Maximizing Post-Program Opportunities: Insights from the Funding Lab

After graduating from the Founder Institute Japan Cohort in 2023, I embarked on another enriching journey with the Funding Lab Q2 2023, which ran from March 24th to May 26th. Managed by FI's headquarters, this accelerator is specialized in fundraising, open exclusively to FI alumni globally. Despite the sessions being held from 1 to 2 AM JST via Zoom, the invaluable insights and direct access to experts and investors made the late nights worthwhile.

Funding Lab:

Program Overview: Funding Lab serves as an accelerator focused solely on fundraising, offering FI graduates a platform to refine their strategies with guidance from experts. The lab emphasized the classification of investors from a founder's perspective, basic fundraising strategies, and provided extensive AMA sessions with FI's seasoned professionals. The expectation to engage actively was high, with a slight nudge towards participation to fully utilize this unique opportunity.

My Experience: Out of approximately 200 applicants, over 60 were granted participation. We were grouped with fellow entrepreneurs from similar time zones, including Japan, Singapore, Australia, and Sri Lanka. Weekly group sessions complemented the main sessions, fostering a supportive environment akin to the core FI program. Tasks such as delivering pitches and offering mutual feedback were integral, promoting a collective growth mindset.

Feedback from an Australian native on my pitch was particularly enlightening, highlighting nuances in language and clarity that could only be gleaned from such a diverse and experienced cohort. The lab not only honed our pitching skills but prepared us concretely for real-world fundraising.

Outcome: Despite its demanding nature, with deliverables and the need for mutual support, only 13 out of the selected 60+ FI alumni graduated. This rigorous selection further underscores the lab's intensity and the high level of preparedness it demands. Yet, the doors remain open for reapplication, illustrating FI's commitment to continuous learning and improvement.

This journey through the Funding Lab, following the FI program, significantly bolstered my understanding and capabilities in fundraising, culminating in our successful first VC fundraising.

I hope sharing my journey can offer insights and encouragement to fellow FI alumni contemplating the Funding Lab. The path is challenging but immensely rewarding, laying a solid foundation for your fundraising efforts.

Hiroyuki ANNO,
Founder and CEO, DELIGHT Inc.