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The Founder Institute's four-month curriculum covers everthing you would expect from an early-stage startup program, including topics like "Startup Legal and IP” towards the beginning, to “Fundraising” near the end. What makes the curriculum special is the Mentors that teach it, whose passion, feedback and support helps our companies avoid rookie mistakes and set the foundation for a meaningful and enduring company. 

The Founder Institute carefully recruits approximately 25 Mentors per Semester, who are normally the CEO or founder of a successful startup. Rather than specialists or consultants, we prefer Founders and CEOs to give our companies "the entrepreneur's perspective." The mentors share their experiences, best practices, and mistakes, while also providing specific guidance and feedback on the Founder companies. 

In addition, the Founder Institute's unique Graduate Liquidity Pool allows our mentors to share in the equity of companies formed in each program - and, their share is based solely on the anonymous ratings they receive from the Founders both during, and after the program. In this way, the Founder Institute incentivizes mentors to take a special interest in our startups, and provide as much assistance as possible after the program. 

We have a great lineup of Mentors confirmed for the Autumn 2012 San Diego Founder Institute, including many from out of town. See the full list below.


Albert Chow

CFO & SVP Operations , PRIMA CINEMA 

Albert Chow is CFO & SVP of Operations at PRIMA Cinema, a startup that is incubating a first-run private home movie screening service. He previously served in senior executive positions in a number of technology firms including DivX, Memec, and Yahoo, leading the Strategy and Corporate Development functions with several IPO and M&A transactions in these roles. Albert started his career as a Management Consultant at Bain & Company and as a Device Engineer at Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector. Albert graduated from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


Alex Bard 

Founder & CEO, Assistly

Alex Bard is the Founder and CEO of Assistly, a new stealth software company focused on customer interaction and customer relationship management (CIM & CRM). Alex was formerly the VP of Product at AOL, and the President & CEO at Goowy Media, a flash widget company that was purchased by AOL in 2008. He was also part of the founding team of two other Internet communication companies, including eAssist Global Solutions and eShare Technologies. Alex holds a BA in Finance from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.


Andrew Beinbrink

CEO, SportsForce

Andrew Beinbrink is the CEO and Founder of SportsForce (, a "LinkedIn for student-athletes, parents and coaches". SportsForce is Andrew's 3rd start-up with sports software companies Trajan Sports and IDV-GMOD. With 9+ years as an Internet entrepreneur, Andrew has a deep passion for helping people reach their goals. He believes business is the ultimate sport and entrepreneurs are the ultimate athletes. His current mission at SportsForce is to "Empower the Next-Generation of Student-Athletes, Parents and Coaches."


Charlie Jackson

Founder, Silicon Beach Software & FutureWave Software

Charlie Jackson is an entrepreneur, currently in startup mode with his third software company, Silicon Beach Software. Charlie began his entrepreneurial career in the 1980's, and in the mid 1990's became co-founder/Chairman of FutureWave Software, creators of Adobe Flash. He earned the title of San Diego Entrepreneur of the Year - High Tech in 1990. Jackson's education history includes a BA degree in Near Eastern Studies from UCLA, a Master's degree in Linguistics from San Diego State, and C.Phil in Linguistics from UCSD.


Chester Ng

Co-Founder & CMO, SweetLabs

Chester Ng is a Co-Founder of SweetLabs, a Google/Intel/Bessemer-backed startup in San Diego providing app platforms for the PC like Pokki and OpenCandy. As the CMO, Chester runs the business development and marketing teams focused on strategic partnerships, spreading the good word, as well as driving growth and insight. Prior to SweetLabs, Chester spent 7 years at DivX, most recently as Director of Business Development, responsible for building new business lines like software licensing/ distribution and online advertising, as well as expanding DivX into new markets like social media and internationally. Chester graduated from University of California, San Diego with a BS, in Management Science.


Chris Studer

Founder & Former CEO, ScholarPoint Financial

Chris is an entrepreneur with a successful track record of starting and building two financial services companies specializing in student loans. Most recently, Chris was founder and CEO of ScholarPoint Financial, where he led the development and launch of a web-based technology platform for 100% paper-free sourcing and origination – funding over $300 million e-loans in the first three years. Prior to ScholarPoint, Chris was part of the founding team at College Loan Corporation, reaching $120 million in revenue and 400 employees in just three years. Chris earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Boston University. A native of Minnesota, Chris and his wife Melissa currently reside in La Jolla, CA.


Chris J Snook

Managing Partner/Managing Director, TLEC Ventures/

Chris J. Snook has spent over 11 years as a two-time International Best Selling Author, Entrepreneur, and Venture Catalyst. He has built global marketing and distribution businesses in the U.S. Canada, Japan, and Hong Kong, and has spent the last 5 years in the investment community incubating media startups as the Managing Partner of TLEC Ventures ( and Managing Director at Incubate Holdings ( He was awarded San Diego Metropolitan "40 under 40" in 2006, Cambridge Who's Who CEO/Business Coach of the Year 2007, and nominated for Biz San Diego's Coolest CEO in 2009. He is the happy husband of Brianne and proud father of Beckett.


Cliff Boro

Founder & CEO,

Clifford Todd Boro is a founder and serves as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of, Inc. and is the Managing Partner at CVT Ventures. He was the Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Internet Financial Network (IFN) which merged with Entrypoint Technologies in October 2000. Mr. Boro has an eclectic background. His occupations have ranged from teaching skiing to hundreds of children, to crossing the Atlantic as second-mate on a mega-yacht, to working as a full-time Wall Street trader during his senior year in high school, followed ever since by a career as a serial entrepreneur.


Dan Shapiro

Board of Directors, Photobucket, Founder of Sparkbuy & Ontela

Dan Shapiro sold his most recent company, Sparkbuy, to Google where he is CEO of the Google Comparison subsidary. Previously he founded Ontela (now Photobucket) and worked at RealNetworks, Microsoft, and Wildseed (acquired by AOL). His companies have been named Dow Jones Top 10 in Wireless, CTIA Best Social Networking Application, WTIA Breakthrough Startup of the Year, and Shapiro himself has been named CEO of the Year by MobileBeat. Shapiro's articles have been published in publications including The Washington Post, Wireless Week, and the Seattle PI, and he is a frequent speaker at conferences and events. He blogs at and tweets at @danshapiro.


Dan O'Neill

CEO, Avalon Blue Co.

Dan has spent twenty five years in software and systems development specializing in technologies that cross software, hardware and networking disciplines. He also spent ten years in executive management roles as CTO, Founder, Chairman of the Board and Executive Vice-President. He is a business friendly technologist who has helped three company's grow from a start-up situation through to a successful IPO ($372m), sale and transition to new owners.


Dave Parker


Dave is serial entrepreneur and Director of the Founder Institute Seattle. He's on the Board of Directors for five mid-market companies including OneAccord Partners, a consulting firm he co-founded in 2005. He's on the advisory board of more then a dozen company and he's always incubating new various tech projects. Over the last 20 years Dave's career success has included both product and service industries, selling both tangible and intangible products predominantly in the technology market, including hardware, software, and wireless. For the last 13 years he has held founder and executive positions in services, software distribution and hardware development companies as well as developing joint ventures in Japan and China. He has also served as an Entrepreneur in Residence for Mitsui & Company's $250M technology fund.


Derrick Oien

President & CEO, ScoreStream

Derrick Oien is an experienced entrepreneur with executive level experience from startups to public companies. He has taken a company from founding to exit in the case of Intercasting Corporation and was a member of the management team that sold to Vivendi Universal, where he subsequently ran the digital music division of Vivendi as President, overseeing, and eMusic. His industry experience includes digital media, advertising, social media, mobile and wireless enterprise software. In addition to his operational roles he has been a director of socialthing, acquired by AOL, and Trusonic, acquired by Fluid Media corporation, as well as an advisor to various startups. Derrick has a BS in Computer Information Systems from California State University, Los Angeles where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.


Gioia Messinger

Founder & Chairman , Avaak

Gioia Messinger is currently the Founder and Chairman of Avaak, Inc. and until recently served as its founding CEO where she raised over $32M in capital from venture investors and government agencies and lead Avaak into wide-scale consumer adoption of its Vue video networking products. Prior to Avaak, she founded SUMMIT Design Technologies, Inc. an engineering services firm with Fortune 500 clients such as Motorola, Lockheed Martin and Texas Instruments. Gioia received her MBA from the University of California-Irvine and bachelor and master's degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California-San Diego. She has 3 patents granted and 8 pending.


Jason Pang


JASON PANG, FOUNDER AND CEO of PRIMA CINEMA - a startup that is incubating a first-run private home movie screening service. Prior to founding PRIMA Cinema, Inc. in 2009, he was involved with DivX, Inc. from pre-funding in 2000 to a successful IPO in 2006. During his tenure, he held key positions in business, marketing and operations. Prior to DivX, Jason served over 5 years at Accenture, a leading global technology consulting firm, with a specialty in Technical Architecture. He designed and delivered large scale ERP solutions as well as custom developed software, infrastructure design, and data center operations for Global 1000 firms. Jason holds both an MS and BS in Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M University.


Jim Kaskade

CEO & Serial Entrepreneur, PARC, Xerox Company

Jim Kaskade has 10+ years as a CEO/senior executive building high-tech products, teams, and businesses in the areas of cloud computing software, Software as a Service (SaaS), online and mobile digital media, online and mobile advertising, and semiconductors. He has an additional 10+ years in leadership roles developing data warehousing, Big Data, data mining, and business intelligence solutions. Jim has also founded four start-ups, and brings more than twenty-five years of experience building enterprise-class applications for Fortune 1000 companies. He is most recently incubating a new startup at PARC, a Xerox company, as an EIR.


Jimmy Hendricks

CEO & Co-Founder, Deal Current

Jimmy Hendricks is Co-Founder and CEO of Deal Current and has mentored in both the US and Chile. Deal Current is one of the most well recognized "white label" daily deal software companies in the US. Deal Current's hosted social commerce solutions and sales force training tools help media publishers implement their very own revenue-generating deal or coupon platform in 30 days or less. Prior to founding Deal Current, Hendricks was an executive at, a leading provider of application services technology and marketing solutions for community service and participatory sports organizations with $300M+ annual revenues. Jimmy is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and holds a Masters Degree in Accounting – Corporate Taxation.


Joe Bezdek 

Co-Founder and Former Brand Director, DivX, Inc. 

Joe Bezdek is a co-founder of DivX, Inc., the creator of the popular DivX video format and technology. While there, he filled a variety of roles in product management, marketing, and brand management, most recently as brand director. He left DivX in late 2007 to spend time with his wife and three young daughters, road tripping across the country in a variety of vehicles, including a 38-foot motorhome. He has BS and MS degrees in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M and The University of Texas - Austin, respectively, but he's terribly mechanically disinclined so don't ask him to fix anything. Currently he is the co-founder of Cloudtop, a company building mobile and web applications for pilots. He also serves on the board of trustees of the Rady Children's Hospital Foundation in San Diego.


Jon Carder

Founder & CEO,

Jon Carder is a serial entrepreneur, currently the Founder and CEO of, an online Local Search company dedicated to helping consumers find the best local businesses. MojoPages recently raised $5M from Austin Ventures in July 2009. Prior to MojoPages, Jon was the Founder and CEO of Client Shop, which helped over 1M consumers find the lowest rates on their home loans. ClientShop was San Diego's fastest growing company in 2005 and was sold shortly thereafter to Internet Brands(NASDAQ: INET). In 2001 Jon founded, an online superstore while attending Point Loma Nazarene University.


Jordan Greenhall

Co-Founder & Former CEO, DivX 

Jordan Greenhall is co-founder DivX back in 2000 which he took public in 2006. Prior to DivX, he spent his time learning the art of entrepreneurship at San Diego start-ups InterVU and Since retiring from DivX, he invested in a few startups, and currently serves on the board of several think tanks . Mr. Greenhall holds a JD magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1997 and a BA summa cum laude from Texas A&M in 1994.


Ken Wahlster 

Founder & CEO,

Ken Wahlster, Founder & CEO of, started the company in 1999 and quickly turned it into one of the largest motorcycle part retailers on the web. The San Diego based company has over $50 million in annual sales and found success by putting their customers first and having a great website backed by reliable service and support. Ken received his MBA from Pennsylvania State University and his undergraduate degree in Economics from University of Pittsburgh.


Liz Gasser 

Sr. Director, Qualcomm

Liz Glasser Is currently responsible for developing business strategies for new technologies and platforms that Qualcomm is seeking to commercialize through its Global Market Development and Qualcomm Labs groups ( She is also the Qualcomm lead for the QualcommLabs@EvoNexus incubator program Liz graduated from the University of Cambridge with a BA/MA, in Economics.


Mike Alfred

Co-Founder and CEO, BrightScope

Mike is Co-Founder and CEO of BrightScope. BrightScope is an independent provider of 401k ratings and financial intelligence to plan sponsors, advisors, and participants in all 50 states. Their mission is to increase the retirement security of America's workforce by bringing transparency and efficiency to the 401k plan market. Previously, Mike was the Co-Founder and Portfolio Manager of Alfred Capital Management LLC, an independent registered investment firm located in La Jolla. Mike received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University.


Patrick Dillon

Co-Founder & President, Deal Current Network, Inc.

Patrick Dillon is Co-Founder and President of Deal Current. Patrick brings over ten years of sales, sales management and promotional experience to the Deal Current Network. He has considerable experience in both B-to-B and B-to-C environments, and has built out large networks of distribution and contractor networks. In his previous company, a $250 million direct sales company called Vector Marketing and Cutco Cutlery Patrick was as the head of Sales Promotion for 15 states, 100 offices, and 8,000 independent representatives. As President of The Deal Current Network Dillon oversees sales and partnership strategy, and revenue maximization for the partner network. Patrick graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison - School of Business with a Bachelor Degree Finance, Marketing.


Peter Csathy

President & CEO, Sorenson Media

Peter Csathy is a digital media and technology specialist, and is currently the CEO of Sorenson Media, Inc. He previously held the title of President & COO of digital music pioneer Musicmatch, Inc. (company was acquired by Yahoo!); and COO of Real-Time media search company eNow (company was acquired by AOL). Before becoming an entrepreneur, Csathy spent a decade as a senior business executive with major media companies such as Universal Studios and New Line Cinema. He began his career as a media/entertainment attorney representing motion picture and music clients. He recently served as the only video solutions expert on a Cloud Commission that made recommendations to President Obama. He also serves as a board member of the Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County. Peter is a graduate of Harvard Law School (J.D.) and the University of Minnesota (summa cum laude).


Ricardo Dos Santos

Sr Director of New Business Development

Ricardo dos Santos is a Senior Director of New Business Creation & Innovation at Qualcomm Corporate. Ricardo leads the early-stage discovery and acceleration phases of internal ventures, which have earned over $150 million in funding. Ricardo is also the founder of an innovative management practice called 'Collective Entrepreneurship', which combines crowdsourcing with proven entrepreneurial methods for new business creation, self-forming teams, 'reality training' and leadership development. Prior to joining Qualcomm, Ricardo spent three years as a founder and manager of professional services practices for mobile startup companies, Mobilocity and Wireless Knowledge. Ricardo holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in systems & industrial engineering from Louisiana State University, as well as an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.


Rick Valencia

Founder, ProfitLine 

Rick Valencia is the Founder of ProfitLine, a business process outsourcer in the Telecom Expense Management industry with major clients in the Fortune 1000 including Ernst & Young, Cardinal Health, AIG & US Postal Service. Rick bootstrapped the company from startup to $7M, and grew it further to $20M+ while raising $35M+ in venture capital. ProfitLine has been named as one of America’s 500 fastest growing private companies for three years straight by Inc. Magazine. Rick is considered by many as a pioneer of the Telecommunications Expense Management industry which has grown to a half billion dollar industry. Rick earned his B.S. in business administration/finance from California State University, Northridge.


Ryan Alfred

Co-Founder & President, BrightScope

Co-Founder, President, and Head of Product Development at BrightScope, an independent quantitative 401k ratings firm. Ryan is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle and numerous industry publications. Previously, he was the Co-Founder and Chief Compliance Officer of Alfred Capital Management LLC, an independent registered investment firm located in La Jolla, CA. Ryan received his bachelor's degree in Economics from Harvard University.


Ryan Bettencourt 


Ryan Bettencourt is currently the President of KidZui, creators of the KidZui kids browser and, the fastest growing online destination for kids. Ryan has been the head of a leading digital agency, owner of a successful clothing brand, director of a large consumer package goods business and entrepreneur in the digital media and ecommerce spaces. He has an MBA from Babson College.


Scott Tilton

Co Founder & CEO,

Scott is the Co Founder and CEO of He has been an entrepreneur since college. He spent a majority of his younger life competing in action sports, including motocross, BMX and downhill mountain biking. Combining his passion for sports with business, he was the co-founder and CEO of in 2001 and later rebranded the company as in 2009. With nearly 1M members and 400 brand and media partnerships, is the leading online and mobile app for sports. Scott has a degree in sports medicine from Elon University and a master’s degree in Internet business systems from Mercy College.


Stephen Meade

Founder, BigBamboo

Stephen Meade is an American entrepreneur, executive and strategic adviser who is passionate about growing companies that make a difference in the world. In the past 20 years, he has created and incubated 9 successful technology-based companies. Currently, Stephen serves as chairman and resident rainmaker at BigBamboo LLC, a holding company which incubates start-up companies from innovative idea to market-ready. As chairman and resident rainmaker at Big Bamboo, LLC, Stephen Meade creates and builds successful businesses by knowing how to gather a team with the precise skills, knowledge and expertise to move his ideas to market. After building human capital, he then raises the financial capital necessary to help bring the idea to market. In essence, he is a company architect once he determines an idea is viable.


Tim Drees

Co Founder & Prior CEO 

Tim currently splits his time between investing, philanthropy work, and travel. He was previously the co founder and CEO of Webmetrics Inc., a leader in advanced website monitoring and testing solutions, and remains active as an investor in emerging technologies related to mobile and social networking. His philanthropy work is centered around animal welfare; he is currently serving on the national council of the Humane Society of the United States and is in the midst of launching a non profit startup aimed at improving the lives of farm animals:


Tim Norris

CEO, Ixel Innovation

Tim Norris is the co-founder of J!NX (, a clothing brand with the largest collection of video game apparel in the world. J!NX licenses many of the world's bestselling video game franchises including World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Star Wars. Previously, Tim co-founded, developed, and sold, an internet job board to help teachers find jobs. Tim is currently the CEO of Ixel Innovation, his personal consulting firm, where he counsels companies on innovation, technology, and social media. Tim graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science.


Sunday, October 7th is the Final Application Deadline for the Autumn 2012 San Diego Founder Institute. If you or someone you know could benefit from expert training and feedback to launch a technology startup in San Diego, then click here to apply today.

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