised a full institutional seed round, then it is less likely to be a fit.
Yes, founders are expected to be present in Montreal for the duration of the program. Physical presence is essential so that founders can interact directly with the mentors and speakers as well as the FounderFuel and Real Ventures team.
Speaking French is not a requirement for the program, as all sessions are held in English. Outside of the program, Montreal’s startup ecosystem, and the city in general are both easy to navigate with little or no French.
FounderFuel invests $120K CAD into each company that participates in the program. This investment is split into two parts. $20K is invested for 5% of the company’s common shares. $100K is invested in a SAFE with a $3.5M cap and 20% discount. In cases where a company has already raised funds at a higher price or cap, FounderFuel will adjust the terms of the $100K investment to match those terms.
The terms of the equity investment are not negotiable. The terms of the SAFE may be adjusted in cases where a company has already raised funds at different terms.
FounderFuel’s non-cash benefits represent a significant portion of the overall value provided by the program. Key benefits include:
Applications will close on February 10th. Completing your application before this date is recommended as we begin interviewing companies while applications are still open. Early applications generally receive more attention and offer you a greater number of options for interview times.
Offers will be made by March 15.
All open positions at Real Ventures are listed on our careers page. If you’re interested in working for our one our portfolio companies, please check out our job board. If you’d like to stay up-to-date about Real’s activities in general, please check out our blog, Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter pages.