Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Graduated from the Founder Institute

It's just last night when I emailed my list announcing my graduation from the Founder Institute Kuala Lumpur. Khailee, Managing Partner of 500 Startups and a mentor of Founder Institute, gave the final mentoring last week. It's amazing how fast four months could go by.

I had been following the Founder Institute for a few years. The idea of "prepping up startup" while keeping my day job was the main reason. When they finally opened a charter in Singapore, I thought of applying. I thought I could endure the back-and-forth travel (I'm in Kuala Lumpur), every week, for four months. Good thing I came to my senses.

Then they opened in Jakarta, my hometown. I was very tempted to quit my job to enrol there, but then again it kinda defeats the purpose of joining—might as well join a full accelerator (which I didn't do because I wasn't ready).

Then they opened in Kuala Lumpur. I missed the 1st cohort, and I kinda lost interest on the 2nd. But when they opened registration again, few months ago, I decided to join. It's now or never, I told myself.

Different than most of my fellow Founders, I've been following tech news for more than five years. I've started (and failed) a few (attempted) startups, I've helped a friend pitch for his startup in Startup Arena, I've participated in numerous hackathons (and won a few), and I've read numerous startup-related blogs and books. Does it mean I didn't get anything from the Institute? Far from it.

I've learned a lot of new stuff first-hand, from mentors who are industry players, many of them are now in my list. I know them, and, more importantly, they know me. I've also made friends with fellow founders. I found my crowd.

The strongest influence FI has on me is the fervid push to quit my full-time job to pursue my dream. I've always wanted to do it, but I lack data to support my cause. FI's structured approach really helps—ideation, market research, customer development—they're the bits and pieces that build my confidence.

If you're thinking of starting your own company, Founder Institute might be a good place to start.

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