Founder Institute to kick off 2nd semester
By Gabey Goh January 17, 2014
- Application deadline on March 2, test fee waived for early birds applying before Feb 9
- Series of recruitment and information-sharing events taking place Jan 20-Feb 24
AFTER the successful conclusion of its inaugural semester last year, Founder Institute (FI) is opening its doors again for another batch of eager entrepreneurs.
The Founder Institute Malaysia chapter is led by Heislyc Loh, founder of the StartupMamak community; and Tzu Ming Chu, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Impersuasion.com, a web analytics software and solutions firm.
The inaugural semester saw nine entrepreneurs representing seven startups graduating. The target for 2014 is to launch more than 30 companies.
Speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA), Chu said that from the past year’s experience of running the programme, the chapter’s directors found that the founders who were the most serious and had the greatest desire to persevere were the ones who got the most out of the programme.
“It is very much a programme that is made not so much by our mentors, but also the people who are your classmates and who help you through the programme. So having quality fellow founders is really key to learning and also getting ahead in the programme,” he said.
Graduate Jor Han Lau said that despite having been active in software development for many years, the programme challenged him to bring his own ideas to test on peers, real users, the market and mentors.
“It has totally shifted my mind-set about product and market as a startup entrepreneur,” said the founder and chief executive officer of CloudCoder, a startup that builds, redesigns and manages web applications.
In the Founder Institute programme, Lau’s venture was CampusBranch, an online marketplace for students who are in colleges and universities to trade used items.
Another graduate Bert Lim described his experience with FI as “a great crash course into the world of startups.”
“As a person who worked in multinational companies for years, FI offers a lot of good tips that helps you simplify your thinking and focus on the outcome,” he said.
For graduate Farhan Hafetz, it was access to the programme’s roster of mentors such as Khailee Ng from Says.com, Douglass Khoo from Qunar and Paul Whiteway from iProperty, that was the most valuable asset gained from his experience.
“These are successful entrepreneurs who have gone through thick and thin to reach to where they are today, yet they humbly share their knowledge openly to the select few who dare to follow a similar path,” he said.
Farhan’s final project became MyDoctor, a platform that allows patients to find doctors as well as dentists, view their availability and instantly book appointments.
For 2014, Chu said that FI has revamped the curriculum globally for its upcoming semester. Updates to the course include the highly practical tasks founders have to execute during assignments.
For the new semester, the Malaysian chapter is expecting about 15 new mentors from the United States.
The 2014 crop of mentors and speakers include Michael Clark, chief technology officer of Photobucket; Dale Fox, cofounder and CEO of Tribogenics; Tyler Crowley, founder of Skweal; Matthew Mandell, director of Simple Storage; and Ryan Bettencourt, president of KidZui.
Tips for applicants
“We would really encourage anyone who is seriously interested in founding a high growth technology focused company to apply to the programme,” said FI Malaysia’s Loh.
He said that interested applicants need not have an idea nor do they need to quit their jobs, but they must be dedicated enough to allocate time and commitment.
“They are essentially building the company during the programme. It is not a programme where you pay and get a certificate at the end. If they can't dedicate their time to the programme, it means they are not ready to dedicate the time to start their company,” he added.
Loh said that it is not unusual for programme participants to not make it through the entire course, due to time commitments or ideas that may not be refined enough. “So people do get left out of the programme but they can choose to continue in the next semester if they want to,” he added.
As part of FI’s mission to expand its intake and raise awareness, a series of free recruitment events will kick off from Jan 20 till Feb 24.
The first event, Startup Founder 101, will be taking place at the Mindvalley office in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. For more details, click here.
The deadline for applications is March 29. Candidates submitting their applications before Feb 9 need not pay the US$25 fee for the mandatory Predictive Admissions Test, which gauges suitability.
To apply for the FI Kuala Lumpur Spring 2014 Semester, click here.
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