In February, we heard Gary Stewart speak about how FounderTribes is accelerating networking. The company is on a mission to create an end-to-end inclusive and scalable platform that both empowers and matches founders with mentors globally.
To date, FounderTribes has secured $1.2 Million of funding from Velocity Capital Advisors and other investors. It’s clear there’s a real need for open networking apps, especially when it comes to helping and mentoring underrepresented founders. However, the vision for FounderTribes extends beyond this. The app leverages individual affinities to accelerate business connections, matching founders with mentors, using powerful algorithms.
Hundreds of millions of founders fail globally
It’s not a pretty statistic. It feels like everyone has a side hustle, a big idea or knows someone that’s working on a promising project. However, the reality is that some of the brightest entrepreneurial minds might be failing right now, simply because they don’t have access to the right education, networks, or funding.
According to Investopedia, startups generally face a failure rate of 90%.
FounderTribes’ Co-founder Gary spoke of fictional entrepreneurs Anthony and Christina to help illustrate his point and humanise the numbers.
Anthony is young and ambitious. He’s the founder of a telemedicine startup in Manchester. He needs funds. So, he applies to accelerators in London, but he keeps getting rejected.
Christina is the hard-working founder of a beauty salon in Brooklyn, New York. She is the first college graduate in her family. She feels she has no one to talk to in her community or network. There are no accelerators for people like her.
Helping unrepresented founders
Whilst hundreds of millions of founders fail globally every year, it’s even more challenging for founders like Christina and Anthony. Gary explains, ‘Because if you don’t look like everyone else, at least the people that have the money, then it tends to be more difficult to raise the funding.’
- According to HBR, although women make up more than half of the population, they receive about 2.3% of Venture Capital funding.
- Furthermore, if founders do not live in the right cities, it is highly unlikely they will secure funding as it is centred in very particular locations like San Francisco, New York City or Boston.
- Finally, according to Gary, if founders didn’t go to the ‘right school’, it becomes more difficult to connect with investors because 48% of all Venture Capitalists went to three schools: Harvard, Stanford, or Yale.
- Even though the alumni of these schools only represent 0.5% of all workers in the US, they determine who is going to get funded.
It’s clear from these statistics that more needs to be done to help founders like Anthony and Christina thrive, grow and scale. Gary reasons, ‘If lawyers have a law school and if doctors aren’t told to fake it until they make it, they’re instructed and taught how to be good doctors, why shouldn’t entrepreneurs also have tools to help them become better entrepreneurs?’
So how does the FounderTribes app work?
Step 1: Pitch
A founder uploads a pitch from the ‘My Hub’ tab. They select ‘Add new pitch’ and enter their startup details, including link and logo.
Step 2: Feedback
Once founders upload their pitch, they receive a fundability score. They will be told quickly where they are making mistakes or where they can improve. Later, the pitches will receive additional reviews from users based on 11 areas:
- Market potential
- Business model
Step 3: Mentorship
If they are fundable, they will progress to the Founder Match stage. This stage considers the industry they are in and their affinities to different sources of investment. Founders can search and ‘Request Mentorship’ from mentors from the ‘My Hub’ section of the app. This area will also display matches under ‘My Mentors’. Alternatively, you can view Mentorship requests from the notifications bell on the top-right corner.
What if founders are not ready?
If founders aren’t ready for funding, FounderTribes will match them with educational sources and help them upskill in areas where they may need help.
Powerful matching algorithms
Behind FounderTribes is a simple insight. Although there are loads of people out there saying that they want to help entrepreneurs, whether it be grants, accelerators, angels, VCs, banks and corporates, it is really hard for a founder to know exactly where to go, when to go and how to reach the right person. Gary adds, ‘If these days you can find your partner using a dating app, why can’t you find the right partner for your business using a matching app as well, which is essentially what FounderTribes is.’
However, the platform takes this matching technology one step further. For instance, if you go to the same university as someone you are about 34.4% more likely to want to work with them. Founders no longer need to know someone beforehand to work with them. They just have to have something in common with them.
This is easy to detect and graph with the app. FounderTribes’ algorithms analyse users by 40 variables like gender, geography and education. The app ranks matches by traditional criteria like industry and stage, optimising matches for demographic affinity with a high rate of accuracy. The secret sauce of the app is its ‘needs-based’ matching. It helps rethink the way passive platforms like LinkedIn connect us. Closed networks may require you to know the person’s email address before connecting or unlocking access.
FounderTribes offers a dynamic open network, accelerating active networking. It optimises and scales what accelerators and business schools do offline. It also opens closed networks to reflect changes in demographics and social norms.
Currently, FounderTribes users can leverage a network of:
- 18,000 Angels
- 3,000 Venture Capitalists
- 5,000 Mentors
They can also access world-class content from thought leaders like Stacy Abrahams, Steve Blank and Jen Wong.
For phase one, FounderTribes is focussing on under-represented founders. Gary explains, ‘When you add together women, minorities and working-class whites that we also think are important to focus on that’s 92% of the US population; so 92% of the US population fits into one of these three buckets, but they get less than 10% of the funding.’
Later phases will be focused on founders of all backgrounds, ‘wantrepreneurs’ and finally intrapreneurs as well as other employees.
Download the FounderTribes app
If you’re a founder or a mentor, you can try the app out here.
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