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Adeo Ressi's Founder Institute coming to town in July

Posted by Scott Kirsner  May 7, 2010 07:15 AM

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Adeo Ressi tells me he's bringing the Founder Institute, a four-month training program for entrepreneurs, to Boston this summer. It'll kick off July 1st, and would-be participants can apply now.

Boston is the 10th city that has hosted the Founder Institute program, and it seems like it'll be a good addition to the entrepreneurial scene here. "The theory is that entrepreneurs don't have a lot of support in the world," says Ressi, who started the VC rating site TheFunded.com and earlier was a founder and CEO of several Web development and software companies. "If you want to be a professional athlete, you start off playing on a team in high school, and then you have the minor leagues, and then you go pro, and lots of mentors and coaches help you along the way. But for entrepreneurs, you just go out into the world and blindly pound your head into the wall."

One evening a week, the Founder Institute program brings together a group of entrepreneurs working on new companies. It exposes them to investors and entrepreneurs who offer advice and guidance from their past experience. It also asks the participants to go through exercises like creating a hiring plan or a product road map. Ressi says that the program is most relevant to entrepreneurs working on ideas in software, Web-based services, digital media, and cleantech. (Life sciences and medical devices...not so much, Ressi says.)

"My guess," says Ressi, who is based in Palo Alto, "is that we'll graduate between 25 and 30 companies in Boston during this first semester." (At least one Boston entrepreneur, Bill Shander of Beehive Media, has already participated in a Founder Institute "semester" held in San Francisco.)

Entrepreneurs pay a $600 fee to participate in the Founder Institute (they pay an additional $4500 if they receive at least $50,000 in funding at some point down the road). But they also agree to carve out 3.5 percent of their company's equity, in the form of stock warrants, to create what Ressi calls the "bonus pool." The Institute gets 15 percent of the pool, mentors who donate their time get 30 percent, the individuals who run the local program receive 25 percent, and the founders who participate get 30 percent. "Essentially, it means that if you graduate, you own a piece of everyone else's company," Ressi says. "It incentivizes the founders to root for one another, and it incentivizes the mentors to really help this next generation of companies."

Ressi says that among the folks who've signed on so far to serve as mentors in Boston are Pano Anthos of Hangout Industries; Mike Baker of DataXu; Doug Brenhouse of Metacarta; and Phil Libin of Evernote.

Running Boston's first Founder Institute program this summer is Ariel Assaf, founder of Wishclipper, a Web start-up that lets users create wish lists of products they'd like to buy or receive as a gift.

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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