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Get startup-ready

we teach you how

Founders Academy #9

starts soon

A desirable digital future needs brave entrepreneurs. Are you one? Our Founders Academy gets you startup-ready. Eight weeks, three weekends and some meetups later, your idea will have developed into a solid business model.
  • 8 week part time program
  • matching top talents to a strong co-founder team
  • open to academic research projects in order to validate their business potential
  • open to industry problems to disrupt the status quo
  • focus on validation methods to reach Problem-Solution-Fit
  • lead by top MBA professor, Jan Brinckmann
  • mentoring from successful startup founders


Find your perfect fit and join the Academy

The industry expert


You have professional and industry experience. On the basis of industry problems that you encountered you found the one business idea that you want to build up your own company and revolutionise your industry. You are looking for a strong team and the lean methods.

The scientist

You come from an academic environment where you have been working in technological projects. Now you want to build a business case on the base of your academic research. You are looking for a strong team and real market feedback.

The executer

You are an enthusiast for technological innovations that shape the future and you want to participate as a first mover. Your core strengths is execution and now you are looking for a promising business case to commit yourself to and the right team to join.

Doesn’t sound like you?

We love people who don’t fit into boxes.


Founders Lab

If you have successfully completed the Founders Academy and are working on a promising business case, we will offer you a 3-6 month scholarship to our Founders Lab. Here you will be able to validate your business case to the Problem-Solution-Fit. This includes co-working, individual mentoring, workshops and community events.

Part-time program

Our three workshop weekends and meetups in the evening hours allow you to participate beside your current occupation, let it be a full-time job, a master thesis, a research project…

Jan Brinckmann

Our Academy Director Jan Brinckmann is ranked as one of the top 5 Entrepreneurship professors worldwide and is the Head of the Entrepreneurship program at ESADE in Barcelona, one of the top 5 Business Schools. He is an active Business Angel and has many stories to share.

Founders network

The Founders Foundation is playing in the premier league of Germany’s startup education and is well-connected to the international startup scene. We are proud of our network of highly-qualified mentors and experts, industry partners, business angels and VCs.

Strong track record

Many of our Academy alumni developed scalable startups that are successfully operating in the market today. We don’t hesitate to address white spots you often miss in your validation, which later on enables you to scale faster.

B2B expertise

We are experts in building successful B2B business cases. They can be based on technological research projects or come from real industry problems. Our region, with its many industry companies, is perfect for finding first pilot customers.

Your application process

Four steps One big leap


Fill in our application form (20 min). After completion you receive an invite to answer 4 questions in a virtual interview (15 min).

Jury decision

We get >200 applications for 30 spots. An expert jury will assess your application and recommend the best applicants to us.


You will receive a final answer from us whether you got accepted to the next Founders Academy.

Start up

Confirm your participation and get ready for the kick-off. Whoop whoop.

Opportunities don´t happen, you create them!

Frequently asked questions

anna luisa korte

Anna-Luisa Korte

Program Manager Education

Too old – it doesn’t exist! Quite the opposite: It can be a real advantage to have professional experience in your luggage and a serious ambition to start a business!

We provide you an amazing network of experienced and committed mentors from our network. We will introduce you to the mentors and will recommend that you apply to a mentor shortly afterwards. We suggest that you meet with the mentor (virtually or on site) once a week. Your Idea Sponsor will automatically become your mentor if you are applying for an external business case by one of our Idea Sponsors.

EDP/Tech/software knowledge is not absolutely necessary for the reasoning. Because one never founds alone (at least in our philosophy). A complementary and quick-witted team is one of the top 3 success factors. For this reason: To know one’s own strengths but also missing competences is a good basic requirement.

Participation is covered by a fee of €199. This includes everything from workshops to catering – and therefore, we expect your full dedication in return! Alternatively, you can also apply for a scholarship. To be considered for a scholarship, your average monthly gross income over the past 12 months must be less than €3,000.

Good! Because we will match teams at Founders Academy, so not everyone needs a case. We do however expect open and honest interest in technological innovation. We also gather “sponsored ideas” by experts from our network, who then become your “idea sponsor”. Your benefit from this? You have an expert mentor right on hand.
You should make sure to tell us as much as possible about it in your application. We want to ensure high quality business cases to increase their chance for success. Therefore, we will possibly even let you “pitch” on our first Workshop Saturday in front of Jan Brinckmann and special guests from the startup world. We are focusing on B2B business cases in particular, but what counts most is the potential of the case. We want innovations that improve the lives of many and create great value – not on a small level. We aim for nothing less than tenfold growth!
Sometimes cases don’t work out. They just don’t show the potential you first saw in them. This is normal and absolutely no sign for you to give up. We want you to have an open mind, appreciate the feedback you get and take it seriously. If you then realise, it’s not working – no worries! We will assess the situation together with you, will decide whether a pivot makes sense or whether you might have to start all over again – that’s just the way startup life goes.
That’s when the „real work gets done“. You will have to organize yourself with your team on how you work together: Do you meet on-site? Do you work remotely? Who does what? You will need to apply the learnings from the workshop weekends and meetups to get the validation process going! Interviews, business meetings … it’s real life, so real work!
The workshop weekends are lead by Jan Brinkmann. The curriculum of his workshops follows a specific logic which allows you to validate your business case as you go along. You will be provided with his presentations afterwards and receive “homework” until the next workshop weekend. During the weekends, we will be joined by several well-known experts and successful serial entrepreneurs who will share their stories, insights, and maybe also work with you. Over the eight weeks, you will develop a pitch deck by regularly filling in the validation results you gather. So in the end, you will also have a pitch deck ready for the Final Pitch Day.
The Final Pitch Day is – as the name says – the final event of every academy. Before you stand on stage at our Final Pitch Day, we will make sure that you are ready and have a convincing pitch deck on hand. That night more than 400 guests and a top expert jury will be watching you on stage, evaluate your business case, pitch and ask questions. The winner gets… well, you will be surprised…
Yes, we will provide you with drinks, snacks and food. So no excuses to leave early or to not fully dedicate yourself to the program.
It’s easy: It depends on you, everything is possible. We advise you to talk to your team members before the Pitch Day to clarify everyone’s expectations: what kind of stake does each member have in the case? Who wants to continue? Although we wish for all of you to continue as successful entrepreneurs, experience has shown, that not everyone goes all in afterwards. Good teams may qualify for a scholarship in our Founders Lab which offers you 3-6 months working space for validation, workshops and mentorship.
The input happens during the workshop weekends but the real work gets done in between. Prepare for intense eight weeks where you should be willing to commit to at least 2-3 hours per day to your research and validation, even when you are working full-time.


Take the first step on journey to your passion.