Guiding uncharted potential
FounderFuel works to develop both the skillsets and mindsets of the founders shaping our future through game-changing technology. New founders learn and grow, hone their business models and stories and take their companies to the next level.
Four axes that transform vision into leading companies.
FounderFuel combines the value of Real Ventures’ support and networks with an OKR-based approach to success to power a 4-month experience with insightful mentors, intensive networking events, expert-led seminars, and more… culminating in Canada’s biggest Demo Day.Apply now
A strong narrative is essential to building a venture-backed company. Founders that can communicate a compelling see more success in attracting talent, raising financing and building high-functioning teams. Using techniques honed across hundreds of FounderFuel and Real Ventures companies, our narrative track gives founders the tools make others believe — whether on stage, in board rooms, or even in the elevator.
Companies thrive when they are supported by great advisors and a strong community. With hundreds of mentors, alumni, and partners, FounderFuel is a gateway to one of the premier startup networks in Canada. Our network track leverages this uniquely valuable group through mentor matching, founder talks, and high-value social encounters.
Acceleration is ultimately measured in business results. Using the
OKR method as a base, FounderFuel helps participants set and reach ambitious goals while establishing an operational cadence that can scale. Our execution track includes weekly check-ins, mentor board reviews, and expert-led seminars. The FounderFuel program also gets our companies investment ready!
Leaders have people who follow them, while managers have people
who work for them. A crucial aspect of founder success is personal development and leadership coaching. In addition to skilling up operationally, our leadership track helps founders to develop the self-awareness and resilience that will help them weather the storms of company-building.
FounderFuel is a mentor-driven accelerator, focusing on leadership development and growth to help 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 100 companies since 2011. Our 4-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. 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 $470M 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 create thoughtful leaders with great awareness of themselves and the world around them, 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: Mentor matching – During the first weeks of the program, each company speed-dates with more than 80 mentors. Based on these meetings, the company assembles a small group of mentors with whom they work closely during the program. Weekly check-ins – At the start of the program, each company crafts goals (OKRs). Once the goals are set, the companies meet weekly with the GM to track progress and address key issues. Expert talks – For each cohort, FounderFuel assembles a group of experts to speak about key domain areas (sales, marketing, financing, etc.) and a group of successful founders to share their stories. Pitch prep and Demo Day – Beginning about mid-way through the program, all companies work weekly, with the GM and the Real Ventures team, to craft compelling narratives for their Demo Day pitch.
The next program will run in the fall of 2021.
Typically, FounderFuel is hosted at Notman House, in downtown Montreal, but the 2020 program was all virtual.
Yes, during the program Notman House rents allocates a dedicated workspace to the cohort. Rent amount is still to be determined. Companies can choose to extend their stay at Notman after the program ends. For the next cohort, we’ll first consider the health guidelines of the moment before making any decision.
In general, we look for teams that meet the following requirements: A founding team of at least two people, open to coaching and personal development. At least one technical co-founder. All key members committed full-time. Founders need to be based in Montreal for the duration of the program. 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: Team – Do we think the founders can build a massive company? Market – Is the company attacking a venture-scale opportunity? Product – Can the product deliver 10x value vs. other options? Stage – Is the company at the right stage to benefit from FounderFuel?
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, YPC, Locketgo and OSCP. 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: A functioning product or prototype, Some sort of early user base, Have not raised a full seed round ($1M+), Are looking to raise financing in the next 6 months. 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.
Typically, founders were expected to be present in Montreal for the duration of the program. Given the circumstances, the 2020 program was virtual. The 2021 program will most likely be a mix of in-person and virtual events, depending on the health guidelines of the moment.
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: Mentorship – Direct access to one of the premier startup networks in Canada, with over 100 active mentors. Direct Support – Intensive weekly support from the FounderFuel and Real Ventures team. Coaching – Personal development workshops and one-on-one coaching. Investor exposure – Intros and engagement with our extensive investor network, culminating with Canada’s largest Demo Day. Fundraising prep – Deep and focused work on the company’s narrative, fundraising strategy, and fundraising materials. Training – Talks from top founders and practitioners.
Applications for FounderFuel’s 2021 cohort will open in the fall.
Applications will close 4 weeks after they open.
It’s too early to tell. We’ll update this page when we have more information to share.
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.
FounderFuel can only help startups who get accepted into one of our cohorts. The best option is to apply for the next program!