The Variant Founder Fellowship is a new three-month cohort-based program for web3 founders at the earliest stages of their journey. 

The Variant team has backed dozens of the top projects which now comprise our Variant Network, a professional community of founders and leaders in our portfolio who build and learn together. We’ve found that a network-based, peer learning model is the most effective way to elucidate playbooks and best practices for building in web3. That’s because in an industry as nascent and fast-evolving as crypto, the domain experts are the builders who are on the front lines of innovation. So far, the Variant Network has catalyzed learnings across our portfolio on topics like product design, token strategy, regulatory issues, and much more. 

Now, the Variant Founder Fellowship builds upon this network learning model and aims to foster more innovation in crypto by inviting a cohort of emerging founders to build and learn alongside Variant’s portfolio founders. While there are many startup accelerator programs, few are tailored to the distinct needs of founders in crypto, which have very different strategies for success. In web3, topics like go-to-market, community building, business models, defensibility, and token distribution require specialized knowledge that don’t follow web2 precedents. These types of resources and cutting-edge playbooks are what we’ll provide with the Variant Founder Fellowship.

Fellows will get access to Variant’s peer network of founders, builders, and experts operating at the bleeding edge of crypto, and learn from functional experts in web3 and build alongside teams in the Variant portfolio that are further along in their journeys. As part of the inaugural cohort, fellows will become part of a tight-knit group of peers and, in the future, a vibrant alumni network and community. Throughout the program, founders will receive hands-on mentorship and support from the Variant team.

Applications are now closed.

Fellowship Components

Access to Variant’s highly curated portfolio resources, educational programming and network events.

Mentorship from Variant GPs, investment team, and portfolio support team, as well as our expanded network of strategic advisors and experts. See our full team here.

Expertise from leadership at our portfolio companies, which include Uniswap, Flashbots, Foundation, and more; as well as from industry leaders and domain experts through workshops and AMAs.

Community of like-minded builders in crypto. Fellows can apply on their own, or as a team, and join a community of builders to workshop their ideas and push their thinking.

Who Should Apply?

The Variant Founder Fellowship is designed for emerging founders (pre-seed or earlier) who have an existing idea or prototype and need support bringing it to the next level.

We are looking for founders who are crypto-native and actively contributing to the web3 ecosystem. Fellows can be working on their projects full- or part-time, but with an eye toward jumping in full-time to bring their project to life.


What is the time commitment for the fellowship?

The fellowship will run from June through August 2023.

The fellowship is part time. Fellows should expect to dedicate at least 4-5 hours per week to the program.

The fellowship is entirely remote with optional in-person activities.

The fellowship is open to anyone regardless of location, but sessions will operate on Eastern Time (US). 

What is the level of crypto knowledge needed to participate?

The fellowship is designed for crypto-native founders who have a clear project idea or set of directional themes. The fellowship will not be a basic education in crypto.

Do I need to apply with a team? 

Fellows can apply solo and optionally opt-in to being matched with potential cofounders, or apply with an existing co-founder/team. 

How many fellows will be selected? 

20 founders/teams will be selected for this first cohort. 

If I don’t get in, will I have a chance to reapply? 

We encourage those who are not accepted to reapply to future cohorts! We also aim to externalize content from cohort sessions to all applicants.

What types of projects is Variant looking for? 

Variant Founder Fellowship will aim to accept fellows who are working across the entire stack of web3, including infrastructure, consumer, and DeFi. We outlined some of the areas we are especially excited about in our Fund III announcement, but fellows are not limited to these categories.

What’s the cost to participate?

The fellowship is entirely free.

Founders do not have to give up equity/tokens to Variant in order to participate.

Will Variant invest in projects that go through the fellowship?

There is no expectation or guarantee of funding for fellows who participate in the fellowship, though founders are welcome to pitch Variant for investment. The goal of the program is to help founders accelerate building their projects.