Cathie Anderson

Silicon Valley startup accelerator sees Sacramento as ripe territory

If you’d like to go into business for yourself, Mariah Lichtenstern would like for you to explore what the Founder Institute has to offer. She’s looking to open a Sacramento program for the Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator.

Founder Institute takes entrepreneurs whose concepts are at the idea stage through a 14-week program and gets their businesses ready to launch by the end of the course. Lichtenstern is holding free introductory sessions in Sacramento this summer to determine whether she can recruit enough applicants to invite the accelerator’s first cohort.

Applicants pay a $749 application fee if they sign up by July 30 and $999 after that date. If the company raises $100,000 in equity or debt funding following the program, the founders must also pay a $4500 in tuition.

“Founder Institute is a global organization,” said Lichtenstern, who used the program to launch her own business. “Their mission is globalizing Silicon Valley. They’re in every time zone, over 60 countries. They have launched over 3,000 companies, created over 20,000 jobs. The companies have raised half a billion dollars collectively.”

Established by serial entrepreneur and investor Adeo Ressi in 2009, the institute requires each applicant to contribute 3.5 percent of the equity in their company to a liquidity pool that is shared with peers from their class, their industry mentors, the institute, and program directors such as Lichtenstern if the founders sell their business, take it public or otherwise convert their interest into cash.

Ressi’s idea is that this will give everyone an incentive to ensure each participant’s success. At the free summer sessions, Lichtenstern and other directors are fielding questions about the program and introducing potential applicants to the local mentors who will be guiding them.

The next session will be a three-hour ideation bootcamp on June 13 in conference rooms at Golden Pacific Bank, 980 Ninth St., in Sacramento. Space is limited, however, so attendees must register at Lichtenstern started the exploratory sessions with an introductory event Tuesday when Apptology CEO Rich Foreman, Fourth Wave co-founder Tracy Saville and other mentors talked about making the leap from employee to entrepreneur.

While many attendees will come with business ideas already in their heads, Lichtenstern said she hopes the sessions also draw entrepreneurial people who feel their skills could be used as part of a start-up team. The Founder Institute program, which would launch in September if there is enough interest, takes into account that most participants will be working full-time jobs.

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee