Founder Institute Cincinnati

Founder Institute Cincinnati

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    Have a business idea but don’t know where to start? Read on to learn more about the local chapter of a nationwide startup accelerator program that puts its focus on you, the founder.

    The Founder Institute prides itself as being the only program of its kind that focuses on people rather than ideas. The Institute also accepts founders who have day jobs and shares equity with all of its program participants.

    And thanks to the booming entrepreneurial scene in Cincinnati, the Institute recently made its way to the Queen City.

    “Founder Institute is the world’s premier idea-stage accelerator and startup launch program,” explains Global Marketing Manager Rachel Sheppard. “Our program takes people with good ideas and gives them the tools, knowledge, and feedback to launch and enduring company.”

    Sheppard says that those who work with Founder Institute are encouraged to accomplish as much progress in 3.5 months as some make in years. To do this, founders pitch ideas and strategies to startup mentors, are then given feedback, ratings, and evaluations. Once they are accepted into the program, founders are given Office Hours with top entrepreneurs as well as real world assignments to be completed weekly that will push their business forward, even after they graduate from the program.

    The Institute, which was founded by Adeo Ressi, was inspired by a passion to make the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur easier.

    “The reason why I started the Founder Institute is because it’s hard to be an entrepreneur,” says Ressi. “My vision was ‘Maybe if I can set something up that made it easier for people, it would be a win all around.’”

    A big part of the Institute is put on focusing on the founder rather than the idea in the admission process. Applications are welcome from aspiring founders with full-time jobs, solo founders, teams, and founders of established companies who are in the pre-funding stages.

    “After a short written component, applicants take our Predictive Admissions Assessment – a one-hour long collection of aptitude and personality tests that have been in development with leading social scientists since 2008 to identify people with the highest potential to adapt and thrive in a fast-paced entrepreneurial environment,” explains Sheppard. “To date, over 35,000 people have applied, and the Founder Institute can predict with great accuracy somebody’s potential to become a successful technology entrepreneur. Our entrepreneur research has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, and Forbes.”  To learn more about the test, visit:

    The Cincinnati chapter of Founder Institute was launched in 2016, and has already helped to launch several local companies including Just Hire Me and ABLE.

    The Cincinnati chapter features 43 local startup mentors, all which have different areas of expertise. Many of them have launched and grown their own companies while others are able to bring a significant amount of experience to the table, including the legal ins-and-outs of forming a startup, branding, etc. Globally, adds Sheppard, the Founder Institute is supported by a network of more than 9,000 mentors across 170 cities.

    Two years ago, Sheppard says two women from the Founder Institute co-founded the Female Founder Initiative. “The goal is to launch more female-founded companies worldwide, year-over-year,” adds Sheppard. “In 2017, we saw a 50% increase in the number of Founder Institute female-led graduate companies. This year our focus is on partnering with local organizations to provide more support and expertise to our female graduates and ultimately to help more women-led companies receive funding.”

    To learn more about Founder Institute, visit You can also learn more about the Cincinnati program by clicking here.