7 Common Mistakes to Avoid when Applying to the Founders Program

By Marine Wetzel, Startup Program Officer (Founders Program) at STATION F


In over 3 years of running the Founders Program, I’ve reviewed thousands and thousands of startup applications. In the end, we select very few companies to join. So, a question that I get a lot is “how can I optimize my chances to make the cut?” Here are some crucial things to keep in mind if you’re applying for the next batch.


1. KPIs, KPIs, KPIs! Did I mention KPIs?

What gets measured gets managed. There is always something relevant to measure, even from day 1. Be as concrete and as clear as possible when sharing your numbers. Highlight the evolution of your numbers, especially if you already applied in the past and did not make the cut.


2. Detail your competition benchmark

That’s something we never see enough in the majority of startup applications. Spend time on detailing your competitors but especially on making cristal clear why you are different from them. Keep in mind that judges are not necessarily experts in your industry, so make it easy for them to get the information about how you actually differentiate.


3. Spend time on your vision: this question can save you

Sharing your vision is not anecdotical. It can be a great way for your startup to stand out if you’re in a competitive market. It happens that we select startups who do not particularly stand out from competitors at a given moment but have a great vision that will lead the company to step in down the line. Then it depends on execution, which leads us to the two next points.


4. Show proof of efficient execution & showcase a clear roadmap

We don’t know you (yet!), that’s why you need to prove what you accomplished in the last months. You can share qualitative accomplishments but make sure to also highlight how your metrics have evolved.

Also, sharing your roadmap is very useful for us to understand concretely where you’re going, but also to understand where your next challenges will be so that we can see how the program will be useful for you.


5. Detail the team background

For early-stage startups, the team is the most important criteria. You don’t need to have graduated from a top school to enter but we need to understand in detail what each co-founder has accomplished in the past. If you have relevant experience for your industry or have already founded a company before, mention it!


6. Keep in mind who is reviewing your application

The Selection Board is composed of 120 experienced entrepreneurs around the world. They are not necessarily experts in *your* industry but have a great entrepreneurship experience. Also, most of them don’t speak French, so you need to stick to English in the whole process to be considered.

Keep in mind that the Selection Board is reviewing applications pro bono. Filling your application with conscientiousness is a minimum 🙂


7. Be transparent, the application is confidential

Everything you share in your application is confidential. Only 2 Selection Board members & the Founders Program team have access to it and can’t share it with anyone. If you want to join us, we need to get to know you and your company and get real data about your company.


These are a few tips for now. Applications are currently open for January’s batch, the deadline to apply on our website is Oct 4th. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to the Startups team: [email protected]

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