Silicon Valley’s FOUNDER INSTITUTE is in Accra: offering startups access to mentorship, training and funding

What if there’s a formula to growing your idea, starting a company based on that idea and SUSTAINING that company? It isn’t a coincidence that areas like Silicon Valley have become the global centre for innovation, technology and corporate success. They have mastered that formula. There really is a checklist of elements required for your idea to be able to grow from just a simple thought to a well-functioning corporate entity.

“I’m moving to California to chase my dreams at Silicon Valley!” You always hear that in the movies before he leaves home to hangout with a bunch of nerds, almost certain he’s going to make it. He knows what Silicon Valley and those nerds can infuse in him.

Well, what if, this time, Silicon Valley and those “nerds” came to you rather. What if, here within Accra-Ghana, there is the world’s largest pre-seed startup accelerator from Silicon Valley, that has helped launch over 4,000 companies across 185+ cities and six continents… and they’re already taking applications for the February 2020 programme in Accra.

Go to and type in FOUNDER INSTITUTE. They’re here.

If you think you have the entrepreneur’s DNA, Founder Institute is arguably the most credible lab for you to harness that potential. In total, within just 10 years, Founder Institute Alumni have raised over $900million and are worth an estimated $20billion.

That’s enough proof for me that THIS WORKS. That’s enough proof for me that at Founder Institute, you could learn about that checklist of elements I earlier spoke of, the ones that are required for your idea to be able to grow from just a simple thought to a well-functioning corporate entity.

Simon Turner is Director of Founder Institute. You should hear him seamlessly incorporate our local jargons into his conversations. Madamfo. Charley. Medaase. Kakra-kakra. Even Dagbani! After 5 years in Ghana, he’s met many local entrepreneurs as a judge on the TV show “The McDan Entrepreneurship Challenge”. He is also Co-Founder of Groundbreaking, a company that aims to infuse innovation and entrepreneurship into local and global challenges to generate creative solutions.

He will tell you everything about the Entrepreneur’s DNA.

The following is authored by Simon Turner.


What does it take it be an entrepreneur? / The Traits and Profiles of Entrepreneurs

I am asked this frequently, and I equally ponder it myself. In bringing the Founder Institute  – the world’s largest pre-seed startup accelerator – to Ghana, I have found the question even more topical right now.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve experienced the extraordinary adrenaline-rushing highs of success and the gut-wrenching lows of failure (which, more often than not, tend to provide the best lessons and triggers for later success, but that’s for another time). I’ve also been on the other side, working with several hundred entrepreneurs and startups from both within incubators and accelerators and outside them, and from a consultancy perspective leading projects and programs engaging with SMEs at various stages.

The crux is, no matter what continent I’m on, the sector, location, or the business model, my view of what it takes to be an entrepreneur is simple:

See Also:  Protecting your purchasing power

First is purpose.

Bishop TD Jakes once said, “purpose is an underlying chemistry that makes you live your life.” Passion isn’t enough. Passion fades, and it can’t always pull you up to the peak from the trough when you don’t think you have another step or breath in you. After all, that’s what entrepreneurship is: a series of peaks and troughs. Purpose is what aggregates them into a cadent level and makes the vision more achievable. Our purpose is the innate, sometimes indescribable thing, that certain je-ne-sais-quoi, that drives us forward. For me it is the point where our skills and talents intersect with the void or the need in our lives that we simply cannot erase. It is a sense of resolve that propels us no matter what.

Second is Persistence.

When you get knocked down – as you invariably will – will you get up again? Will you get up again, and again and again? The reality is, you’re going to face obstacles, there are going to be knock backs, but in the face of overwhelming odds and prolonged opposition, do you have the tenacity to keep going and to continually tip the scales in your favour? One of my favourite phrases, “It’s not your setback that matters, but your comeback that counts,” fits perfectly here.

Lastly, Resilience.

Not to be confused with persistence, but as a compliment to it, resilience is the elasticity in your character that enables you to recover quickly. Are you flexible and adaptable enough in the face of stress, adversity, or threats, or whatever life throws at you to persist with your purpose?

The thing most key to pulling the purpose, persistence and resilience in your character together into a meaningful strategy is having a supportive network around you. Whether friends, family, colleagues, or your community, you cannot accomplish things alone.

I am quite an introspective person, so I like to find ways to better understand why I do what I do – for better or worse. So when I first looked into bringing Founder Institute to Ghana a few months ago, I was quite intrigued by the “Entrepreneur’s DNA test” they use to determine whether an applicant has the general traits it takes to make it through the accelerator and into a successful entrepreneur.

This predictive test – a series of questions and puzzles – is a product of behavioural science research. After taking the test, I recognised that it could further explain the Purpose, Persistence and Resilience characteristics I’d landed on as being defining from my own experience and opinion. While not an exact science by any stretch, the test is designed by social scientists, and frequently calibrated and reviewed. It is a pretty good indicator as to whether someone has the traits to be an entrepreneur regardless of demographics, locale, sector, etc.

With more than 50,000 applicants over 10 years, and 4,000 successful graduates across the globe, there’s some pretty solid data for FI to base their predictions on. There are four key traits they have found that makes a solid entrepreneur:

  • Professional experience – domain experience in your field is a definite advantage. Dropping out of college may seem like the key trait for an entrepreneur, but they’re the exception and definitely not the rule.
  • High fluid intelligence – entrepreneurs need to be able to quickly recognize patterns, learn new rule sets, adapt, and solve new challenges.
  • High openness – someone who is curious and who seeks out new “input” rather than maintaining the status quo will go far as an entrepreneur.
  • Moderate agreeableness – you need to be able to have some empathy, be considerate and be flexible but be able to balance this well with antagonism and being straight-forward. Can you make a tough decision when you have to?
See Also:  Common barriers to effective communication during change management

What makes a good entrepreneur? —

After I took the test, my results showed I have high openness, high agreeableness, and moderate emotional stability.

Of the six different type of entrepreneur profiles – the hustler, innovator, machine, prodigy, strategist, and visionary – the innovator is what the test modelled me as, meaning I am forward thinking, like the unconventional, have an adventurous attitude and enjoy reinvigorating old ideas and exploring new ones.

This is on point.

Oh, and this describes Richard Branson too, am I’m pretty happy to believe I’m in a similar lane to Mr Branson, however a stretch it may be!

Other famous entrepreneurs that can be associated with the profiles include Bill Gates (the machine), Zig Ziglar (the hustler), Elon Musk (the prodigy), Steve Jobs (the strategist), and Oprah Winfrey (the visionary).

As you’ve been reading this, you’ve probably been wondering what kind of Entrepreneurial DNA you have and what entrepreneur profile you fit best.

If so, you can read more about the Entrepreneur’s DNA at

Obviously, there is a whole lot more that goes into making an entrepreneur successful, but we can cover that another day.

All applicants to the Founder Institute program, in any of the 185+ global locations where the program is run, go through the predictive test as part of the signup process ( Our cohort for FI Accra commences in Feb 2020. You can learn more about FI, the program, the successes, our mentors, and more by visiting


Hit me up on social media and let’s keep the conversation going! I read all the feedback you send me on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Also, feel free to send me your articles on relevant topics for publication on the Macroeconomic Bulletin. I’d give you full credit, an intro and/or an outro. Kindly make it about 1000 words.

Have a lovely week!

Maxwell Ampong is the Group CEO of Maxwell Investments Group, a Trading and Business Solutions consortium. He is also the Property Investment Consultant for Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate Ghana. He works with a team of motivated professionals, governed by industry experts with experience spanning over a century. He writes about trending and relevant economic topics, and general perspective pieces.   LinkedIn:/in/thisisthemax   Instagram:@thisisthemax   Twitter:@thisisthemax   Facebook:@thisisthemax   Website:   Email:   Mobile: 0249993319

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
Notify of