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Should You Apply to the Founder Institute? by Stefan Broda

Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2013-04-11

Founder Insight gives you feedback from the startup trenches.

In this post from his blog, Founder Institute graduate, Stefan Broda, Founder of BeforeWeDo, shares his experience with the Silicon Valley Founder Institute. His honest and candid feedback is a must-read for any entrepreneur considering the program. Thinking of applying? Check out what Stefan had to say about mentor feedback, networking, time commitment, assignments, and more.

Below, Stefan's short version of "Should You Apply to the Founder Institute? My Pros / Cons and Tips Shared After Graduation" has been republished.

 

Short version - for the busy reader


The Founder Institute is a 4 month startup acceleration / incubation program that uses top-down style classes (remember high school?), assignment and a pitch-driven approach to help you to formulate and drive startup ideas from first thought to incorporated business.

 

What was awesome about it:

  • Structured, well organized acceleration program that you apply to yourself and your own idea and later startup
  • Assessment to see whether you are the right fit for a startup entrepreneur lifestyle and to help you develop personally and qualify your idea
  • Great resources for each class (previous recorded talks, reading, templates)
  • Fellows during the program and graduates after the program form a strong peer-support community. This is especially important after graduation as you will continue to motivate each other to maintain a sense of urgency and professionalism for each other! Also helps that after graduation, we own small parts of each others' companies ;-)
  • A great partner network - graduates will have access to special deals with vendors such as Rackspace, First Republic Bank, etc.


If the course fee and the 3.5% equity contribution are of concern to you, I suggest to read the Quora article on Is the Founder Institute a good deal for entrepreneurs? Why or why not?.


What you should know:

  • Not very lean yet. 4 months are a long time for a lean startup to go through one serial curriculum of topics. I’d like an incubator to adopt lean practices, enforce iterative Build-Measure-Learn cycles with review milestones with standardized metrics at which point the founder either decides to stay on course or pivot.
  • Come with thick skin and expect some tough love. Feedback will be brutally honest which is great! However with one out of 25 Mentors or so... the feedback can even get a bit personal/mildly abusive. I’d like FI to keep up the brutal honesty but lets keep it professional at all times. At those times, just thank the judge and don’t talk back.
  • Assignments are a lot of work but at the end, you don’t receive feedback on it from FI. So make sure you do them for yourself and your startup.
  • It's just part time. So if you already quit your job, this might not be enough of a structure for you to accompany your startup every day. So don’t rely on FI to manage your daily life but see it as an accompanying program.



Early Conclusion (see more below):

  • Definitely apply if you are still in a job and would like help in figuring out if your idea or you are Startup ready
  • Apply when you are new to the West Coast and want to build your advisory / mentor network.
  • Apply when you want to further your personal development and further strengthen your entrepreneurial toolbox.



For me, number 2 and 3 applied and for me, the Founder Institute was an awesome experience!


Convinced it's the right fit for you? Then go ahead and apply!


To read the full version of Stefan's experience with FI, click here and be sure to follow him on Twitter @stefanbroda for more updates, insights, and valuable feedback.

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