The startup ecosystem in Tunisia has been subjected to multiple changes that are mostly positive and encouraging as the investment landscape is getting better everyday and today is the time or never to build on it and develop entrepreneurs who could save our economy.
When exploring the entrepreneurial ecosystem and interviewing several entrepreneurs but also different actors of the entrepreneurial scene such as the different accelerators and incubators, we concluded that a major in-between component, that is of the utmost importance to the entire process of launching a successful startup, is missing. On one side, we have a lot of training institutions that teach the basics of entrepreneurship without any follow up, and on the other side there seems to be an abundance of incubators and investment funds that are willing to invest. So to sum it up, in theory, there seems to be a solid support system around any willing entrepreneur. However, it seems that people hit a dead end sometime after getting the knowledge and fail to go further. They are able to work on projects, develop ideas yet their execution somehow fails to show the potential of their concepts which makes it hard for them to reach the funds available especially since investors mainly target people who already have MVPs (Minimum Viable Products) and business plans.
There is nothing to help people go from the training/ideation stage to the MVP level. By bringing the Founder Institute to Tunisia, we fill that gap. We support people to move from Employee to Employer and hold their hands through the process until they are solid enough to keep operating on their own. The particularity of this program is that founders learn by doing. The target audience is young and mid-career professionals, who have some good experience and some entrepreneurial DNA. In addition to MBA students and anybody with an idea that can be viable. We have a structured curriculum where everything that needs to be covered is provided for an entrepreneur from ideation to customer development to legal structure. The program is 3.5 months long. We hold a weekly session, at night, for a total of 14 sessions and it takes about 25 hours/week to go through the whole program. During the weekly meetings, three mentors will help the participants refine their pitch. The feedback about the idea that is given along with the interaction we provide within our program with some of the best CEOs and experts in the startup ecosystem in Tunisia, are the core essence of this program. As the participants are moving along through their weekly assignments or what we refer to as company building work, their progress is kept in check.
“The Founder Institute has clearly filled a gap not only in the life cycle of an entrepreneur / company, but also a gap in the selection and increase in the competency of the “wannabe entrepreneurs”. We are creating the future stars of entrepreneurship in Tunisia, not because they have good ideas but because after graduating, they will be real solid Entrepreneurs. I would have liked to join such a program when I started my own company, it would have saved me few years of my life.” – Walid Sultan Midani, Director at the Founder Institute and CEO of DigitalMania.
“After few weeks since we started, hundreds of pitches, hours of sharing, networking and hard work, FI Tunis has clearly found its spot within the ecosystem and for me, this is amazing. The program is identified as a solution for founders who want to shape and realize their ideas, turn them into realities. This was our promise and it’s happening!”– Ali Mnif, Director at The Founder Institute and CEO of Mazam.
When graduating from the Founder Institute, Founders have a great idea with a real market, actual incorporated companies, have made real progress, a great pitch, a realistic go to market strategy, a viable revenue model and a plan for the next steps. They are ready then for programs that are willing to invest in them and require advanced level of early stage entrepreneurs.
Emna Ghariani – Chapter Lead Director, The Founder Institute Tunisia