It’s intense, it’s fast, it’s furious. Fasten your seatbelts.

There’s no time to waste. In five weeks you will begin to build a founding team, validate an idea and get out a working prototype. Ideally, the end of Founder Labs is the start of a new venture with a great team and a validated idea.

You’re moonlighting:

Keep your day job, but come join us in the evenings and on weekends.

You’re building a founding team:

Each Founder Labs comprises 15-20 hand selected founders: engineers and hackers, UI/UX designers and product/marketing mavens. Teams of 3-4 are formed organically with an even mix of skills.

You’re building a product:

No talk, all action. You will be building a prototype and talking to customers.

What happens in five weeks?

The time is tight and the expectations are high, especially since most of you walk in pre-team, pre-idea. You will ideate, talk to potential customers, release products constantly, while getting insights from weekly Visiting Advisor talks and feedback from Mentors.

Overview of Startup Lessons:

In five weeks we cover five Startup Lessons:

  • Week 0 Design Thinking and Idea Generation: Think big, then narrow down to 1-2 ideas + Team Formation
  • Week 1 Lean Startup Practices and Lessons: Rapidly build, measure and learn
  • Week 2 Customer Development: Validate new startup ideas
  • Week 3 Lean Marketing: Talk to your early adopters and gather metrics
  • Week 4 Raising your first round: Plan for early stage investment
  • Week 5 Final Demo night: Show off your prototype and lessons learned

All the rest of the time?

Build, test, measure, learn. You will be out talking to potential customers, building initial versions of your product and growing your idea into something tangible.

What happens after?

Ideally you keep working on your idea; change often happens - pivoting and iteration, team changes - all normal course of launching a new startup.

We provide one-on-one support to promising teams and are here to help when they are ready to build an advisory board or meet with investors. We have a network of angel and seed investors and encourage teams to apply to programs like ASTIA, 500Startups, DogPatch Labs, Angel Pad and Techstars and others that are targeted at teams with a basic working prototype and validated idea. Alternately, you may launch and grow your startups independently after the program.

Weekly Product Release and Startup Lessons

During the week, conduct live customer interviews and surveys and do rapid prototyping. Then, once a week, you will present your "product release". Demo your product prototype and discuss your customer learnings of that week. Then, sit back, listen, converse, and engage with Visiting Advisors. These are individuals who are leaders in their field and have sage advice and lessons to share.

Meet our Visiting Advisors

Weekly Team Mentoring

Get personalized feedback specific to your team. Your team will meet one-on-one with Mentors to gain insights and guidance on your startup idea, customer development progress and minimum viable product.

Meet our Mentors

Who do we work with?

A great set of seed and angel investors (some of whom are our mentors) and a set of hand picked incubators and accelerators:


Do I have to quit my day job?

No, you don’t.
Founder Labs is designed to operate in the evenings and weekends so that you can bootstrap your way to launching a new startup.

Do I have to be present for the entire 5 weeks?

Yes, you must.
Founder Labs is based on teams committed to working together every day. You must be in town, available and dedicated for the full 5 weeks.

Can I come without an Idea?

Yes, you can.
You can come without an idea, but with the intention of joining an existing idea or dreaming up a new idea within Founder Labs.

Can I come with an idea?

Yes, you can.
Often, teams achieve the most by coming to the 5 weeks with an idea already in mind. You must be willing to be open to sharing the idea and future equity if the idea leads to the formation of a new venture.

Can I apply with a team?

Yes, you can.
If you’ve already worked with some people that you’d like to go through Founders Labs with, we highly encourage that. Please note though, if you already have a beta product, you can still apply, but you should be open to new founders/team mates and feedback that could lead to substantial pivots by bringing it to Founder Labs.

Can I apply alone?

Yes, of course.
Most applicants apply individually -- they are looking for their perfect founder match, because working alone sucks!

Do you take equity?

Well it depends.
If within one year of completing Founder Labs, two or more founders from Founder Labs launch a new company, the company grants Founder Labs 2% of founder stock of any company formed. This helps us keep the program cost low at $755 per person and is a small price to pay for us being the catalyst to your future success. We support formed teams after the program with useful resources and our network of founders and investors.

Is Founder Labs Free?

No, it is not.

To cover the costs of hosting Founder Labs we charge $755 per person. A limited number of scholarships, to help cover some portion of the cost, are available for those who are unable to afford this cost. Scholarships are normally granted to newly graduated engineering students. Other scholarships are made available for engineers and hackers on a as-needed basis.

Who should attend Founder Labs?

Mobile visionaries.
Hackers, developers product visionaries, designers, marketeers interested in and passionate about making a dent in the mobile space. Often this looks like:

  • Founders seeking co-founders
  • Founders with an idea they want to validate and rapidly prototype
  • Founders without an idea to join others who have ideas

How is Founder Labs different?

It’s muy diferente!
Ah yes, so many incubators, so much choice, how to choose. First, we focus on individuals who are pre-team, pre-idea - we are incubating the start of a new company. To make it easier, we often call Founder Labs a pre-incubator, because we come one stage before most of the other incubators. We don’t expect you to quit your job, and you don’t need to have a team or an idea.

  • We are focused on rapid prototyping and customer development
  • You work hands-on with potential future founders
  • You don’t have to quit your day job or drop out of school. Come with enough energy to burn the midnight oil after work/school hours
  • There is no formal curriculum
  • We are focused on mobile

What is the application process?

It’s rather simple.
Simply apply online for NYC or SF; we review the applications for skill set, experience and signs of an entrepreneurial spirit. We contact selected participants via email and the fun begins immediately after.

Does my idea have to be mobile related?

Ideally, yes.
Founder Labs believes that there are many smart entrepreneurs with and without mobile experience and that now is the time to enter and grow this market. Convergence, access to global markets and the low cost of development make it a good time to be part the mobile space.

Some areas to explore include: enterprise apps, consumer apps, cloud services, mobile security, mobile enablers (eg. authentication, payment, middleware), mobile analytics, devices, smart grid solutions.

Do I have to have experience in mobile?

It helps.
If you don’t, start to play around with the most basic things like apps before you join. Understanding the complex mobile ecosystem is a true advantage to you and your team.

Who typically applies?

Hackers and engineers, designers, product and marketing mavens. We aim for diversity and often the group is half male, half female as well. Typically, applicants have at least 5 years of experience in their field, have possibly founded or worked at startup or two and are now ready for the next opportunity.

Wasn’t Founder Labs part of Women 2.0?

Yes, it was!
Founder Labs started in August 2010 with the simple problem of: how do we connect smart emerging entrepreneurs with one another, give them a place to work and provide the tools needed to launch new ideas? Founder Labs was created from a need we saw within the Women 2.0 community.

After hosting our first few Founder Labs we have now spun out from Women 2.0 in order to focus on the growing segment of mobile. We are now expanding Founder Labs to a number of other cities. We believe in the power of diversity and will always maintain that in Founder Labs.