Nurturing start-ups the Entrepreneur First way

Alice Bentinck, co-founder of Lakestar portfolio company Entrepreneur First, explains how the programme shifts the odds to give start-ups the best chance of becoming global companies. From introducing entrepreneurs to co-founders through to funding, the Entrepreneur First programme has developed over 140 companies.
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At Entrepreneur First (EF) we look for people who are fantastically ambitious and want to have an impact on people’s lives. We offer them a life-changing opportunity to build a start-up from scratch by finding a co-founder, supporting the development of an idea and getting it funded.

Entrepreneur First has attracted financial backing from a variety of sources, including Lakestar. Through our partnerships with such firms we are able to offer our ambitious entrepreneurs incredible funding opportunities and maintain a competitive and creative application process that allows applicants the time and space to prove themselves, innovate, and create.

Every year around 1000 people apply for our programme. Once shortlisted they can expect a fantastic opportunity to compete and work with others to prove themselves as future business leaders. Shortlisted applicants are invited to form teams and spend three months preparing for our Demo Day, which is an opportunity to meet 300- plus active investors in Europe, the US and Asia. Our EF team comes from a variety of backgrounds and guide our entrepreneurs as they develop their teams and their products. The aim is to turn our entrepreneurs’ ideas quickly into fundable businesses which can be pitched to investors on Demo Day to secure seed funding.

Once teams have raised their seed funding, they are automatically ac­cepted on EF Scale where we’ll help them grow their busi­nesses while they continue to work with their VPs as men­tors. From that point, however, they are primarily supported by their seed investors.

We are keen to open entrepreneurship to much wider pool of people. We therefore provide participants with a living monthly stipend to cover their costs in the first stage of the process in order to ensure they are given the time, space and finance even before they have a start-up.

Beyond the application process itself we are able to provide competitive support and assistance to those exceptionally ambitious and capable individuals who succeed in their applications to the programme.

Our programme opens doors for those truly talented and driven individuals to explore and utilise their own business acumen within a supportive community. What the most ambitious people do with their lives is really important for society, and Entrepreneur First is the way that those people can access and realise their potential and make an enormous impact.

This article is part of the 'Lakestar Briefing', a periodical publication about Lakestar's portfolio companies and our network of inspiring minds we like to work with. If you wish to subscribe please click here to fill out your name and email and we will be in touch.