There are a few more hours to meet the Early Admissions deadline for New York, Seattle, and Silicon Valley. This has inspired a desire to write some thoughts about the value of the Institute to potential applicants. So, why apply?
Success: Most of the things that you need to know to build a successful company from scratch can't be learned from books or from school. How do you know when a cofounder is right? When do you start talking about your business idea publicly? When do you quit your job? How do you get exposure for your idea from the media? The lessons of entrepreneurship are usually learned the hard way, and the deadly array of potential mistakes cause most startups to fail. Entrepreneurs that succeed are often lucky, fail fast, and recover intelligently. A good mentor with poignant advice can help you avoid most of the obvious mistakes and some of the less obvious pitfalls. Many successful entrepreneurs credit a part of their success to a mentor or friend, and the Institute has formalized this invaluable relationship. The Institute has one Mentor per enrolled founder in nearly all of the cities.
Timeliness: The world is changing daily, and the tools required to be a successful entrepreneur are changing as well. Books and school can't keep pace with the change, but successful entrepreneurs today are capitalizing on the changes to win. The best advice is from someone who is succeeding in the present, not someone who succeeded more than a decade ago. Why? Job boards like Monster were relevant in the 90's, Craigslist was relevant afterwards, and social media is the place to find team members today. You want Mentors who can give you timely advice on how to succeed, and the Institute only recruits successful CEOs of startup companies that are not too big.
Location: Building a successful technology startup differs significantly based on the location of where you start, as well as the present day trends. For example, expensive real estate costs drive decision making in New York and Silicon Valley. Top talent in Silicon Valley will quit everything to be a cofounder on a promising idea and work for equity. The nuances of each market require local expertise. So, the Institute tries to get at least half of the Mentor CEOs from the local market. The remaining Mentors are chosen to be subject matter experts from anywhere in the world
Motivation: Taking the first steps to start your new company are daunting, even if you love your idea, even if you have experience, and even if you have a great plan. The Founder Institute itself was carefully planned, but a leak in TechCrunch forced us to incorporate and to start accepting applications months before "the original plan." Without the leak, who knows what would have happened, and the Institute is my eighth company. Applying to the Institute and getting accepted is a catalyst. It's the sign for you to launch your company.
I look forward to seeing your application. Good luck!