In a few hours, acceptance letters will be sent out. The Institute has interviewed over 80 applicants, and there are some common questions, outlined below. Please excuse any typos or spelling mistakes.
Will participating Founders need to disclose their ideas?
No. The Institute focuses on helping founders avoid common mistakes in building new businesses across multiple High-tech industries. If a Founder is uncomfortable sharing an idea, then the Founder is not required to disclose anything. All Mentors, Founders, and participating staff are bound by confidentiality provisions.
Do applicants have similar ideas to one another?
Yes. The Institute did not ask applicants to submit their a specific business idea, but multiple applicants shared passion for fields such as education, music, green technology, social media, cloud computing, and fashion, for example.
Can participating Founders find co-Founders in the program?
Yes. A number of applicants have asked about finding co-Founders in the program. Participants have shared areas of interest and hail from a variety of backgrounds, including technology, product management, marketing, and finance. As a result, it seems reasonable that founding teams will be established with different program participants.
What is the range of Mentor experience?
The Mentors have a broad range of industry experiences, including hardware, software, manufacturing, entertainment, digital media, investment, and services. Most Mentors have started multiple companies and are currently running a well-known startup. The Mentors were chosen for their ability to speak on a specific set of important business issues that effect all high-tech startups.
How do Founders get paired with Mentors?
The pairing process is informal. Founders have the opportunity to ask questions of Mentors before, during, and after each session both online and in-person. While some Mentors are extremely busy, it is expected that the majority of Mentors will help Founders where they have common interests. The Mentors are compensated through a shared upside pool, and Mentor compensation increases with positive reviews from participating Founders. The last review is done after the program is completed, creating some incentives for longer term Mentor involvement.
What is the time commitment required by a Founder?
Participating Founders are required to attend or follow each three and a half hour weekly session. The sessions will have about ten hours of assignment work that needs to be completed before the following session. If a participating Founder is also working on a prototype or some other aspect of the business, then the time commitment can be much greater.
How does a Founder graduate from the program?
Towards the end of the program during the week of Incorporation, participating Founders will be invited to participate in the shared warrant pool. The invitation and acceptance by a Founder to participate in the pool is certification that the Founder has graduated. The Institute aims to certify that companies built by Founders during the program have met the highest startup standards. These standards include that the companies have been well thought out, that they have a sound model, that they have been set-up correctly, and that they have the best infrastructure. The certification reduces that amount of diligence that interested investors need to undertake to engage with a company.
How will Founders interact with investors?
In three sessions throughout the Semester, top rated angel investors and venture capitalists will be invited to attend and contribute. Founders will have the opportunity to informally socialize and meet investors during the session without the stress and pressures of a pitch environment. During these lager sessions, remote participants will be invited to attend in person.
Are investors turned off by the Class F stock and warrant pool?
Some are, yes, and others are not. Only the best teams and the best companies will receive financing in the current economic climate, and these strong opportunities will be able to push for better terms. The Institute aims to foster the best, and that is reflected in the terms. The Institute does not mandate that companies use the documents nor that the Founders participate in the warrant pool.
How does remote participation work?
Remote participants will have all of the program benefits of local participants, including working groups, mentoring, training, and discounted offers. The majority of this interaction will be done online and through mailing lists. Sessions are videotaped and provided online within 24 hours, and the Institute is looking to broadcast the sessions live, allowing remote participants to ask questions in realtime. There will be large group gathering for remote participants to attend in the Bay Area, and the Institute is looking at hosting one gathering in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles for participants in those areas.
What does the $450 course fee cover?
The course fee, which amounts to $27 per participant per session, helps to subsidize the session operating costs, including audio-visual, videotaping, catering, location fees, part-time staffing, and other expenses. The fee also helps to cover the costs of operating the online curriculum and information systems.
Who is funding the institute?
The Institute is funded solely by Adeo Ressi, a serial entrepreneur and Founding Member of TheFunded, Incorporated. The idea for the Institute began in January, 2009, as a way to help Founders avoid common mistakes that lead to the failure of a business. In February, Topicki was launched as an interactive curriculum builder for the sessions, and hundreds of CEOs contributed ideas on what Founders need to know. On March 3rd, the story was leaked to TechCrunch, forcing the Institute to move quickly on plans. The company was incorporated on April 16th, 2009, using the same documents offered tot he public and to the participating Founders one day before accepting applications. The first session is on May 19th, 2009.