Founder Accelerator

Idea: Invest in the best founders before they start their next startup.

Why? The most critical time in any startup’s development is actually before conception.

  • Old Model: Insight → Funding
  • New Model: Funding → Insight

Problem: Founders often stay too long at their last startup and/or rush into their next startup because they need money.

Solution: Be the first investor and Shadow Co-Founder to the most promising founders.

  • Coach founders through their idea mazes.
  • Build rapid prototypes with founders.
  • Help founders raise seed/Series A funding.

Deal: $100K if you quit your current job/startup and start something new.

  • We get 20% equity in your next startup or 10% equity in your startup studio.

Mission: Be the world’s earliest angel investor.

  • I aim to invest pre-startup and ideally pre-idea.
    • Founder Rounds are the new Pre-Seed Rounds.

Vision: Create the The Next Y Combinator.

  • Invest at the earliest stage in the most promising founders and help them build their best startups.
    • Goal: Invest even earlier stage than Paul Graham in 2005.
  • Build a huge Founder Tree and support hundreds of great founders.
    • I’ve informally coached founders for the last decade, and have been growing my own Founder Tree through former Labdoor employees starting their own startups.
Is it possible to recreate the energy of Y Combinator’s first batch in Summer 2005? I want to try!

Timing: Opportunity now to build a brand investing in founders pre-YC (even pre-startup).

  • Founders are increasingly looking to stay independent (off the VC track).
    • We help founders keep their optionality as long as possible.
  • Rolling Funds now make it possible to raise money publicly to fund these founders directly.
    • We intend to raise this fund from the world’s best Seed and Series A investors, to whom we’ll operate as a full-service scout program.

Funding: Create Utopic Ventures, my own VC fund.

  • Start With a Rolling Fund to fund Founder Rounds.
    • 10 founders/year = $1M/year fund.
    • 100 founders/year = $10M/year fund.
  • Raise a Seed Fund to lead first rounds for our startups.
    • We get diluted with founders so our incentives are aligned to only fundraise when needed.
      • Only LPs in our Rolling Fund are eligible to invest in our Seed Fund.

Opportunity: Encourage the best founders to create their own startup studios.

  • This solves the fundamental misalignment between founders and investors:
    • Founders shouldn’t have to go all-in on each idea.
    • Investors should back founders long-term, not just for one startup.
  • Give founders the freedom to take many shots on goal and winning whenever they win.

Founder Accelerator is on my list of solutions to the World’s Biggest Problems.

  • This idea is a work-in-progress. If you’d like to riff on it, hit me up @neilthanedar on Twitter!

Published by Neil Thanedar

Neil Thanedar is an entrepreneur, investor, scientist, altruist, and author. He is the founder & CEO of Utopic, his startup studio. He is also the founder & chairman of Air to All, a 501(c)3 nonprofit medical device startup, and Labdoor, a consumer watchdog with $7M+ in funding and 20M+ users. He previously co-founded Avomeen Analytical Services, a product development and testing lab acquired for $30M+ in 2016. He has worked with community organizations since 2007 and political campaigns since 2016 to fight for better education and economic opportunities in Michigan.