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News & Press: Colorado Technology Industry

Founder Institute Well Underway for Start-Up Entrepreneurs in Tech

Friday, May 14, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Su Hawk
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The Founder Institute kicked of May 4, 2010 in CSIA's offices, and co-founders Adeo Rossi and Jon Nordmark launched what will become another highly successful program to encourage technology entrepreneurs in Denver.

CSIA is proud to be a partner for this great institute, so check out the article below from The Denver Post or link to the Founder Institute website to find out about mentors, participants, and more.  (If anyone is interested in sponsoring, please contact Jon or Su Hawk.)


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By Andy Vuong
The Denver Post
Posted:04/19/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

Working at their laptops recently at Boulder's Cup Espresso Cafe are Mike Clymer, left, founder of GameAttain, and Jo and Jed White, the married founders of TribeVibe. All three attended the Founder Institute s inaugural class last year, either at Silicon Valley or via remote. (John Prieto, The Denver Post)

A new training program for budding entrepreneurs is coming to Denver, one that rivals the high-tech star power of Boulder-based TechStars but with a much different approach.

Founder Institute features successful entrepreneurs as mentors, not unlike TechStars, a program launched in 2007 by Jared Polis and three others.

The institute, however, encourages business minds to enter the four-month program unattached to an idea. TechStars and other so-called accelerator programs screen applicants based on their business concepts.

"It is more about preparing founders to build great businesses rather than trying to accelerate an existing business into the marketplace," said Boulder resident Jed White, a graduate of the inaugural Founder Institute class held last year in Silicon Valley.

White co-founded, a startup that aims to help publishers, marketers and other organizations measure the impact of their content across social media sites in real time.

The institute launches its Denver program in May. Applications are due Sunday.

Mentors for the Denver program include eBags co-founder Jon Nordmark, MapQuest founder Perry Evans and One Riot chief executive Kimbal Musk. Courses such as funding life cycle and marketing are held in the evening, allowing participants to maintain a day job.

Mentors, fellow classmates and the institute receive a small equity stake in each of the businesses that are formed at graduation.

"It creates a really powerful ecosystem," said Adeo Ressi, who created the Founder Institute. "Successful entrepreneurs in Denver will really be committed to helping the next generation of entrepreneurs succeed because they'll have an equity stake."

The Denver program expects to enroll about 30, Ressi said.

In addition to the high-profile advisers, the shared-equity aspect makes the program stand out, said Scott Yates, who has been accepted to the Denver class.

"I love the fact that all of the mentors and all of the other classmates are going to be interested in my success," Yates said.

It costs $50 to apply and another $600 to attend the program, which covers fees associated with lining up speakers and mentors. If a startup secures substantial funding from a third party, it is required to pay the institute a tuition of $4,500. Otherwise, that fee is forgiven.

The program has launched in cities such as San Francisco, San Diego and New York. About 120 entrepreneurs have graduated and started businesses in fields ranging from health care to consumer electronics. The program has a 50 percent dropout rate.

"The reality is, it's very hard to start a company," Ressi said.

He doesn't view the institute as a competitor to TechStars.

"It's interesting to see people trying different things to help entrepreneurs," TechStars cofounder Brad Feld said in an e-mail.

Andy Vuong: 303-954-1209, or

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