The SPC-Script web3 Founder Fellowship application is now closed. Follow us on Twitter for news about future cohorts!
South Park Commons is a community designed to help talented builders and technologists get from -1 to 0. Since our founding in 2015, over 450 members have joined us to explore new ideas and figure out what they want to dedicate their life to next. In early 2021, we collected what we learned from these incredible members and started the Founder Fellowship. The concept is simple: give each of 10–12 teams in a cohort $400k in funding before they have settled on an idea, then provide them with a curriculum, mentorship, and community to help launch a venture-scale business. We doubled down in August when we welcomed our second cohort.
The model is working. Over half of the first cohort has already raised a new round. The collective valuation of all Founder Fellowship companies, less than a year after the program’s launch, is over half a billion dollars.
Now we’ve opened applications for a third cohort. But this time, we’re partnering with Evan Tana and AJ Solimine from Script Capital, Mike Vernal from Sequoia, Li Jin from Variant Fund, Dylan Field from Figma, Multicoin Capital, Syndicate, and a host of other all-star contributors — and going all-in on web3.
Founder Fellowship cohort 3 will focus specifically on web3 founders.
Why web3? We’re following the SPC community’s lead here. Our founding member, Ruchi Sanghvi, put it best:
“Enthusiasm among builders is a powerful signal. It helps parse hype and opportunity. Talented developers are especially well-tuned to opportunity costs. Their attention is a useful proxy for substance.”
We are at an inflection point in how people own and use their data, transact with others, and integrate new incentives in distributed products. The upswell of attention paid to web3 projects in the SPC community validated the increasing gravity of the crypto ecosystem.
We firmly believe our approach with previous cohorts will prove effective with one focused on web3, but we are also making some modifications to better tailor the program. Most notably, Founder Fellowship cohort three will be a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), powered by Syndicate. The DAO will be the investment entity, and all teams, contributing partners, and guest advisors will be members. Fellows will also become members of the SPC Community.
Running the cohort as a DAO offers three distinct benefits:
- Through ownership of the DAO’s tokens, each founder will have a stake in the success of the cohort, rewarding cross-collaboration and support
- The DAO will bring in and incentivize a broader array of partners and contributors, giving founders access to more expertise
- The DAO will serve as a useful testing ground for relevant ideas and projects
We’ve assembled an all-star brain trust to support this cohort. Mike Vernal will join SPC Fund and Script Capital partners as a team mentor, while Dylan Field, Li Jin, and Multicoin Capital will join us as contributing partners, lending their varied and deep expertise to the group. We also have a host of web3 experts like Will Papper (cofounder of Syndicate) and Roneil Rumburg (cofounder of Audius) as DAO contributors. These incredible builders, entrepreneurs, and product experts will join us for exclusive talks, workshops, and events.
We are so excited to work with these remarkable partners to make the Founder Fellowship the best place to explore web3. We’re even more excited to meet the cohort of founders. If you are passionate about building a web3 product or community, whether or not you have built in the space before, we encourage you to apply!
What is the Founder Fellowship?
SPC’s Founder Fellowship is a different way for entrepreneurs to start a high growth, venture-backable startup. We give founders their first outside investment, help them ideate and iterate to a viable product, and assist them in raising from the best VCs in the world. This particular cohort is for founders who want to build web3 companies.
We take a boutique and customized approach to helping founders, recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach to starting companies rarely works. Our cohort sizes are small, with one partner for every two companies. We do not have a demo day, and when the time is right for you to raise, we’ll make introductions to the best investors. We do not force strict timelines.
We offer $400,000 to founders to pursue an idea, in exchange for 7% equity via a SAFE with a Token Warrant. We can help identify the right market, support you as you build your first product, find first customers, help raise a seed round, and even help find co-founders.
How does the Founder Fellowship work?
- $400,000 for 7% equity via a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) with a Token Warrant
SPC Startup Forum
- 10-week Curriculum — program put on by the SPC Community with other founders and domain experts, centered around a proprietary curriculum. We have collected time-tested articles, videos, and books on thinking about markets, ideas, and products the way the world’s best founders and investors do. This helps founders avoid common pitfalls and increase their chances of creating a successful high growth startup. The Startup Forum is led by SPC and Script partners along with contributing members of the DAO.
- Contributor Events — we invite contributors to the DAO to speak at our weekly Forum and attend one-off events. Prior cohort guests have included Mike Krieger (Instagram), Mathilde Collin (Front), Tope Awotona (Calendly), William Hockey (Plaid), Nathan Blecharczyk (Airbnb), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Elad Gil (Color), Connie Chan (Andreessen Horowitz), and more.
- Milestone-based workshops — work with fund partners and peer fellows to hit milestones in the ideation, validation, and prototyping phases. These sessions help share goals, build momentum, and drive accountability.
- Labs focused on “doing” — partner-led building groups focused on technical instrumentation, prototyping, product metrics, PMF, best practices for continuous deployment, etc.
- Alumni Forum — an online forum to continue the conversation with other founders in your cohort and SPC alumni to ask for advice and help others in the community, even after the fellowship is over.
- Access to domain experts across a variety of fields in DeFi, DAOs, NFTs, the creator economy, blockchain development, tokenomics, and more.
- Access to a network of founders and executives from the seed stage to IPO at companies ranging from OpenAI, Google, and SpaceX to breakout companies such as Coinbase, TheGraph, Alchemy, Audius, Figma, Notion, Airtable, Compound and more.
- Hands-on fundraising support to raise your next round of financing, including guidance crafting a pitch deck and introductions to top angel investors, seed firms, and VCs. Companies from our previous two cohorts have gone on to raise from friends at Greylock, First Round Capital, Index Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, and more. We can also support you through non-traditional fundraising routes such as token offerings.
- $200K in credits from AWS, Google Cloud, Brex, Pulley, and other companies.
How is the Founder Fellowship different from other accelerators or incubators?
We help at the -1 to 0 phase, even before a founder has an idea.
- More money and a higher valuation for your company. Most accelerators offer smaller checks for more equity. We offer $400K for less equity, in many cases more than doubling your valuation. We believe great ideas may take more than a few months to materialize and founders should avoid moving too quickly because they are cash-constrained.
- No idea necessary. We can help you find a great market and idea for which you are well suited.
- No fixed timelines. We’ll work on validating ideas and fundraising on a timeline that makes the most sense for your idea.
- Small cohorts with direct partner mentorship and a focus on mutual support.
- Fellows are granted a stake in the other cohort companies through their stake in the DAO
How does the DAO work?
The DAO will be the investment entity investing in each team. DAO participants, which includes non-investing cohort fellows and program contributors, will be issued tokens representing ownership in the entire cohort. Tokens for non-investing fellows and contributors issued by the DAO will be accounted for in the 7% and will not require additional dilution of equity.
Do I need an idea to apply?
You do not need an idea to apply.
That being said, a great idea is a critical component of long term success. If you do not have an idea, we will need to assess your ability to generate great ideas. Be prepared to discuss markets you find interesting, previous ideas you have considered and discarded, and the sorts of startup ideas and insights you find compelling and why.
Do I need to have built in the crypto or web3 space to apply?
No! We welcome people new to web3, but we do expect you to be able to discuss why you want to build a web3 product.
Can I apply as a solo founder or do I need a cofounder?
We do accept solo founders, though we generally have a preference for teams. It can be challenging to start a company solo, and we hear from our fellows that having a collaborator is extremely valuable on this journey. If you’re a solo founder, we have a strong bias towards applicants who have the skills to build and prototype. If you are accepted as a solo founder but still want a co-founder, we can help in the search process — several of our first cohort fellows found co-founders in the SPC community.
What are the upcoming cohort application deadlines, program dates, & location logistics?
- Application deadline: 11:59PM PT on January 13th, 2022
- Interviews: Late January 2022
- Program Start Date: All team members must be full-time available for the program start date on February 28th, 2022
- Location: We have no geographic preference for teams. The program will be hybrid, with both remote and in-person options. All events will include remote access, but teams in the Bay Area and New York City will have access to SPC co-working spaces. All programming will be based on Pacific Time Zone hours. You do not need to be in the Bay Area or United States to apply or participate.
Who is behind the Founder Fellowship?
The web3 Founder Fellowship is jointly-organized by South Park Commons and Script Capital, and run by SPC investors Ruchi Sanghvi, Aditya Agarwal, Finn Meeks, and Bala Chandrasekaran; Script Capital partners Evan Tana and AJ Solimine; and Mike Vernal from Sequoia Capital. We are builders, entrepreneurs, technologists, and investors who love helping other entrepreneurs succeed.
South Park Commons is a member-run community of technologists and builders dedicated to helping each other get from -1 to 0.