Enrollment Begins at Founder Institute After Inaugural Class Completes Training
School’s out for the Founder Institute’s inaugural class in San Diego, which started with 22 students in November and last week graduated 13 entrepreneurs who are moving forward to develop 12 startup companies, according to Jeanine Jacobson, a San Diego organizer.
After starting the four-month mentoring program for startup founders in San Francisco a year ago, founder Adeo Ressi (of TheFunded.com) expanded to San Diego-Orange County, Seattle, and other cities known as hotbeds of technology. The Founder Institute program is now in nine cities and has even acquired an international flavor; the deadline for spring applications ended yesterday for programs in Paris, Singapore, Denver, and Los Angeles.
The outcome in San Diego was sufficiently encouraging for the startup incubator and training program to announce it is now accepting applications for a second class, which is scheduled to begin April 6. The Institute has recruited 26 mentors who have started their own companies, with the San Diego curriculum focused generally on high tech, including Internet, IT, cleantech, and hardware. Jacobson tells me she even received an application Friday from a recent F/A-18 Hornet pilot, who is an entrepreneurial-minded graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.
The Institute will continue to holds its classes in the evening to make it easier for students to keep their day job. The cost of enrollment has been increased to $800 from $600, although students also must give up a small stake in any company they launch (see below). And they must pay a $4,500 course fee if they get external funding during the program.
Jacobson tells me the entrepreneurs who graduated last Tuesday “are now working on their business. Some are looking for empty office space, and some are still building products.” The San Diego graduates include:
—CloudCanvas, a Web-based image-editing program developed in HTML 5 that was previewed in the TechCrunch 50 Demo Pit.
—Live On Campus, a website that provides online news for students in India, and enables students to express, explore, and engage with fellow students on campuses throughout India.
—XBand Technologies, which is developing innovative ways of using smartphones in sporting applications. The company is currently prototyping and testing a consumer electronics device for cyclists that provides nutrition, hydration, and performance monitoring tasks.
The 39 percent dropout rate reminds me of my first wide-eyed day of journalism school, when we were herded into a hallowed auditorium and told to look to our left and right, because one out of every three students wouldn’t make it to graduation the following spring.
“Some people came in with an idea, and they found out that they weren’t really ready, and so they left to develop their idea some more and then return,” Jacobson says. “Some people decided they didn’t want to give up 3.5 percent of their startup to the Founder Institute, and so they opted to go their own way.”
The Institute requires participants to give warrants equivalent to a 3.5 percent stake in any company that is formed by a founder during the program. The warrants give the Institute an option to buy stock at a fair market price, and the price is not set until the company raises its first qualified round of financing. The Institute says it distributes most of the value generated by the warrants back to the program, mentors, and other founders.