Aspiring entrepreneurs looking to kickstart innovative business ideas can now enrol in the Singapore Founder Institute Summer 2014 programme.
The accelerator, which originated from the US, has operations in more than 50 countries globally in the last four years, including Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar, Australia, India and Japan.
Applications for the programme has started, and will end late-July 2014. The programme itself will start August 13, 2014 with orientation, and end November 20, 2014 with graduation. All sessions are held at Microsoft Singapore.
Founder Institute — not for everyone
Jeffrey Paine, Director, The Founder Institute, said that he is looking to accept no more than 50 founders. The previous batch saw 45 founders enrolled. However, only 32 founders managed to graduate. This means that 13 founders either dropped out voluntarily or were kicked out of the programme.
“There is the founders who self opt-out, reasons could be, “Oh, I can’t commit to the time,” even though it’s once a week, but 10 to 15 hours a week spent on assignments (is quite a lot),” said Paine.
He added, “Some people have to travel so they can’t come to class… Some people have an idea then they realise that the idea sucks, and then they can’t make it better, they don’t have another one that is better. … And then, you have those which are system-generated. If you don’t come to class, we’ll kick you out. If you don’t do your assignments, we’ll kick you out.”
On the flip side, attitude plays a big part as well. Each batch will be divided further into groups, and each group will have a president. When someone is being negative or particularly obnoxious, group members can flag these founders. The president of the group can then rate these individuals and help decide if the sentiment is unfounded.
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Paine, who had earlier written about not coming off as “a total asshole”, told this author that his personal pet peeve is arrogant people. Thus, in the first seven days, he would practise a more civil form of hazing, in order to weed out the participants who might affect the rest toxically with a negative and conceited outlook.
For example, he would put founders on the spot by getting them to pitch, and thrashing their presentations. “We do that for a reason,” he added. “From that exchange, body language and dialogue, you can kind of tell. … Actually, (information) sessions is another trigger. They ask questions and you can kind of tell, “Ugh, I’m too good for this shit.” Straight away, I’ll figure out what is your name and if I ever see your name, I’ll kick you out right away.” (Sic)
Information sessions, in this case, are pre-Founder Institute programme events which can help prospective participants decide if they would like to join the accelerator. In addition to the next information session coming up this June 19, there is also a “Making the Leap from Employee to Entrepreneur” session happening this June 12, and a “Startup Ideation Bootcamp” this June 26.
Who should join Founder Institute?
Typically, there are three kinds of entrepreneurs in Founder Institute, he said. One-third of them are freelance programmers who might have some past experience in the startup scene. Another one-third of them have tendered their resignations, or are going to leave their day jobs in the foreseeable future. The last one-third, however, can be attributed to those who have day jobs, but do not wish to quit any time soon.
“The people I find that fit accelerators fit the middle group,” said Paine. These are the first-time entrepreneurs or ones who need hand-holding from mentors. “(We help) make sure that this is really what you want to do for the next five to 10 years of your life,” he added.
Going forward, he also shared that he will try to get startups to focus on being unique. “No more clones,” he said, “unless you cannot get out of your comfort zone.”