Classes Set as Founder Institute’s “Training Camp for Startup CEOs” Launches in San Diego

The Founder Institute’s program for startup CEOs is forging ahead in San Diego, according to Jeanine Jacobson, who is heading the new business mentoring program with fellow startup enthusiast Cliff Currie.

Jacobson tells me they have received about 30 applications for their training camp in entrepreneurship, and 15 have met the selection criteria so far. Jacobson says they want to admit 45 students to the inaugural session, but concedes it’s a challenging goal. Their deadline for new applications is this Sunday, and the San Diego-Orange County program plans to begin classes Nov. 3.

The Founder Institute is a four-month training program, with weekly company-building sessions and mentoring led by experienced startup CEOs. The classes are intended to help entrepreneurs navigate the early stage of starting a technology-based company, regardless of whether its business focus is biotech, Internet, or cleantech. The institute holds its classes in the evening to allow participants to keep their day job or develop their companies during regular business hours.

Bay Area serial entrepreneur Adeo Ressi, who launched the institute earlier this year in San Francisco, outlined his expansion plans for me in August. In addition to San Diego, Ressi told me he wanted to move as quickly as possible to launch the program in Washington D.C., Seattle, Los Angeles, and other cities. Ressi started the training camp for entrepreneurs as an affiliate of TheFunded, his website that rates venture capital firms. San Diego CEOs who have signed up as mentors include Dmitry Shapiro of Veoh Networks, DivX founder and former CEO Jordan Greenhall, and Profitline founder Rick Valencia.

Jacobson says the Cooley Godward Kronish law firm is the program’s title sponsor in San Diego, and the 3½-hour classes will be held in Cooley’s offices in the University City area. Mentors who have been recruited from outside San Diego include Philip Kaplan, serial entrepreneur and founder of Fucked Company and AdBrite; Jason Nazar, co-founder and CEO of; and Peter Pham, CEO of

In addition to a $600 enrollment fee, which helps subsidize part-time staffing, catering, audio-visual fees, and other operating costs, the institute gets warrants amounting to a 3.5 percent stake in a company formed by a student-founder during the program. Warrants give the institute the option of buying stock in the startup at a fair market price, which is set during the first qualified financing round that the company raises. The institute distributes most of the value generated from the warrants back to the program, founders, and mentors. Ressi contends that warrants ensure that any equity purchased by the Institute is priced fairly by the market, in contrast to startup incubators, where Ressi says successful founders often say they got bad investment terms.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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