Case Study: Coaching for Founders at Founder Institute Berlin


This case study provides an overview of the impact coaching services had for founders that participated in Founder Institute (FI) Berlin's Spring 2021 cohort.

Notably, 6 out of the 8 founders who successfully completed the curriculum utilized our executive coaching support.


The Current Situation

FI has created a global platform to accelerate the development of high-growth tech (and non-tech) companies by providing business knowledge (in the form of class sessions) and expertise (in the form of mentorship) to program participants.

FI has proven since its inception that it provides tremendous value for its founders, with its participants having raised over $800M dollars in funding.

And as the world changes, so do the needs of founders. 


The Challenge

Emphasis on go-to-market expertise and having founders be investor-ready is critical to the success of their budding enterprise. However, there is an increasing anecdotal evidence base for more targeted support around mindset management.

This includes the development of emotional intelligence and leadership skills, as well as managing common challenges that founders face including stress management, burnout, overwhelm, self-doubt, and fear of failure to name a few.

FI’s programming is not supporting participants in dealing with the common internal challenges of running a business. 

Though this might ensure that only the "best" survive the program's tough requirements, this leaves many individuals behind that, with a little support, could otherwise have created highly profitable and impactful companies.


The Solution

Through the introduction of a bonus, optional session within the curriculum alongside regularly scheduled office hours with an ICF-certified professional coach, founders were able to take full advantage of a more holistic offering through FI.

Not only did founders manage to gain the necessary knowledge to start and launch their business, but they also grew as individuals, feeling confident and empowered to lead their enterprise through the challenges they are bound to face beyond the completion of the accelerator program.


Key Takeaways from the FI Berlin 2021 Spring Cohort


1. Coaching sessions were overall seen as more valuable than regular mentor sessions

Out of 5 founders surveyed, 3 indicated that they found the coaching sessions to be of more value than other mentor sessions. Another 2 founders found them to be of equal value.

“The other mentor sessions focus entirely on the external aspect of starting a business and ignore what it takes in a person to be a good founder. Sometimes they left me more confused than before, whereas Jonathan's sessions focus on finding the courage to gain confidence and clarity within one's self.”

One founder experienced multiple mentor sessions that left them more confused than when they entered the session while another was simply grateful for the focus on the psychological aspects of starting and running a business.


2. Founders don't ask for coaching because they have never experienced it before

Of the founders that participated in the office hours, 40% had worked directly with an executive coach before.

“I got a more holistic experience on how to run a start-up. It is not just about knowing the many business fields and managing tasks and people, but also about managing oneself.”

All participants cited the value of a focus on the psychological aspects of running a business.

“It changes everything when you get a chance to see what huge difference it makes to have a good executive coach.”


3. The most common benefits from executive coaching were less stress and more mental clarity.

Of the topics discussed in the coaching sessions, creating emotional relief (less stress), building confidence, and gaining more mental clarity were the most covered topics.

“I was asked a lot of questions that helped me to find clarity on next steps. In usual mentor sessions, there was no room to talk about emotions and doubts, in the executive coaching there was an opportunity to address that."

Other topics addressed included: 

  • Gaining more clarity in decision making 
  • Creating accountability for personal growth as a founder
  • Psychological aspects of running a business
  • Mental health
  • Being a better communicator
  • Building better relationships


“Entrepreneurship is hard. So having a coach can help not only with business strategy but also with personal growth. It is like mental support!”


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