I've been involved in the first batch of startups, then visited most of second batch meetings (we could do that), and now occasionally visiting the space seeing training of other batches. I can say for sure that the program is evolving and improving each time. Steven as an ex-entrepreneur takes feedback very seriously and iterates till the best satisfaction of people who he is doing this for - entrepreneurs.
All of the instructors were entrepreneurs or work closely with them during their life, so have great first hand experience to share. At the same time, we had guest speakers coming every week who were either the experts in a particular field, either investors who were looking to share what they are looking for and learn more about Founders Space's startups. There are no limits to learn if you are proactive enough and would like to follow up with instructors and guests anytime during the program or even after you graduate. This perfect synergy of in house support and a warm introduction to the outside entrepreneurial world makes the program so successful.
Outside of most other programs, where there is a strict week by week schedule with certain deliverables, Founders Space mentors are very flexible and they tailor their course around your particular needs. They help not like teachers, but more like consultants who want to maximize value for the time with them. The success of such approach results in a number of investments to startups which graduated from Founders Space. One of these startups was TalkToChef.com, which received its next round of financing right after graduation from Founders Space. Mentors, including Steve were very supportive, helping with valuable advice through the process of negotiation.
One of the unique advantages of the program in support of not only the current batch of startups, but also alumni. Even after you graduate you can always reach your mentors and use the coworking space if needed. I use the space relatively often when there is a need to stop for a few hours between meetings in the neighborhood. Since Founders Space conveniently located just next to the Caltrain station, what is pretty much between two worlds San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
PS: wasn't sure where should I add it, but Steve Austin, an Instructor at Founders Space, is one of the most inspiring individuals and the best salesman I've ever met.
Back in December, I got invited to the Founders Space accelerator last minute. My co-founders and I were hesitant to go because we were still college students and we had finals the next week. Maybe it was boldness or maybe it was stupidity, but I skipped my finals to attend Founders Space and since then, I haven't looked back. It was one of the best decisions of my life and a key decision for growth and knowledge for my startup, LYFEBOAT. Now days, I'm taking some time off of school with my co-founders to pursue LYFEBOAT full time. I believe that being part of such a great accelerator was key in laying a great foundation for all of us as founders.
Let me be clear from the very beginning, if you want an accelerator that's easy or slow and boring, then this is not the one for you. If you're looking to be taught by some of the most experienced people in the industry and you're not afraid to be called out for your BS then this is the place for you. The value of this program is far more than what we paid for and continues to give back time and time again through their mentor pool and through the amazing people we met. Founders Space started teaching us before we even got to San Francisco through their members-only emails that give you great book summaries and through their online learning course. Steve Hoffman (Captain Hoff) and Naomi Kokubo have outdone themselves in creating such a valuable program for such a short amount of time that it runs. They brought in some great Venture Capitalists, Angel investors, marketers, and coaches.
Through the teaching of some of the mentors there like Scott Gray and Steve Austin, I have learned a lot in the two week boot camp (unfortunately they only had the two week boot camp during December, I wish I could have stayed longer). Scott was powerful in teaching me how to pitch effectively and how to understand the fundraising aspects of early stage startups. Steve did a great job in teaching us growth hacking, business strategy, and financial complications; everything a tech startup needs to understand.
The two weeks were packed with back-to-back classes, some of which ran over time but NONE of the participants complained because we were all taking so many notes and completely engaged. Nothing was sugar coated either, Steve and the speakers they brought in had no problem calling us out when they felt like we weren't doing something that made us our best. I saw people who walked in there and could not speak in front of a crowd to delivering powerful pitches during the pitch event. All of this value is still valuable to this day because once you are part of Founders Space you are always invited to attend their future classes and you get a great startup kit with all the legal documents and tools your startup will need to survive. I look forward to going back to Founders Space and work in their huge workspace that's right in central SOMA. If you have any questions at all please feel free to reach out to me. Cheers.