The formal programming at Fledge lasts for 7 or 8 weeks. It’s a short amount of time for all that gets accomplished. It’s incredible intense.
We meet formally at least once per day. Twice per week in class. Three times per week checking in on goals and progress. Once per week for an all-hands lunch. Other times to meet guest speakers and other visitors.
We spend three of the ten weeks honing our story telling skills. This culminates in not just one on-stage event, but three, showcasing the fledglings to other fledglings, to the community, and to investors.
Beyond all this structure, we have each fledgling set their own goals for the program, crafting it to the specific needs of their startup. Fledge is the type of program where the more you put in, the more you get out. And its the type of program where we eagerly ask the participants to push us to deliver more.
Fledge provides far more training than most accelerators, covering the full set of entrepreneurial skills required by successful entrepreneurs.
This curriculum includes a series on online lectures based on The Next Step, the full text of all six book, follow-up lessons, etc. It provide a framework for structuring a viable business plan, understanding startup marketing and startup sales, a step by step guide to creating a startup financial plan, putting together and delivering a great investor pitch, explains the realities of fundraising, and more.
This is an MBA level curriculum, used at at Presidio Graduate School.
The Fledge network includes hundreds of mentors. That term is broadly defined, including everyone and anyone who volunteers their time to provide advice and to share experience with the teams.
The Fledge mentors cover every skill required to create a successful startup, from business strategy and tactics to marketing and sales, financial planning, pitch coaching, and investors themselves providing feedback on fundraising and investor pitches.
Fledglings can expect to sit down 1-on-1 with at least a dozen mentors, meet many more at the various events, and be connected to whomever might best help their company move forward. Most fledglings achieve “mentor whiplash” after a few weeks, flooded with advice, to a scale unimaginable and to a point where no more advice can help.
All this takes place in some of the world’s great cities for clean, green, socially conscious startups, and social good in general.
In Seattle, Fledge takes place downtown inside a co-working space, includes visits to other centers of entrepreneurship around the city, and and to stave off the intensity during the week, we encourage the fledglings to take the weekends off, exploring the wonders of Puget Sound, the Cascade and Olympic mountains. A city where its possible to ski, sail, hike, and climb all in a single day.
In Lima, Fledge is operated by the team from Asesorandes, which has been helping large and small companies in Peru and across Latin America for over a decade, including all aspects of business planning and execution, as well as connections with bankers and startup investors.
In Barcelona, Fledge is operated by the team from Barcelona Plataforma Empresarial, which has been helping established companies expand into Europe, and is eager to do the same for younger startups.
In Vancouver, the Global Impact Accelerator Program is operated by Spring.is, which operates a variety of entrepreneurship training programs with partners around the world.
The ECOSTAR Nature Accelerator is operated at the University of Padova, Italy by ECOSTAR, an organization created to train environmentally-conscious entrepreneurs.
What all these places have in common is a thriving ecosystem for startups, including: meetings with other entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship events, universities, mentors, investors, and others who want to help startups succeed.
More cities to be added…
The formal programming lasts for 10 weeks, but Fledge continues on for as long as a fledgling needs our help. The mentors continue to be available. Fellow fledglings are connected online. All the prior and future fledglings as well.
This is network that grows year after year as more fledglings graduate and more mentor join the network. What was once just 7 companies and 50 mentors (back in 2012), is now hundreds of entrepreneurs and many hundreds of mentors.
We believe enough in each fledgling that we pay them $15,000, €15,000, or $20,000. (The amount varies by city. See the latest online application for details.)
In exchange for the cash, the program, and all the follow-up support, we ask for 6% ownership in each startup. This investment is uniquely structured as revenue-based redeemable equity, with the startup repurchasing Fledge’s shares using 4% of future revenues.
This investment structure was designed to make Fledge a partner in the success of each fledgling. Our incentives are aligned with the founders, to find a path to sufficient, sustainable revenues. This structure is not reliant on an “exit”. We succeed when the fledgling succeeds, earning revenues from customers.
And if the business does not succeed, nothing is owed to Fledge (beyond anything already repaid).
Why go all the way to ___ for an accelerator?
Why travel halfway around the world to attend an accelerator? In short, because the Fledge cities provide a critical mass of experience in entrepreneurship, along with a core ethos for doing good. Success for startups lies beyond the control of founders. It requires a network of support and serendipitous connections to customers, investors and partners. Seattle has one of the richest entrepreneurial ecosystems on the planet, and thus a great place to find such connections. Lima is one of the exciting, fast-growing cities in a so-called “emerging market”, with a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and connections unseen from Seattle. Barcelona and Padua are exciting cities where startups can thrive. New York City is the center of the universe.
For a longer answer, see this Why Seattle?.
What does Fledge look for in an application?
What happens for all those Weeks?
The Hows and Whys of Fledge
Is Fledge worth it?
The path from idea to revenues and profits is far more difficult than anyone imagines. First-time entrepreneurs can not fathom how complex this process can be, how many hurdles can get in the way, etc. The process is so complex, and so fraught with potential mistakes that even second-time and third-time serial entrepreneurs have plenty of new pitfalls to navigate.
Accelerators in general help entrepreneurs navigate this path, but some programs do it far better than others. The graduates of Fledge can attest to the value of Fledge, but to see how Fledge matches up to other programs, take a look at the UBI Global research on social accelerator.