We believe that there are more opportunities than ever to innovate and address the world’s largest opportunities and challenges. The cost of starting a company and developing technology is going down rapidly, and addressable markets are expanding fast due to increased connectivity and globalization. The internet has created an abundance of new business opportunities and the time needed to make an impact is several orders of magnitude lower than only a decade ago. Improved living standards and connectivity mean that there are more qualified talent across the globe than ever before. Entrepreneurship and innovation are hot topics in society, with entrepreneurs being the thought leaders and superstars of our time. More than 65% of millennials aspire to become entrepreneurs (Bentley).
Only a fraction of extremely talented people ends up pursuing their entrepreneurial dream. In fact, research suggests there are fewer entrepreneurs than before. The share of people under 30 in the US who are business owners has fallen by 65 percent since the 1980s and is now at a quarter-century low (WSJ). Even at Harvard Business School, only 4% of graduates join a startup (HBS). As John Lettieri, the co-founder of the Economic Innovation Group, puts it: “Millennials are on track to be the least entrepreneurial generation in recent history” (The Atlantic). Entrepreneurs are a critical source of jobs and ideas, supporting in the creation of vibrant economies. With a vast amount of talent stuck in established companies and kept from innovating, this is a problem for society at large.
So why is this? A number of factors support this negative trend: For one, high salaries and job security offered by leading tech, consulting and finance companies are attractive to a generation with record-high student loans (CNBC, The Atlantic), and, then there are the social pressures to earn a stable income. Both of these lead many top talents into positions with established companies. Once inside a large company, the opportunity cost only accelerates as talents advance in their jobs, making it increasingly difficult to pursue the entrepreneurial dream. Moreover, it is no secret that the vast majority of startups fail, highlighting the risks involved with starting a company. In times of economic uncertainty in many geographies, striking out on your own comes with another layer of added risk. This is reflected in young people’s appetite for risk. In 2014, 40 percent of 25-to-34-year old Americans said “fear of failure” kept them from starting a company - in 2001, just 24 percent said so (Inc. Magazine).
We believe founders can significantly improve their likelihood of success by getting the foundations right from the very beginning. Our vision is a global ecosystem that i) reduces the barriers to entry for talented founders to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, and ii) that improves their chance of succeeding with their ideas by getting things right from the get-go.
We bring in to our program top talent who are highly motivated to start a company. All participants are paid to help them cover costs during the first portion of the program, reducing the financial burden. Once founding teams are formed, and the decision on what idea to build is made, we support the founders with initial funding in their companies. These efforts significantly reduce the financial risk of starting a company. Talents who wish to pursue alternative paths after the first stage of the program are introduced to new opportunities from our global network of alumni companies, partner companies and investors. Acceptance to Antler is a stamp of quality, and succeeding in building a company is not the only qualifier of success.
According to research (CBInsight), the top reasons for companies failing are; not the right team in place, no market need (not the right idea) and insufficient capital (running out of cash). At Antler, we support companies from their most critical stage - their formation. We focus on helping teams get the foundations right from the very beginning, prior to supporting further growth.
We put significant time and resources into forming superior co-founding teams. Our program sources talents from across the globe, opening up teams to international talent and founders outside of their primary network of contacts. Moreover, through our global support team that includes venture partners with expertise across industries and technological fields, we stress test ideas and provide guidance on whether there is a need for what founders are building, reducing the chance of “no market need”. Lastly, our investments in companies provide liquidity to grow and scale great companies. Our follow-up fund and global investor network provide opportunities for securing additional funding to develop further and scale great ideas, reducing the risk of running out of capital.
The time to innovate is now. We are devoted to unleashing a vast amount of innovative talent into the global entrepreneurial ecosystem and help build the next generation of world changing companies.