Want to Start a Tech Business? Check out the Founder Institute

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Founder Institute, through its 4-month, part-time program, prepares prospective and existing founders to launch a new company. To aid in this endeavor, the institute provides training and feedback. The people who enroll in the program also get expert support from experienced startup CEOs. The company claims that it is a global launch network and early-stage startup accelerator, which helps entrepreneurs to create enduring and meaningful organisations.

Background of the Founder Institute

Founder Institute has had its presence in Asia since 2009 with a branch in Singapore, which is headed by Jeffery Paine, its local director. He is also the founding partner of an early stage technology incubator called Golden Gate Ventures. In Asia, the institute has its presence in Vietnam and Jakarta apart from Singapore and now Malaysia. It also has a big presence in North America and Europe.

The institute was founded in the year 2009 by Adeo Ressi, a serial entrepreneur, and is mainly operated out of an office in the United States’ Silicon Valley. The company claims that in the three years since it was founded, it has helped more than 6,500 companies, across 37 cities and 5 continents to launch themselves, making them the world’s biggest start-up accelerator.

Founder Institute’s Entry into Malaysia

When confronted with the question as to why it took over 3 years for the institute to consider Malaysia, Paine replied that it was not just Malaysia but the entire Asia that they had initially not targeted. The institute was so far focused entirely on North America and Europe.

He further said that now was the right time to launch a branch in Malaysia. The continued governmental support to create a startup ecosystem and tax incentives were a major encouragement. Also, the fund availability through investors like Malaysian Business Angel Network has made it congenial to set up a concern here.

The Founder Institute’s Malaysian management

Founder Institute Malaysia will be headed by Heislyc Loh who is the founder and consultant of StartUp Mamak. He will be joined by Tzu Ming Chu who is also the head of a web analytics software and solutions company called Persuasion Technologies.

Loh had revealed previously that he had heard about the institute in 2012 when he participated in an orientation session in Singapore. It was then that he decided he would open a branch in Kuala Lumpur. He added that 2013 is the year of startups in Malaysia and they hope to play the role of a major stakeholder in the country’s startup ecosystem.

The notable mentors who would be a part of Founder Institute Malaysia are Douglas Khoo who is also the cofounder of Qunar.com, G. Jay Yong who is the CEO and cofounder of Gajah International, Henry Goh who is the COO and cofounder of Marco Kiosk, Paul Whiteway who is the COO of iProperty Group, and Stephanie Chai who is the CEO of TheLuxedNomad.com.

The latest additions to the list of mentors have been Alex Rampell, Andy Zain, Bob Rosin, Bryan Thatcher, Dave Parker, Joshua Konowe, Kong Wai Cheong, Lennard Ng, William Sutjiadi, and Yen Lu Chow.


Becoming a Part of the Founder Institute Program

The Founder Institute encourages anyone who wants to build a technology company to register with them. It does not place any restrictions based on experience, age or employment. Once an interested person registers with the institute, he is emailed a Predictive Admissions Test and this is the 2nd stage of its admission process.

Paine has shared that only about 30% of all applications received are accepted and of that only 30% actually graduate, which says a lot about the standards set by the program. The application fee is $50 USD and accepted candidates need to pay $995 USD course fee. They also have to upload a signed agreement provided by the institute in order to enroll.

Our Take on the Pros and Cons of the Program


  • The program is well structured and you can apply it to your business idea and startup.
  • It gives you a chance to assess yourself and know whether you would fit into an entrepreneurial role and lifestyle. It also lets you gauge the viability of your business ideas.
  • It has a good network of mentors and quality study materials in the form of reading materials, recorded talks and templates.
  • It gives you a strong peer-support community, which extends beyond the course.
  • The program also has a good partner network, which would give the graduates special deals with vendors like First Republic Bank and Rackspace.


  • At 4 months, the course duration is pretty long and not congenial for people who are looking to attend quick courses before starting their company.
  • Feedback by mentors can go beyond just being brutally honest, as some are known to get very personal.
  • The institute does not necessarily provide feedback on all the assignments completed.
  • It is only a part-time course, so one cannot expect it to manage daily entrepreneurial life. It can only be seen as an accompanying program.

You can visit the Founder Institute website here: fi.co


What are your thoughts about the Founder Institute in Malaysia?

Post comments below. No registration is required.


Photo credit: khalid Albaih / Foter.com / CC BY



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