This article was first published in February 2018. It has been updated it as batch 5 applications are open until April 1, 2019.
Many of you know by now that we have 30 different programs at Station F and each program is created for startups of a particular industry, development stage or origin. 2 of these programs are run by Station F (the Founders Program and the Fighters Program) and all the others are run by our campus partners.
What is the Founders Program?
Of all the programs we have at Station F, the Founders Program is the biggest and is focused on working with early stage startups — regardless of their industry or country of origin. While a majority of our partner programs work with 10–20 startups, the Founders Program works with approximately 200 startups at any given time and accepts 50–100 new startups per year. Startups in the Founders Program must stay a minimum of 3 months and can stay until they reach 15 employees. During their stay, they have access to all Station F resources and desks cost only €195/desk/month.
But what really makes the Founders Program different from the others?
The Founders Program is founded on a peer-to-peer learning model, with everything we provide tried, tested and recommended by other entrepreneurs. Yes, it might sound simple, and it is. Essentially, we hand-pick tons of incredible entrepreneurs from around the world and we divide them into groups called “guilds.” Startups work together within their guilds sharing resources, knowledge, contacts, skills and more. If you’re having an issue or run into a problem, its likely that some of the entrepreneurs around you have hit the same hurdles and can guide you. While other programs may focus more on mentoring or workshops, the Founders Program seeks to allow for maximum flexibility and does not have a one-size-fits all approach. Therefore, all resources and workshops are à la carte, meaning you pick and use whatever is right for you. The only thing we require is for startups to attend a meeting with their guild once per month in order to encourage entrepreneur collaboration to find solutions to various problems.
What resources are provided to Founders Program startups?
The Station F campus and community provides tons of resources to each and every startup in our 30+ different programs — but we also provide resources specifically for the Founders Program startups.
All startups on campus have access to an incredible work environment in central Paris (we’re not objective, but whatever…), 30 different public services on-site through French Tech Central, our community of 40+ international VCs and investors, reduced rates for our makerspace by TechShop, access to meeting and event spaces and more.
We also have loads of high-profile visitors from around the world — everyone from the President of Argentina to Sam Altman of YCombinator has stopped by and met with our startups.
Startups in the Founders Program also get up to 15 permanent desks for €195 desk/month (prices and limits vary in other programs) and full access to our entire perks database (more than 130 offers and deals and some exclusively for startups in the Founders Program, with more to come). We also organize a number of workshops and events that are open to the entire campus — but, as with every program, certain events and workshops are accessible only to our Founders Program startups.
Don’t forget that this is our first year in action and the Founders Program goes farther than simply what happens and is available on campus. Currently, we accept less than 10% of applications so getting into the Founders Program (and being picked by the Selection Board) brings with it its own level of credibility. In addition, after this year, the Founders alumni community will continue to grow and we will provide support and benefits for our startups even after they have left Station F.
Who can apply to the Founders Program?
Early stage startups from any industry and based anywhere in the world can apply to the Founders Program. Last year, over 4,000 companies from over 50 different countries applied, with the US, UK, China and India sending us the most applications. We currently have a lot of female funded startups that apply (over 40% of startups in the program are founded by women, although this was not intentional) and approximately 25% come from overseas. We can also help with the visa process for companies coming from abroad (through French Tech Visa).
What does it mean to be early stage?
Aha! This is key. We are looking for startups that have started building something. We do not usually accept startups that are still at the idea stage, we want to see that you have already started working on your startup. Therefore, startups can apply with a working prototype and hopefully some proof of concept as well.
Apply by April 1 and move in to Station F in July.
When we first launched Station F, we accepted applications for the Founders Program on a rolling basis. However, logistically it made more sense for us to have 2 move-in dates per year: January and July. So, if you are interested in joining the Founders Program this year, be sure to apply by April 1, 2019 for a move-in date in July 2019.