The Founder Institute Brussels, Fall 2011: 55 people applied, 22 were selected. 7 Survived.
Yours truly was one of them.
For those not in the know: the Founder Institute is the largest pre-seed incubator in the world. And one of its chapters operates in Brussels, Belgium.
The Key: Your Idea Sucks
The running gag of the program and of its founder, Adeo Ressi. The best advice you and I will ever get. Other people with ideas are already pursuing theirs, so no chance in hell they will be interested in stealing yours. Copycats only steal proven businesses, not silly ideas. Should you get anyone silly enough to steal your silly idea: congrats, you discovered yourself a cofounder. FI pushes you in sharing your idea with the world, and rightly so.
Feast on feedback. Given that your idea sucks, every inch of feedback, especially from mentors (a fine selection of Belgian and International entrepeneurs), peers and, more importantly, future customers is valuable. It’s not about being ready for feedback, it’s about longing for it. The Founder Institute provided me with unparalleled possibilities in acquiring that feedback.
Your idea sucks, your business doesn’t. An idea doesn’t bring in cash, a running business does. The Founder Institute wants you to start a business, and every step of the program is geared towards that execution.
Founder Institute is no microwave diner: you will not have a business ready immediately after graduation. The program does not “support” you. It does not make start-up life easier. On the contrary, the rules of the game seem designed to make you give up as quick as possible, much to the frustration of its participants. What the Founder Institute does provide: the maturity, the insights and the network to stand a chance in launching your business successfully.
So, diner is not served. But I did get my hands on the finest ingredients available, the best cookbook around and some pretty awesome helplines.
I’m ready to start cooking.