Introspection by a Start-up Founder

The Founder Institute

3 months ago I joined the Founder Institute (FI) and successfully raised seed money from a government grant.

2 months ago, I questioned my abilities as an entrepreneur by making the mistake of seeking press and meeting investors too early.

Recently, I’ve graduated from FI and settled on building, an online video shopping channel for designer products. If I were a business student, I would have done enough research to write 3 business plans for different businesses and dumped 2 of them in the bin after realising the market and technical risk involved.

Some ask why I don’t seem excited about graduating from a programme that accepts only 1/4 of its applicants and eliminates about 2/3 of its students by the end of it. My guess is, the markets are even more ruthless when it comes to correcting businesses.

48 pages worth of answers later, FI assignments feel more like necessary actions items for a smart entrepreneur. I wouldn’t exactly call 3-year financial projections and creating a product roadmap, homework.

The biggest takeaway from FI is not what I’ve learnt from the exemplary roster of mentors or the intelligent peers I’ve had the privilege of knowing. The biggest takeaway is earning the entrepreneur’s acumen, the ability to make sound business decisions and judge the quality of business ideas. It’s an instinct that can only be honed through experience.

So far, I’ve learnt to understand the value of building a good team and surrounding yourself with a strong support network, which includes family and friends. As a startup founder, a supportive network is your first engine of value creation and you can never outsource that function to somebody else. Some call it, paying it forward.

Even with a great network, running a technology business is hard, much tougher than I thought. Too often it’s easy to sell the expertise of your team as products. Its even easier to call it quits and label yourself as a consultant. I know, we’ve been there. Straddling between a service-based vs product-based business. Struggling between a technology-driven vs. a technology-enabled company.

Its true, an entrepreneur suffers a crisis in confidence every 2 months: self-doubt, self-destroying-doubt.

I’m glad to have passed the 2 months mark with inner peace that nothing else in this world (including failure) matter except launching and finding an excellent founding team in the coming months.

Focus is the distraction from doubt.

  • Lisa Ward Cumes

    just got accepted to the Sydney Founder Institute, which kicks off in 2 weeks. what can I do NOW to prepare.…(if anything?)

  • Daylon Soh

    Hi Lisa,

    Some business ideas you’ll like to explore, your strengths/weakness and an open mind. Good luck!

  • Msch912

    Wise words. Good luck with the site.

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