Summer Founders Program

There could be ten times more startups. A lot of people who could start successful startups never do. When you're young the prospect seems too intimidating, and as you get older you lose the flexibility you need in your life to start one.

The most intimidating part is starting. So we decided to do something about it.

The Summer Founders Program is like a summer job, except that instead of salary we give you seed funding to start your own company with your friends. If that sounds more exciting than spending the summer working in a cube farm, I encourage you to apply.

What happens at the end of the summer? That's up to you. If you want, you can dissolve your startup, and no harm done. If you want to keep going and we think your company is promising, we'll probably be able to help you get more funding.

But even if your project fails and you give up at the end of the summer, you'll be better off than if you'd taken most summer jobs. It will be difficult to get into this program, so being able to say on your resume that you were a Summer Founder should carry more weight than an ordinary summer job. You'll learn way more than you would in most summer jobs, and you'll probably meet more interesting people.

If you're accepted, we'll deal with the paperwork for you. We'll incorporate you, if need be, get you a corporate bank account and so on.

We'll have some smart people who are willing to talk over your plans with you, and suggest pitfalls and new ideas. We may also have connections to companies you'd like to do deals with. But how much you want to take advantage of our connections is up to you.

We'll organize a dinner once a week for all the Summer Founders, so you can meet one another and compare notes. We'll try to get some expert in technology, business, or law to speak at each dinner. But beyond that we'll be hands-off. We don't plan to interfere in your company the way ordinary VC firms or "incubators" do.

We expect you to have some definite plan for the company you want to create, but we also expect you to modify this plan as you go. It would be a bad sign if you didn't. If at the end of the summer some group is still doing precisely what they said they would, it's probably because they're out of touch with the market, not because they scored a perfect bullseye with the idea.

We want to fund as many startups as possible, so we're not going to give each one much more than you'll need for living expenses. We estimate living in Hervanta for the summer would be 2000€ per person as you will get housing allowance. It's in your interest to take little money in the earliest stages, because you give up less of the company for it. Since you'll be the officers, you can spend the money however you like.

The ideal company would have two to four founders. We'll consider those with more than four. We're unlikely to accept one-person companies, because (a) it's too much work for one person, and (b) if you can't talk any of your friends into starting a company with you, your idea is probably not viable.

We are looking for winners. The original motivation of this project was benevolent, but this is not a charity. If our investments pay off, we can invest in more startups, and if they don't, we can't keep doing this indefinitely. We're looking for startups we believe will succeed according to the classic metric of making money.

We know you have to decide about summer jobs soon, so we're trying to do this fast. Here's the procedure:

  1. Choose the people you want to start a startup with. You apply as a group. It could be March 16th before you get an answer, so don't include anyone who can't change their summer plans that late.
  2. Fill out the application form. The deadline for applications is 23:59 on March 10th.
  3. A few days after March 10th we'll reply with one of three responses: yes, no, or come to meet us.
    • Yes answers will include the valuation at which we're willing to invest. Unless you've told us about specific hardware you need, the total investment will be about 2000€n, where n is the number of people.
    • No answers won't be accompanied by a reason why we didn't invest. Don't take it personally. All selection processes are fraught with error; we wish more would admit it.
    • Come to meet us means we want you to come to Hervanta between the 11th and 15th of March. A few days later we'll reply yes or no (see above).
  4. If you accept our offer we recommend you get an apartment together if you don't have one yet, but it's up to you. Hervanta is the easiest place in the world to get summer sublets.
  5. If all the people in your group aren't here by May 13th, we reserve the right to pull out of the deal.
  6. If you aren't incorporated, we'll help you do it when you get here. After that, checks go to your company.
  7. We'll meet for dinner about once a week during the summer. We'll try to bring someone experienced in startups or technology to each dinner, so you can pick their brains. We don't insist you come to the dinners, but if we don't know you well, we'll be less likely to help you get more funding at the end of the summer.
  8. During the summer we'll help you with building the business, try to introduce you to people who could help you, and so on. Once we have invested in your company we obviously want you to succeed.
  9. If you look promising during the summer, we’ll help you find someone to further invest in your company. Of course you can at any time get any further investors you want; it's your company.
  10. Send all questions about the Summer Founders Program to

If there had been something like this when we were in university, starting the first startup, we would have jumped at it. Start our own company together in Hervanta? Or go work individually to big, boring companies where everyone was older than us, and show up at 8 every morning to work in a cubicle on random projects created to keep us busy? Hmm, difficult choice…

Application period closed.

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