How do I apply to Entrepreneur First?

The most frequently asked questions about applying to EF.

Entrepreneur First exists to help turn the most ambitious engineers and academics into founders of their own technology companies (often before they have a team or idea). We run programmes twice a year in March and September, both in London and Singapore.

Our selection process is deliberately thorough to ensure that we select 100 highly-skilled, committed and impact-driven individuals per cohort. The first step in our selection process is to tell us a bit about your background via the application form on our website.

Here are the most common questions people ask us before applying:

Do I need an idea?

No, having a concrete idea is not required to apply to EF. While some applicants do have early ideas, most come to us with just interests or problems which they’ve observed. We’ll help you figure out what idea you should be working on when you join the programme.

Am I technical enough?

Our programme is designed for people with technical skills. This commonly includes (but is not limited to) people with qualifications or experience in computer science, software/hardware engineering, statistics, and computational sciences. More broadly, we are interested in applicants from STEM backgrounds who want to apply the technology they are most familiar with.

We progress a very small handful of applicants without technical skills. Usually they are domain experts who will be able to use their network, connections, and industry exposure to match their cofounder’s technical contribution.

What will make me stand out?

The best application forms are the ones which provide a good level of detail about technical experience and projects. The form deliberately contains few long-answer questions, so we encourage you to spend time on the ones which we do ask. Please include URLs to work or papers where you can.

Aren’t London and Singapore really expensive?

Compared to other parts of Europe and Asia, London and Singapore are slightly more expensive places to live. However, we believe that the benefits to founders building startups in these locations greatly outweigh the slightly higher living costs — including access to venture capital, investors, industry, and talent.

EF pays a stipend to every individual who joins and invests in the company you form later on. The stipend is designed to cover all accommodation and maintenance costs you encounter during your time on the programme. Our partnerships with leading service providers also provides cohort members with over $1m worth of discounts which means that there are virtually no large company outgoings in the first six months.

We aim to make EF accessible regardless of your financial situation. If you would like to find out about our scholarship which provides additional financial aid, please get in touch.

Can I do EF part-time or remotely?

No. EF is a full-time programme with in-person participation in London or Singapore. We have tested working with part-time founders and remote teams in the past and believe that time commitment and proximity to the programme are crucial factors in your success at EF.

I have a cofounder already — do we both need to apply?

Yes. Occasionally pre-formed teams at a very early stage join EF. In these instances we will still make selection decisions and offers based on the individual backgrounds of team members. This is to ensure that should the team break up during the programme (as is normal for during the team-building phase at EF), both founders have a good chance of reforming with another cohort member.

What happens next if I’m successful?

If you are shortlisted by our selection team you will be notified via email about the next stage. We work extremely quickly and aim to come back to you within a week of submitting an application (very often just a few days).

If you are shortlisted we’ll ask for some more specific details about your background and will invite you to learn more about the programme at an Open Office event. All applicants who are qualified at this stage will be progressed to interviews.

When does the programme start?

There are two possible start dates for our programmes — March and September. The next cohort is EF8 and kicks of late-March 2017, followed by EF9 and EFSG2 which start in mid-September 2017.

Does my company need to stay based in the UK after the programme?

Most of our portfolio companies tend to stay based in London so that they can remain close to their customers, investors, and EF support network. What matters the most, however, is that you base yourself in the location most advantageous for company growth. We have companies with bases outside of the UK, including offices in the USA, China, and South Africa.

What happens if I don’t build a startup at EF?

Typically over half of the cohort go on to build companies and raise external investment. For those who don’t build a successful company on the programme there are a number of next steps which our team will support you with. The vast majority who decide to stop go on to join an EF portfolio company as an early employee. Regardless of whether you found a startup during your time on the programme you remain part of our community as an EF alumnus for life.

The early deadline for EF8 (starting March 2017) closes on Friday 30th September. You can submit your application at joinef.com/apply

For any other questions about applying or eligibility please email apply@joinef.com