Founder Labs NYC

One of the best things to happen to startupland in the past five years is the emergence of the startup accelerator. Programs like Y Combinator, Techstars, and many others have made the difficult phase of going from a founding team and an idea to a real business and funding just a little bit easier. But the period before you get into a startup accelerator is also very hard and there are less support systems.

Two of my favorite pre-accelerator programs are Startup Weekend and Founder Labs. In these programs you can show up with an idea, without a team, a plan, and much of anything else. They help you put a team together, develop the idea, and get going. Startup Weekend does it in a weekend. Their approach is to "share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups in 54 hours." Founder Labs does it over 5.5 weeks, nights and weekends. Their approach is "keep your job for now, build a team and launch a prototype." If you have an idea but not much else and need help, these programs are for you.

Startup Weekends happen all the time all over the world. They are doing one in NYC on April 15-17th.

Founder Labs are longer and more of a committment for everyone involed. They are focused on building mobile based businesses and diverse founding teams (men and women). Founder Labs was started by Women 2.0. To date the only Founders Labs have taken place in San Francsico.

I'm excited to say that Founder Labs is coming to NYC this spring. It will happen from May 21st to June 29th. Applications are due by April 20th. You can apply here.

The Gotham Gal and I have been helping the Founder Labs team come to NYC. We've helped to get the sponsors together, get the space nailed down, and get a great group of mentors. But most of the work has been done by Shaherose Charania and Baat Enosh, who are the creators and operators of Founder Labs.

There is a lot coming together in NYC right now. We've got startup fever in addition to spring fever. And Founder Labs is a great addition to the landscape. If you are an entrepreneur with an idea for a mobile application/business and need some help developing it, you should really consider Founder Labs.

#NYC#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. karen_e

    Nice job, Fred and Gotham. It’s inspiring to see you convert your words (about the lack of women in startups) to action. I hope to lead people I know toward Founder Labs events and others like it.

    1. fredwilson

      words and deeds together are a powerful combo

      1. Douglas Crets

        You have no idea! I’ve been preaching this for a long time.

  2. LECHSAM group

    This is great. Recent on Mark Suster’s blog someone asked just the question of how to build out a team when all you have is an idea and not much else. Given the NYC demographic and its wide range of non-tech domain expertise, this should make quite a mark. Think something significant and disruptive will arise from Founders Labs NYC.That said, much thanks to you and your wife in working on bringing Founders Lab to NYC; working through the logistics, behind the scenes, that we may not see but was critical to it happening and it being a success.

  3. Neil Braithwaite

    Having a start-up in Charlotte, NC has been very difficult.This is a great city and has a lot to offer, but there needs to be a catalyst to get the tech sector motivated – to grow.How about a Startup Weekend road-trip to the Queen City of the South?Hey, we’re hosting the Democratic National Convention in 2012 – we’re moving on up!.Gotham Gal will love the great food here – Fred, you need the fresh air – this place is beautiful.I know Mayor Foxx (sold him his house) and he will give great fan-fair for something this innovative.Let’s book a time.

    1. fredwilson

      i think the way startup weekend works is that you can create one inCharlotteall you have to do is attend one somewhere and then you can organize one…

    2. Keith Lutz

      Yes we do, Neil. I knew that name looked familar. Wilkinson now with ReMax?Anyway Fred, really loved this post, because I have ideas, and some programming experience, but not at the level I need. These seem like just what I need. Thanks so much, I have just started reading your blog a few weeks ago, and I am learning alot!

  4. leigh

    Great job getting such a diverse group on mentors (on all levels). Nice to see for a change 🙂

  5. brant cooper

    Hi Fred,Similar to Startup Weekend, “Lean Startup Machine” is a hackathon that teaches (and rewards) lean startup practices. Instead of merely hacking away on an idea, teams “get out of the building” to validate ideas by speaking with target customers.Of further interest to you, perhaps, is that LSM was started and is run by New Yorkers, including Trevor Owens, Ben Fisher and Josh Horn. Event includes mentoring from local, experienced founders plus guys like Eric Ries and Hiten Shah.They have had successful events in NY, Chicago, Boston and SF. Next event is in New York weekend of 4/1. You should come check it out! : )http://nyc.theleanstartupma…Brant (LSM speaker/mentor)

    1. fredwilson

      thanks for pointing this out. i had not seen it. so many good thingshappening out there. great work guys

      1. phd dissertation

        right) so many good things happening everywhere and all the time… and in a magic way i ams o freat in missing mostly all of them! don know why and how but so often i know about something hat evrybody already knows. that sucks. sorry. thanks to this site and our articles i can be not that late with news and some bew things… thank you so much!!!!

  6. thisisananth

    great idea Fred. How do they find co-founders and all ? I mean if all the people who go there are only people who have ideas, how do they get the other people?

    1. shaherose

      Hi Ananth — Those who join Founder Labs may or may not come with an idea. Within the first week, teams form and one or two ideas to focus on are decided upon within each team. These ideas may be existing ideas someone brings to the table and convinced the team to focus on, or new ideas the team dreams up together in the program. So if you come to the program with an idea there is no guarantee you will get to work on your idea, be strong and pitch it to your new team. The best ideas stick. The entire process is very organic — like the real world since ideas change, but the people you work with are more important and ideally constant.

      1. thisisananth

        Thanks for the clear answer. So, even from this stage, the idea has to win.

  7. Renee

    This is awesome. Thanks for all of your help in getting this off the ground. So much of the good stuff seemed to be happening in California…nice to see a community growing in NYC.

  8. daryn

    Very cool. I’m not familiar with Founder Labs, but love the idea. Startup Weekend is too short, and a lot of important stuff gets so short-changed that I think the teams would be better off just whipping up a product & prototype (like a hackathon) rather than building a “startup”. That’s a very dev-centric attitude, I know, and I like that SW encourages all sorts of people to be more entrepreneurial, but if they’re serious, founder lab sound like an awesome opportunity.

    1. Fracnk

      Thx Daryn, we definitely want to help different kind of people. Our goal is to educate through experience, some people do a startup and quit their jobs some just go back to work on monday and some will join founder labs or go to a Lean Startup Machine event after (to iterate)… But we also connect people to each other around the world ie : if a team from New York wants some help/contact in Japan or Europe we can connect them to the local Startup Weekend Community (Just did that between Cambridge and Japan) It’s just the beginning, we are learning from each events, and from every comments!

  9. paramendra


  10. Jorge Guzman

    Congratulations NYC, hopefully we will see Founder Labs in Boston soon too

  11. andyidsinga

    Very cool. Would be cool to have a founders labs session in Portland OR soon.

  12. dandriffill

    Similar to what we’re doing this weekend at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Check it out!

  13. ShanaC

    I honestly just think “the build as you work” model is a really brilliant idea. it allows people to transition into their new realities with a lot less fear….

    1. Adrian Meli

      Agreed, but there is always the tradeoff of being slower about it and letting other people accelerate ahead of you. It definitely removes some risk out of the situation to the downside, though!

  14. Tal Flanchraych

    Can’t wait!

  15. clintnelsen

    Thanks for the Startup Weekend recognition Fred!

  16. CF Gurney

    I recently participated in a startup weekend as a mentor and I was very impressed by the concept, the program and the leader of this particular event, Shane Reiser. The ideas, energy and quality was very high and infectious. I’m a form NASDAQ-listed company tech CEO and frankly, these programs are a breath of fresh air.

  17. Bala

    Fred,This is exactly what I am planning to do in Iceland for all of Scandinavia. I love the energy in time boxing ideas to solutions. I have seen successful projects implemented in fortune 500 companies by us when I was part of the Management Consulting team at E&Y where our clients said something cannot be done in the time frame given by us, just by time boxing we actually ran like a startup and got many of those projects completed. I totally agree with your post. There is no better way to kick start the fire within an entrepreneur than give them a platform to do it. We are putting our money where our mouth is, we will be investing in building this setup in Reykjavik. I was planning to meet you this week in NYC but I guess you are not in town. Would love to get a meeting as I have gifts to share this time around.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m gone until early april

  18. Tereza

    Sorry I couldn’t comment here yesterday. Crrrazy day!I’m OTT thrilled to see Founder Labs get off the ground here in NYC.Shaherose has really made things happen in SF. And there’s this force of nature called Kelley Boyd, who’s been tireless in bringing it to life. You gals rock!Thank you Fred for putting your voice behind it. And Gotham Gal pushing the agenda, blog post by blog post, meeting by meeting, investment by investment. You are a powerful combination. Modern de Medicis of the women’s startup scene? :-)I have several very clever mom friends up in the Northern burbs with deep expertise, who love their phones and dream about what they can do with them. I want to see them in there!

    1. Kelley Boyd @msksboyd

      So appreciate the props TN, but really if it wasn’t for you I would never have led the effort here for the last six months.It was exhausting and a tremendous amount of heavy lifting that is for sure. But clearly there has been a huge benefit to me personally. It is in all the entrepreneurs I met and help now in whatever way I can. BTW – Loving @Ohours! In fact, the room was FILLED with so many people I met along the way when we announced that W2 and Founder Labs were definitely coming to NYC back in January. So sorry Fred could not be there for that…I think he and Joanne would have gotten on board a bit sooner! This is really the announcement of the dates for and that Founder Labs being FUNDED! YAY! Indeed, it is so gracious of Fred and Joanne to take over where I left off. But they are only a couple of the people who have contributed to bringing Founder Labs to NYC. Stephanie at Golden Seeds, so generous with space, Deborah Jackson, so generous with her guidance, Mac, Michele and Jim at RRE so generous with funds.I believe Founder Labs is a great footprint but still leaves “us” (the ones not starting on third base when looking for an “on-ramp”) without much of an option. I doubt I would have been admitted! Perhaps with the overwhelming proliferation of accelerators and incubators the “after hours” footprint will take hold and someone with meaningful resources can take up the effort for those who would not be categorized as “scrappy entrepreneurs”? We cannot rest on our laurels now. ;>)A true XXC would benefit from the concept of reverse mentoring (again, thanks Joanne for highlighting our conversation months ago in your blog and then selecting my mentor-ee Brittany Laughlin,- co-founder of Gtrot, in your very first Women Entrepreneur profile) can make a meaningful impact for the truly under-served – women who are trying to re-invent and get in the game after parenting full stop. I only hope that the opportunity that has been crafted will be totally fulfilling for all concerned.As of now, I am happy to be cultivating the early adopter market for Movable Ink and building the replicable sales model, and when possible lending my time and support to the Technovation Challenge (which teaches coding to high school girls), to Lean Start Up Machine, to the Athena program at Barnard, and other NY based programs TBA. Some cool stuff coming up and so excited to have made such an impact with my first effort! Again, really all thanks to you and that fateful afternoon at the Ace Hotel. Thanks to all that have made the effort to help this initiative, and particularly to you for your very kind words and your continued support!

  19. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

    Wow! This blog and the commentary is incredible. Thank you all for the insightful posts. It is certainly useful.I am a non-programming ideas person based in London. I am looking to find a programmer/coder to co-found an idea with me and thought these “accelerator” programmes would be great to meet similar minded people. The Startupweekend in London has already passed; would anyone know of any events happening in theUnited Kingdom this year? Or anything that is planned?Thanks all

  20. apartmentsdirect

    The Startupweekend in London has already passed; would somebody know of any events happening in the,United Kingdom this year? Or anything that is in lanzarote

  21. HK

    How is equity distributed at such events?

  22. fredwilson

    i like charlie o’donnell’s emailhttp://www.thisisgoingtobeb…

  23. brant cooper

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to be dismissive. (I should have worded better.) Startup Weekend is awesome and I’m a big supporter of the San Diego organizers, who kicked butt last month. I was also honored to kick of Brussel’s Startup Weekend via Skype a couple of months ago. : )

  24. Nancy Xiao

    Keep your eyes peeled for next year’s Startup Weekend Organizers’ Summit–I went this past fall and got a ton of useful tips on best ways to organize, not to mention connecting with tons of other SW junkies!