Founder Institute

My journey to joining Founder Institute is complex.

This time last year, I was gearing up and buying clothes to withstand the cold, harsh winters of North Dakota. If you have asked me where I would be in a year, Denver, Houston and North Dakota would all have been likely answers and working for the oil services company that hired me following my 4.5 years of Naval service was my plan.

I’m a planner and a doer who does what I can, because I have a plan. Oil services was my 5 year plan. Entrepreneurship my life plan. The idea was to save money while gaining security and ultimately experience that would allow for me to launch my own company. Unfortunately, when gas prices dropped, so did the company and ultimately my job.

I went home to Greenville, SC, and I immediately wanted to launch my own company. I needed a plan, and Founder Institute (FI) had just announced they were starting a chapter in Greenville. There was my plan. FI came at an opportune time for me and was what I was looking for, a plan of action.

Here are the lessons I learned throughout the program:

  1. Be specific. This applies to everything: your idea, plan, questions, mentors, advisors.
  2. Be aggressive. Ask for help, favors, advice, mentorship, discounts, everything you can to get an edge. Don’t be timid and scared about what people think. Imagine that your company is successful and that you are the boss, and you are coming as a successful business owner to those same people to ask for advice or favors.
  3. Be Accountable. FI was great at keeping me accountable. It gave me a timeline that MADE me do the things I needed to do to accomplish my goal of creating a company. It was my plan and path and without it I wouldn’t be incorporated, have a path to profitability or probably even have a name chosen for my company. Ultimately though, the accountability in the program came from my peers. The people that I saw week in and week out, and who eventually saw through my smoke and mirrors and made me take action.
  4. Make decisions. In the same vein as above, when you are faced with a choice, weigh the options and make a decision. Do it. Make sure it aligns with your plan. FI was great at being a forcing function for this. I may not have felt “great” about a lot of things when pulling the proverbial trigger, but ultimately they were in line with my plan and helped me take action.
  5. Mentors like helping you. FI does a great job of finding mentors who not only give you good advice, but also are excited to see you succeed. It has a lot less to do with their vested interest in your company and more to do with the fact that they like entrepreneurs. They like visionaries and they feel commonality with you. Capitalize on this and build relationships with them that can help you be successful. It is about who you know. Use FI as a network to get to know the right people.

All in all, FI has played a huge part in my startup story and will continue to play a role as I continue developing and growing my company. I would not be where I am today without them, nor would I have come up with a better plan of action.

Time will show how great that plan really is as I see my company grow and ultimately see whether or not it is successful.