After months of preparation it is finally happening - Founder Institute is up and running. The reason why accelerators are called accelerators is because they are acceleratingly exciting. At least that’s how we feel like!
First week – done!
The first week’s topic was Vision and Idea. These were the questions that we focused on:
- What is a good idea?
- How do you come up with good ideas?
- Does passion matter with ideas?
- How can you tell what you are passionate about?
- How do you translate your passion into one or more business ideas?
- What basic tools should every founder have from the start?
- What tools should founders use to develop their ideas in the beginning?
- How does being a founder align with personal goals, objectives and vision?
This time we had 4 mentors. Peeter Mark CEO and co-founder of Cloutex (cloutex.com), Rain Rannu CEO and co-founder of Fortumo (fortumo.com), Indrek Kelder investment manager at SmatCap (smartcap.ee) and Linnar Viik Co-owner, Member of the Board, Strategy&Investments, Mobi Solutions (mobi.ee).
What happened at the first session?
When the clock hit 17:30, the pitching began. To start off with, five brand-new entrepreneurs had to pitch their idea in front of their classmates and mentors. After that, it was the mentors’ turn to give feedback and ask questions.
For a lot of the participants, this was the first pitch of their life. The heap of questions asked were challenging, some even surprising:
- How many hands do you need to use your app?
- What should you write to Google to find your product?
- How are you going to hold your position in the market?
Finally the mentors scored ideas on a 5-point scale – interestingly, no-one got a 3.
Mentors share their nuggets of wisdom
All three mentors – Indrek Kelder, Linnar Viik and Peeter Mark – are passionate business people and had fascinating ideas. They raised a lot of questions that the audience hadn’t even thought of. Here are a few:
- A huge share of people who think they have a good business idea don’t even bother to Google it.
- Moving on to your second client from the first is just as hard as finding the first client.
- Just because there isn’t competition right now doesn’t mean there won’t be any in the future.
- If you have an advantage right now then you have to move fast. Advantages fade away quickly.
- An average idea and a good team is more likely to succeed than a very good idea and a bad team.
- Even a man and a dog are a better team then just a man. Find a partner to work with.
- Want to find your clients? Write user stories. Describe your client, what kind of environment he lives in, what his values are etc.
- If there isn’t any competition then it’s probably not a good idea.
- Avoid popular business ideas that occur during economic booms because everybody wants to get in on it.
- In the beginning think simple, use simple things like Google Docs to run your start-up. Don’t waste time on complicated and expensive stuff.
What’s next? The weekly assignment
To make their start-ups pick up speed, all young entrepreneurs have to complete weekly assignments. The rules are tough – miss more than one assignment and your out. Here are a few of the many tasks the entrepreneurs have to complete for the next week:
- Set up a mailing list with at least 20 friends, family members, associates and potential future collaborators using an online mailing technology. This way they can send them updates on a weekly basis.
- Use three sentences to give feedback to your peers about their start-up idea.
Bonus: A Founder’s Story
We asked one of the participants, Mariann Liimal, co-founder of Labeltrust (labeltrust.voog.com/et), why she decided to join Founder Institute and what she thought of the first session:
I decided to join Founder Institute to develop my idea further and simplify it. It seems to be a serious program that disciplines me.
It is very hard to start your first start-up without any help. Founder Institute sort of makes the wheels turn.
I thought that the mentor feedback was very good. It certainly made me think and act more. The mentors all had their own different opinions.